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Old 04-19-2010, 05:52 AM   #16
Direct Ebooks
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Originally Posted by sunnysmiles View Post
It really bugs me to see ebooks the same price as hbks if not more esp as their are no printing costs involved and and these books are all kept on pcs at publishers these days
I agree completely.
What we have to remember though is that this is a new market for publishers and readers alike. Publishers are terrified of damaging their main products - paper/hard backs. Remember that for the average publisher, eBooks account for less that 5% of sales, so there is no great pressure there to reduce prices - yet.

In time, prices will come down as publishers figure out how to maximise the potential of eBooks as they become a larger part of their producion and sales processes.
Its not much fun waiting, but we will have to for a while. Hopefully all the new players in the retail sector will fight against each other on price in the coming months, despite any agreements with publishers.
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:57 PM   #17
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Publishers are terrified of damaging their main products - paper/hard backs.
I really don't comprehend their thinking here.

Let's say, pulling numbers out of thin air, that they can sell a physical book for $10 retail, and get a net $2 profit from it, or sell an ebook for $6 retail and get a net $3 profit from it. Instead, they sell the ebook for $12, so to protect their sales of a format they're getting a lesser profit from. That's like refusing to sell hardcovers for fear they'll cut into paperback sales.

The publishers doing this are harming themselves in several ways:

The buyer who didn't buy the ebook isn't going to buy the HC instead; they're going to buy a different ebook from a competing publisher. So it's not just a lost ebook sale, it's a lost sale, and possibly a lost customer.

There will be people who are sufficiently peeved by what they see as price gouging or corporate greed to distribute illicit copies of the book. Perhaps more important to the publisher, there are people who would have been legitimate buyers if the ebook had been reasonably priced, but now cross that ethical line and just go download the thing. After they've done it once, why not do it again? Their superposed ethical quantum states collapse, and what comes out is piracy.

Goodwill is an important thing to a business. Companies go to great and expensive lengths to create it. It's obvious to everyone that a physical book, needing paper, ink, printing, packaging, warehousing, shipping, returns, and all of that, has to cost significantly more than a digital file. Even if they've never thought about this in terms of books, they feel it intuitively. They know the pictures they take with their digital cameras don't cost anything when they look at them on the computer screen or email to all of their relatives, only when they print them out. So when they see a format that costs the publisher essentially nothing to reproduce as many copies as necessary being sold for more than the price of a format that needs to be physically manufactured, they feel ripped off. This costs the publisher goodwill.

Why are ebook sales only 5% of the market? Aside from poor quality, high prices, and DRM, I'd have to guess that a major reason is not enough people with the means to read them. People look at not just the price of the reader but the price of the books, and figure it's a better idea just to buy paper books, since they're getting more utility. Back in the mainframe days, a computer program cost more than a nice car; nowadays, when practically everyone owns at least one computer, economies of scale have dropped the prices to affordable, sometimes even trivial, levels.

I remember games for the Apple II selling for $50 back around 1980-ish; that would be $132.06 today, according to the inflation calculator. Now you can get a new-release game for less than half of that, even a third of that, in constant dollars. And games haven't gotten any cheaper to make; on the contrary, a lot of those Apple games were written by two guys in six months, not two hundred guys in a couple of years. But the market has increased from a few thousand to many millions.

Let's say someone buys an ebook reader for $300, and buys a book every month. Amortized over a period of five years, that ebook reader is costing them $5 a month -- that is, adding $5 to the price of the ebook. So even if the ebook was the same price as the pbook, that $5 has to be factored into it, too. For ordinary buyers (as opposed to us bookaholics) to decide that an ebook reader is worth buying, that equation has to change.

Ebooks are the ultimate mass market, and publishers are cutting their own throats if they don't recognize this. The ones who figure out first are gonna eat their lunch.
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Old 04-20-2010, 07:50 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worldwalker View Post
I really don't comprehend their thinking here.
Quote:
Let's say, pulling numbers out of thin air, that they can sell a physical book for $10 retail, and get a net $2 profit from it, or sell an ebook for $6 retail and get a net $3 profit from it. Instead, they sell the ebook for $12, so to protect their sales of a format they're getting a lesser profit from. That's like refusing to sell hardcovers for fear they'll cut into paperback sales.
To be fair, the pricing structures are very complex for paper/hard backs although I do take your main point. Re Hardbacks v paperbacks, thats actually exactly what publishers do - the paperback isn't released until they have sold their quota of Hardbacks. That is why changing teh thinking on eBooks is so hard for publishers. Many view it as a threat.

