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Old 05-30-2011, 03:47 PM   #1
arman68
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Why are ebooks so expensive?

So far I have been reading ebooks either from public domain or borrowed from libraries with overdrive. I also buy paperbooks.

Recently, I thought I would switch to buying ebooks instead of paperbooks. However, I was disgusted to find that ebooks are the same price, or more expensive than their paper counterpart! And on top of that, they are defective with DRM.

Common sense dictates that they should be half the price or less than a paperbook. Ideally, a paperbook should also come with a free ebook version if available.

Why is the pricing so wrong? Are publishers trying to prevent ebooks from taking off?
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Old 05-30-2011, 03:55 PM   #2
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This is a common question. The search function is your friend, for example from a quick search for "expensive e-book" -- http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...oto=nextnewest
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Old 05-30-2011, 03:56 PM   #3
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Do a search on the term "agency model" or "agency 5" or "agency 6" or "agency pricing". This has been discussed on MR before. You just have to find it.
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Old 05-30-2011, 03:59 PM   #4
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Publisher greed, what else? Fighting the paradigm change tooth and nail.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:12 PM   #5
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Poor baby. I am disgusted with these posts. Defective with DRM? The ones I buy are less expensive than hard copy.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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Books not under the big 6 are pretty cheap. Most are $5 and less, though there are a couple on my "to read" list that are up to $7.99.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:57 PM   #7
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Most of the books I want to buy are $6 or less. I believe this is a fair price, considering who has to be supported (author, editor, publishing house overhead and kobo).

I have only encountered the agency pricing on one book; I know this because it was the only book kobo's frequent discount codes do not work for. Sadly, I have not purchased General's Daughter (a great mystery) for this reason. I'll live.
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:18 PM   #8
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In Canada, The General's Daughter is $7.99 at Kobobooks and not available at all at Amazon as a Kindle. This is why I am happy to have both a Kobo and a Kindle -- there's a choice. I don't consider $8 out of line; the paperback is $9.50.

Then again, I don't agree with the OP: my experience is that ebooks are generally a considerable savings over available print copies and DRM seems to work just fine (I haven't found it to be defective).
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:20 PM   #9
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$6 is my pricepoint as well. If I want a book that is more, I wait until I get a $5 Amazon gift certificate from swagbucks, and use that to fund part of the purchase.

Since I have hundreds of ebooks in my to-be-read queue, and have access to another boatload via the library, I just wait for the price to come down. No doubt on some books I will wait in futility, but I'll never run out of books to read.
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arman68 View Post
Common sense dictates that they should be half the price or less than a paperbook.
Common sense may dicatate that, but reality disagrees. At most, 10% of the cost of producing a book goes to putting ink on paper (less on more popular books).
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Old 05-30-2011, 07:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Why is the pricing so wrong? Are publishers trying to prevent ebooks from taking off?
If they are... it's backfiring. They're selling like hotcakes last I checked.
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Old 05-30-2011, 07:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taustin View Post
Common sense may dicatate that, but reality disagrees. At most, 10% of the cost of producing a book goes to putting ink on paper (less on more popular books).
Common sense on this must have vast misperceptions. Paper books have the following costs: printing, boxing, shipping, storage, shelf space, all per book. Ebooks have none of those overhead prices. Electronic shipment via internet cannot compare to the creation and handling of paper books. So I have a hard time understanding where only 10% of the costs are related to printing on paper.

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Old 05-30-2011, 07:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by taustin View Post
Common sense may dicatate that, but reality disagrees. At most, 10% of the cost of producing a book goes to putting ink on paper (less on more popular books).
That's the crux of the matter. Everyone assumes that paper, printing/binding, and transportation add up to a large chunk of the cost of books, but it doesn't seem to be the case. It reminds me of the old fact(?) about fountain drinks: the most expensive part of the beverage is actually the ice (electricity), and the cheapest part is the soda itself.

ETA: A quick search revealed a NYT article which identified the cost of printing, storing, and shipping a hypothetical $26 book at $3.25.

Last edited by witeowl; 05-30-2011 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 05-30-2011, 07:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taustin View Post
Common sense may dicatate that, but reality disagrees. At most, 10% of the cost of producing a book goes to putting ink on paper (less on more popular books).
FWIW, Here's a good thread and an interesting post on the cost of producing ebooks I tucked away awhile back:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...15&post1014815

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...&postcount=452

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
If they are... it's backfiring. They're selling like hotcakes last I checked.
Yeah, but didn't Amazon say it was the cheaper books that were flying off the, er, shelves?

Plus, sales should be increasing dramatically, to stay in proportion to sales of devices, which are selling like hotcakes, and the reports I've seen show that the #1 reason or one of the top 3 reasons people gave for buying an ereader was the cheaper cost of ebooks vs paper.

Personally, I'll gladly pay the premium for new releases, but I don't see how publishers can expect people not to complain when there are so many situations like this:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 4-Book Boxed Set:
Kindle Edition $35.99
Paperback $19.77

Or the Roberta Gellis and SK Penman book prices, or which are/*were even more ridiculous.

*A few weeks later, the prices on 9 of the Roberta Gellis' backlist books I was wanting came available on Baen, or dropped from $9.99 to $5-6. At that point, I bought them all.

Anyway, I don't think they need to be uber-cheap, but I do think publishers need to adjust their pricing strategies for ebooks.

I expect they will, as time shows what great customers we are.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SensualPoet View Post
In Canada, The General's Daughter is $7.99 at Kobobooks and not available at all at Amazon as a Kindle. This is why I am happy to have both a Kobo and a Kindle -- there's a choice. I don't consider $8 out of line; the paperback is $9.50.

Then again, I don't agree with the OP: my experience is that ebooks are generally a considerable savings over available print copies and DRM seems to work just fine (I haven't found it to be defective).
I think what the OP means is that it prevents you from reading the book on any reader you wish. I have that problem with Mobipocket books. Amazon owns the company, but in order to read books I already own on my Kindle I have to either find out how to strip the DRM from them or buy Kindle versions of the same book. Why should someone have to buy the same book twice from the same seller?
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