View Full Version : Downloaded books cost how much?


zonicles
07-29-2007, 01:45 PM
While it is great fun and compact to carry my ereader on trips, I have started to notice that books often cost more when I purchase them from Connect.

Come on now, I am not destroying any trees for paper, burning up oil for transportation, why aren't ebooks cheaper than real books?

The way Sony and others deal with this will probably determine the future of ebooks.

Oh. Hi. I am Zonicles.

Bob Russell
07-29-2007, 02:08 PM
Hi Zonicles,

You're hit on one of the big hot points of e-book discussions. Every customer agrees that e-books should be cheaper than paper books, because of reduced cost to produce. However, it seems that publishers feel they are selling content and so it shouldn't depend on costs, but the value of what they offer.

Here's one interesting thread with some discussion (and you'll probably find many more here if you dig a bit)..
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11657

Seems that the first part of the article is missing at the moment, but you can see the majority of it as well as comments, and hopefully the rest will reappear soon when we get the kinks worked out. :)

HarryT
07-29-2007, 02:52 PM
It's largely a question of "economy of scale", I suspect. If you're selling 100x as many printed books as eBooks, naturally the unit costs associated with preparing the eBook will be higher than those for the paper book.

JSWolf
07-29-2007, 06:35 PM
I recently emailed Powells.com about an ebook they have for more then Amazon.com is selling it for. And they say there is nothing they can do about it. I think there is. I think they can take less profit and make the sale.

Subject: Re: Pricing on an ebook is too high

Hello,

Thank you for your message.

I'm afraid that our prices are set by the distributor of the items we carry, and we are unable to make adjustments to them. Amazon.com may get discounts from distributors due to their enormous volume and buying power.

I'm sorry, I wish we could alter our prices for you.

Best wishes,

Emily
Powells.com

Previous correspondence follows:

I was looking up the ebook "Crooked Little Vein: A Novel" Warren
Ellis and you do have it. But your price is higher then Amazon.com's
price of $14.93. Is there any way you might see fit to lowering the
price so it's worth buying the ebook please? Thanks!

I just replied with....

Why not contact the distributor and let them know of this pricing discrepancy and find out if they may be willing to do anything about it?

rlauzon
07-29-2007, 07:49 PM
It's largely a question of "economy of scale", I suspect. If you're selling 100x as many printed books as eBooks, naturally the unit costs associated with preparing the eBook will be higher than those for the paper book.

Since the unit cost of an eBook is $0, this argument doesn't fly.

eBooks are priced high because publishers set the price.

Publishers are either 1) morons or 2) want eBooks to fail.

Cthulhu
07-30-2007, 12:28 AM
rlauzon:


The unit cost of an ebook is zero only after a "book" is produced. There are advertising costs, research costs, editorial costs. Any labour that goes into producing something that comes from a publisher needs to be compensated.

One question that all ways is unanswered is: is the price of a physical book mostly the actual physical production, or all the intellectual property/ development type stuff?

Proofreaders deserve to be paid, whether they are created something read as a .pdf file or as a bundle of dead tress pasted together.

I mostly agree with your assessment of publishers and their attitudes regarding e-books, but you must remember that everybody needs to get paid.

btw:

What price should/would you expect if e-books were the only form of books?

JSWolf
07-30-2007, 01:32 AM
The thing is, if you are producing a dead tree edition, the cost to produce the ebook is very little. There is cost involved in producing the various formats. Someone has to be paid to do it. Now that said, there is no reason for the ebook to be priced higer then the dead tree edition with some of the discounts that the dead tree editions get in book stores. That's where things go wrong. If I get a 20 or 30% coupon in email from Borders, that means that a $7.99 priced book will then cost me $5.87 including tax at 30% off and $6.34 at 20% off. Now if the ebook was priced at $5 then it would be ok.

rlauzon
07-30-2007, 04:54 AM
The unit cost of an ebook is zero only after a "book" is produced.

Since nearly all typesetting is done electronically, the book must be in an electronic format already. Therefore the cost of producing the eBook is 3 clicks of the mouse to save it as an open format.

There are advertising costs, research costs, editorial costs. Any labour that goes into producing something that comes from a publisher needs to be compensated.

Since the publisher has done nothing, he should get nothing. So take that cost out. If the author wants to incur those other costs, that's up to the author and comes out of his cut.

The only cost to an eBook is the profit to the author and the pennies it takes to "publish" it electronicly.

Proofreaders deserve to be paid, whether they are created something read as a .pdf file or as a bundle of dead tress pasted together.

Cost of doing business. As a consumer this cost does not interest me. That's like GM saying that they are going to add $1000 to the cost of the car to test it for you so it doesn't blow up.

Note that as soon as the eBook is put into a closed format (like PDF), the value of the eBook drops significantly.

I mostly agree with your assessment of publishers and their attitudes regarding e-books, but you must remember that everybody needs to get paid.

Publishers bring no value to eBooks. Therefore they should not get any money from eBooks.

What price should/would you expect if e-books were the only form of books?

$1 for short stories. $4 for novels.

No more than $1 if the eBook is in a closed format.

If DRM is involved, $0. (Any eBook with DRM on it is a rental, not a purchase. I can rent an eBook from the library for free. Hence the fair market value for an eBook rental is $0.)

HarryT
07-30-2007, 05:56 AM
Publishers bring no value to eBooks. Therefore they should not get any money from eBooks.

That is a ridiculous thing to say. Publishers do an enormous amount of work before a book gets to the stage of being published, from the editor who works with the author, to the proof readers, right through to advertising, publicity, etc. All that applies just as much to eBooks as to paper books.

rlauzon
07-30-2007, 08:24 AM
That is a ridiculous thing to say. Publishers do an enormous amount of work before a book gets to the stage of being published, from the editor who works with the author, to the proof readers, right through to advertising, publicity, etc. All that applies just as much to eBooks as to paper books.

You are confusing value to the author with value to the reader.

Publishers today bring value to me, a reader, by creating an infrastructure that makes pBooks cost effective.

All of the things you list above bring value to the author. Those are not things that I, as a reader, am willing to pay for. They are not valuable to me. If the author thinks they are valuable, then the author can pay for those out of his pocket.

Those things are not a reason to make eBooks cost more.

HarryT
07-30-2007, 08:32 AM
The things that I list have to form a component of the price of the eBook, just as they do for a paper book. If the eBook sells fewer copies than a paper book, their unit cost is inevitably going to be higher than for a paper book, therefore the eBook could well end up costing more than the paper book. Simply economics.

JSWolf
07-30-2007, 03:42 PM
if the ebook sells for more then the dead tree edition, then ebooks are going to fail. It's that simple. I do not buy ebooks priced close to the hardcover. Now take a hardcover at say $30. Take off %20 for $24. Now drop the ebook price to say $10 and I might purchase it if I wanted it. Then when it goes to paperback, drop the price. If it's the newer taller more expensive paperback, drop the price to $5. If it's the standard paperback, drop the ebook to $4. Then you'll see a lot more sales of the ebook then you did before.

rlauzon
07-30-2007, 06:31 PM
The things that I list have to form a component of the price of the eBook, just as they do for a paper book.

I didn't contest that.

But the idea that publisher has to provide such services is simply old thinking. And the idea that such services justify paper prices for eBooks is not realistic.

Simply economics.

We already know that the vast majority of the cost of a pBook is related to its physical-ness. Remove that physical-ness and the costs should drop accordingly.

Simple economics.

JSWolf
07-30-2007, 06:43 PM
We already know that the vast majority of the cost of a pBook is related to its physical-ness. Remove that physical-ness and the costs should drop accordingly.

Simple economics.
But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?

Liviu_5
07-30-2007, 07:45 PM
But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?

Most of the above are marginal costs. The 5-7 formats are unnecessary costs.

For e-books there are 3 major natural costs, the rest are just inefficiencies:
- compensation for author
- compensation for the house (includes editing, "name of the publisher", advertising...)
- retailer cut

Since the current book business is print oriented, inefficiencies and retailer cut dominate. It is ridiculous for a retailer to take 50% of an e-book cover price for example. For print books it makes some sense, but for e-books...

The way I see it, e-books need either direct selling (maybe through a coop style arrangement, if publishers do not want to damage their relations with the big retailers their print business depends on), or an e-book tailored retailer or two, that take a much smaller cut of the smaller cover price, but have enough volume to make tons of money...

So we have circularity: low volume - high prices/high retailer cut - low volume

Something needs to break here, my big hopes have been resting on Google and digitization or Amazon and Kindle, since I do not see piracy as powerful enough to force the business into change...

rlauzon
07-30-2007, 09:40 PM
But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?

And how do you explain how at least 3 sites offer eBooks for Free? (Gutenberg, Munseys, ManyBooks.)
And how do you explain low cost sites? (Like Fictionwise.)

Yes. It is that simple.

JSWolf
07-30-2007, 09:47 PM
And how do you explain how at least 3 sites offer eBooks for Free? (Gutenberg, Munseys, ManyBooks.)
And how do you explain low cost sites? (Like Fictionwise.)

Yes. It is that simple.
ebooks for free... Easy... those are out of copyright books.

You think Fictionwise is low cost? Fictionwise is about the same, give or take as some of the other ebook retailers.

guguy
07-30-2007, 11:27 PM
View Post
But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?


Online pBook stores such as amazon also have to pay for the website and the
employees!

JSWolf
07-30-2007, 11:46 PM
Online pBook stores such as amazon also have to pay for the website and the employees!
So do ebook stores as well.

Steven Lyle Jordan
07-31-2007, 12:00 AM
rlauzon is right in pointing out that there are differences in production expenses between print and e-books, and e-book production expenses are lower without a physical product. However, as long as the same house is producing the print books and the e-books, those print-related production expenses aren't going to come off the board, which means that the act of producing e-books will be an additional step for publishers, and incur more cost to them (mainly personnel activity involved in the conversion and maintenance of the websites).

Publishers make their big money on hardbacks. Then they print paperbacks to make additional money, and paperbacks, which cost less to print than hardbacks, don't cost the same as hardbacks. What paperbacks lack in cost, they make up for in volume, so they are still profitable for publishers.

E-books cost less to produce than paperbacks. However, publishers cannot yet depend on making money on the volume of e-books, so they cannot set their profit margins the way they set them on paperbacks... yet. But when enough people read e-books that publishers see measurable and dependable volume, e-books will be priced accordingly, somewhere below the cost of a paperback.

It could also come down to independents setting the market price first, forcing the big publishers to retool to match the price, or try to raise it again, and still make their profits.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 04:46 AM
ebooks for free... Easy... those are out of copyright books.

You missed my point: these sites offer eBooks for free, running only on donations, yet their infrastructure stays up for. Therefore the costs of the servers, etc. is very minimal.

You think Fictionwise is low cost? Fictionwise is about the same, give or take as some of the other ebook retailers.

That's not what I've seen. Most eBook sellers charge greater than paper (usually hardcover) price for eBooks.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 04:51 AM
...which means that the act of producing e-books will be an additional step for publishers, and incur more cost to them (mainly personnel activity involved in the conversion and maintenance of the websites).

<click><click><click> There, I just produced an eBook. No cost.

Upload to Fictionwise. Let them sell the eBook for me. Again, no cost.

E-books cost less to produce than paperbacks. However, publishers cannot yet depend on making money on the volume of e-books, so they cannot set their profit margins the way they set them on paperbacks... yet.

I fail to see the logic. There is almost no cost to produce an eBook. Even if the sale of eBooks is 1/1000 of that of the paper book, it's almost all profit.

