The Impact of Ebook Distribution on Print Sales: Analysis of a Natural Experiment
City University of Hong Kong - Department of Information Systems
Yu Jeffrey Hu
Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business
Michael D. Smith
Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management
Digital distribution channels introduce many new strategic questions for the creative industries, notably how the use of new digital distribution channels will impact sales in established channels. We analyze this question in the context of ebook and hardcover sales by exploiting a natural experiment that exogenously delayed the release of a publisher’s new Kindle ebooks in April and May 2010. Using new books released in March and June 2010 as the control group, we find that delaying ebook availability results in a 43.4% decrease in ebook sales and no increase in print sales on Amazon.com or other retailers. We also find that the decrease in ebook sales is more severe for books with less pre-release buzz. Together our results suggest that consumers are strongly tied to their chosen consumption format and channel, meaning that delaying digital releases is unlikely to be effective at sustaining sales in established physical channels.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: Digital distribution, channel, publishing industry, natural experiment
Date posted: November 29, 2011 ; Last revised: September 9, 2016
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