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Old 10-26-2008, 01:12 PM   #1
Smoutie
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Price Challenges !

Maybe we're doing this already, but how do you feel about setting up a weekly price challenge for popular titles? (No doubt someone will set up a website to automate this kind of thing in due course.)

For example, I have been seeking "The Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold, in the Adobe format.

The different prices I have found are:

UK
WHSmith Ebooks : £3.83
Waterstones : £7.19
Blackwell's : £16.99

USA (at today's exchange rate of $1.58 to the £1)
Books on Board : £6.91
Diesel e-books : £5.97
Ebooks.com : £6.22

So clearly there's a price differential of around £13 from bottom to top, which is well worth having.
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:41 PM   #2
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I don't understand what you're suggesting -- we don't all buy books in the same format, nor do we all buy them from the same place, so the free market is working (to a point) and there are various prices for you to buy what you want from. Buy the cheapest and have done with it.

Nor would we all agree what the "popular titles" would be, so it would be very hard to get everybody to come to a consensus. For instance, I haven't the least interest in the price of the book you mention because it's not what I read. You might not have much interest in dunning Martha Grimes for me until she agrees to allow ebook publication of the Richard Jury books.

I think better is that where any of us have complaints, we each make them to the publisher, the author and to the web-site where we don't like the prices we see. A multi-faceted attack is the best one to convince the powers that be that we really are a large and diverse and growing marketplace.

I think that can be best achieved by many individual requests, not by a single monolithic request by a group, since we don't know how large a group of people they would actually respond positively to. When we each contact them on our own, they can't know how many we are and can only assume that the vocal members are a smaller subset of a larger potential audience.
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by dhbailey View Post
(...)

I think better is that where any of us have complaints, we each make them to the publisher, the author and to the web-site where we don't like the prices we see. A multi-faceted attack is the best one to convince the powers that be that we really are a large and diverse and growing marketplace.

I think that can be best achieved by many individual requests, not by a single monolithic request by a group, since we don't know how large a group of people they would actually respond positively to. When we each contact them on our own, they can't know how many we are and can only assume that the vocal members are a smaller subset of a larger potential audience.
i completely agree with this ; this is a pivotal time for ebooks developpement and i think it's very important that we communicate as much as possible to publishers about exactly what we want and will pay for (more ebooks published, reasonable prices, no drm...).

i believe i once read that companies consider that the majority of their customers are too lazy to write ; so for each letter they receive, they estimate another 7 people feel the same way, but won't bother to contact them. the number might be slightly different now but i think the same principle still applies. that's a pretty good return on the time you invest in writing.

i try to write to the publisher every time a book i want is not available as an ebook, or the price is too high, for example. i think it's important to stay polite but be quite explicit about why you want what you want (ebooks should be cheaper than pbooks because many of the costs associated with printing do not apply to the creation of digital files, for instance). most publishers have websites now with a contact email or online form, so it's very easy to do.

if enough people write they will be forced to listen to us.
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:28 AM   #4
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Thank you for the responses but I think we're talking two completely separate arguments. You're referring to the lack of availability of certain books in the e-format (I think?). I'm referring to the pricing of books which ARE available.

So, to take your points - well, firstly I have posted this under a specific kind of reader's heading so we could assume that we are all after the same kind of format in this thread.

Secondly, if we assume that we cannot ever agree on "popular titles", then that would imply that book groups could never work - and we know they do.

Thirdly, online books are now essentially commodities, given that the differential add-ons offered by bricks-and-mortar books stores (such as coffee shops, free gift wrap, etc) are not available. This means price should be the only differentiator, yet it varies hugely. I think that if a consensus of purchasers - even a few people - publicly identified the cheapest source of such a commodity, then the suppliers of that commodity might take notice.

dh, I'm not sure why you're inferring that I have a "complaint" - I don't. "Buy the cheapest ... " is exactly what I would like to do, yet it took me a considerable time to find the cheapest and this is not a consistent experience - one online seller is not consistently cheapest. So what I'm seeking is a quick and easy way of finding the cheapest version of an already-available title (a bit like cheap flight engines do).

But I'll take that as a "no", anyway :-)
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:04 AM   #5
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Its a good idea to an extent, but could definitely become unwieldy with a large number of books.

Another concern is that stores often follow each others lead, so that while prices may be right for a couple of days, they'll probably be out of date soon.

For prices, you probably need something that is dynamic. I believe one of the members is currently working on getting a search engine which searches eBoook stores going.

Still, posting about great deals on prices is more then welcome, and a lot of members will probably appreciate it.
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:12 AM   #6
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Certainly would be cool to have some kind of search engine that can compare (and convert) prices across the various ebook sites.

I'm having to google each one and then check individual sites as prices vary pretty wildly in some cases. Not really bothered about what format providing its one the Sony can read.
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:20 AM   #7
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I believe that someone is already developing such a site. There was some discussion of it a couple of months ago, as I recall.
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:22 AM   #8
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Well if you are willing you could always try out the very basic version he's got going.

Here's the link

Its pretty basic and currently only covers a few of the stores who have open API's, but its something to keep an eye on.
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:20 AM   #9
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just to be clear, i did understand your point, but i still think that it is worthwhile to write a letter when you see an outrageous price ; for the moment, ebook sellers seem to be testing the waters to find out just how much they can get away with charging, and i think it's important to let them know that nobody wants to pay the same price as the hardcover edition for an ebook (especially if the book is already available in paperback for 1/2 the price...).

but in the meantime, definitely take a look at the search engine that Gianfranco has been working on. hopefully it will simplify your life a little bit at least.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:03 PM   #10
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Another issue in all of this is "who sets the price?" The publisher or the bookstore? I haven't seen books in Sony format anywhere other than the Sony site or at Fictionwise, for the non-drm LRF format (multi-format) books, which aren't the same titles I see at the Sony site.

If there are other sites (I know about Baen, which sells its own books) where Sony-format books can be purchased, the same titles as are at the Sony site, I'd appreciate knowing where that is.

I know that books can be bought in other formats and if lucky their drm can be cracked and then converted to LRF books, but the different formats carry their own marketing weight and therefore pricing ability.

Is there any competition for Sony LRX format books?
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:22 PM   #11
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Generally speaking, it's the publisher who sets the price, but the bookstore is free to discount it if they're willing to take the cut in their profits.
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