Nate the great
07-31-2007, 08:00 AM
<click><click><click> There, I just produced an eBook. No cost.

Upload to Fictionwise. Let them sell the eBook for me. Again, no cost.

I fail to see the logic. There is almost no cost to produce an eBook. Even if the sale of eBooks is 1/1000 of that of the paper book, it's almost all profit.

Have you ever even tried to make an ebook? I just looked up your posts as far back as February and couldn't find one. Please go do one, and see how long it takes.

Your claim that it takes no time at all to make an ebook is an insult to all the people here who have put countless hours into converting them.

JSWolf
07-31-2007, 10:03 AM
It takes the same amount of time for the author to make an ebook as a papager book. Ok, granted you can have both formats from the same source, but that does not mean it takes no time to make the ebook. The ebook is the same as the paper book except for the final product. The only different is one is electronic and the other is paper.

Now, take away the paper book, let's get rid of it. Now if the book is only going to be electronic, the costs involved to make it to market are almost the same as it would have been had ot been paper only. You have the auther, the publishers, editors, proofreaders, etc.. the same as youi have for the paper edition. It's only when the book is said to be finished do things differ as now we need people to put it together in the various ebook formats and get it out to the ebook shops. Where like a book store in your are you have staff and other costs of running the shop.

Now take that same book, and make both a papaer and electronic editions and you have even more cost involved as you have to pay the employees to make the electronic versions.

I agree that electronic books need to be priced lower enough from the paper editions that it makes it a good deal to the general public. So they say hey, this mony I'm spending on my reader is going to be recuperated by the lower costs of the electronic books vs. the paper books. That's wonderful. But if they see the cost of the electronic book too close to the cost of the paper book, they may say, why bother? There isn't really enough of a cost savings.

This all has to do with how the public perceives the pricing structure. I for one will not purchase ebooks priced close to that of a hardcover. I think that's out and out silly.

HarryT
07-31-2007, 10:36 AM
I agree that electronic books need to be priced lower enough from the paper editions that it makes it a good deal to the general public. So they say hey, this mony I'm spending on my reader is going to be recuperated by the lower costs of the electronic books vs. the paper books. That's wonderful. But if they see the cost of the electronic book too close to the cost of the paper book, they may say, why bother? There isn't really enough of a cost savings.

If a paper book and an eBook were the same price, I would personally buy the eBook, because I find it a lot more convenient - it doesn't take any space to store. I certainly don't perceive an eBook as having less value than a paper book.

Steven Lyle Jordan
07-31-2007, 10:47 AM
<click><click><click> There, I just produced an eBook. No cost.

I fail to see the logic. There is almost no cost to produce an eBook. Even if the sale of eBooks is 1/1000 of that of the paper book, it's almost all profit.

There's no cost to clicking a keyboard. However, there is a cost to paying someone a full day's wage to click that keyboard. How much is your time worth? Your profit has to cover costs of employees' salaries, office space, etc... if you're a publishing house, profits are to cover the house.

Publishers figure everything against whether they will stay in business. They sell so many hardbacks at such a cost, to make Profit A. They sell paperbacks at such a cost to make Profit B. Profit A plus Profit B have to cover the costs of doing business.

If you add even one job for the express purpose of creating the e-books and maintaining the web site, your profits have to cover thet job... either Profit A, Profit B, or the profits from e-books, Profit C. If Profit C does not cover it, everyone else in the house loses profit... and decides not to spend money on something that will not profit them.

This means publishers will have to make adjustments to the way they do business, in order to add e-books to their catalogs and still make the same or better profit. When they have that figured out, e-books will start to proliferate.

Because e-books are considered low-cost to consumers, I expect publishers to start cooking up Value-Added ideas to add to their e-books, or their services, to make them more attractive to consumers, even at higher prices. Their alternative is to further subsidize e-books with included ads for other products (the same way a DVD has ads for products and other movies added to it).

If not, they'll only see less profit, and have to deal with the realities of the changing market.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 11:41 AM
Have you ever even tried to make an ebook? I just looked up your posts as far back as February and couldn't find one. Please go do one, and see how long it takes.

Your claim that it takes no time at all to make an ebook is an insult to all the people here who have put countless hours into converting them.

Yes, I have a large number of them sitting on my hard drive, ready to be read. So I do know how long it takes and it takes about 3 clicks of the mouse.

JSWolf
07-31-2007, 11:44 AM
Yes, I have a large number of them sitting on my hard drive, ready to be read. So I do know how long it takes and it takes about 3 clicks of the mouse.
How long did it take to get those ebooks in the format ready for you to read? MORE THEN THREE CLICKS! If I start with an RTF file and use Book Designer to create an LRF, it takes more then THREE CLICKS to do so. Trust me when I say YOU ARE WAY OFF BASE HERE!

Steven Lyle Jordan
07-31-2007, 12:12 PM
Speaking for myself, when I convert a book of mine into an e-book format, I have to:


Alter the text file with appropriate headers, chapters, etc for the format;
Possibly doublespace the paragraphs, or substitute paragraph tabs with an extra hard space;
Input text into e-book creation software;
Input cover (a whole 'nother ball game);
Format the e-book meta-files with title, subject, author, copyright data, etc;
Create e-book;
Go back and proof the file, to make sure everything came out properly, and looks right. If something is wrong, I may have to go back to the original text file and start over;
Repeat for the other 5 formats I save each book in.


You couldn't even macro that into just 3 clicks. And every serious publisher is going to have to go through at least all of those steps on each book they format. It may not be a time-consuming process (other than writing and proofing time), but it is step-intensive.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 01:11 PM
How long did it take to get those ebooks in the format ready for you to read? MORE THEN THREE CLICKS! If I start with an RTF file and use Book Designer to create an LRF, it takes more then THREE CLICKS to do so.

Then you are using a poor tool.

Trust me when I say YOU ARE WAY OFF BASE HERE!

You have yet to explain how I am way off base.

I assume that all books are submitted to the publishers in electronic form. To do so otherwise makes little sense in this day and age. Once it's in that form, it's simply a matter of saving the file into a standard format (once we have a standard eBook format).

OK. I give in. So it's not 3 clicks. It's 6 clicks. Twice the work that I thought.

HarryT
07-31-2007, 01:13 PM
Yes, I have a large number of them sitting on my hard drive, ready to be read. So I do know how long it takes and it takes about 3 clicks of the mouse.

And did you write these books yourself? If not, do you believe that the people who did write them did so free of charge, and don't expect to be paid for doing so?

HarryT
07-31-2007, 01:15 PM
Speaking for myself, when I convert a book of mine into an e-book format, I have to:


Alter the text file with appropriate headers, chapters, etc for the format;
Possibly doublespace the paragraphs, or substitute paragraph tabs with an extra hard space;
Input text into e-book creation software;
Input cover (a whole 'nother ball game);
Format the e-book meta-files with title, subject, author, copyright data, etc;
Create e-book;
Go back and proof the file, to make sure everything came out properly, and looks right. If something is wrong, I may have to go back to the original text file and start over;
Repeat for the other 5 formats I save each book in.


You couldn't even macro that into just 3 clicks. And every serious publisher is going to have to go through at least all of those steps on each book they format. It may not be a time-consuming process (other than writing and proofing time), but it is step-intensive.

Another very important element is the editor who works with the author. I'm sure that you can write good, grammatical English, Steve, but as you know, people who can are in the minority. Most authors need serious help from an editor to convert the mess they turn out into something that can be published. Good editors spend a lot of time with authors, and that doesn't come cheap - it all has to be recouped as a part of the price of the book.

Jack B Nimble
07-31-2007, 02:53 PM
Wow... I don't even want to get into some of the arguments floating around here... It's getting pretty silly. To get back to the subject of the thread...

I will say that I think ebooks would do best as another step in the hardcover-paperback chain. Hardcovers starting at $18-30. Wait 12-18 months and get the paperback for $7-15. Wait another year or so for another chunk off, say $4-8.

JSWolf
07-31-2007, 05:08 PM
Then you are using a poor tool.
Let's say I give you an RTF file with NO bookmark links. How will you get it formatted into LRF with ToC links properly in the file?

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 05:30 PM
Another very important element is the editor who works with the author. I'm sure that you can write good, grammatical English, Steve, but as you know, people who can are in the minority. Most authors need serious help from an editor to convert the mess they turn out into something that can be published. Good editors spend a lot of time with authors, and that doesn't come cheap - it all has to be recouped as a part of the price of the book.

But it's still not an excuse for pricing an eBook the same as a pBook.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 05:32 PM
Wow... I don't even want to get into some of the arguments floating around here... It's getting pretty silly. To get back to the subject of the thread...

I will say that I think ebooks would do best as another step in the hardcover-paperback chain. Hardcovers starting at $18-30. Wait 12-18 months and get the paperback for $7-15. Wait another year or so for another chunk off, say $4-8.

The only problem is that before 2 years goes by, it will be available as a pirated eBook.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 05:34 PM
Let's say I give you an RTF file with NO bookmark links. How will you get it formatted into LRF with ToC links properly in the file?

Since LRF is a closed, Sony-proprietary format, I won't.

JSWolf
07-31-2007, 05:41 PM
Since LRF is a closed, Sony-proprietary format, I won't.
Then you know it's a lot more then 3-6 clicks to do this conversion. You won't do it because you know I'm right. And by the way, LRF is DRM free.

I bet even Adobe will have Digital Editions DRM protected up the wazoo.

RWood
07-31-2007, 05:46 PM
I think all of us are overestimating the cost of the physical media for a book. Most of the wholesale cost of a book is not the physical book itself but the author's piece, the publisher's overhead, and the staff to prepare the book.

rlauzon is correct that ebooks cost less to produce but they still have to contribute to the general expenses of the book. The marginal expense per ebook is very low. The publishers see an ebook sale as a replacement sale for a pbook and still want to recover the general expenses from it.

There was an old joke in the publishing industry about $1 books. "The first copy is $1,000,000. After that they're $1 each. Now we just have to find someone to buy that first copy."

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 05:48 PM
Then you know it's a lot more then 3-6 clicks to do this conversion. You won't do it because you know I'm right. And by the way, LRF is DRM free.

Given an LRF file, can I "decompile" it? Can I change that LRF file into an open format?

If the answer is "no", then it's the same as having DRM on it.

I bet even Adobe will have Digital Editions DRM protected up the wazoo.

Won't touch that trash either.

RWood
07-31-2007, 05:54 PM
There is a free program called ABC Amber Sony Converter that will convert an LRF file to RTF, PDF, DOC, TEXT, etc.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 06:10 PM
There is a free program called ABC Amber Sony Converter that will convert an LRF file to RTF, PDF, DOC, TEXT, etc.

Free as in beer, not free as in freedom (sorry, I just watched a Stallman video 8-)).

The utility does not come with source code and requires that you use a buggy, insecure, proprietary operating system. Useless.

RWood
07-31-2007, 06:34 PM
Free as in beer, not free as in freedom (sorry, I just watched a Stallman video 8-)).

The utility does not come with source code and requires that you use a buggy, insecure, proprietary operating system. Useless.
Very true; but then I've had problems getting DEC TOPS-10 or IBM MVS/370 opsys to run on Intel chips. :D

JSWolf
07-31-2007, 06:37 PM
Given an LRF file, can I "decompile" it? Can I change that LRF file into an open format?
There is a Python program called lrf2lrs and you could modify the Python code to output into any format you wanted from the LRF. So yes you CAN decompile it.

rlauzon
07-31-2007, 09:47 PM
There is a Python program called lrf2lrs and you could modify the Python code to output into any format you wanted from the LRF. So yes you CAN decompile it.

