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Old 04-06-2008, 07:15 AM   #1
mocelet
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Paper books to come with free e-copies?

I was reading Neil Gaiman's blog and he says:
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Originally Posted by Neil Gaiman
Bob Miller, who was the publisher of Hyperion, is heading over to Harper Collins [NB: one of my publishers, and also the people who pay for this website] where he wants to set up an experimental publishing unit with no or low advances and with profit sharing for an author. It could be interesting -- I was particularly fascinated by the final line of the NYT coverage:
Mr. Miller said he was considering offering both e-book and audio editions of the hardcovers at no extra cost to the consumer.
Because it seems to me that giving away an e-Book with a hardback is an excellent way to grow the e-book world, and something that a publisher could do at little or no cost. And I like the idea of essentially having bought a HEART-SHAPED BOX license rather than a copy of HEART-SHAPED BOX -- of course buying the book would give you the audio and the text, not just the object.
More at The Guardian and NY Times
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:40 AM   #2
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Nice and I've just expressed something similar in an other post of mine. For technical books, ebooks are sometimes included.

Hope this works out well, at least the ebook part. I'm not really interested in audio books.

Last edited by Ramen; 04-06-2008 at 10:40 AM. Reason: Somehow missed a part...
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:40 PM   #3
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For me the ideal situation would be... (and I'm using arbitrary prices here).

Cost :
6 dollars
+2 dollars if you want a paper copy
+7 dollars if you want an audio copy to download
+5 dollars for the "hardback" edition which means you get everything, plus the book in hardback format, plus a CD with a suitable codec of the audio book on it
+4 dollars if you want the audio book burnt to audio cds

That means...
6 dollars for the book in electronic format or 8 in paper format, the vast majority of purchases I guess
13 dollars for the book in audio format (as well as electronic) (maybe a 300MB download)
20 dollars for the hardback, with a CD of the MPs (or whatever codec)

Now remember I've picked arbitrary prices, there's no point arguing over the individual elements of the price. I think the basic principle is sound. People get to buy "the book" and they can opt to pay the costs to get it on the format they want.

If publishers like, they can opt to only allow the "full" 20 dollar option for the first 6 or 12 or whatever they like months, in the usual practice of gouging the people who won't wait.

For me it would mean I'd be spending 6 dollars on each book. For books I have a particular fondness for (e.g. Lord of the Rings) I'd probably buy the 13 dollar version, and have it on audio file as well as electronic book. For a book like Dune, I'd probably opt for the 20 dollar package.
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halk View Post
For me the ideal situation would be... (and I'm using arbitrary prices here).

Cost :
6 dollars
+2 dollars if you want a paper copy
+7 dollars if you want an audio copy to download
+5 dollars for the "hardback" edition which means you get everything, plus the book in hardback format, plus a CD with a suitable codec of the audio book on it
+4 dollars if you want the audio book burnt to audio cds

That means...
6 dollars for the book in electronic format or 8 in paper format, the vast majority of purchases I guess
13 dollars for the book in audio format (as well as electronic) (maybe a 300MB download)
20 dollars for the hardback, with a CD of the MPs (or whatever codec)

Now remember I've picked arbitrary prices, there's no point arguing over the individual elements of the price. I think the basic principle is sound. People get to buy "the book" and they can opt to pay the costs to get it on the format they want.

If publishers like, they can opt to only allow the "full" 20 dollar option for the first 6 or 12 or whatever they like months, in the usual practice of gouging the people who won't wait.

