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Old 12-17-2010, 10:06 AM   #1
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What's a book worth?

I know -- this remains a hot button topic. I just thought I'd share my own recent decision making.

Tom Clancy released his first book in 10 years in the Jack Ryan series. I paid $14.99 for the ebook from Amazon. I think the hard back was 60 cents more. Didn't matter. I bought the ebook because that's how I like to read books. I paid $14.99 because I wanted to read the latest Clancy RIGHT NOW.

Eric Lustbader has come out with the latest book in the Jason Bourne series, "The Bourne Objection". It's $14.99 in ebook form as well. I paused and considered whether I really wanted to read this book RIGHT NOW. Based on the last book in the series, I decided to wait. For fun, I checked the ebook price of the previous book in the series, and it's still $14.99 even though the paper back is out for 1/3rd less. The book before that in the series is in ebook form for $9.99. I have plenty of other books to read at the moment. Books I've already paid for. I will either check the book out from the library (which will involve waiting) -- or I will buy it in paperback (which will involve waiting) -- or I will buy it when the price comes down (which will involve waiting). Who knows, I may simply forget about wanting to read this book.

Nowhere in my consideration is how much it costs the publishers to make the book. I don't really worry about how much actually goes to the author. I am concerned about DRM, but there's ways to handle that. What matters to me is that I like the author's and their books are a relatively known quantity to me. To buy or not buy the book has everything to do with how much money I have in my pocket at the time, and how much I desire to read a given book, and the attractiveness other options have for my money (be it other books, or tv, movies, games etc.)

I am not boycotting Eric Lustbader or his publisher. I'm merely making a consumer's choice. I want to read his book, but at the current price, I'll use one of the "wait till later" options. No crime has been committed by the publisher or by me. Take away the "ebook" part of the story, and it's the SAME way I've been making my book purchasing decisions my whole life. I have a hunch that the vast majority of the book buying market will behave as I do.

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Old 12-17-2010, 11:28 AM   #2
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I just looked at the book. It is not Jack Ryan, it is his son and apparently all os his friends kids. I am guessing that Tom Clany didn't pen a word.

So for me, this book is worth $0.00.

I wouldn't buy any of the new Bourne books either. Call me a purist.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:42 AM   #3
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I just looked at the book. It is not Jack Ryan, it is his son and apparently all os his friends kids. I am guessing that Tom Clany didn't pen a word.
"Teeth of the Tiger", the previous book, was indeed about "the next generation", Jack Ryan's son and his cousins. A decent book, but surely not nearly as great as the books of the past.

"Dead or Alive" - has Jack Ryan Sr., John Clark and Domingo Chavez, Mary and Pat Foley -- as well as the next generation folks all involved. Even though Clancy does have a co-author on this book -- it has the feel and depth of the earlier works in the series. I'm about half way through and am enjoying it very much.

Eric Van Lustbader had done a credible job extending Ludlum's series. But the premise does feel very played out by now. The last book was "ok". But nothing so great as to have me lining up to buy the latest at the "new release book" price.

But you can insert your own desired books/authors in place of mine. I think most people will make their purchasing decisions having nothing to do with the content of the raging debates here. It will simply be "do I want to read the book at the price it's being offered".

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Old 12-17-2010, 12:56 PM   #4
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I have bought e-books that cost $15 on the day they were released. The value of the book is going to vary for each person. If I want to read a book badly enough, I will pay the price that is listed. If not, I will wait.
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:57 PM   #5
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I think $4.99 is an excellent price for a well written, edited, full length novel. I don't care who wrote it.

I used to buy books all the time, but stopped entirely once prices started exceding $5.
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:02 PM   #6
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I have no problem paying the same price for e-books as I do print books. How much I'll pay depends on content. I will pay much more for good nonfiction.
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:22 PM   #7
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Now I am dating myself here in the DC Metro area when I say that I remember a time when there was a chain of book stores called Crown Books. I liked Crown who always fairly priced all of the products that they re-sold to the public. They got disbanded when the Haft family had their big falling out a few years ago and closed all of their comapnies. Crown almost always offered a discount over the publishers prices. I was dumbed when I needed to resort to Borders and Barns and Nobles in order to be able to get anything even if it was at a terrible price.

I have been bumbed by the relentless rise in book prices and have decided to draw the line at some point, I have decided to place that line at $8 and i will never pay equal to or more than the paper book price for an ebook. Thus far I have been reading a lot of great but lesser known authors such as: Andy Mc Dermott and the author that I have been reading recently Michael Walsh. Will not touch hardbacks or trade apperbacks, they cost too much.
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:37 PM   #8
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A book is worth a) what you're willing to pay for it relative to b) the enjoyment or utility you expect to derive from it.