The output from it leaves much to be desired since LRS is not a standard format. I suppose I could write a XSL for it into something useful.

But, yes, it does decompile it into something that can be converted to something useful.

But I'll restate once again: Support of closed formats only sends the wrong message to the eBook manufacturers. It tells them that we like re-converting our eBooks every time we get a new reader.

JSWolf
08-01-2007, 12:41 AM
I hate to say this, but EVERY ebook format is CLOSED. Even Digital Editions is going to be closed. Can you tell me one ebook format that isnt closed?

rlauzon
08-01-2007, 05:01 AM
I hate to say this, but EVERY ebook format is CLOSED.

Not true, depending on your definition of "eBook format."

Even Digital Editions is going to be closed.

Any you expected something different from Adobe? Digital Editions has been on my "avoid list" since I heard about it.

Can you tell me one ebook format that isnt closed?

I've been reading PalmDOCs for years. Completely open format.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-01-2007, 08:57 AM
Can you tell me one ebook format that isnt closed?

ePub. HTML with CSS files, ASCII files, all in a zipped package. If you can unzip it, you can read it on anything that can read HTML. Not limited to any piece of hardware (like a Palm). Even if styles and metadata are not supported, you can read the HTML. That's about as open as it gets.

Jack B, I like your thinking about Hardback to paperback to e-book. The prices for e-books still sound high (as do the paperbacks... I'll never pay $15 for a paperback!), and I think the time frame between paperback and e-book will be shorter, or maybe released concurrently with paperback... after all, both are considered the lesser version of the "real" book, the big hardback.

andym
08-01-2007, 11:25 AM
The things that I list have to form a component of the price of the eBook, just as they do for a paper book. If the eBook sells fewer copies than a paper book, their unit cost is inevitably going to be higher than for a paper book, therefore the eBook could well end up costing more than the paper book. Simply economics.

Well that might true if the e-Book was never published as a paper edition but this discussion is, I assume, about the comparative costs of the same editions of the same book from the same publisher.

Most of the costs of producing an e-Book are shared with the cost of producing the printed edition. The e-Book doesn't of course have to bear the costs of printing, storage, transport or distribution.

The costs to the publisher should normally be a lot less, and there is no reason why they should not charge less fore-books. Of course publishers may take the view that e-Books are an added-value service and something they can charge more for (pdfs of computer manulas or Lonely Planet guidebooks are other examples), and if they think they can make more money that way, they will.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-01-2007, 11:50 AM
I think the expectation would be that, since e-books are easier to distribute and store, more flexible to read, easily downloaded online without a trip to the store or a wait for shipping, that e-books would be able to sell in greater numbers than paperbacks and hardbacks. If you price them lower than paperbacks, that increases their likely increased sales. Once e-books catch on and sales are greater than paperback and hardback, you can sell the e-book for less unit cost, and still make a higher profit than that of paperbacks and hardbacks (obviously not counting the cost of printing the pbacks and hbacks).

This is the very principle that justifies the paperback, being sold in larger numbers at lower cost than hardbacks. If paperbacks did not make as much as hardbacks, they would not be printed (as, in fact, many hardbacks never see paperback versions, because it is believed that they will not sell well in that format). It is also how DVDs make up for lost movie profits, by selling more copies at lower cost, and how concerts make up for minimal profits by selling more CDs at lower cost... in entertainment, this economic model holds well.

Apply the same economics to e-books, and you achieve your profit goals when e-books become regular commodities more widely sold than paperbacks. So the catch is to make them desireable enough to outsell paperbacks and hardbacks, either through a great reader experience (the iPod of readers), or with value-added extras (like the extra features on a DVD, or the improved audio quality and extra cuts on a CD).

JSWolf
08-01-2007, 12:45 PM
ePub. HTML with CSS files, ASCII files, all in a zipped package. If you can unzip it, you can read it on anything that can read HTML. Not limited to any piece of hardware (like a Palm). Even if styles and metadata are not supported, you can read the HTML. That's about as open as it gets.
If there are no styles supported, then it's not really an ebook. It's just another text file type format. Won't do at all.

Now, here's the kicker, what OPEN ebook format is there that will be sold by the major ebook publishers/shops (other then Baen) that is not full of DRM? Where could I purchase these open ePub books that I can then read or unzip and do with as I please? I don't see this happening anytime soon. The closest I have is LIT and the ability to strip the DRM and/or convert to HTML. So COMMERCIALLY, there won't be any open ebook formats for a LONG time.

JSWolf
08-01-2007, 12:47 PM
Not true, depending on your definition of "eBook format."



Any you expected something different from Adobe? Digital Editions has been on my "avoid list" since I heard about it.



I've been reading PalmDOCs for years. Completely open format.
What is your definition of ebook format?

Digital Editions might help in one way. To help standardize things.

How is a PalmDOC any more open then one of the current ebook formats (except PDF) without DRM? I'm not up on palmDOC that much to really know. But I do know that for example, I can decompile LIT format into HTML and that you cannot argue is a good thing. Plus, the program to do this is open source.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-01-2007, 01:17 PM
If there are no styles supported, then it's not really an ebook. It's just another text file type format. Won't do at all.

Why not? ePub is essentially an HTML file with instructions on how to display it. Many of the e-books take original HTML, or convert proprietary text to HTML formats, then re-compile it for the specific reader... including LIT. ePub is simply providing the tools with which any reader can potentially do the compiling on its own, without your help.

My only point was, even if you can't read the styles, you can still access the file and manually convert it to your reader of choice.

Now, here's the kicker, what OPEN ebook format is there that will be sold by the major ebook publishers/shops (other then Baen) that is not full of DRM? Where could I purchase these open ePub books that I can then read or unzip and do with as I please? I don't see this happening anytime soon. The closest I have is LIT and the ability to strip the DRM and/or convert to HTML. So COMMERCIALLY, there won't be any open ebook formats for a LONG time.

Well, when you put it that way: No, I don't expect to see major publishers with proprietray content and a serious distrust of a group that openly and publicly hacks, transcribes, and shares their books, to be willingly offering non-DRM, hackable e-book formats anytime soon. But independents are already offering no-DRM e-book formats (myself included). And a format's open-ness is essentially limited to whether or not it's been hacked open, like LIT.

But given time, a common format will prevail, and the public will find the set of tools that work for their needs... at which point, "open" will be replaced with "convenient" (like MP3s are not strictly "open" formats, but they are common, and convenient, so it's cool).

RWood
08-01-2007, 02:06 PM
Using Steve's entertainment argument framework, consider the case of audio recordings. Stereo Lps sold for more than mono Lps -- value added of the second audio track (well, ok, L+R, and L-R.) When cassettes and 8-trancks came along they were also priced higher than Lps. When CDs came along they were almost twice the price of Lps with the added value that they never wear out or skip. (Melting, scratching, and warping were never mentioned.) We were told that the price would come down in the future as more CD plants came on line. We are still waiting for the price drop.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-01-2007, 03:20 PM
Arhh... Curse you, RWoodman! You've discovered the flaw in my fiendish... uh... logic.

Funny, I recall cassettes being cheaper than albums, but I could be wrong. (Prices were also influenced by the popularity of the genre, and I guess we could get waaay deep into that, but... naw.)

And the discrepancy between albums and CDs was solved by... the music industry not producing albums anymore.

Hardbacks, paperbacks, and e-books all exist together. Hardbacks cost more, because they are best editions, on quality paper, perfect-bound, and in color where applicable. Pbacks are on smaller, cheaper paper and a lesser binding, usually no color other than a cover, so they cost less.

By that reasoning, then, e-books should cost less simply because they are effectively ephemeral! NO paper, NO binding, NO color cover, NOthing to show off on your bookshelf! They're the size of a bunch of electrons... try displaying those babies!

Aha! I have you now, RWoodman! My logic is still... completely immaterial if the publishing industry does not deign to follow it...

(Can you tell I'm taking a break from working on my novel today? :D )

BooksForABuck
08-01-2007, 03:32 PM
First, not all eBooks cost more than pBooks. Many small publishers (like www.booksforabuck.com) offer eBooks at prices significantly below paper prices. Many other publishers price their books at the same price regardless of media (which makes a certain amount of sense to me--the value is in the content, not the paper pulp, right?). For a variety of reasons, Amazon choses to discount some of its paper books while paying full wholesale to the publishers. They certainly could do this for eBooks too (through their Mobipocket subsidiary), but they choose not to do so. How is this publisher greed.

On the notion that publishers add no value, let me suggest that the quality of the edited material publishers generate is significantly higher than the quality of the input we receive. Publisher value comes from: (1) wading through the slush pile to pick works that meet our quality standards; (2) working with the author to edit the works to an even higher quality level; (3) promoting the work (you can say this has no value to the reader, but you might never know about a great book without it); (4) Adapting the manuscript to various formats so readers can pick the format that best meets their device needs and personal preference; (5) Investing in all of the aspects of a business including paying author royalties, buying ISBNs, commissioning cover art (again, this may add no value to you, but many readers will not look at an eBook that doesn't come with attractive cover art).

Paper and eBooks are joint products. Looking at either as the 'marginal' product that could be priced at unit marginal cost misses the point. From a publisher standpoint, we need to make sure that our total revenue at least equals our total cost--and the best way to do this is frequently not to give away eBooks but to sell them at a price that yields a contribution to covering overall costs. (Sure some authors and publishers make money by giving away eBooks to encourage pBook sales. If you believe this is a permanent business model, you're essentially saying that eBooks will always represent an insignificant share of the market and that eBooks will always remain an inferior reading experience. Not only do I not agree with this, I believe that eBooks already represent, in many cases, a superior reading experience.

Rob Preece
Publisher, www.BooksForABuck.com

rlauzon
08-01-2007, 06:42 PM
Digital Editions might help in one way. To help standardize things.

If it's closed, it's doomed to fail. All closed formats fail at some point.

How is a PalmDOC any more open then one of the current ebook formats (except PDF) without DRM?

PDF is not open. PDF is standard - meaning that the format is available for anyone to create. Well, mostly standard since some features of PDF are not made public (like the DRM that Abobe puts on it).

To me "open" means that I can convert the format to something else.

Once a document is a PDF, you cannot retrieve the original document (or even something useful, IHMO) from the PDF.

I'm not up on palmDOC that much to really know.

It was basically made for large memos on the Palm platform. In a sense, it's just a text file - but made readable for the Palm. One of the Mobipocket formats is just an HTML file in a PalmDOC.

But I do know that for example, I can decompile LIT format into HTML

You can decompile some LIT files.

Of course, many of those that can be decompiled are usually based on poor HTML in the first place.

But Microsoft has made this format proprietary, so don't expect any reader (except from Microsoft) to support it.

rlauzon
08-01-2007, 06:53 PM
First, not all eBooks cost more than pBooks.

Right. But no eBook should ever cost more than a pBook.

What gets me is when I go to some commercial eBook site, look up a book, then find the same book at Amazon.com in paper form, in hardcover, and have Amazon's price be less.

There is absolutely no excuse for this.

the value is in the content, not the paper pulp

You got that right. But most of the price of a pBook is related to that paper pulp. Since those costs do not exist for an eBook, the price of the eBook should reflect that.

Publisher value comes from: (1) wading through the slush pile to pick works that meet our quality standards;

No longer needed. Peer networks do a much better job.

(2) working with the author to edit the works to an even higher quality level;

Value to the author only. Not an excuse to make eBooks cost more.