Quote:
The publishers doing this are harming themselves in several ways:
Quote:
The buyer who didn't buy the ebook isn't going to buy the HC instead; they're going to buy a different ebook from a competing publisher. So it's not just a lost ebook sale, it's a lost sale, and possibly a lost customer.
Agreed. Customers want instant gratification and will move elsewhere.

Quote:
There will be people who are sufficiently peeved by what they see as price gouging or corporate greed to distribute illicit copies of the book. Perhaps more important to the publisher, there are people who would have been legitimate buyers if the ebook had been reasonably priced, but now cross that ethical line and just go download the thing. After they've done it once, why not do it again? Their superposed ethical quantum states collapse, and what comes out is piracy.
I agree that this does happen, but its not a legitimate excuse to pirate.(I always think of the loss to the creator - the author in this argument) I think publishers will come to recognise this and realise that you cant stop the piracy but you can make a product good enough to discourage these practices. Many publishers are experimenting with ways to make their products worth their customers money. (enhanced editions, better formatting, vooks etc)

Quote:
Goodwill is an important thing to a business. Companies go to great and expensive lengths to create it. It's obvious to everyone that a physical book, needing paper, ink, printing, packaging, warehousing, shipping, returns, and all of that, has to cost significantly more than a digital file. Even if they've never thought about this in terms of books, they feel it intuitively. They know the pictures they take with their digital cameras don't cost anything when they look at them on the computer screen or email to all of their relatives, only when they print them out. So when they see a format that costs the publisher essentially nothing to reproduce as many copies as necessary being sold for more than the price of a format that needs to be physically manufactured, they feel ripped off. This costs the publisher goodwill.
Agreed. I know its getting a bit old, but this will happen! Its just going to take longer than any of us want. Is there a role for publishers in a digital-only or digital majority future?

Quote:
Why are ebook sales only 5% of the market? Aside from poor quality, high prices, and DRM, I'd have to guess that a major reason is not enough people with the means to read them. People look at not just the price of the reader but the price of the books, and figure it's a better idea just to buy paper books, since they're getting more utility. Back in the mainframe days, a computer program cost more than a nice car; nowadays, when practically everyone owns at least one computer, economies of scale have dropped the prices to affordable, sometimes even trivial, levels.
Thats certainly part of the issue - having said that almost half of eBook readers read on a computer or laptop. Also, I thin teh confusion over formats, devices and drm confuse a lot of people. Much of our day-to-day customer service revolves around guiding customers through Adobe Digital Editions!
Again, as the industry settles down, eBooks will become more mainstream and popular. I think that will happen faster than we think when the time comes.

Quote:
I remember games for the Apple II selling for $50 back around 1980-ish; that would be $132.06 today, according to the inflation calculator. Now you can get a new-release game for less than half of that, even a third of that, in constant dollars. And games haven't gotten any cheaper to make; on the contrary, a lot of those Apple games were written by two guys in six months, not two hundred guys in a couple of years. But the market has increased from a few thousand to many millions.
Volume will certainly help change publisher's opinions and plans. When they see that it begins seriously impacting their bottom line, thats when many will act. unfortunately, it may be too late for some of them.

Quote:
Let's say someone buys an ebook reader for $300, and buys a book every month. Amortized over a period of five years, that ebook reader is costing them $5 a month -- that is, adding $5 to the price of the ebook. So even if the ebook was the same price as the pbook, that $5 has to be factored into it, too. For ordinary buyers (as opposed to us bookaholics) to decide that an ebook reader is worth buying, that equation has to change.
Thats an interesting way of looking at it. I think we will see more and more multi-use devices (ipad etc) that will negate that particular argument. Many early adopters are voracious readers - we have many customers who read 8-12 titles a week (wish I had the time!) so the initial outlay is not a huge factor with them I'm guessing.

