I realize that I will be vastly outnumbered on this but there is another side to the publishing story. I will admit up front that I work for a small publishing company which produces textbooks for the engineering market. but please don't flame me for being on the dark side.
An example may show each of you the dilemma that we are in. Our technical textbooks cost an obscent amount of money to produce with a very limited lifetime and market. For example, one series of ours which includes 8 texts cost about $1.2 million direct costs to produce initially. The paper version sells for $900. Typical print charges are 25% and Labour overheads are 20%. The international market for this series may be 500 sets per year and each set must be reauthored (not just updated and version dated) at least every five years due to their technical nature. Gross revenue over this period is $2.25 million. Costs are $1.0125 million leaving a Gross margin of $1.2375 million. This leaves a net profit of 1.7% when the initial costs are subtracted. Other publishing lines may be more lucrative but not often above 5-7%. Resale of our texts will quickly make the product line unproductive and its loss will negatively affect those learners who depend on it.
When we decided to enter the e-textbook market we realized that there were savings to be made on the printing costs. We decided, as did most publishers, to deliver these savings to the customers. That is why you will see publishers typically charging 25% less for e-textbooks than paper books. I cannot speak for large multinational publishers who may have greater efficiencies than us but for the small publisher we use the following guide to set our prices and e-textbook usage (many actually suggested by the folks at Entourage) Price: 75% of Paper price, Ownership: unlimited time, Printing: once over a two year period, Downloading: onto two registered devices. We are looking at subscription models but would appreciate your suggestions.
As a publisher in the educational market we saw great promise in the eDGe and so far the product has greatly exceeded our expectations. As a toy, social media or simple reading device it has good but not leading the industry features. Its technology is fairly robust and current, regardless of the opinions of technical naysayers who frankly should get a life and actually use the eDGe. I look forward to new features but not by regretting the good we already have.
As a useful educational tool the eDGe is a generation ahead of anything else on the market. As a company, Entourage gets it and thankfully so do the vast majority of this forum's contributors. Most importantly, for our learners, it has allowed them to interface with their material and all the myriad reference resources they require to a greater degree than any educational technology has ever provided. To paraphrase a rather silly designation we bestowed on a rather special member of this community, the eDGe has allowed them to be "One with the Book".