(3) promoting the work (you can say this has no value to the reader, but you might never know about a great book without it);

Unnecessary today. The internet and word of mouth does a much better job.

Posting the first chapter of the book for free, for example, does a much better job of promotion - and costs almost nothing.

(4) Adapting the manuscript to various formats so readers can pick the format that best meets their device needs and personal preference;

Worthless since this promotes closed formats. No adaption is needed. Release the eBook in an open format and let the readers convert as needed.

(5) Investing in all of the aspects of a business including paying author royalties, buying ISBNs, commissioning cover art (again, this may add no value to you, but many readers will not look at an eBook that doesn't come with attractive cover art).

Value to the author only. Not an excuse to make eBooks cost more.

drgnbear
08-01-2007, 07:24 PM
I have no trouble paying for a book. Put a CD in the back with the eBook and charge me a few dollars more. I would GLADLY pay more to have both a physical and electronic copy of books. As consumers we have to demand eBook versions from publishers. Politely write a letter to the publishers of your favorite books explaining how much easier an eBook is and how you would be willing to pay more to see it bundled with the hardback. Unless they can see a market to make increased profits it will never happen.

As for DRM. I don't like it but the truth is it's here to stay. Pretty much buck up or don't pay for it. What needs to happen is an open format that can be read on any device, then it won't matter unless you are attempting to pirate material. If that's the case I have no sympathy.

RWood
08-01-2007, 08:08 PM
Originally Posted by BooksForABuck
(3) promoting the work (you can say this has no value to the reader, but you might never know about a great book without it);
Unnecessary today. The internet and word of mouth does a much better job.

By that logic Steve Jordan should be one of the most successful writers out there today.

Jack B Nimble
08-01-2007, 08:09 PM
I have no trouble paying for a book. Put a CD in the back with the eBook and charge me a few dollars more. I would GLADLY pay more to have both a physical and electronic copy of books. As consumers we have to demand eBook versions from publishers. Politely write a letter to the publishers of your favorite books explaining how much easier an eBook is and how you would be willing to pay more to see it bundled with the hardback. Unless they can see a market to make increased profits it will never happen.

As for DRM. I don't like it but the truth is it's here to stay. Pretty much buck up or don't pay for it. What needs to happen is an open format that can be read on any device, then it won't matter unless you are attempting to pirate material. If that's the case I have no sympathy.

Again, Baen just seems to be on the ball for this. I have seen several of their books with CDs in the back, including that book (and occasionally, related books from the same author) in a variety of DRM-free formats. Sadly, they do not publish much that I read, but my buddy loves it. He has quite a library, just from Baen.

JSWolf
08-01-2007, 10:14 PM
There was a Star Trek New Frontier Hardcover that had a CD attached to the first printing that had all the previous stories in PDF with no DRM.

drgnbear
08-02-2007, 01:56 AM
Exactly and Baen gets my money. Even if I don't find the book attractive if it comes with electronic versions attached I buy it. Well... within reason. I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy so... I don't really know if it's being done outside of that Genre. My biggest beef with the Sony store is their Sci-Fi and Fantasy stuff reeks.

JSWolf
08-02-2007, 02:19 AM
Well, I just bought a book a collection of an author's first three books in a series (in one book) for $9.95. Pretty good price I'd have to say. Brings it to $3.32 per book.

jasonkchapman
08-02-2007, 08:11 AM
No longer needed. Peer networks do a much better job.
Unnecessary today. The internet and word of mouth does a much better job.
No they don't. Every peer network devolves in short order into factionalized fan clubs that yield very little useful information. What valuable information is there ends up requiring way too much effort from the user to glean. The longer any community exists, the more it comes to resemble Slashdot. They become populated with personalities that treat their own preferences as "The One True Way" and spit on any other opinion with religious zeal.

Posting the first chapter of the book for free, for example, does a much better job of promotion - and costs almost nothing.
Also not true. Some obscure Web site in a remote corner of the digiverse is not going to get noticed. Getting it noticed requires one heck of a lot of time and effort. You either hire astroturfers, or you spend more time promoting than writing. Since that costs either time or money, it will show up in the bottom line of the ebook.

Value to the author only. Not an excuse to make eBooks cost more.
You keep making that distinction, but it's meaningless. If something is of value to the "manufacturer," said "manufacturer" is going to pass it on to the consumer. Safety goggles in an auto factory are only of value to the employees. So are salaries. So are health care benefits. Those things still show up in the bottom line.

HarryT
08-02-2007, 09:07 AM
Release the eBook in an open format and let the readers convert as needed.


Lauzon,

One has only to read these forums to see how many dishonest people there are around, who have no qualms about reading illegally-downloaded versions of "Harry Potter", for example. It is clear that DRM is critically important - without DRM these dishonest people will carry on illegally downloading books rather than buying them. Book publishers exist for one reason, and one reason alone - to make a profit; they are not charities. No DRM means no profit and hence no books.

Open formats are worthless - DRM is the only way to go if you want to see more commercially-published eBooks. I am astonished that you fail to see this self-evident truth! Long live DRM!

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-02-2007, 09:56 AM
As consumers we have to demand eBook versions from publishers. Politely write a letter to the publishers of your favorite books explaining how much easier an eBook is and how you would be willing to pay more to see it bundled with the hardback. Unless they can see a market to make increased profits it will never happen.

I think a lot of publishers who are thinking actively about e-books (and most of them are) are biding their own time until they are ready. If we contact them, demonstrating that there is a market right now, maybe they will speed up the process. And if we phrase our requests properly, it might help them decide on issues like formats, DRM, price, etc, that they may be on the fence about right now.

Maybe some thought should be given to a script that could be used by consumers to send to publishers, hitting on our desired points so as to make clear to them what we want and how we want it. Some unity from us would be a help to them to make the final decisions.

rlauzon
08-02-2007, 01:22 PM
By that logic Steve Jordan should be one of the most successful writers out there today.

Marketing and advertising does not make a "OK" book "great."

rlauzon
08-02-2007, 01:26 PM
One has only to read these forums to see how many dishonest people there are around, who have no qualms about reading illegally-downloaded versions of "Harry Potter", for example.

You obviously haven't read these forums. Those people also purchased the book and the only reason they downloaded the illegal eBook was so they could read it as an eBook. An eBook that was not offered at all through any legal channel.

It is clear that DRM is critically important

Fact: DRM doesn't work. All DRM has been cracked.

DRM exists for only 1 purpose: to lock a user into a certain company. It does not, cannot, protect the content.

DRM is a failure. To think it's "critically important" is to ignore the facts and think that customers are morons.

JSWolf
08-02-2007, 01:34 PM
Give me URLs to prove that ever ebook DRM has been cracked.

HarryT
08-02-2007, 01:43 PM
You obviously haven't read these forums. Those people also purchased the book and the only reason they downloaded the illegal eBook was so they could read it as an eBook. An eBook that was not offered at all through any legal channel.

Completely irrelevent. It's still illegal, and anyone who downloads it is breaking the law. How can you possibly know that everyone who downloaded it has also purchased the book?

Fact: DRM doesn't work. All DRM has been cracked.

DRM exists for only 1 purpose: to lock a user into a certain company. It does not, cannot, protect the content.

DRM is a failure. To think it's "critically important" is to ignore the facts and think that customers are morons.

Of course DRM protects content - that's what it's for. You are entirely incorrect in saying that all DRM has been cracked - can you give me a link to a crack for Mobipocket DRM, for example? For about Adobe's DRM? No? I thought not.

JSWolf
08-02-2007, 03:36 PM
Completely irrelevent. It's still illegal, and anyone who downloads it is breaking the law. How can you possibly know that everyone who downloaded it has also purchased the book?



Of course DRM protects content - that's what it's for. You are entirely incorrect in saying that all DRM has been cracked - can you give me a link to a crack for Mobipocket DRM, for example? For about Adobe's DRM? No? I thought not.
Adobe's DRM has been broken somehow. I saw a file on the net that was from an original PDF DRM copy and the DRM was broken. But I have never seen eReader or MobiPocket DRM broken.

silkpag
08-02-2007, 04:56 PM
Adobe's DRM has been broken somehow. I saw a file on the net that was from an original PDF DRM copy and the DRM was broken. But I have never seen eReader or MobiPocket DRM broken.

pdbshred did both for a while--eventually, on Mobi, you got a great message if you tried it on .prc files. They had a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Only thing hindering development of Mobi/E-Reader DRM cracking, one suspects, is that currently everything published in those two formats is also available in MS-Reader.

Disclaimer: I was only using the program on my own secure Mobi digital files, from an especially-NSFW-during-summer imprint.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-02-2007, 05:09 PM
Marketing and advertising does not make a "OK" book "great."

(Ooh! Yuh got me!) ;)

Maybe not, but marketing and advertising will put an "OK" book ghost-written for Dr. Phil on the NYT bestseller list.

rlauzon
08-02-2007, 05:25 PM
Give me URLs to prove that ever ebook DRM has been cracked.

On Slashdot today:
http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/01/2218256

OOps. Sorry, that was audio and video, not eBooks. But the quote:
"When you look at the technology, there's no getting around the fact that DRM is an abject failure."
applies to eBooks. I would argue that eBooks aren't in high enough demand to merit the same attention from the people who enjoy crasking DRM.

rlauzon
08-02-2007, 05:28 PM
Adobe's DRM has been broken somehow. I saw a file on the net that was from an original PDF DRM copy and the DRM was broken. But I have never seen eReader or MobiPocket DRM broken.

Ya, there was a big flap over the Russian programmer a number of years back who came to the U.S. for a conference and was detained over his breaking of Adobe DRM.

tribble
08-02-2007, 05:32 PM
Well, any DRM can be "broken". Worst case is, you photograph all pages and OCR them ;)

The hardest to break are probably private/public key encrypted files with current encryption algorithms. But as DRM with film content, there is always the problem, when the content is decrypted to be viewed. There you would need hardware which leaves you no way to grab the content during that time.

And i personally do not really care, if i break the law, when i read a downloaded book on en ereader, which i have bought as a paperbook version. This is just pointing out, how ridiculous laws can be.

Have you ever thought about a musicion, who just wants their music in vynil? If they are good and people like them ... well, but you are right, it is their right to do as they please.

But on the other hand, what if in a democracy, the majority would vote for a law, that forces all authors to publish their books for free? That would be even more ridiculous laws. Well, i am overdoing it, right?

So if you think the artistic right should be inpenetrable, what, if JKR would want us to read the book only with blue light in a cellar? Ok, i am getting carried away here.

I think that the fear of ebooks and piracy of content is soo great, and soo unrealistic. Otherwise, Microsoft would be broke. But the market for ebooks is too small at the moment to have any impact on the publishers. But over time it will grow, and hopefully they will start with better decisions than the music industry.

rlauzon
08-02-2007, 05:35 PM
(Ooh! Yuh got me!) ;)

Maybe not, but marketing and advertising will put an "OK" book ghost-written for Dr. Phil on the NYT bestseller list.

And, unfortunately, will still not make an "OK" book a "great" book.

But you do bring up a good point: Just because a book is on the NYT best seller list doesn't mean that I'm going to like it. Just because a publisher thinks it good doesn't mean that the book is good.

This is both a benefit and a curse with eBooks. Anyone can publish a good book that the publishers think is bad (I'll point out Scott Siegler's Earthcore as an example) - but on the other hand, anyone can publish a bad book.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-02-2007, 09:10 PM
Anyone can publish a good book that the publishers think is bad (I'll point out Scott Siegler's Earthcore as an example) - but on the other hand, anyone can publish a bad book.

