'Where is the money in e-books?'

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That was the question raised by a panel at day two (yesterday) of London's Book Fair. The panel was a distinguished one, headed by Torin Douglas, media correspondent for BBC News and the heads of some of Britain’s biggest publishing houses were there to offer their opinions. But the bottom line is: nobody knows.

Publishers Weekly reported on the discussion, indicating that there was a lively discussion on the dangers of piracy and the difficulties of pricing online books.

On piracy, PW reports that Penguin Group chairman and CEO John Makinson called it, "difficult to monitor the sharing of illegal copies of books on sites like Scribd."

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And on the topic of pricing, Makinson argued "publishers are 'short-changing authors' if they don’t price e-books the same as physical books." But as Victoria Barnsley, publisher and CEO of HarperCollins UK, pointed out,  "e-book reader manufacturers, network providers and others involved in the retail chain would like e-books to be priced as low as possible."

European publishers are moving into the realm of e-books a bit behind their US counterparts. But on neither side of the Atlantic are there yet any really viable answers to these urgent questions.

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