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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Digital Downloads

Before I post a reply on all the fascinating comments, emails, and calls to my query on our publishing direction, let me ask a related follow-up questions.

Are the military and general history readers interested in digital downloads, and if so, what types of books?

Are there particular titles or sections of titles suitable to download for a less expensive price?

For example, we have been asked many times to make available selections from Gottfried's Maps of Gettysburg as separate digital files. "I am really only interested in the Culp's Hill fighting," explained one customer recently. "Can I buy just that portion?" The same queries on Pickett's Charge, Day 1, Day 2, etc. have also been duly noted.

We are preparing to make many of our titles available through Amazon's Kindle reader, but pdf downloads on our website might also make sense.

Does it?



J David Petruzzi said...

It does make sense, and it's perfectly understandable and expected that folks would want, say, just a particular set of maps. Same with the driving tours featured in our two SB books - "Plenty of Blame to Go Around" and "One Continuous Fight" - we've had many inquiries from folks who would like to purchase only the tours. There are some who don't wish to read an entire book on a subject, but would enjoy taking only the tours as long as they have sufficient explanatory material.
Having digital downloads available of just maps, just driving tours, just stand-alone parts of books, etc., makes a great deal of sense and would appeal to that particular segment of reader.
In my opinion, it would bring in that percentage of the marketplace that only wants specialized parts of works.

Steve Basic said...


I agree with J.D., but am old school as I would rather buy a book than download anything.

That said, J.D. makes an excellent point where maps and driving tours are part of the download equation. It makes a lot of sense.

Regards from the Garden State,


J David Petruzzi said...

On further thought, I do have one concern though. Putting aside the speed and convenience of a download, I'm also concerned about the fact that it can lead to potential loss of sales for the publisher and author. Specifically, what is to stop someone from purchasing the download, then making multiple copies? Or emailing the download to others? If, for instance, a group of 10 people are interested in a, say, tour guide, they could all pitch in for the price of one, have one download it, and then share it. Regardless of copyright, it would be impossible to stop anyone from copying it or digitally sharing it.

I guess I'm just suspicious of works in digital form, because it's too easy to duplicate it without compensation to the publisher and author.


Eric Wittenberg said...


I echo JD's concerns for the same reasons.

I also wonder what the implications are for paying royalties. Let's say somebody just wants to download the driving tours in One Continuous Fight but not the book. How do you charge for that? And what are our royalties for that?


Ted Savas said...

Hello All

These are issues contracted for with the authors. Some books are suitable, others are not.

Divisions are some percentage of net receipts up to and including 50%, so the split is a healthy one. And if you get a market that is not redundant (the downloader would not otherwise buy the book), all the better.

However, I also have data that show partial digital downloads, accompanied by an offer for the printed book, can result in MORE sales. One serves as a conduit for the other.

I am not fully convinced these sorts of digital downloads are (1) Worth the labor and effort to prepare and market; (2) Worth the administrative effort to track; or (3) are a net profit generator for author and publisher. It will take marketing, effort, and experience to determine those questions.

The market is moving in this direction, and some are enjoying good success (our basic training author, for example). Amazon's Kindle is making inroads into reading e-books. The book world is changing rapidly, so everything has to be on the table to at least consider.