E-book: The Great Equalizer.

That's okay. This world has seen other equalizing technologies, and has learned how to survive with them. So, too, with e-books.

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 09:33 AM
[QUOTE=Cthulhu;84207]rlauzon: said:


The unit cost of an ebook is zero only after a "book" is produced. There are advertising costs, research costs, editorial costs. Any labour that goes into producing something that comes from a publisher needs to be compensated........


And the REST of the story is that these costs should be no more than for a plain old ordinary book. So, where is our discount for printing and transportation costs, and all of the handling costs associated with paper books?

E-boooks are convenient, but I am not going to pay more for one than for a paper-based book. Nor am I going to buy the same content twice. Example- Last year I shelled out almost $70 for Singh's 'Mac OSX Internals.' A month later I found a pdf version- $49. The publisher should give me that for free, but they would not. And it's DRM'd.

IMHO, book piracy- like music piracy- exists. But the way to deal with it is not to piss off the people who are actually buying your product. And publishers are pissing off buyers of books and e-books.

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 09:37 AM
Well, any DRM can be "broken". Worst case is, you photograph all pages and OCR them ;)

And i personally do not really care, if i break the law, when i read a downloaded book on en ereader, which i have bought as a paperbook version. This is just pointing out, how ridiculous laws can be....


I am not 100% sure, so correct me if I am wrong, but this is not illegal. If you buy a copyrighted title, I believe you are also able to convert that title to another format for personal use.

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 09:58 AM
[QUOTE=BooksForABuck;85016]
On the notion that publishers add no value, let me suggest that the quality of the edited material publishers generate is significantly higher than the quality of the input we receive. Publisher value comes from: (1) wading through the slush pile to pick works that meet our quality standards; (2) working with the author to edit the works to an even higher quality level; ..........

I'll agree that wading through publishers' slush files is worth money. But I seriously question the amount of time that publishers work with authors to edit their works to an even higher quality. And I also question the amount of proofreading that publishers do today.

A year or so ago on vacation, I bought one of Tony Hillerman's paperback novels. The spelling errors, even in today's world of computerized spell checkers, I could deal with. But when a paragraph was repeated about halfway through the book, and some of the prose was simply awful, I trash-canned it.

And this example is by no means isolated.

tribble
08-03-2007, 10:00 AM
I am not 100% sure, so correct me if I am wrong, but this is not illegal. If you buy a copyrighted title, I believe you are also able to convert that title to another format for personal use.

Not in my country. If you have to break DRM it is illegal. But you could make a photocopy for personal use.

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 10:12 AM
Lauzon,

One has only to read these forums to see how many dishonest people there are around, who have no qualms about reading illegally-downloaded versions of "Harry Potter", for example. It is clear that DRM is critically important - without DRM these dishonest people will carry on illegally downloading books rather than buying them. Book publishers exist for one reason, and one reason alone - to make a profit; they are not charities. No DRM means no profit and hence no books.

Open formats are worthless - DRM is the only way to go if you want to see more commercially-published eBooks. I am astonished that you fail to see this self-evident truth! Long live DRM!....

Does piracy really cost us as much as publishers claim? Everyone is quick to pint out that there are pirated materials out there, but few question whether or not a pirate download is actually costing a publisher money. If the downloader would not have bought the book/cd/movie, then that download hasn't cost anyone a dime.

Piracy can even help publishers; I know of many people who have downloaded a pirated album, liked what they heard, and then went on to buy cd's by that musician. Same thing happens in a library- those cheapskates <G> read the CONTENT without paying for it!!!! Then many go out and buy other works by that author. So what's different in the library scenario?

I get so tired of hearing whining about piracy. M$ had a crappy windowed OS with nowhere near market share- until this OS was pirated in great numbers and put the company on top of market share. Piracy is out there- deal with it. And realize that sometimes, it may help sales, and that the risk of having your material pirated is greatly reduced if it is reasonably priced. And also that every pirated download does NOT mean a lost sale- the sale is only lost if a customer that would otherwise have BOUGHT your product does not buy.

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 10:21 AM
Not in my country. If you have to break DRM it is illegal. But you could make a photocopy for personal use.


And could you then OCR the photocopy for personal e-book use?

HarryT
08-03-2007, 10:42 AM
And could you then OCR the photocopy for personal e-book use?

Under UK copyright law it's illegal to scan or photocopy a book that you've bought, even for personal use. One of those laws that's impossible to enforce, of course, but that is the law!

HarryT
08-03-2007, 10:51 AM
....

Does piracy really cost us as much as publishers claim? Everyone is quick to pint out that there are pirated materials out there, but few question whether or not a pirate download is actually costing a publisher money. If the downloader would not have bought the book/cd/movie, then that download hasn't cost anyone a dime.

But sooner or later the item is going to end up in the hands of someone who would otherwise have bought the product. That's inevitable. There's also the fundamental fact that it's just plain wrong to download musc, books, movies, or whatever, that you haven't paid for. Leaving the law aside, it's just plain morally wrong. Surely you agree with that, don't you?

So what's different in the library scenario?

Two things, at least:


If 1000 libraries have a book available for loan, that's 1000 book sales for the author. If 1000 people download a book from the internet, that's ZERO sales for the author.
In the UK at least, there's a pot of government money which gets distributed each year to authors, on the basis of the number of loans of their books from libraries, nationally. It's not a vast payout, but if you're a reasonably popular author, you get a few thousand $ from it, which isn't to be sneezed at.


I get so tired of hearing whining about piracy. M$ had a crappy windowed OS with nowhere near market share- until this OS was pirated in great numbers and put the company on top of market share.

No, the reason Microsoft succeeded was because IBM licenced their o/s for the IBM PC, which sold in vast numbers to businesses. Before that, Microsoft's primary business had been selling ROM BASIC for personal computers.

Piracy is out there- deal with it. And realize that sometimes, it may help sales, and that the risk of having your material pirated is greatly reduced if it is reasonably priced. And also that every pirated download does NOT mean a lost sale- the sale is only lost if a customer that would otherwise have BOUGHT your product does not buy.

Sorry, but the fact that it happens doesn't make it "right" or "acceptable". Using someone else's intellectual property without paying for it is just plain WRONG. Perhaps you'd feel differently if that's how you made your living.

UncleDuke
08-03-2007, 11:31 AM
i think books are cheap

as a % of what we make they are dirt cheap

ebook is just the latest form

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-03-2007, 12:29 PM
i think books are cheap

as a % of what we make they are dirt cheap

Well, sure... but if, like a lot of people, 90% or more of your income is going directly to bills (and hopefully savings), you often have to consider even the cheapest of purchases against money needed to, say, feed yourself.

I've passed up on books and other entertainment, simply because of cost, many times, and I probably will in the future. The cheaper they are, though, the easier it is to buy.

rlauzon
08-03-2007, 01:14 PM
IMHO, book piracy- like music piracy- exists. But the way to deal with it is not to piss off the people who are actually buying your product. And publishers are pissing off buyers of books and e-books.

It seems that the publishing industry is not learning from the music industry's mistakes.

rlauzon
08-03-2007, 01:20 PM
Sorry, but the fact that it happens doesn't make it "right" or "acceptable". Using someone else's intellectual property without paying for it is just plain WRONG. Perhaps you'd feel differently if that's how you made your living.

When it comes to what is right and what is wrong, the line between is different for different people.

The problem is that due to the changing of copyright law, and this lawyer-created concept of "intellectual property" (how can someone own an idea or a thought?), people have less respect for such laws.

You see, most people follow laws not because they might get punished for breaking them, but because they believe that the law is right. When people believe that the law is wrong, they simply don't follow it.

HarryT
08-03-2007, 01:34 PM
When people believe that the law is wrong, they simply don't follow it.

Tell me, why do you believe that the law is wrong when it says "you musn't download a book that you haven't bought"?

If I spend a year writing a book, don't you think that I have the right to earn money when people read it?

RWood
08-03-2007, 02:09 PM
The jails have a lot of people in them that ignored laws they thought were wrong.

rlauzon
08-03-2007, 09:21 PM
Tell me, why do you believe that the law is wrong when it says "you musn't download a book that you haven't bought"?

You've taken the misguided stand that "breaking the law" = "wrong".

Sometimes the law is in the wrong. That's why we have court systems.

If I spend a year writing a book, don't you think that I have the right to earn money when people read it?

Again, you have mistaken "downloading" with "stealing". If I have a paper copy of Harry Potter 7 on my desk that I legally purchased, how can downloading the eBook version be "stealing"? The author has received payment.

Cthulhu
08-04-2007, 01:39 AM
Downloading a file that the originator did not wish you to have or did not release to others is INDEED STEALING! Taking something without their permission is theft. Theft is not only against the law--as a basic concept in every nation on earth--but it is seen as ethically and morally wrong, according to every religion and set of cultural mores.
Indeed, the notion of intellectual "property" is a nebulous discussion, and some lend more gravity to the concept of thought ownership than others, but the fact remains that thinking and creating require effort and energy, for which a person or person deserves renumeration.
Defying an unjust law may be morally laudable, but no less illegal. Taking someone's else's twinkie because it will not be missed is no less immoral.

To take your own example, The author of Harry Potter has expressly stated that she does not want electronic copies of her works. If you download a copy of said book, it may not be illegal or immoral, but you are most certainly showing yourself to be a petulant, argumentative person who cares not a jot for other's opinions.


Defame the rules all you wish, clamour in the streets for change, but obey the rules, and be not surprised when you are punished for breaking them.

ricdiogo
08-04-2007, 01:55 AM
The jails have a lot of people in them that ignored laws they thought were wrong.
Indeed. Ignoratia juris neminem excusat (The ignorance doesn't excuse anyone) is a basic principle in a state governed by the rule of law.

The problem is that due to the changing of copyright law, and this lawyer-created concept of "intellectual property" (how can someone own an idea or a thought?)
Oh but you _do_ own ideas or thoughts! In an argument you probably often say "THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAYD!!" Or, if you write a post at this forum but someone else claims the authorship of it you will certainly say "IT WAS ME WHO WROTE THAT!", or, quite frequently "I'd already said that before."

If I have a paper copy of Harry Potter 7 on my desk that I legally purchased, how can downloading the eBook version be "stealing"? The author has received payment.
It is stealing. If you are at a physical bookshop and you pay one copy of the book but you hide the other one in your jacket aren't you stealing? If you left the book alone, someone else could buy it and that other person would be paying the author's rights. But since you have stolen it, that copy will not serve to pay the author. Same happens if you download a book: you have paid the book in your desk but you haven't paid the author for having that extra copy you downloaded (which by the way is an illegal copy since the author did not give any permission for having it uploaded in the first place).
The point here isn't if you have purchased anything or not. The point here is that you don't have the author's permission and they have the right to do whatever they want with it (for instance, they have the right not to allow it being uploaded to the Internet because they fear that can drop their sellings or, simply, because they only want to see the words they have written printed in yellow recycled paper.)

I have to say, however, that I believe authors will very soon have to change all their copyright models and find ways of giving their books for free while still being paid by someone else but the final consumer. That will be one of the great revolutions of the next decade.

silkpag
08-04-2007, 02:50 AM
It is stealing. If you are at a physical bookshop and you pay one copy of the book but you hide the other one in your jacket aren't you stealing? If you left the book alone, someone else could buy it and that other person would be paying the author's rights. But since you have stolen it, that copy will not serve to pay the author. Same happens if you download a book: you have paid the book in your desk but you haven't paid the author for having that extra copy you downloaded (which by the way is an illegal copy since the author did not give any permission for having it uploaded in the first place).