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Ebooks are the ultimate mass market, and publishers are cutting their own throats if they don't recognize this. The ones who figure out first are gonna eat their lunch.
I would agree. Those publishers who embrace or at least try to engage with eBooks and eBook readers will prosper in the short and long term.
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Old 04-20-2010, 02:00 PM   #19
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I went to the fair yesterday it was almost deserted plenty of book readers to see and it was a pleasure walking around without the crowds . I had a moan about the price of ebooks .
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Old 04-20-2010, 02:01 PM   #20
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I went to the fair yesterday it was almost deserted plenty of book readers to see and it was a pleasure walking around without the crowds . I had a moan about the price of ebooks .
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:40 AM   #21
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I agree that this does happen, but its not a legitimate excuse to pirate.
I'm not trying to say that it is, only that it happens. And because it happens, it's something that publishers need to manage.

You have a whole continuum, from people who would never dream of reading an illicit copy of an ebook to people who wouldn't buy a legitimate one at any price. The former are already yours, and the latter never will be. The contested territory is in the middle, where you have people teetering between the "good" and "bad" sides. The harder it is to buy a book legitimately, the higher the price:value ratio as seen by the buyer, and the more negatively they feel about the seller, the more likely that person is to tip over to the "bad" side, and probably stay there.

Basically, publishers' own actions are pushing people who with a little effort could be long-term customers into becoming long-term pirates instead. That's not good for anyone. And the "more laws! harsher sentences! D-R-M! D-R-M!" approach will make things worse instead of better.

Most people, given the chance, prefer to act in ways that let them see themselves as good. And when they do something wrong, or even questionable, they justify it to themselves in some way. "They treat their customers like dirt" is one of those ways, and "They make it way too hard/expensive/cumbersome to buy/use it legitimately" is another. Treating the customers worse and making it harder for them to buy or use a product does not, despite the publishing (and music) industry's thinking, build goodwill and encourage sales over piracy.

Quote:
Many publishers are experimenting with ways to make their products worth their customers money. (enhanced editions, better formatting, vooks etc)
I've got a better idea: how about if they keep the same content, and charge less money?

I don't want to read a book that plays videos at me, links to Web content, or, honestly, does anything else except lie there quietly on the page. I want the electronic equivalent of a mass market paperback, and sold at a price proportional to its cost to the publisher -- i.e., lower than the price of a paperback that must be printed, etc. If they want me to read new ebooks instead of Project Gutenberg, they need to sell them at a price proportional to what I'm actually getting. Which is, frankly, not a lot.

Quote:
Is there a role for publishers in a digital-only or digital majority future?
That depends on what the publishers want their role to be. Gatekeepers to publication? Probably not. Anyone with a manuscript can sell their very own literary disaster now. But adding value through editing, development, and the not-inconsequential advantage of a known and trusted name? That, they could do. I'll take a chance on a book from Baen, say, when I wouldn't bother with a self-published or vanity press book, whether paper or electronic. If the publishers went mad for quality control and proofreading so you knew you were buying the very best, if they chose and worked with the best authors and made them better, then yes, they could not only keep the status quo, but position themselves as premium brands, at a premium price. But when they pump out badly-OCR'd crap and try to charge premium prices for it, when they treat their customers like dirt, when they pull stuff like the agency pricing BS, then they're destroying their own goodwill, and with it their market.

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Thats certainly part of the issue - having said that almost half of eBook readers read on a computer or laptop.
Will that continue, though? As ebook readers become more affordable, which seems to be starting, I think more will end up in the hands of people who don't own computers or don't want to read on them. I bought my PRS so I could read Project Gutenberg in bed!

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Thats an interesting way of looking at it. I think we will see more and more multi-use devices (ipad etc) that will negate that particular argument.
It's possible, or it's possible that it might go the other way, with more dedicated devices.

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Many early adopters are voracious readers - we have many customers who read 8-12 titles a week (wish I had the time!)...
Don't we all?

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...so the initial outlay is not a huge factor with them I'm guessing.
That's true for early adopters in general. They'll pay scads of money to get the newest and coolest toys. I'm in the next generation, I'll pay more than I can afford to get reasonably new and cool toys. But the following generation is going to be people who read a book or two a month and want to be able to do so more conveniently. That's when the amortized price of the device adding to the book price becomes important.
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