The Rising Price of E-books

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The Rising Price of E-books

Postby Baker » 19 Dec 2011, 12:55

I came across this in the Online Wall Street Journal

Cheap new e-readers are expected to be one of the hottest gifts this holiday season. But new owners of Kindles and Nooks may be in for sticker shock on Christmas morning: The price gap between the print and e-versions of some top sellers has now narrowed to within a few dollars—and in some cases, e-books are more expensive than their printed equivalents.


They cite an example of a novel that costs $18.99 as an e-book where the paperback is $16.50.
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Some publishers believe ebooks are priced correctly, because people are willing to pay for them. This is true as far as it goes, but the article also shows a graph that shows the projected sales of printed books are down with ebooks not picking up the slack.
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Here's one publisher who justifies the cost of ebooks: here
Basically, he says the physical aspects of printing, warehousing, and shipping books isn't that large a part of the cost (around 12%), so it's not that much less expensive to produce an ebook as it is a printed book.

Still, those of us who have looked at and bought books from lesbian fiction publishers are well-acquainted with the high cost of ebooks relative to printed versions.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby PaulaO » 19 Dec 2011, 14:38

Yeah, I saw an article about that. How some ebooks cost the same or more than a print book.

Big mistake in marketing to think readers would go for it. Convenience is one thing, cost is another. Books are bought with disposable income and not many have that much anymore. Lessee, books or dinner out? Sorry, but even for me, dinner out will win.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby FranW » 19 Dec 2011, 14:41

One thing that's hard to refute is that I can loan my paperback to friend after friend after friend. And then I can sell it at the used book shop for a few dollars. I can't loan an e book to a friend and I can't resell it. Part of buying a paper book is that investment. E books lack that capability.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby Selkie » 20 Dec 2011, 01:44

I would buy a lot more e-books if they weren't so bloody expensive. The only reason I'm buying e-books at all right now is because it's more cost effective than either throwing out/giving away or shipping all my books when I move back to Canada.

I actually use the forum reviews as a guide when buying books, too - I'm much more willing to spend $10-15 on a paperback that I may not enjoy as compared to an e-book I may not enjoy.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby FranW » 20 Dec 2011, 05:59

One thing I find useful (for me) is when authors have a short story free to download, or have an older book/collection as an ebook for $2.99. Free and $2.99 I don't mind spending as a gamble. Then, if I'm really impressed by the author's writing, I'll go buy their more current (and more expensive) work. But I won't spend ten or fifteen bucks on a book -- ebook or paper -- by an author I've never heard of before, unless I'm seeing a lot of rave reviews (believeable ones, not the Amazon obligatory five star ones).
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby wildlx » 22 Dec 2011, 08:03

This article on the Guardian may explain something regarding the prices: Apple's struggle to defeat Amazon set to be exposed by European ebook inquiry

FranW wrote:I can't loan an e book to a friend and I can't resell it. Part of buying a paper book is that investment. E books lack that capability.

Not really true. I have ebooks that were given to me by a friend. That would be the equivalent of loaning without the giving back stage. Not all ebooks are protected by DRM. And even if they are with the DRM it can be bypassed (e.g see here).
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby FranW » 22 Dec 2011, 08:30

Yes. Bad choice of words on my part. I *can* give copies of an e book to a friend. However, it's a breach of copyright, so legally and ethically I'm not *supposed* to do it.

Technically, I could photocopy a print book, staple it together, and send copies to friends. It's illegal/unethical, but it's also not cost effective, and the latter reason is why people don't do it.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby Baker » 23 Dec 2011, 07:07

wildlx wrote:Not really true. I have ebooks that were given to me by a friend. That would be the equivalent of loaning without the giving back stage. Not all ebooks are protected by DRM. And even if they are with the DRM it can be bypassed (e.g see here).

Not really true. Loaning without giving back is not loaning. It's making an unauthorised copy in breach of copyright and giving it away, which is software piracy.

Barnes and Noble have a scheme in which Nook owners can lend books. That really is lending. The person lending the book doesn't have use of it for a couple of weeks, and the recipient ceases to have use of the ebook when it reverts back to its owner. I don't know if other ebook manufacturers have similar schemes. Of course, it's limited to those who have the same brand of ebook reader.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby PaulaO » 23 Dec 2011, 07:10

Ah, so that's how the book lending works on the Nook. Lorna was reading up on them last night and mentioned it.
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Re: The Rising Price of E-books

Postby FranW » 23 Dec 2011, 07:29

Part of the disparity, too, has to do with the wide difference in P&L sheets between small presses and large presses.

For large presses, the difference between producing a book in print versus e book is really quite small; their printing costs aren't all that high on a per copy basis because of the economies of scale. They put a huge amount of money into editing, cover art, distribution, and marketing. Small presses put little or no money into editing, cover art, distribution, and marketing. Their biggest outlay is on printing -- a large press might spend $1 - $2 per copy on a large print run, while smaller presses will spend $3 - $8 per copy on POD. A large press makes less profit per copy on e books compared to the print version, so the cover prices for both formats are the same; a small press makes a lot more profit per copy on e books, compared to the print version, so they an afford to price the two formats differently. Large press: $10 for print or e book. Small press: $15 for print or $5 for e book. And when readers see that, they expect all e books to be half or a third of what the print version costs.
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