No, it is infringement. Namely, an infringement upon the exclusive right of a content creator to make copies, nothing more nothing less. And if you want further clarification, I have a lengthy document from a U.S. District Court Judge ruling that I had, indeed, infringed 535 of someone else's copyrights that I can show you.

The only theft of intellectual property that has ever occurred has been the theft of the public domain by rent-seekers and their paid-for legislators, coupled with a repackaging by corporate attorneys of what is entirely a civil matter (infringement) into a criminal act (stealing.) Know the difference.

Back to the original point of the thread, anybody noticed that Harlequin, in a bid to take share from Ellora's Cave and Samhain, has slashed prices on ebooks? Publishers haven't competed on price since the '60s, so given the prevalence of smutty themes in the paid-for ebook market, it's kinda interesting that our neighbors to the north are taking this route, even when you think of what the Loonie's done to the dollar this past year.

Disclaimer, one of my sites sells smutty ebooks for $1, with quantity discounts; however it has not a single title featuring either vampires or the Regency Period, so I'm on the sidelines watching this one.

High prices do equal high margins... and high margins attract competitors... prices will go lower.

ricdiogo
08-04-2007, 10:07 AM
No, it is infringement.
Oh I didn't want to get into legal concepts here. I was just trying to explain some common-sense. Have to say however, that several EU states rule illegal downloads as criminal matter, sanctioned with imprisonment.

BooksForABuck
08-04-2007, 01:39 PM
I've never understood the distinction between 'stealing' and 'infringement' to be especially useful or actionable. In either case, you're violating the law. It used to be that copyright violation was civil but I believe digital violation is criminalized--so you go to jail in either case.

The notion that you don't take anything material from an author when you download because there is nothing physical involved is an interesting philosophical case, but again, I don't think it's relevant to the law. I also don't think it's relevant to morals. I mean, suppose you stole the formula for Coke. Coke still has its formula, so you could argue they hadn't lost anything. Same case for drugs or whatever.

If you want to argue that creators of intangible goods don't deserve any rewards because their creations don't take physical form, again, you might be able to make an ethical case--but it's a case that framers of the US Constitution considered and rejected (again, not saying they were right).

As both an author and a publisher, I have strong feelings that, lets say someone downloads my book and then sells it to ten other people, there's something wrong even though the original customer really did pay for my book. Whether it's moral to steal/infringe on an eBook because you already have the paper is something you need to wrestle with in your own value system. Clearly it isn't consistent with the law.

In terms of Harlequin's price reduction--their cheap eBooks seem to be short stories/novellas. So that's not a competitive price reduction, but it is an entry into a new category--one that really hasn't done well lately. But they do seem to be one of the few mega-publishers who systematically offers (slightly) lower pricing on eBooks than on pBooks which, if you remember, was the origin of this whole thread.

(Lots of small publishers, including me, offer lower eBook pricing but the megaPublishers are too afraid of the bookstores and the traditional sales structure).

Rob Preece
Publisher, www.BooksForABuck.com

HarryT
08-05-2007, 04:04 AM
Rob,

As an author and an avid reader myself, I agree 100% with every word that you say. Thank you for expressing it so cogently.

JSWolf
08-05-2007, 05:14 AM
Morally, I don't think it's wrong to download an ebook if you have the dead tree edition. Legally, it's probably wrong. If I was to download HP7 as an ebook but I also bought the dead tree version, I would be ok with that.

Now, I know I can go to my library, place a reserve on HP7, when it's my time, read and and not have paid for it. If I was to download the ebook and read that, the author makes the same nothing as if I went to the library to get the book to read. Still having the ebook is illegal even if the author makes the same nothing.

HarryT
08-05-2007, 11:46 AM
Morally, I don't think it's wrong to download an ebook if you have the dead tree edition. Legally, it's probably wrong. If I was to download HP7 as an ebook but I also bought the dead tree version, I would be ok with that.

How about if there were a commercially available eBook? Would you buy that if you'd previously bought a paperbook version, or would you feel "morally justified" in downloading that without paying for it?

Now, I know I can go to my library, place a reserve on HP7, when it's my time, read and and not have paid for it. If I was to download the ebook and read that, the author makes the same nothing as if I went to the library to get the book to read. Still having the ebook is illegal even if the author makes the same nothing.

At the risk of repeating myself, it is a completely false analogy to compare borrowing a book from a library to downloading it from the internet. Firstly, every library from which someone borrows a book has bought that book, perhaps several copies of it. This HP eBook was created from photographs of a illegally-obtained manuscript which nobody paid for. It's a totally different situation. Secondly, in the UK at least, authors get paid for library loans on the basis of how many of their books are borrowed by libraries, nationwide, over the course of a year. Not a vast amount, but popular authors get a few thousand $.

HeffeD
08-05-2007, 04:10 PM
You've taken the misguided stand that "breaking the law" = "wrong".

Sometimes the law is in the wrong. That's why we have court systems.



Again, you have mistaken "downloading" with "stealing". If I have a paper copy of Harry Potter 7 on my desk that I legally purchased, how can downloading the eBook version be "stealing"? The author has received payment.
Wow! Do you think about some of these concepts before you type them? I believe I know who is the misguided one here...

Even in the vaguest interpretation of "fair use" laws, downloading an illegally distributed product simply because you happen to own a legal copy doesn't hold up. So you're saying if I purchase a car, I can have someone steal another one for me and I'm covered legally? I didn't "steal" anything... Somebody else did... The dealer still got their money from me, how could obtaining another "copy" through illegal channels be wrong? Just try to explain that to any judge...

I also find your argument of "value to the author" entertaining. Do you honestly believe that there is any business that does not pass "value to the originator" on to the consumer? Pure delusion... You can guarantee that any costs incurred in production of anything makes it's way downstream. The originator of the concept needs some specialized equipment? That goes under the umbrella of research and development. Yes, the specialized equipment has absolutely no value whatsoever to the end user, but it's necessary in creating the product, so the consumer is definitely going to pay for it. Any other method of thinking is simply naive.

Such equipment a cost of doing business? Absolutely not. If a business does not make money, it does not continue to exist. Every little cost a company incurs to produce something has to be paid for. Businesses exist to make money. Nobody can simply continue to pay for expenses out of pocket as a cost of doing business. That only lasts until you either go bankrupt or bleed your investors dry. Remember, the investors are in it to make money as well. You can count on the producer of any product including any "cost of doing business" as part of their fee. Sure, they may not include the total cost of a specialized item in a single purchase, but you can guarantee their base fee goes up as a whole.

It's a mind numbingly simply concept. Any business that can not overcome the "cost" associated with said business fails to be a business for very long.

rlauzon
08-05-2007, 05:42 PM
Even in the vaguest interpretation of "fair use" laws, downloading an illegally distributed product simply because you happen to own a legal copy doesn't hold up.

Not true.

Under Fair Use, I may make a copy of my legally purchased media, under certain conditions. It's completely legal for me to create an eBook from my pBook. What's not legal under Fair Use is for me to distribute that copy.

So instead of spending all the time and energy, I simply download the eBook. The end result is the same. Therefore it's legal under Fair Use.

So you're saying if I purchase a car, I can have someone steal another one for me and I'm covered legally?

As soon as you bring a physical object into the argument, your argument becomes invalid.

Nothing is being stolen. The person who bought the book still has the book. The person who wrote the book is still getting paid and still owns the book.

Legally speaking, copyright violation is not stealing.

I also find your argument of "value to the author" entertaining. Do you honestly believe that there is any business that does not pass "value to the originator" on to the consumer?

You need to learn more about business. Just because something costs more doesn't mean that the consumer pays more.

But you missed my point: Just because there is a cost doesn't mean that it should be passed on to the customer.

As we have pointed out time and time again: eBooks that are priced at the same levels as pBooks simply don't sell well. Suckers only have so much money and when they've spent it, they don't buy more.

We know that eBooks simply do not have the same costs as pBooks. eBooks are significantly cheaper to produce. Therefore the price of eBooks should reflect that.

ricdiogo
08-05-2007, 06:16 PM
Just because something costs more doesn't mean that the consumer pays more.
Absolutely agree. Actually I do believe that the only way the industry can survive in the future is by providing the final consumer with free content.
The only reasons why people still prefer p-books to e-books today are:
--tradition/habits ("I love the smell of the paper");
--reference ("I love having them in my library so I can come back to them later")
--mistrust ("I'm not sure if I can read today's files in my computer 20 years from now")
--portability ("p-books are portable, e-books have to be read in my PC")
--e-reading devices high price ("Even if e.book reading devices were cheap and I could find them in every shop").
This all together makes e-books market limited to:
--geeks
--fans
--average income/rich people
--lazy people who prefer buying online than going to a bookstore
--pirats
E-book sellers use all of this in their favour. The market is so faithful that they can tag products with the prices they want. Also, p-publishers always have a physical product to sell where they can get money from. E-publishers however only have digital, easy to pirate products. So they also raise prices in order to compensate this because they know a simple hacker can overlap all DRMs.

However I believe that all of this is about to change when ebook reading devices get actually produced in mass for lower prices. Only _really_ extravagant or traditional people will still buy p-books (p-books are for the year 2025 as typewriter machines are for the 2000's).
Now, if everyone as a ebook reading device why will they buy an ebook if they can get them for free in P2P networks?
--Because they are loyal citizens, defenders of the Law and copyright?
--Because they trust more in e-books sold by e-publishers (better layouts, made by professionals, etc?)
I DON'T THINK SO...
Everyone is going to want everything for free. And authors/publishers have to find a new paradigm. Maybe supporting e-books with advertisement, maybe giving them away and allowing people to make donations (some authors already do this)... What I'm sure is that the market will have to change and only the more creative publishers/authors in giving away their products for free will survive.

HeffeD
08-05-2007, 06:46 PM
Not true.

Under Fair Use, I may make a copy of my legally purchased media, under certain conditions. It's completely legal for me to create an eBook from my pBook. What's not legal under Fair Use is for me to distribute that copy.

So instead of spending all the time and energy, I simply download the eBook. The end result is the same. Therefore it's legal under Fair Use.
Nope. The end result is not the same. There is a very big difference between making a copy yourself or downloading an illegally distributed product. Acquiring an illegal product is never legal regardless of your justification.


As soon as you bring a physical object into the argument, your argument becomes invalid.

Nothing is being stolen. The person who bought the book still has the book. The person who wrote the book is still getting paid and still owns the book.

Legally speaking, copyright violation is not stealing.
No, the argument still stands. So you're saying the product you've downloaded doesn't exist? I assure you, the book is taking up physical space on your hard drive. It took you actual wall clock time to download it, and you used bandwidth. It's there, I assure you. You can physically interact with the file. You can open it and read it. You can move it from place to place, such as external media. You are indeed in possession of something of substance. A file is a physical object. Just because you can't hold it in your hands does not mean it isn't a physical object. And yes, it has been stolen. Did the author or publisher put it out for you to download? No? Then it was 'stolen'. Whether or not you've paid the person for your hardcopy is irrelevant. You also have an illegal copy.


You need to learn more about business. Just because something costs more doesn't mean that the consumer pays more.

But you missed my point: Just because there is a cost doesn't mean that it should be passed on to the customer.
Errrmmm... Yes it does. If something costs more, the consumer pays more. Guaranteed. Otherwise there will be very limited product as the producer soon runs out of money to make the product. Sure, just because there is a cost doesn't mean it should be passed on to the consumer. Then where do you suppose the cost should come from? You're right. I need to learn more about business. I was unaware that something could be produced for nothing, and that actual sales have no relation to being able to produce something.