For me it would mean I'd be spending 6 dollars on each book. For books I have a particular fondness for (e.g. Lord of the Rings) I'd probably buy the 13 dollar version, and have it on audio file as well as electronic book. For a book like Dune, I'd probably opt for the 20 dollar package.
i like the idea of a book being available in all formats, and you can choose which one(s) you want depending on the book, and the cost to you is based on material cost of producing certain formats (hardback is more expensive than paperback, which is more expensive than ebook...). i would love it if publishers would begin to use this model.

i know you said these are arbitrary prices and don't get too distracted by details, however i would like to add that on principle, since the current price of books is largely due to the cost of production (cost of paper, printing, binding, storage, shipping, storage again, etc.), i think an ebook should cost *less than half* of the price of a paper book. so to use your arbitrary numbers, if a paperback ends up at 8$, an ebook should only be 4$ (at most).

so, in the system you propose, if i understand, 6$ is the base price for the *content* (in ebook format alone) and each option would be added to the 6$, and these options are *cumulative*, which means say i want a hardcover copy but not audio, i pay :
6$ for the content
+ 2$ for the paper copy
+ 5$ for the hard cover (in addition to the 8$ already mentioned)
TOTAL : 13$

and then "complete" 20$ package is this plus 7$ for the audio, and the burning it on cds is thrown in free instead of costing 4$ ?

is this correct ?
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:02 PM   #5
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@ mocelet : thanks for the links. those were really interesting articles and i am quite interested to see what happens in the near future in the publishing industry...
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:54 PM   #6
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I hadn't come up with an option for hardback without audio - as I said I was picking arbitrary prices to make an example.

The complete would be 20 dollars, delivered. So you'd get a hardback, and 1 data CD with MP3s on it. Or if you wanted, 24 dollars, delivered for the hardback, and audio CDs of the audio book.

And really on principle you aren't paying for the eBook at all. You buy the content and you can add the eBook on at a cost of 0. So yeah, it's 6 dollars for the eBook, but that'd perhaps get people away from saying "I'm paying for an eBook I don't want, I only want it on paper".

I don't think though that printing costs are as high as they may be made out to be. I also think that perhaps in the future there will be more POD (Print on demand) and more central storage of books than there is now. I would expect there's a lot of overheads attached to paper books - a complete guess as follows.

1 dollar to print the thing
Cost to ship it to the retailer.
Cost of having 10 bookstores, and having to make sure each individual store has stocks of a book - e.g. some might sell out, some might sell none. So there's going to be at least some degree of moving them about.
Shrinkage (which means damages, and theft - i.e. at a stocktake it isn't there, or it needs to be discounted as it's damaged or thrown out).

In other words the cost of the paper edition isn't all about the cost of printing it, there's (I expect) larger costs associated with stocking it, hiring a location for the store, staff, shrinkage, redistribution etc.

Perhaps as the online model moves away from this, minimising these costs then it really will be a case of costing 2 dollars to print a book and have it sent out. Sure larger books will cost more (more printing, heavier parcels) but your normal throwaway paperback can't be that expensive if it's a large efficient organisation.
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Old 04-06-2008, 02:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halk View Post
I hadn't come up with an option for hardback without audio - as I said I was picking arbitrary prices to make an example.

The complete would be 20 dollars, delivered. So you'd get a hardback, and 1 data CD with MP3s on it. Or if you wanted, 24 dollars, delivered for the hardback, and audio CDs of the audio book.

And really on principle you aren't paying for the eBook at all. You buy the content and you can add the eBook on at a cost of 0. So yeah, it's 6 dollars for the eBook, but that'd perhaps get people away from saying "I'm paying for an eBook I don't want, I only want it on paper".
well, regardless, as you say the important thing is to separate the *content* from the *container* and allow people to buy the content alone (this means the ebook, which is, granted, a form of container --especially if we start down the slippery slope of formats, etc. -- however practically speaking i don't think many people will make this distinction, not for long anyway, because it's far too abstract), or pay a supplement to the price for a more costly-to-produce type of container.

Quote:
I don't think though that printing costs are as high as they may be made out to be. I also think that perhaps in the future there will be more POD (Print on demand) and more central storage of books than there is now. I would expect there's a lot of overheads attached to paper books - a complete guess as follows.

1 dollar to print the thing
Cost to ship it to the retailer.
Cost of having 10 bookstores, and having to make sure each individual store has stocks of a book - e.g. some might sell out, some might sell none. So there's going to be at least some degree of moving them about.
Shrinkage (which means damages, and theft - i.e. at a stocktake it isn't there, or it needs to be discounted as it's damaged or thrown out).

