On business decision making and customer service.

I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan.  Huge.  I watch for new publication dates so that I can get it from the store on the first day it is out.  I’m still old-fashioned enough to go to the book store instead of using Amazon.  

And thank goodness I did that this time.  

His publisher (Doubleday) somehow decided for his new novel – Raising Steam – that it would be acceptable to publish in the UK in November but wait to publish in the state until the end of March for the US release.  Nearly a 5 month delay for one of the world’s most popular authors.  And it applies to the physical and digital copies.  How in the world does this make sense?

If you are a US fan of Terry Pratchett you have three choices:

  1. Purchase the physical book from a UK distributor and pay international shipping (my choice, and it cost me $60 all in).
  2. Wait 5 months for the US release and avoid any online spoilers and try not to be frustrated as reviews and articles come out discussing the new story.
  3. Find some other method of reading the story.

Those collection of choices are not good for the consumer, the publisher or the author.  I’m happy to have the new book but I’m VERY unhappy to have spent 200% more than I otherwise would have (accounting for no shipping and standard bookstore discounts).  And most of that additional money is not going to a value-added step of the distribution.  It’s pure waste.

This is a pretty standard media decision though.  Network TV, movies, publishers, music industry players often do this staggered release schedule.  Sometimes it makes some sense such as when you push up or delay a release in a region to meet a particular calendar event.  Even up to a month delay can be understandable.  But longer than that is tempting your customers to find other means of accessing the content that is out there.  

I’m likely going to love the book itself but when someone asks me about it there will always be the caveat of the stupid business decisions of the publishers.

PS: Yes, it may not be the publisher’s call on the schedule.  Maybe Terry Pratchett threw it in as part of the deal.  It ultimately doesn’t matter though.  The end result is exactly the same to the customer.


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