My threshold for relatively unknown-to-me fiction authors whose works I've wanted to try but am not really familiar with is around $5. It doesn't matter whether that's the "regular" price or what I can get during a discount sale, but that's pretty much my limit for something untried unless the book seems exceptionally promising and the sample is very persuasive. Also backlist works by known-to-me authors where I think it's entertaining enough, but the overall quality just isn't that great.

I'm willing to go higher for my favourite authors, well-written non-fiction from imprints whose quality I trust, and for useful reference stuff. Though of course I love it when I can get stuff from them for free or cheap, and I'll often buy something else that's higher priced if I've gotten something I like for free.

Due to Lois McMaster Bujold's basically having nearly her entire Vorkosigan Saga come free as a bonus CD with the Cryoburn hardcover, I went and bought an e-book edition of The Curse of Chalion from her other series, which I didn't really need (I own it twice over in paper in two languages), though of course it was during a coupon discount and I paid about $3 CAD for it. I'll be doing the same for the Borders of Infinity novella version from Fictionwise, which comes with the original framing story when it was in a collection, which hasn't been reprinted by Baen.

Last edited by ATDrake; 12-17-2010 at 01:41 PM. Reason: I know how to use verbs, even if I omit them sometimes.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbcohen View Post
Now I am dating myself here in the DC Metro area when I say that I remember a time when there was a chain of book stores called Crown Books. I liked Crown who always fairly priced all of the products that they re-sold to the public.
I LOVED Crown Books!! I grew up in Rockville and Silver Spring and used to spend hours that store. It was so huge and prices were great! Lots of fond memories.

As for eBooks, the most I have paid for one so far is $7.99. I use two different points sites where I get free Amazon cards. Those are exclusively my reading money. I don't have to take money from the family budget and still get to read what I want. I also read many free books and take advantage of Amazon's daily promo freebies.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:02 PM   #10
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leebase is right. A book, or anything for that matter, is only worth what people are willing to pay for it.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:30 PM   #11
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Neither are worth that much to me. I have Dead or Alive on my eReader from the Library Overdrive right now but I haven't been able to motivate myself to read it yet. I guess I need to get to it this weekend.

I'm also in a bit of a pricing funk at the moment. I have several books coming up in the first quarter of 2011 that I would like to read, but simply won't pay those prices. This week I just feel like I'm in a battle of wills with those Agency Five.

I'm about ready to just drive up to the Library and start donating all my book buying money to their Overdrive account - if they don't have an Overdrive Account they should start one because then it will be, fine I overpaid but the 63 people on the waiting list got to read my book too. Ha! Ha! Ha! Hatchette.

Because I'm Just FED UP.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:44 PM   #12
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Funny, I was just thinking about this topic yesterday. I bought 4 books: 2 were remaindered books and the other 2 were secondhand. Despite the almost-scary number of books I've bought over the years, only about 1 in 25 has been at cover price. The publishers can wail about the evils of online piracy all they like, but they and their authors have never made much money from me. If I buy an ebook for $6, they haven't "lost" the $19 from the mythical new $25 hardback version that I would have otherwise bought. They've gained the $6 I would have otherwise spent on the secondhand version.

For me, a book has always been worth $4 to $9. The $15 to $25 figure has never applied. (actually, I've converted from euros to dollars and taken inflation into account, but you get the idea).
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Old 12-17-2010, 03:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I used to buy books all the time, but stopped entirely once prices started exceding $5.
Stopped? As in stopped? That's drastic.

One thing I loved about the Amazon website I used to shop at (but stopped because I now only want epub) is the used books from third-party sellers. Often they sell them for one cent plus the obligatory $3.99 shipping. I bought a number of books for $4 that way, or not much more.

Will we ever see an ebook equivalent of used books at great discount?
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Old 12-17-2010, 03:46 PM   #14
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While I don't have a set price I do find myself resisting paying more for an e-book than either the hardcover or paperback version of the same book. Say what you will about the cost of production, I don't think an e-book would cost more to produce than either of the other versions. I do want decent authors to be compensated for their work, and I think publishers do add value with editing. With e-books they avoid paper and glue, binding equipment, shipment, overstock and return costs.

As e-readers get more popular, someone will figure out how to make this model work for them. But it will probably be something other than a traditional publisher. They are stuck with their legacy costs that won't go away.
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Old 12-17-2010, 03:52 PM   #15
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$3.12, which is how much paperbacks used to cost when I was a kid (including tax).

Thanks to inflation, that probably should be like $8-9 today, but that still has been the price I've bought most e-books at ($2-4).

I did just spend almost $30 to buy a hardback book, the last volume of Clark Ashton Smith's short stories. Even though you can actually read them free online. But I have the other four volumes and I will no doubt read them dozens, if not hundreds of times, so $27 was worth it for me.
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