In other words the cost of the paper edition isn't all about the cost of printing it, there's (I expect) larger costs associated with stocking it, hiring a location for the store, staff, shrinkage, redistribution etc.

Perhaps as the online model moves away from this, minimising these costs then it really will be a case of costing 2 dollars to print a book and have it sent out. Sure larger books will cost more (more printing, heavier parcels) but your normal throwaway paperback can't be that expensive if it's a large efficient organisation.
well, you may be right that the cost of printing is lower than i think, i don't really know much about it. however i was taking into account the peripheral costs you mentioned as well (such as moving the books about... especially since in the article they mention returning something like 40% of books to the publisher to be "pulped" what a scandalous waste of ressources !) and these must definitely add up.

so based on the *current model* i think half price for an ebook is reasonable. if printing prices go down, this could change, although i sincerely hope it would change in a way that is beneficial to everyone, that is, the price of paper books will decrease corresponding to the reduced costs of the editors, rather than "reduce the gap" between paper and digital prices without any reduction passed along to the end consumer...

there's a book i would like to read which is priced at 20€ for the first release large "fancy" paperback, and...19€ for the ebook. to me that is undefendable. especially since the first edition of this book contained typo errors !! (however, in defense of the editor, i must add that they have released a new ebook edition, where the errors have been corrected. i saw this in a conversation in the french discussion thread). i did not buy it because i refuse to pay so much for an ebook. i'm hoping that when the "pocket" size paperback comes out at a lower price, the price of the ebook will be reduced as well (this seems to be often the case), but this seems like a completely backwards way of operating to me. or, as you said, like price-gouging on the publisher's part.
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Old 04-06-2008, 03:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
there's a book i would like to read which is priced at 20€ for the first release large "fancy" paperback, and...19€ for the ebook. to me that is undefendable. especially since the first edition of this book contained typo errors !! (however, in defense of the editor, i must add that they have released a new ebook edition, where the errors have been corrected. i saw this in a conversation in the french discussion thread). i did not buy it because i refuse to pay so much for an ebook. i'm hoping that when the "pocket" size paperback comes out at a lower price, the price of the ebook will be reduced as well (this seems to be often the case), but this seems like a completely backwards way of operating to me. or, as you said, like price-gouging on the publisher's part.
I don't really have a problem with that. I'd have preferred the electronic version to be more than a dollar cheaper. But essentially when a book comes out there's a standard policy of charging way more than the paperback, because it's new. People have the choice of waiting for the paperback, or paying the extra.

When it comes to electronic versions, it seems fine to me to charge a way over the top price to start off with, and then reduce it later - at the same time as the paperback comes out. It's not as if the hardback costs significantly more than the paperback. We're only talking larger pages, and a thicker cover.

Of course after the paperback has been out for a while there's also the opportunity to buy it second hand, and I've also seen older paperbacks heavily discounted.

So perhaps we'll see a three tier system for content ; New, Current and Old. And at a guess, for my model above 15, 6, and 4 for pricing. That'd remove the hardcover option I guess, and cause the whole thing to be reworked.
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:07 PM   #9
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I don't really have a problem with that. I'd have preferred the electronic version to be more than a dollar cheaper. But essentially when a book comes out there's a standard policy of charging way more than the paperback, because it's new. People have the choice of waiting for the paperback, or paying the extra.

When it comes to electronic versions, it seems fine to me to charge a way over the top price to start off with, and then reduce it later - at the same time as the paperback comes out. It's not as if the hardback costs significantly more than the paperback. We're only talking larger pages, and a thicker cover.

Of course after the paperback has been out for a while there's also the opportunity to buy it second hand, and I've also seen older paperbacks heavily discounted.

