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


  • Hua, Guowei
  • Cheng, T.C.E.
  • Wang, Shouyang


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hua, Guowei & Cheng, T.C.E. & Wang, Shouyang, 2011. "Electronic books: To "E" or not to "E"? A strategic analysis of distribution channel choices of publishers," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(2), pages 338-346, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:129:y:2011:i:2:p:338-346

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yao, Dong-Qing & Liu, John J., 2005. "Competitive pricing of mixed retail and e-tail distribution channels," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 235-247, June.
    2. Wei-yu Kevin Chiang & Dilip Chhajed & James D. Hess, 2003. "Direct Marketing, Indirect Profits: A Strategic Analysis of Dual-Channel Supply-Chain Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 1-20, January.
    3. Wang, Charles X. & Benaroch, Michel, 2004. "Supply chain coordination in buyer centric B2B electronic markets," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 113-124, November.
    4. Rajiv Dewan & Marshall Freimer & Abraham Seidmann, 2000. "Organizing Distribution Channels for Information Goods on the Internet," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 483-495, April.
    5. Huang, Wei & Swaminathan, Jayashankar M., 2009. "Introduction of a second channel: Implications for pricing and profits," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 194(1), pages 258-279, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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    Cited by:

    1. Ramboll & The Evaluation Partnership & Europe Economics, 2015. "Economic Study on Publications on all Physical Means of Support and Electronic Publications in the context of VAT," Taxation Studies 0057, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    2. repec:eee:ejores:v:264:y:2018:i:3:p:1074-1091 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:elcore:v:18:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10660-017-9269-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:pal:jorsoc:v:68:y:2017:i:12:d:10.1057_s41274-016-0169-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Liu, Zhiyong & Li, Minqiang & Kou, Jisong, 2015. "Selling information products: Sale channel selection and versioning strategy with network externality," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 1-10.
    6. Li, Yongjian & Lin, Zhangxi & Xu, Lei & Swain, Ajaya, 2015. "“Do the electronic books reinforce the dynamics of book supply chain market?”–A theoretical analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 245(2), pages 591-601.


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