The price is right?

I was wasting time on the iphone app store the other night, when I notice that Nick Cave’s new book is highlighted in the new and noteworthy section. You can read all about it at the Guardian here. But in short, the book ships with an included audiobook version (read by Cave himself) and a soundtrack to the title, also the author’s work. Seems like a really interesting multimedia approach, centred on what also ships as a print artefact. Cave describes the iphone book in the Guardian piece:

“I see the paper copy as the real book. I sat down and wrote a novel, and that was difficult enough in itself without considering what the music would be. However, as a songwriter, I do have a naturally musical way of writing and [the book] has lent itself well to being scored, musically. It is a unique situation where you can write a novel and make music to it as well; it can be a different way of taking in a piece of literature.”

As I hovered over the buy now button, I realised that what was stopping me was the price. $29.99 (in Australia). Now, I just dropped $38 in Borders for a paperback for my mum last weekend, so that price is in line with what Aussies pay for printed books. But I had also just bough Gangstar, a Grand Theft Auto clone for my iphone a few days previously. That game has already given me hours of (frustrating!) gameplay for the princely sum of $8.99. Not long ago I would have happily paid $50 for a Nintendo DS game, but my value expectation has been totally re-calibrated by the app store.

And then there’s this. Apple’s itunes LP format, introduced last week seems to open up a different approach to multimedia publishing. Whilst not an iphone app, Tyrese Gibson has released a itunes LP comic book which combines a graphic novel, multimedia elements and music. All for $1.99.

So it’s pretty clear that the there is a different pricing model at work in the itunes space – in fact most online spaces. In that realm, $30 for almost anything seems way out of sync – even if it’s a relative bargain in the printed book world.


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