“OK, here’s my cunning plan. We launch this e-book reader. We sell it at less than cost, so we’re going to lose money on it. Now, the problem with e-book readers is that there are too many standards, and if we adopt an existing standard, everyone’s going to buy their ebooks from other places. So we have to adopt a new format which will only work on our readers, and make sure our readers won’t read any other format. That way, we set the standard for the world which everyone has to follow.
“And content? How are we going to get the publishers to play ball on this and get them to put their books out on this? Well, here’s the really clever bit. All those author wannabes – we’re going to give them a chance to self-publish without tears. We’ll let them keep some of the sales price, and we’ll call it ‘royalties’, so that they think they’re really published, and they’ll go up alongside the big boys. We’ll have little sweetheart deals, like free days and lending and so on. And that way, we’ll get hundreds of thousands of titles. Most would never stand a chance in the real world of publishing, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll have a really great list, and every author’s family and friends will be driving up sales figures. There’s no real profit yet, but now we move into phase 2.
“Then we can go back to the publishers and tell them that here’s the platform of the future. We can point to the sales figures and make them believe that they have to be part of this thing. And we can squeeze them any way we want. Bring a DoJ ruling against this stupid ‘agency’ pricing structure to allow us to set the prices.
“And then? Those little indies and self-publishers? What about them? Who cares? We’ll be making real money by then.”
Harsh? I think not.