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View Poll Results: E-book prices should not exceed...
USD $10 3 15.79%
USD $7.50 3 15.79%
USD $5 13 68.42%
Voters: 19. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-12-2005, 04:58 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Pain threshold on e-book prices

Brad from ePublishing Blog asks an interesting question: What is a fair price for an e-book?
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Here is the real shame: I was standing there (figuratively), cash in hand and ready to buy, actually hunting for more books by this same author when I saw the price of $7.50. If it has been a paperback I might have bought, but for an ebook I felt the price much too high.
Brad differentiates between well-known, and less well-known authors. He would be willing to pay a higher price for an e-book from an established author, like Dean Koontz, than for an e-book from a relatively unknown writer who is publishing his works through an unknown small press.

Do you agree? What it your personal pain threshold for e-book prices?
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Old 01-12-2005, 07:00 AM   #2
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Prices

If we assume that most of the cost of a book is in its physical creation and movement (i.e. materials, printing, warehousing, retailing), then there is no justification for charging even close to print price for an eBook.

If a print book costs $10, the eBook should not exceed $5 - if this is a best seller type of book. Books that aren't as good should sell for less.

If the book has DRM, the cost cannot exceed $1 (for a best seller type of book), since DRM violates my right to resell the book if I don't like it. DRMed eBooks that aren't as good, should be in the $0.25 range.
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:46 AM   #3
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I'd be curious to know how much the author makes on paper book sales. I'm sure it varies widely by author. I wonder if it's similar to the music industry. My understanding is that unless you're a superstar you only make $.50 to $1.00 USD on the sale of a cd that might sell for $13 - $17. The rest is used to pay studio costs, distribution, promotion, coaine for the music execs (did I say that?)

Taking that into account the most I ever paid for an ebook was $6 and that was for a public domain work! I was young and foolish and didn't know about gutenburg and blackmask ;-).

For me $5 would probably be the cap unless it's something I am just dying to read.
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Old 01-12-2005, 06:40 PM   #4
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Think about entertainment as a per-hour event. You pay seven bucks for a two hour movie. An average book might last you three hours so anything less than $10.50 is a bargain. It shouldn't matter whether it's electronic or paper. On the other hand, you may want to amortize your PDA over your eBooks. Let's say you plan on reading 100 books and your PDA is $200--that adds $2 to the cost. So, subtract $2 from the price of a paperback and you have a competitive price for your eBook (let's say $5.50 since paperbacks seem to be going for about $7.50 now).

I offer my eNovels for only $1 each, but believe me, there are a lot of costs in producing novels and not all of them go away just because we use electrons rather than ink.

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Old 01-13-2005, 02:53 AM   #5
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Let's think about this for a minute. True, ebooks don't have some of the costs that print books have, like printing, distribution, etc. But they do share other costs, like paying the publisher, the author, the editor, the PR firm and all of their coworkers. They also have to help fund the company's legal department, administrative staff, etc. Plus, ebooks have costs that print books *don't* have. Thinks like tech support, server maintenance and bandwidth.

Given the above, the prices should balance out, with ebooks costing about the same as paper, maybe a little bit less. Also keep in mind that in capitalism, prices are based not on the cost of production (though this does tend to set a minimum price) but by what the market will pay. In that light, I'd say any price that sells a sufficient number of copies to make a good profit is a good price.
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Old 01-13-2005, 08:15 AM   #6
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Im curious to know how ebook stores get the right to sell the book. Do they pay for example $100 for the rights to sell a book and then give a roylaty to the publisher of the book who then gives that money to who derserves it. I dont know but I think that would be important in how much a book should cost. I used to work for Barnes and Noble and they actually make very little off the sale of the book. Most of the money goes back to the publisher. With all that said I think an ebook should cost no more than $5.50 and that includes a new book. The reason new books cost $21 is because of the material cost. New paperbooks cost just as much as old paperback books. I think age should not factor into the price and it really makes me mad that a new ebook is usually the price of a new hardback. It is really taking advantage of the consumer. Also if the author is not well known I think it should be the author who makes the choice to sell the book for less. So the cap should be $5.50 and there shouldnt be some formula as to how much a book should cost. I really like how fictionwise.com has all the short stories for like .80. It is nice how if you want to just read a good quick story it is just a few cents away and you dont have to shell out the price for a book of short stories. Finally a normal book does not take 3hrs to read so how long the book takes to read also shouldnt factor into it.
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Old 01-13-2005, 12:01 PM   #7
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i would peg it at about 50% of the hardcopy if the ebook is drmed and 100% (and maybe a bit more) of the hardcopy price for non-drmed ebook

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Old 01-13-2005, 01:30 PM   #8
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If an ebook costs less than $5 (or maybe $6), I just buy it. If a books costs more, I either wait until I can find it discounted or check if I can get the book in good state secondhand much cheaper. And I usually can.

I have a lot of paper books and the longer it takes for the ebook sellers to lower their prices the more sales they miss.

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Old 01-13-2005, 01:40 PM   #9
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I agree with you that the price of an e-book should definitely be below the price of its paperback or hardcover book version. E-books are cheaper to produce and they require less storage room. Usually, commercial e-books are DRM-infested and cannot be resold as such on eBay & Co. You cannot even lend it to another person without also lending your PDA! In other words, the monetary value of an e-book to the end-user has diminished.
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Old 01-14-2005, 08:30 AM   #10
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Old 01-14-2005, 10:15 AM   #11
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I think it's hard to understand why the typical novel should be more than a paperback, so I put no more than $5, but we may have to bear with higher prices until the infrastructure and competition is in place. When they catch on in mass, the cost of things like the estore and customer service will drop substantially in terms of a per-book price.

Reference works may justify higher prices, but the DRM needs to be solved. Unless it's something you use every day, who wants to buy a reference book that is useless when you lose your registration number or change devices?

And lest we forget, it also has to do with market forces. Costs, competition, supply, demand...
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Old 01-14-2005, 01:54 PM   #12
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I've only paid for an ebook once, and I GLADLY paid 17 bucks! Eventhough is crippled with DRM and I won't be able to read it in a few years ('coz I'm sure eReader won't last that long with me... heck, I've seen so many apps come and go!).
So I guess the threshold depends on how bad I want an ebook, because, you see, I live in Mexico and it takes a while to transport my paper books from Amazon to my door. I prefer the speed of light.
I wouldn't consider the cost of what is associated to making a book (like paper or bandwidth), but the availability of the information, i.e., will I be able to read it RIGHT NOW? What about in a few years?
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Old 01-14-2005, 02:00 PM   #13
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Exactly. The question is, WILL you be able to read the book that you have purchased today for $17 also in 10 or 20 years from today? You can certainly do this with p-books -- I still love skimming through my old college books -- but who guarantees that eReader or any of the other restrictive formats will still be around then? Because of this MAJOR inconvenience, e-books should be considerably less expensive than p-books.
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Old 01-14-2005, 03:56 PM   #14
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have any ebook sites gone out of business yet? Im currious to know what happened to the customers that bought books from their sites. Or I should say what happened to their books.
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Old 01-14-2005, 08:24 PM   #15
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Maybe there should be a law that forces ebook publishers to disclose a "master key" that disables any DRM protection from every ebook a couple of years (or immediately?) after they ran out of business.
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