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Old 09-04-2007, 10:40 PM   #1
andyd
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Um...does it make sense that the prices are near Amazon or more?

I wasn't expecting a big discount over books but I also wasn't expecting books to be close to if not more than Amazon. This is what I should expect?
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Old 09-04-2007, 10:54 PM   #2
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Do you mean the Connect store?The prices suck, don't they?
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:08 PM   #3
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Hey, you should check out the latest prices on some of Penguin's ebooks. They're selling some of their $6.99/$7.99 print books for $9.99. (I didn't reverse that, they're charging $2-$3 more for the ebooks. This is across the board at Fictionwise.com, eReader.com, Books on Board.com, and Powells.com (before any site-specific discounts). Some of the books are on Connect, but not all. One I could find on Connect is Lora Leigh's "Tanner's Scheme." Connect has "discounted" it $2, so it now matches the print book price. Yippee.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:52 PM   #4
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I'm all for lower prices, but remember that you are paying for the content not the bundle of paper.

I don't think I've ever looked at two books at a bookstore and thought, "Well, I like this story better, but this other book has more pages-- must be a better value."

The marketing, editing, typesetting and author residuals still remain. I've even read in these groups that authors recieve a greater royalty from ebooks. Electronic stores also have overhead, marketing, bandwidth, equipment, development, design and tech support costs.

In this case, it is more convenient for me to have an electronic version rather than a big, heavy book that will just collect dust and take up physical space. There is the downside of ebooks having DRM though...
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:58 PM   #5
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I'm all for lower prices, but remember that you are paying for the content not the bundle of paper.
But when you buy a pBook, you ARE buying the bundle of paper. And since that is the one step that is NOT required for an eBook, the eBook should be cheaper. Not free, no, but cheapER.

Right now I'm going ahead and paying the inflated prices hoping that with more business it will drive the prices down, but I'm also worried that eBook makers will then point out that I did buy the book at that price, so maybe they should keep making them that price.
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:06 AM   #6
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Don't forget FictionWise, they're offering their multiformat books in LRF now (still working on the conversion, so not all of them yet). I think their prices are somewhat less than ConnStore, and they're non-DRMed.

Just thought I'd throw that into the mix.
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:53 AM   #7
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Don't forget FictionWise, they're offering their multiformat books in LRF now (still working on the conversion, so not all of them yet). I think their prices are somewhat less than ConnStore, and they're non-DRMed.
I was disappointed that out of 40 previous purchases at fictionwise, only six of them are currently available in lrf. Hopefully it will improve.

Don't forget Baen books. Cheaper prices and none of that nasty DRM aftertaste.
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:35 AM   #8
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I believe they said a week or so ago that they were about halfway through converting their 16k multiformat books, so if your other 36 books are multiformat, I think they'll likely become available as LRF files in time.

Yes, Baen is wonderful, but they don't offer LRF files (at the moment, anyway), so conversion is needed. But, personally, the conversion effort is worth it for Baen's stuff.
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:45 AM   #9
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I am angry with the price of eBooks at Sony Connect (and the industry in general).

For the person that thinks the overhead cost of delivering a .6 Meg ebook is equal that of the overhead cost of a 500 page paperback, I say BS.

First lets look at the biggest DMR content delivery service out there, iTunes. The average iTunes track is $0.99 and that is for a 6 Meg file yet, even the purchase of the "entire cd" gives the user a significant savings over even the best discount music store.

Based on the stock price of Apple alone, I doubt iTunes is losing money with ever sale of music from their iTunes store.

Now lets look at the cost of producing a paper book.
It is much more than just paying for paper, the paper has to be delivered by the ton.
1) The paper has to be cut to the appropriate size for each book (labor).
2) The book has to be printed and checked for quality (labor)
3) The book has to be bound and checked for quality (labor) and (material)
4) The book has to be shipped to distribution centers (labor) and (transportation)
5) The book has to be shipped to individual stores (labor) and (transportation)
6) The books that are not sold have to be purchased back and destroyed.

Removal of Step 6 alone should be enough to offer a significant discount to the readers of eBooks.

In addition since all books that make it to print are in a digital format creating an eBook out of any book on the shelf is as easy as SAVE AS (or more likely running a batch convert that I am sure Sony has developed).
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Old 09-05-2007, 11:17 AM   #10
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But when you buy a pBook, you ARE buying the bundle of paper. And since that is the one step that is NOT required for an eBook, the eBook should be cheaper. Not free, no, but cheapER.
Yes, but there is a long, vaunted history of industries reducing costs without reducing the price. Things just get repackaged.

Canned coffee used to come in one pound cans. As the cost went up, the price stayed the same, but they became 13oz cans--then 12oz.

Potato chips are a better example. They didn't even bother making the bags smaller. They just added fewer chips and more air.
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:44 PM   #11
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But they do lower the "Net Weight" number, that's something!
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:25 PM   #12
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Yes, but there is a long, vaunted history of industries reducing costs without reducing the price. Things just get repackaged.
You can reduce cost all you want, but there's no realistic way the marginal cost of a physical book will ever approach that of an eBook.

