HarperCollins to delay new ebooks by up to six months

HarperCollins Publishers have announced that they too will be delaying ebook publication, so that the digital versions of five to ten new hardbacks each month are only made available anywhere from four weeks to six months after the initial launch.  The move follows publishers Simon & Schuster and Hachette who announced similar plans for ebooks earlier this week.  HarperCollins – owned by NewsCorp – will begin to delay their ebook range from January or February 2010.

"We're going to experiment with this.  Each new e-book represents a potential new marketing opportunity at a time when we need every possible hook to get consumer attention" Brian Murray, chief executive, HarperCollins

As before, the threat of $9.99 versions of bestsellers and new titles are the bogeyman to HarperCollins.  Murray reckons that if the move toward the sub-$10 price point continues, customers will end up with less overall choice as publishers are unable – or unwilling – to take risks on new writers.  It's a similar argument to that we've heard from the music industry, faced with slipping CD sales.

Meanwhile these high-profile decisions are being watched closely by other big names in the publishing industry.  Penguin are apparently considering delaying ebooks on a case-by-case basis, but according to John Makinson, CEO of the publisher, they "may undertake trial pricing, and defer publication from time to time, but we won't systematically delay the publication of e-books."