Boston Globe selling Whitey Bulger E-Books through Amazon

As a newspaper person, I’ve been finding a lot of similarities between the pressures my industry has gone through in the past decade and what the book publishing industry is going through now — one reason I’ve been leaning more and more toward going indie. But my ever-alert mom sent me some info this morning that combines the two — The Boston Globe has a half-page color ad on Page A4 today: They’re selling three e-books by the Spotlight Team on Whitey Bulger on Amazon for $2.99 each.

Why not? The Globe’s Spotlight team has done great work on the Whitey Bulger/FBI story over the years, and with Whitey’s recent capture, there’s a market for the work. Why bother going the print route for something so timely, especially when they have it already written? E-books just make sense.

What’s decimating the paper book industry is that in more and more cases, authors and organizations are going to look at the two options and e-books are going to win. In some ways, this could even be an additional revenue stream for newspapers that are finding the old print advertising model is permanently changing, and online isn’t bringing in the replacement revenue as quickly.

Think about it: The Globe has three extensive reports about the guy who’s in the news because the FBI just caught their most-wanted felon. (Osama bin Laden was first, but they also caught him first.) They put a lot of resources into those reports, and they’ve probably been doing well on Boston.com. Why not make them widely available? The court proceedings have just started, and will likely drag on for a few years. All that time, there will be interest in Whitey and his dealings with the FBI. Each e-book they sell nets them $2.10. Most people will buy all three, since they’re three parts of a series. That’s $6.30 for each person. That’s a lot more than they’ll get from each person who reads the series online.

If media outlets, especially the ones who put resources into investigations like this or who luck out and have big stories fall into their laps, start adopting this model, that could be an additional revenue stream that could start to play a decent-sized role going forward.

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