Think of it this way...lets say a publisher prints a book, the first printing is 50K copies. It becomes a best seller so the do additional printings. Those printings all cost more to do. With an eBook, the initial cost is purchasing rights from the author, and then the work to get it electronic, which frankly these days, is probably almost nil, plus some proofreading and formatting. But for any single book I doubt is that much work, relatively. You then make it available online. That "run" is equal to infinity. All other costs are minor, cost of transmission, cost of storage...in most businesses today those are sunk costs anyway. So in effect, everything after the initial rights purchase and labor to translate to electronic format is profit.

What that makes me wonder more about is how authors negotiate rights with an electronic company. Do they get % of sales, or do they sell the right to sell 50K copies, thus making a sort of electronic run, sell rights per years, or in perpetuity?
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:00 AM   #13
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You can reduce cost all you want, but there's no realistic way the marginal cost of a physical book will ever approach that of an eBook.
What does that have to do with the price of potato chips in Peoria? Price is only closely related to variations in cost when there is competition. If B&N gets their costs below Amazon's, then I expect to see a price drop across the board. However, if the NY Jets (American football) cuts the cost of running the team by 50%, I don't expect season ticket prices to drop. What am I going to do, buy Giants tickets instead? I don't think so. There is one and only one source for Jets tickets.

The only real competition-related pressure on publisher's book prices is the fact that they, as a whole, compete with other entertainment venues for the market's entertainment budget. Beyond that, it's between booksellers for the same titles (or an aggregate of current titles) in the reseller market.

If the latest masterpiece by S. Gary Horrormeister is $30, the fact that some tawdry piece of crap by Wanna B. Hackdude is $15, is going to exert very little pricing pressure on Horrormeister's publisher. If you want to read Horrormeister's work, you're going to pay his publisher's price. If they switch their entire catalog to all digital tomorrow, there is no market incentive to drop the "new release" price below the current hardcover price. Why should they? The market has already demonstrated that it's willing to pay that price for a new release.
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What that makes me wonder more about is how authors negotiate rights with an electronic company. Do they get % of sales, or do they sell the right to sell 50K copies, thus making a sort of electronic run, sell rights per years, or in perpetuity?
Currently, e-rights are most often sold for periods of time, though that period might sometimes be "in perpetuity." As for the compensation, that's always negotiable. It might be a flat fee, or it might be a per-copy percentage. I don't think a fixed number of sales makes sense for either the author or the publisher. Sales might never reach the terminal value.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:24 AM   #14
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What does that have to do with the price of potato chips in Peoria? Price is only closely related to variations in cost when there is competition.
Excellent argument, jasonkchapman! I understand the emotional reaction of people who think prices should be lower for digitized content, but economically it just doesn't work that way.

I still maintain that the value is in the content, not the method in which it is distributed. It may be that the distribution method is worth more on a subjective level, but it is really just your way of delivering to the consumer.

There's the tendency for people to think that anything delivered electronically on the web must be almost free to produce. I worked for Sony for a long time-- it is very costly to run any online business on that scale. I doubt they are actually making a profit on content at this point. There just isn't a large enough user-base. This is more of a long-term investment to support short-term hardware sales... maybe.

I think Sony was smart to shut down their music store and open up their hardware a bit to more content store choices. Personally, I think they will shut down the book store but they probably have some long-term contracts that they have to fulfill first.

I'd love for Sony to give up on their store and offer support for mobipocket, ereader, lit and others. Then there might be some real competition and some prices may go down.
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Old 09-07-2007, 08:47 AM   #15
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The other question is just how much additional labor is put into the eBook side of things. Not just on the reader-maker's side - there has to be person(s) on the publisher's side as well. To push the buttons, to negotiate, etc.

And negotiation and selection must be fairly complex. Some authors sell all potential future rights to the publisher on acceptance (serial series books, especially, are known for contracts which deliver all rights to the text,) sometimes e-rights are specifically held back for later negotiation, and of course there's the host of books which were pre-ebook (or, at least, before anyone realized there should be eBook reprint rights.) So you have to have people on both sides to do research, etc. And that also makes negotiation on a book-by-book level - the publisher probably can't just release it's whole stable at one even if they wanted to.

While it's too much to hope for that the publisher doesn't make more money for the e-version, I wonder what that translates to for the author. Were I a savvy author, I might consider the e-version to be another "printing," and one that will sell less copies overall inherently. So I might want a little bigger cut of the pie. Whether that's fair or not depends on if you think the author's sum compensation should be based on the sale of an individual copy, or accrued into a lump sum based on the number of copies sold. Either way, more money to the author per copy sold would be a good inducement to an author to sell the eBook rights.

And, come to that, more money is an inducement to the publisher to produce ebooks also - remember that they have no compulsion to do so. If it works the way I suspect, eBooks would be a different division at a publishing house - so that division has to justify its existence to the company. If eBooks don't make the publisher more money than print, why would a publisher keep that division?

While I've read many eBooks that seemed to have been simply converted from one format to another, I've also read ones that were very specifically formatted to the Reader platform. I'd guess that means that the formatting of the file is a publisher's choice and expense. (I wish there was a little better QC on Sony's end, but oh well...)

I think where I'm going is to say that, while it seems hard to justify eBooks costing as much as print, I don't think anyone can prove that they cost less before looking at the balance sheet of the publisher. Which would be an interesting exercise for the financially minded, but a lot of trouble for an answer that probably won't change the situation.
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