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Electronic books: To “E” or not to “E”? A strategic analysis of distribution channel choices of publishers

International Journal of Production Economics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2010.11.011
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Distribution Channel
  • Information Goods
  • Newsvendor Model
  • Mathematics


Abstract The advent of electronic books (e-books) has significantly impacted the publishing industry in recent years. The prevalence of e-books has prompted many publishers to reconsider their distribution channels for new titles. They need to decide whether to sell the e-book version of new titles. We derive the conditions under which a publisher should sell only printed books (p-books), only e-books, and both of them simultaneously. We analyze the impact of reader acceptance of e-book and the wholesale price of the counterpart p-book on the distribution channel choice of the publisher under stochastic demand. We find that only if wholesale price of p-book is high and reader acceptance of e-book is low should the publisher sell only p-books; otherwise, he should sell e-books, even when reader acceptance of e-book is low, i.e., in most cases the publisher should sell e-books (perhaps selling p-books simultaneously). In general, the higher the reader acceptance of e-book is, the more the publisher tends to sell the e-book to readers directly. However, our analysis also shows that even when reader acceptance of e-book is very high, the publisher does not necessarily sell only e-books. The wholesale price reflects the publisher's power of negotiation over bookstores. The higher the publisher's power of negotiation over bookstores is, the more he is inclined to sell p-books; and when reader acceptance of e-book is relatively high, the lower the publisher's power of negotiation is, the more he tends to sell only e-books.

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