So perhaps we'll see a three tier system for content ; New, Current and Old. And at a guess, for my model above 15, 6, and 4 for pricing. That'd remove the hardcover option I guess, and cause the whole thing to be reworked.
i do understand the "more expensive when it's new" model, however i think there should be limits. 19€ for a digital copy of a 20€ paperbook is not a big enough difference. i could understand that they might be a bit more expensive than a paperback at first, but within reason.

i think a 3 tiered system like you describe would be brilliant, to simulate what currently exists in the used book market where the prices are significantly cheaper than new, and which cannot easily be replicated with ebooks. the "new" price seems a bit steep to me ; if the "current" price will be 6$, the new price could be around 10 to 12. this would allow publishers to continue to release the fancy paper book first at a high price, and then the pocket paperback later for less, with corresponding reduction in price of content in ebook form. and as you say, older content could be reduced even further.

i don't see why we would have to remove the hard cover option though ; it's just one more option.
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Old 04-06-2008, 05:32 PM   #10
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makes sense to me
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Old 04-06-2008, 05:34 PM   #11
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I think you really need to accept that the first copies of a book are going to be priced for the "I don't care, I want it now. NOW! Mommy! NOOOOOWWW!" market. If you can't afford it (or are not willing to pay), wait. There are books that I am, in all seriousness, waiting to see either as second hand paperbacks or in the bargain bin, because I think $5 is a generous estimation of their value.
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Old 04-06-2008, 05:55 PM   #12
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I think you really need to accept that the first copies of a book are going to be priced for the "I don't care, I want it now. NOW! Mommy! NOOOOOWWW!" market. If you can't afford it (or are not willing to pay), wait. There are books that I am, in all seriousness, waiting to see either as second hand paperbacks or in the bargain bin, because I think $5 is a generous estimation of their value.
oh, of course. that won't change anytime soon. it's not so much the practice itself, as the idea of the ebook being priced basically the same as the first release edition. as i mentioned earlier, since there are significantly fewer costs involved in publishing / selling ebooks, i consider that their price should be no more than half that of a paperbook. *even* when they are new. possibly slightly higher at the beginning, to allow for the publishers' taking full advantage of the people who cannot possibly wait, but with a significant reduction compared to paper nonetheless.

actually, currently, there are very few books i will buy in the expensive "first release" format. i buy most of my books in pocket format, or used, or get them at the library. i couldn't possibly afford to buy all of them at 20€ each. this isn't a huge problem for me since the majority of what i read is pretty old anyway, it's usually more a problem of tracking down the last remaining copy in print . ebooks make this easier as well, luckily.
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Old 04-07-2008, 10:14 AM   #13
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There are also people like me, that do not want the format hardcover but prefer paperback. This is not a cost issue but a preference issue and everytime a new book comes out, I need to wait a year for my format of choice to come out.

Or I bite the bullet and buy the huge hardcovers that are impractical to read and carry. For a premium.
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Old 04-07-2008, 10:22 AM   #14
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IMHO, it seems to me that expecting all books to be available in all formats is asking a lot from publishers. It would be an inventory nightmare! Such a system would practically require book orders to be processed individually to meet the desires of purchasers, which would be labor-intensive and cause the price of books in any format to skyrocket.

Not that I wouldn't personally love to have any book I desired in any format I wished for... ;-)

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Old 04-07-2008, 10:31 AM   #15
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There are also people like me, that do not want the format hardcover but prefer paperback. This is not a cost issue but a preference issue and everytime a new book comes out, I need to wait a year for my format of choice to come out.

Or I bite the bullet and buy the huge hardcovers that are impractical to read and carry. For a premium.
yes, actually i feel the same way for almost all books, especially since a lot of my reading is done in bed and in the métro. hardcover books are almost always too large and heavy to carry in my bag for the 30 minute ride in the métro, and they are often rather cumbersome and uncomfortable to hold in bed as well. there are rare cases where i can imagine preferring a hard cover, but as i say, they are rare.

and it *is* really annoying to always have to wait a year when there is a book i want to read... that's another one of the things that interests me with ebooks, really.
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