As the market quickens for "e-books," the schedule for their release is slowing down.
Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday that the electronic editions for more than 30 works coming out in the first half of 2010 would not be available until four months after the hardcover. The affected books include novels by Don DeLillo and Mary Higgins Clark and a memoir by Karl Rove.
Publishers and authors have worried that e-books might hurt sales for hardcovers, which cost more; Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and other online retailers commonly price top-selling e-releases at $9.99.
With the digital market estimated at between 2-5 percent of total sales, more than double from two years ago, e-books were held back for several of the fall's leading titles, including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's "True Compass," Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" and Andre Agassi's "Open."
The e-book for the season's most popular release, Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol," came out at the same time as the hardcover and has sold about 200,000 copies, or about 5 percent of the book's total sales, nearly unthinkable before the rise of the Kindle and other digital devices.
"Authors get the most publicity at launch and need to strike while the iron is hot," Amazon spokesman Andrew Herdener said Wednesday. "If readers can't get their preferred format at that moment, they may buy a different book or just not buy a book at all."
Publisher Doubleday said total sales in North America for Brown's novel have topped four million, a number that includes hardcover, audio and digital.
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