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Old 12-16-2011, 07:45 PM   #1
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CBC: E-book prices spark battle between publishers, retailers

http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/20...g.html?cmp=rss

Silly publishers. Nobody can really be falling for their schtick. Can they?
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:01 PM   #2
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Just saw on the CBC website about the murder-suicide leaving 4 young people dead. Tragic.
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:41 AM   #3
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I love how the publishers say that printing is a fraction of the cost of the book, but won't say what that fraction is. They also neglect mentioning what the fixed costs are. Neither the publishers nor the retailer (Kobo in this case) discuss how the price affects sales. In other words, they are more concerned with creating uninformed consumers who will blindly purchase their products. And maybe that wouldn't be so bad if consumers had choices, choices which were traditionally offered by the retailer (which agency pricing effectively kills) and second hand markets (which DRM effectively kills). Yet the story doesn't delve into that either, leaving consumers even further ill informed.

Yes I'm grumpy about this whole issue. I love my eink reader simply because it's portable and allows me to carry a library. Yet I'm also sick of being stuck in the 19th century and having to buy print copies of my favourite titles because the publishers are more interested in manipulating the market than serving it.
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Old 12-17-2011, 03:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BWinmill View Post
I love how the publishers say that printing is a fraction of the cost of the book, but won't say what that fraction is.


This is a pet peeve of mine in ANY advertising - "at a fraction of the cost!"

What they don't tell you is WHAT fraction. 99/100 is a fraction. Saying something is "a fraction" doesn't mean it's a good deal!
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:25 AM   #5
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The publishing biz is being hauled, kicking and screaming, into the present by the internet. This is nothing new, the music industry went through this transition and the movie industry is going through it. It's all pretty fucking banal at this point.

Unfortunately, the publishers are unwilling to change their business models to reflect new realities, so pricing friction is the result. This will work itself out, but probably only after those that have been in the publishing biz for 10 or more years retire or die. Of course, by the time they work this wrinkle out, we'll all be downloading books directly into our brains from the technosphere, and debating whether or not AIs should be able to vote.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
The publishing biz is being hauled, kicking and screaming, into the present by the internet. This is nothing new, the music industry went through this transition and the movie industry is going through it. It's all pretty fucking banal at this point.

Unfortunately, the publishers are unwilling to change their business models to reflect new realities, so pricing friction is the result. This will work itself out, but probably only after those that have been in the publishing biz for 10 or more years retire or die. Of course, by the time they work this wrinkle out, we'll all be downloading books directly into our brains from the technosphere, and debating whether or not AIs should be able to vote.
agreed. its just tiresome. somebody just needs to shake them and say "look at the music industry, thats you soon. join the new effing millennium already and figure it out".

thankfully theres plenty of other stuff i can focus my time, energy and $$$ on until these dinosaurs get their act together. if they never do, oh well. its no skin off my ass, i can go my entire life without reading another agency book.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:34 AM   #7
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Of course, by the time they work this wrinkle out, we'll all be downloading books directly into our brains from the technosphere, and debating whether or not AIs should be able to vote.
Well that's just silly.

Why would AIs get to vote before dolphins?
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:09 PM   #8
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Saw this on The National last night. I was seriouisly disappointed in the poor quality of the journalism in the story. A flac for the publishers could have written a more indepth story. Not even a mention of them being under investigation for collusion and price fixing, much less any diving into the whole question of costs and profits. NOT up to CBC standards.
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWinmill View Post
I love how the publishers say that printing is a fraction of the cost of the book, but won't say what that fraction is.

10% is the figure one publisher gave for the cost of printing. But distribution would be a lot higher than that. Wholesale distributors typically want 60% off the cover price so that there is enough margin left for retailers to take their cut when they buy them from the distributor. Whereas with ebooks the distributor cut (for Amazon and Apple at least, don't know about anywhere else) is 30%.

So, a £10 real book minus £1 printing, minus £6 distributor cut = £3 net profit.

And a £10 ebook minus £0 printing, minus £3 distributor cut = £7 net profit.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:18 AM   #10
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I didn't think there was a problem with the print online, radio or TV version of CBC's story about the price of ebooks vs. print books. Consumers, publishers and electronic retailers (Kobo) were represented in each case.

