From Paid Content:
The Wall Street Journal has a package of stories this morning on “bite-size entertainment” — short movies, albums and serialized ebooks. These formats are optimized for mobile devices and aim to appeal to busy consumers with a lot of different media competing for their attention. But to me, the big question is cost: How much can publishers charge for this shorter content, and how do prices change if and when a full-length version is released?
Amazon launched Kindle Serials last September. Users pay just once, and as new installments of the books are published, readers receive them automatically. VP Jeff Belle tells the WSJ, “Early data indicate that shorter is probably better, and a one-week cadence works best.” Publishers not using Amazon’s pay-once model may have trouble convincing readers to shell out a couple of dollars at a time for serials, since depending on how many installments there are, the price can end up being more than the cost of a regular ebook.
Some record labels are trying something similar. Universal’s Republic Records released Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men’s digital EP, with four songs, for $4.29, and it sold 55,000 copies. When the full-length album was released four months later, listeners who’d already bought the EP could then use the iTunes “complete my album” feature to get the other six songs on it for $2.70. Republic Records has since removed the EP from iTunes, and the full-length album is $9.99 — so early listeners saved $3. Avery Lipman, president of Republic Records, tells the WSJ, “It’s almost like layaway. The EP is kind of like a mayfly. Its purpose is to get up and birth an album, then die.”
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