As we have pointed out time and time again: eBooks that are priced at the same levels as pBooks simply don't sell well. Suckers only have so much money and when they've spent it, they don't buy more.

We know that eBooks simply do not have the same costs as pBooks. eBooks are significantly cheaper to produce. Therefore the price of eBooks should reflect that.
Oh, absolutely! eBooks are considerably cheaper to produce than a paper book. However pretending that the costs to produce the work don't exists isn't a valid argument. There should definitely be a price reduction as the production costs decrease. Much like the price difference between hardcover and paperback. But is downloading the product illegally the way to go about making this change happen? I don't think so. Simply having the product available to anyone does indeed result in theft. A large percentage of the population seem to believe that if they can get something for free, there is no need to pay for it. Sure, you might have purchased a copy of the book, but how many people downloading the illegal file didn't? That's lost revenue.

I'm in the music business, and I can tell you first hand that illegal downloading does indeed impact the bottom line. Do CD's actually cost that much to produce? No. Mass production costs pennies per disk. However, the gear required to make great sounding music is very expensive, and regardless of what you think, you do indeed have to pay for it. Inferior gear = inferior product. Of course, it's just as easy to make an inferior product on great gear, but as with anything, if you continue to make an inferior product, you don't last long... So yes as with books, downloaded music should cost less than an actual CD due to less cost to produce the end product, but the recording still needs to be paid for. To expect anything less is simply unrealistic.

People put time and money into the product whether you can hold it in your hand or not.

rlauzon
08-05-2007, 07:08 PM
Nope. The end result is not the same.

The result is the same and no amount of moralizing will change that.

No, the argument still stands. So you're saying the product you've downloaded doesn't exist?

Then tell me where I can legally purchase a copy of the latest Harry Potter book in eBook form. If you can't, then your argument doesn't stand - the product doesn't exist.

Errrmmm... Yes it does. If something costs more, the consumer pays more. Guaranteed.

You seem to have missed Economics 101.

Books, unlike gas, alcohol and the such, are not considered necessities. As such, they are very sensitive to price increases.

Let's say that today, a book costs $5 - $2 of that is profit.
Let's say that the cost of a book goes up to $7. Now the author has a choice: make the book cost $7 - and suffer a large loss of sales - or make the book cost, say $6 and see a smaller loss of sales - but his profit goes down to $1.

In this way, not all the costs are passed on to the consumer. This happens frequently in many, many businesses.

Oh, absolutely! eBooks are considerably cheaper to produce than a paper book. However pretending that the costs to produce the work don't exists isn't a valid argument.

I claimed no such thing. Please actually read my messages.

I claimed that the costs associated with an eBook did not justify pricing them to even close to what a pBook cost.

I'm in the music business

Ahhh, now I understand where you are coming from.

and I can tell you first hand that illegal downloading does indeed impact the bottom line.

I suggest that you stop believing your own propaganda.

HeffeD
08-05-2007, 07:19 PM
I suggest that you stop believing your own propaganda.
Yep, you're right... Much easier to believe what people tell me is happening than to trust the facts. Thanks for straightening that out!

JSWolf
08-05-2007, 07:27 PM
How about if there were a commercially available eBook? Would you buy that if you'd previously bought a paperbook version, or would you feel "morally justified" in downloading that without paying for it?
In the case of HP7 there is no ebook available. I did purchase the book. So, if I was to have downloaded it to read electronically, I would not be taking away any profits from anyone.

Lets say there was an ebook edition of HP7, would my downloading it be any different then taking a CD and converting it to MP3 for my use when some online record shops sell an MP3 copy of that CD? So if I found MP3 of that CD online someplace and downloaded it to save myself the hassle of doing the conversion, is that still wrong?

At the risk of repeating myself, it is a completely false analogy to compare borrowing a book from a library to downloading it from the internet. Firstly, every library from which someone borrows a book has bought that book, perhaps several copies of it. This HP eBook was created from photographs of a illegally-obtained manuscript which nobody paid for. It's a totally different situation. Secondly, in the UK at least, authors get paid for library loans on the basis of how many of their books are borrowed by libraries, nationwide, over the course of a year. Not a vast amount, but popular authors get a few thousand $.
Here in the US, I don't think the authors get a cut from borrowing from a library. They do get the standard profits from the library having purchased the book(s).

The photos of HP7 were from a book that some shop released before the release date. The shop allowed this customer to purchase the book before it's time. This said customer then took photos of the book and posted the photos on the net. The second electronic copy was a copy typed in from these photos. I think there is also at least one scanned/ORCed copy out there as well.

Jack B Nimble
08-06-2007, 02:45 AM
You seem to have missed Economics 101.
...
Let's say that today, a book costs $5 - $2 of that is profit.
Let's say that the cost of a book goes up to $7. Now the author has a choice: make the book cost $7 - and suffer a large loss of sales - or make the book cost, say $6 and see a smaller loss of sales - but his profit goes down to $1.


Oh, please don't pretend to use Economics to justify this stance. As a former Econ teacher, it actually hurt to read this. Nevermind Econ, this is a basic word problem from math class.

Profit = Price - Cost

Except when Cost is greater than Price. In that case

Cost - Price = Loss

If it cost $7 to produce the book, and you sell it for $6, profit does not go down to $1 -- you lost a buck. That better be a rare occasion, or you better be making your money elsewhere.

As for...
In this way, not all the costs are passed on to the consumer. This happens frequently in many, many businesses.

Yes, if they are counting on their income coming from some other source. For instance Sony could sell a game machine (or ebook reader) for cost or even less, if they expect to make their profits from selling (or licensing) the software or content.

If an author is consistently losing money by selling their books, it better be a great hobby, because it is not much a business.

Now, let this be a warning... The next time someone brings up Economics, I'll start discussing monopolistic competition and then I'll toss in a diagram of the GNP cycle (just so we don't forget macro). :scholar:

rlauzon
08-06-2007, 05:00 AM
Oh, please don't pretend to use Economics to justify this stance. As a former Econ teacher, it actually hurt to read this. Nevermind Econ, this is a basic word problem from math class.

Profit = Price - Cost

Except when Cost is greater than Price. In that case

Cost - Price = Loss

If it cost $7 to produce the book, and you sell it for $6, profit does not go down to $1 -- you lost a buck. That better be a rare occasion, or you better be making your money elsewhere.

Then, if you would actually read my message, you would see that my logic was correct. My wording may be off, but the logic still stands.

To use your wording:
The cost of producing an eBook is $3. Plus $2 Profit. Making the price of the eBook $5.
The cost goes up $2.

The author has a choice:
Pass the full $2 increase on to the consumer and see a large reduction in sales - meaning that he makes much less.
Or
Pass on only part of the increase, getting less in profit per sale, but seeing a much smaller drop in sales.

Simply put, he must choose between:
$2 Profit = $7 price - $5 cost - but few sales
or
$1 Profit = $6 price - $5 cost - with larger sales.

No where in there is there a loss. Simply less profit per book.

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 08:47 AM
But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?

Okay, consider these aspects of cost- the website used to sell e-books costs far less to maintain than a physical storefront. There are no associated warehousing and transport costs to market the e-book. And conversion to different formats is really a one-time cost for all of the books the publisher produces- the publisher buys the software product(s) to do the job, and his costs for conversion are complete. The book is ALREADY in electronic format before conversion to e-book format.

So, like many others, I ask- where are the reductions in price that should exist given the reductions in costs?

JSWolf
08-09-2007, 09:13 AM
Up until the book makes it to electronic or paper, the costs are EXACTLY the same. Now the costs do become lower once the books diverge and one copy becomes paper and the other electronic. Yes, the website costs less to run, but you do have to employ someone to convert the book into the different electronic book formats. And the website has to pay staff. Now, I know these costs for the website and staff are cheaper then the the cost of renting the building and the staff at the book store. But costs are costs. And I agree that the cost of the ebook should be cheaper then the paper edition. I just emailed Sony because Robin Cook's Critical is priced more expensive then I can purchase it in Borders, Amazon, or Barnes & Nobel.

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 09:16 AM
At the risk of repeating myself, it is a completely false analogy to compare borrowing a book from a library to downloading it from the internet. Firstly, every library from which someone borrows a book has bought that book, perhaps several copies of it. This HP eBook was created from photographs of a illegally-obtained manuscript which nobody paid for. It's a totally different situation. Secondly, in the UK at least, authors get paid for library loans on the basis of how many of their books are borrowed by libraries, nationwide, over the course of a year. Not a vast amount, but popular authors get a few thousand $.

Well sounds to me that if you buy the argument that ebook piracy causes massive sales losses, then libraries are at least as bad as piracy. In the States, authors don't get a royalty paid when their books are checked out of a library. Even if that is the case in the UK, the publishers are still getting cheated out of profits with library books <G>. Consider- a library buys 10 copies of a popular book, and each copy is checked out 25 times over the course of a year.

250 sales are lost!!!

Bottom line- IMHO, most of the people who borrowed the book wouldn't have bought it anyways, had it not been available at the library. The point I am making is that on cannot logically presume that a sale is lost for every e-book illegally downloaded.

BTW, do the authors in the UK get all their friends and family to check out their books multiple times to increase their payments?

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 09:35 AM
But sooner or later the item is going to end up in the hands of someone who would otherwise have bought the product. That's inevitable. There's also the fundamental fact that it's just plain wrong to download musc, books, movies, or whatever, that you haven't paid for. Leaving the law aside, it's just plain morally wrong. Surely you agree with that, don't you?

Not necessarily. How is it wrong if you download the e-book of a paper book you own? In the US, with fair Use, it would appear not to be. What happens if you buy a DRM'ed ebook, the publisher goes out of business, and you download an "illegal" copy of that book? I "own" several ebooks from the 90s whose publishers/distributors are out of business.


If 1000 libraries have a book available for loan, that's 1000 book sales for the author. If 1000 people download a book from the internet, that's ZERO sales for the author.

Well, not many libraries buy 1000 copies of a book. And you might consider that if each book is checked out 25 times per year, that is 25,000 total borrowings, or, by this same faulty logic, 24,000 lost sales.


No, the reason Microsoft succeeded was because IBM licenced their o/s for the IBM PC, which sold in vast numbers to businesses. Before that, Microsoft's primary business had been selling ROM BASIC for personal computers.

Not the case at all. First of all, IBM licensed DOS, not Windows, and there were competitors back in those days like DR-DOS, so M$ did not have anywhere near total market share. What gavce them market dominance in PC OS's was the fact that many, many people pirated Windows 3.1, making it the most popular OS on the desktop.


Sorry, but the fact that it happens doesn't make it "right" or "acceptable". Using someone else's intellectual property without paying for it is just plain WRONG. Perhaps you'd feel differently if that's how you made your living.

I didn't state in any post that it was okay to use intellectual property without paying for it. I did say that I think it is wrong to be charged multiple times for using the same intellectual property- that if I buy a paper book, I do have rights (ethically and under US law) to possess an e-readable copy of that same intellectual property.

rlauzon
08-09-2007, 01:20 PM
Up until the book makes it to electronic or paper, the costs are EXACTLY the same.

But this cost is distributed over all the books (both e and p) that are sold. So if the costs to make the "prototype" eBook was $50,000 and 100,000 books are sold, that cost represents only $0.50 of price of the book.