I sympathise with the publishers this far: what they are making -- books -- have an intrinsic value. People want to read the latest thriller, or Giller prize winner, or best seller because of the content. That (identical) content has value in whatever form it makes it into the consumer's hand. So, why should they sell one version vastly cheaper than another?

Secondly, publishers must defend their distribution channels -- print retailers because those partners move a lot of books on their behalf and publishers will be worse off if those channels disappear. Mainstream publishers in the US are hurting because of the closure of Borders in 2011. Publishers have a lot to lose if they undercut their prime sales partners by making goods available online at drastically different rates than bricks and mortar stores.

But this only goes so far. Few consumers are going to accept that an electronic file is the same cost to manufacture, distribute and manage inventory as multiple print editions of hardcover, trade paper and mass market paper. And publishers have been shooting themselves in the foot for a decade "inflating" hard cover prices: that $32.95 hot off the press hard cover is simply never sold for $32.95 so let's not pretend that's the real price and real value to compare for the ebook version.

So it made sense when online retailer tried to create a "commodity" price for ebook new releases at $9.99 -- cheaper than new release hard cover to create urgency to buy the ebook edition and, in reality, not far from the heavy discounting already seen for new hard covers.

In the end, there is wisdom of both tensions: Amazon helped push ebook pricing in the right direction, and publishers have tried to reset the pricing model to support intrinsic value. As this great battle plays out, consumers have actually been the winners here: ebook readership has proven to be a huge hit -- not a gadget fad as some proclaimed. There is a huge choice in books to read and the inventory is growing dramatically. Yes, some prices have gone up but as the choice of what to buy and read grows, consumers can make their own decisions on what to buy as ebooks.

And I still maintain that, at under $150 for an ereader, a "target" consumer -- those who buy two or more books a month -- will pay for that e-reader in a year or less with the savings from ebooks over print editions.

While growing pains continue as the industry (and consumers) evolve their behaviours, the balance all remains on the plus side for those embracing ebooks.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SensualPoet
People want to read the latest thriller, or Giller prize winner, or best seller because of the content. That (identical) content has value in whatever form it makes it into the consumer's hand. So, why should they sell one version vastly cheaper than another?
That's always been been my stance.

Quote:
While growing pains continue as the industry (and consumers) evolve their behaviours, the balance all remains on the plus side for those embracing ebooks.
I've saved ludicrous amounts of money by being "overcharged" for my ebooks.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:38 PM   #12
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I sympathise with the publishers this far: what they are making -- books -- have an intrinsic value. People want to read the latest thriller, or Giller prize winner, or best seller because of the content. That (identical) content has value in whatever form it makes it into the consumer's hand. So, why should they sell one version vastly cheaper than another?
Because *we think that the cost should be lower since *we're not paying for the "services" of printing the words/images on paper, binding it together, packaging, shipping, etc... The idea that the content is where the value is gets lost when *we think about the cost of the ebook vs the physical copy.

*Generalization of those who rant about how high ebook prices are in comparison to physical copies - this isn't indicative of MY thoughts on the subject

And... Secondly - Good post.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:59 PM   #13
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And... Secondly - Good post.
Absolutely. I agree.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:18 PM   #14
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The publishers are right, of course, to charge for the content. However that's not the point.

For print books you have:
costs for content creation + costs for typesetting and design of the print book + costs for printing (1)

For ebooks you have
costs for content creation + costs for typesetting and design of the ebook (2)

Provided that the third component of the cost is absent for ebooks, the second should be more or less the same as with print books, and the first is completely identical, you should get cheaper ebooks than print books. In fact, for the majority of the books on Amazon the paperback version is sold at a lower price than the ebook (maybe that's the way I see it here in Europe, because Amazon charges VAT).

It should be pointed out that pring books could be loaned, borrowed, resold, which in a way makes their price even lower for the consumer. You can't do that with DRM ebooks.

In theory, a new electronic publisher could break the status quo by entering the market and by charging less for ebooks. In practice it is very difficult to happen, because it should sign a lot of popular authors from the onset, in order to make a difference.

Last edited by slex; 12-18-2011 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:59 PM   #15
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Well that's just silly.

Why would AIs get to vote before dolphins?
Because Dolphin brains are largely insulation mass, and if you look at the number of firing neurons they have instead of just brain volume you find that they are pretty much only equivelent to dogs.

Thus a human equivelent AI would be smarter.

Science giveth fiction plotlines, and then science taketh them away.
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