Yes, the website costs less to run, but you do have to employ someone to convert the book into the different electronic book formats.

No you don't. This is what software is for. Many sites already have systems set up that store their eBooks in single format and the convert to the customer's requested format when the customer buys the eBook.

And the website has to pay staff.

The cost of which is, again, distributed over all the eBooks sold, plus whatever other services that web site is running - making that cost very small. Remember that a web site may be only one of many being hosted by the provider. One staff, many sites = low web site staff costs.

But costs are costs.

Actually, there are costs and there are costs. You seem to be treating all costs as equal. They aren't.

On a per-book basis, one time costs like writing the book itself, represents an insignificant cost when compared to the paper, the warehousing and transportation costs.

If you break up the selling price of a pBook into the costs that price represents, you will find that the highest of those numbers represent the physical attributes of the pBook. Most of those attributes don't exist for eBooks. The other attributes are replaced by much lower cost electronic versions.

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 03:47 PM
Nope. The end result is not the same. There is a very big difference between making a copy yourself or downloading an illegally distributed product. Acquiring an illegal product is never legal regardless of your justification.

No, the end result IS the same- the owner of the paper book now has an electronic version of that paper book, and that is covered under fair use.


I was unaware that something could be produced for nothing, and that actual sales have no relation to being able to produce something.

Actually, when you are discussing digital products, they CAN be produced for nothing, or almost next to nothing. Once the ebook is written, producing a thousand, or a million copies of it, cost just about the same amount- next to nothing. Same thing is true of software- the relevant costs are in R&D. Once a program is produced, it doesn't cost much more to make a million copies of it as opposed to a thousand. That's why you see some VERY profitable software companies.

Sure, you might have purchased a copy of the book, but how many people downloading the illegal file didn't? That's lost revenue.

No, this isn't lost revenue UNLESS the people who downloaded the book would have BOUGHT the book if the download wasn't available.


I'm in the music business, and I can tell you first hand that illegal downloading does indeed impact the bottom line.

And one problem with the music business is that they refuse to adjust to the realities of the new marketplace. The prices charged for cd's are still too high. If music cd's cost, say, $5 apiece, illegal downloading would probably be much diminished. I won't pay $20 for a DVD movie, for example, but I will pay $9. And I won't pay $15 for a music cd either, usually.

Many companies are just greedy, and when they can't sell a product for what they would like, they whine about "piracy." A license for M$ Vista would cost me $399 (Ultimate). Why would I spend $399 on an inferior product when I can use BSD- a much better OS- for free? Or Mac OS X- another superior product- costs about $150 for a 5-user home license?

JSWolf
08-10-2007, 12:03 AM
But this cost is distributed over all the books (both e and p) that are sold. So if the costs to make the "prototype" eBook was $50,000 and 100,000 books are sold, that cost represents only $0.50 of price of the book.[quote]
But, you don't know how many ebook copies will sell ahead of time. So you have to factor that in.

[QUOTE=rlauzon;86756]No you don't. This is what software is for. Many sites already have systems set up that store their eBooks in single format and the convert to the customer's requested format when the customer buys the eBook.
What sites that sell ebooks are setup to generate your ebook on the fly?

The cost of which is, again, distributed over all the eBooks sold, plus whatever other services that web site is running - making that cost very small. Remember that a web site may be only one of many being hosted by the provider. One staff, many sites = low web site staff costs.
We are not talking about the cost of the site to the hosting company. We are talking about the cost of the website to the shop selling the ebooks.

Actually, there are costs and there are costs. You seem to be treating all costs as equal. They aren't.
The costs for the ebook are equal to the dead tree version up to the point of printing/making the ebooks. The rest of the costs are now going to be different. But they are still expenses that need to be taken into account. And yes, I do expect the rest of the expenses to be lower for the ebook version.

On a per-book basis, one time costs like writing the book itself, represents an insignificant cost when compared to the paper, the warehousing and transportation costs.
There are also costs such as editing, paying the agent, proofreading, meetings, etc. all go into getting the book to the final stage where it can be print and made into an ebook.

If you break up the selling price of a pBook into the costs that price represents, you will find that the highest of those numbers represent the physical attributes of the pBook. Most of those attributes don't exist for eBooks. The other attributes are replaced by much lower cost electronic versions.
I would love to see how much of the price of a dead tree edition is going to the materials used to print the book. Now if we take that away, what's left should be the retail price for the ebook before any discounts.

But what I don't get is how some book stores can sell a book at a lower cost then the ebook. I've email Ficitonwise about a book that was more expenisve the Amazon's price and got a reply that the price was set by the publisher. Well why not go and talk to the publisher and try to get the price reduced so it might actually sell?

rlauzon
08-10-2007, 06:07 AM
What sites that sell ebooks are setup to generate your ebook on the fly?

Fictionwise (I think), Manybooks, Munsey's. That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Remember that many commercial sites (Like Connect) are enamored of DRM and, so, don't support multiple formats.

Of course, if we would settle on a standard, open format for eBooks, this point becomes moot.

We are not talking about the cost of the site to the hosting company. We are talking about the cost of the website to the shop selling the ebooks.

Then we are, again, talking about a 1 time fee that is spread over all the books sold - and represents an insignificant part of the selling price.

There are also costs such as editing, paying the agent, proofreading, meetings, etc. all go into getting the book to the final stage where it can be print and made into an ebook.

This was already done in creating the pBook and should not be a cost of an eBook.

From my point of view, creating the pBook generates 99% of what is needed to do the eBook. The only thing left to do is click-Save As-Upload to someplace like Fictionwise.

I would love to see how much of the price of a dead tree edition is going to the materials used to print the book. Now if we take that away, what's left should be the retail price for the ebook before any discounts.

We got a glimpse of this when a publisher-person posted some information to Slashdot earlier this year. The numbers said that upwards of 75% of the selling price represented the physical-ness of the book.

But what I don't get is how some book stores can sell a book at a lower cost then the ebook.

Business wheeling-and-dealing.

If Amazon can promise "we'll buy 100,000 and you get no damaged books back from us" they can probably work out a good deal with the publisher.

DeGodefroi
08-10-2007, 06:40 AM
75% of the p books are the physical part? I would not be surprised. Besides the material like paper and ink and glue, costs are also in transporting the books to storage sites, book sellers etc.
I agree that an ebook should be 25% of the pbook price and add then the editing, formatting, optimizing and license costs for using DRM and the website operation etc.

Maybe 75% is too high, but an ebook should at at LEAST 30% off paperback price.

JSWolf
08-10-2007, 10:08 AM
if Fictionwise generated books on the fly from a single source, then they'd have all their books available in the same formats. Not so. So this cannot be true for them.

delphidb96
08-10-2007, 11:28 AM
Okay,

Some factors to consider.

First, the publisher sells the books to the retailers for about 50% of the (cover) MSRP. So that means the physical costs involved in 'making' the book must be less than that amount or they'd not make a profit. Depending upon the number of actual copies printed, printing, binding and storage/fulfillment makes up between 35%-50% of that (larger print runs means lower printing costs). The rest is for author's advance, copy-editing, cover design, proofreading, administrative (gotta pay those executive assistants and secretaries) and - of course - marketing. So on a 'first book' release, I'd expect the percentage taken up by production marketing and admin to run around 65% of PUBLISHER'S price. That leaves 35% to cover fulfillment and distribution costs if the publisher uses an outside fulfillment service - and many do - which means the 'profit' (assuming all books from the run sell) is about 30% of the publisher's price and 15% of retail.

Second, most publishers DON'T create a single intermediate file (say in Word's .doc or .rtf format) which gets stored, edited and used as the base for creating the final printing file. Nope. They do it the 'modern' and 'computerized' version of laying it all out on printing plates for proofing. That's right, they 'create' the file directly in something like Quark Xpress or Pagemaker. And they do it all over again for each format, HC, TPB, MMPB. In the publishing company *I* worked for, they even went so far as to delete the Quark file after a 'reasonable' print run, requiring that they re-create that file if sales went spectacularly well - in the specific format!

Third, it is a stone-cold bitch to pull the text files from older Quark and Pagemaker files.

Plus, many working in the mainstream publishing industry (as opposed to small-press publishers) are afraid of computer technology. They *BELIEVE* the tall tales and Chicken Little screams of doomsayers like the RIAA. And in that light, all of us ebookers are nothing but thieves and thief-wannabes ever eager to steal their precious profits.

Derek

Fictionwise (I think), Manybooks, Munsey's. That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Remember that many commercial sites (Like Connect) are enamored of DRM and, so, don't support multiple formats.

Of course, if we would settle on a standard, open format for eBooks, this point becomes moot.



Then we are, again, talking about a 1 time fee that is spread over all the books sold - and represents an insignificant part of the selling price.



This was already done in creating the pBook and should not be a cost of an eBook.

From my point of view, creating the pBook generates 99% of what is needed to do the eBook. The only thing left to do is click-Save As-Upload to someplace like Fictionwise.



We got a glimpse of this when a publisher-person posted some information to Slashdot earlier this year. The numbers said that upwards of 75% of the selling price represented the physical-ness of the book.



Business wheeling-and-dealing.

If Amazon can promise "we'll buy 100,000 and you get no damaged books back from us" they can probably work out a good deal with the publisher.

jasonkchapman
08-10-2007, 12:15 PM
Third, it is a stone-cold bitch to pull the text files from older Quark and Pagemaker files.
A-frackin'-men to that! I've got ten years of magazine files here in Quark 4. Ugh!

HeffeD
08-10-2007, 03:48 PM
Plus, many working in the mainstream publishing industry (as opposed to small-press publishers) are afraid of computer technology. They *BELIEVE* the tall tales and Chicken Little screams of doomsayers like the RIAA. And in that light, all of us ebookers are nothing but thieves and thief-wannabes ever eager to steal their precious profits.

Misinformation goes a long way...

rlauzon
08-10-2007, 05:32 PM
if Fictionwise generated books on the fly from a single source, then they'd have all their books available in the same formats. Not so. So this cannot be true for them.

Well, like I said, I wasn't sure about them.

But your statement not necessarily true. Some formats are closed, requiring special programs to create the eBook content. These formats cannot be rendered on the fly simply because there is no way to do it.

So they may be a hybrid site - the open formats are created on the fly while the closed formats are done by hand - and only for a select set of eBooks.

rlauzon
08-10-2007, 05:34 PM
Second, most publishers DON'T create a single intermediate file (say in Word's .doc or .rtf format) which gets stored, edited and used as the base for creating the final printing file. Nope. They do it the 'modern' and 'computerized' version of laying it all out on printing plates for proofing.

Then I'll fall back on something I said a long time ago: Publishers are dinosaurs and like all good dinosaurs, they will evolve or die.

It sounds like they are on the path to extinction.

delphidb96
08-10-2007, 08:09 PM
RLauzon,

Not really true for any 'closed' format. Given a decent script and full knowledge of the formatting command set for those formats, the process can be quite automated. Further, for any of the ebook formats that are commercially viable today, it only takes *ONE* successful creation to generate ebook sales from numerous copies. That's far different than DT because each and every copy has to be 'correct' and 'complete' as it hits the store shelves.

Even with the complexity of formatting for each of the commercial ebooks, ebooks are far more cost-friendly than dead tree.

Derek

Well, like I said, I wasn't sure about them.

But your statement not necessarily true. Some formats are closed, requiring special programs to create the eBook content. These formats cannot be rendered on the fly simply because there is no way to do it.

So they may be a hybrid site - the open formats are created on the fly while the closed formats are done by hand - and only for a select set of eBooks.