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Old 01-07-2009, 10:36 AM   #16
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:38 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by jj2me View Post
Authors submit manuscripts in ASCII, right? . . . Conversion, absent DRM, takes what, a few days?
The day I receive an author's manuscript in ASCII will be the first day in the 25 years I have been in publishing that such an event will have occurred. Authors usually submit their manuscripts in a MS Word document that is riddled with styles and formatting -- usually haphazardly done. At least for the books on which I work, cleanup takes a lot of time. Then the manuscript has to be edited and recoded to conform to the codes needed to produce the final version of the book.

I'll admit I do not work on novels and there may be less involved -- or not -- with that genre, but the nonfiction books I work on take several weeks worth of work to prepare a manuscript for publication. The process is not as cut and dried as some would make it to be.

I, too, think prices for ebooks with DRM are too high but I also think that the pricing would be fine if there were no DRM. In other words, a leased product is worth significantly less to me than an owned product. To me, it is DRM that is the bugaboo in the mix.
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Old 01-07-2009, 02:37 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
The day I receive an author's manuscript in ASCII will be the first day in the 25 years I have been in publishing that such an event will have occurred. Authors usually submit their manuscripts in a MS Word document that is riddled with styles and formatting -- usually haphazardly done. At least for the books on which I work, cleanup takes a lot of time. Then the manuscript has to be edited and recoded to conform to the codes needed to produce the final version of the book.

I'll admit I do not work on novels and there may be less involved -- or not -- with that genre, but the nonfiction books I work on take several weeks worth of work to prepare a manuscript for publication. The process is not as cut and dried as some would make it to be.
Turning a book manuscript file--even a clean one--into an ebook is a time-intensive process, far more than most people on this forum seem to realize. It's definitely not "a few seconds" as someone earlier said. The manuscript-file prep alone can takes days, starting with someone making sure all the final editing changes are in. This process could be shortened if typesetting files were designed to optimize the process, but they're not.

If you'd like a taste of what's involved, read the threads on my creation of free ebooks of The Infinite Sea, Sunborn, and others.

As someone said before, the costs of editorial, art, marketing, sales and promotion, and a lot more are costs that will apply to any book, tree or e.

I'd like to see less expensive ebooks, too, but the notion that ebooks are a trivial expense to produce and sell is very much a myth.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:37 PM   #19
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Do people really buy reader devices to save money on ebooks? I agree that the prices are too high considering the publishers aren't paying for printing and distributing, but I would buy the books anyway for the sheer convenience of buying books at home, receiving them instantly on my computer and then reading them wherever I go. I would rather buy an ebook that I can read on any device, though - technology changes pretty quickly and I love to have the newest gadgets!! It's not the price of the ebook that keeps me from buying it, it's usually the format of the book! If I can't convert it for use on multiple devices - I don't want it!!
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:42 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starrigger View Post
(...) the notion that ebooks are a trivial expense to produce and sell is very much a myth.
I agree with you. And most of us here have certainly no doubt that those costs are real.

However, it is also very true that many other (substancial) costs are specifically related to printed editions - and I fell my inteligence insultated when some publishing houses says it isn't.

Publishing industry should deal with this new book age in a more intelligent and less cynical way.

Regards
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:27 PM   #21
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I will irrefutably point out at this point, that putting a function into existing word processors to format what is being written directly into whatever ebook format is desired is not only doable - it would be something that authors would not likely balk at. It is a feature I myself might pay for

The whole cost of formatting thing still is a cost that can be cut out.
And done that way it would take little time.

You are sitting here reading this forum in front of a computer people.
How hard is it to remember just what it is that computers do.


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Old 01-07-2009, 06:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazbates View Post
Do people really buy reader devices to save money on ebooks? I agree that the prices are too high considering the publishers aren't paying for printing and distributing, but I would buy the books anyway for the sheer convenience of buying books at home, receiving them instantly on my computer and then reading them wherever I go. I would rather buy an ebook that I can read on any device, though - technology changes pretty quickly and I love to have the newest gadgets!! It's not the price of the ebook that keeps me from buying it, it's usually the format of the book! If I can't convert it for use on multiple devices - I don't want it!!
kaz
Well considering I got mine Reader as a present, and every book I've bought is cheaper than the pbook, plus the gas, I admit saving money was a factor.

But I didn't buy it strictly for that reason though
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazbates View Post
Do people really buy reader devices to save money on ebooks?
I did! And, when buying from Baen (my #1 supplier by number of books purchased), I saved the cost of the reader in the first year. Well, actually... I bought their entire output for that year in bits. Buying same in paper would have cost well more than the cost of the reader. But I'd only have bought about half of those books in a bookstore, so it really took me two years to cover the cost of the reader. Then when I read the 'extras' as well, I found that many of those authors also belonged on my "buy-and-read" list. Not all, but most.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kazbates View Post
I agree that the prices are too high considering the publishers aren't paying for printing and distributing, but I would buy the books anyway for the sheer convenience of buying books at home, receiving them instantly on my computer and then reading them wherever I go. I would rather buy an ebook that I can read on any device, though - technology changes pretty quickly and I love to have the newest gadgets!! It's not the price of the ebook that keeps me from buying it, it's usually the format of the book! If I can't convert it for use on multiple devices - I don't want it!!
kaz
Prices aren't too high everywhere. Baen sells eBooks at $6.00 for singles, or in various bundles that are even more attractively priced. They're a great place to visit if you like SF and Fantasy (plus a little Horror and some Paranormal Romance, now that they're also carrying books from some small publishers too). And NO DRM!

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Old 01-07-2009, 09:29 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by kazbates View Post
Do people really buy reader devices to save money on ebooks?
I bought most of my pbooks in paper and with some form of discount (usually at least 25%). I rarely bought a hardcover book and usually with a 40% off coupon (or deeper discount). I also used to share pbooks with co-workers, friends and family...the average book would be read 2-3 times. I read too much and books aren't cheap.

So while I didn't buy a reader to save money, I did wait until I was comfortable that it would not cost me more. In fact, although I was fascinated by the Sony eReader long before I got my Kindle and specifically did NOT buy because of eBook pricing. The big sell-point for me was Amazon's pricing model at the time.

Unfortunately, I'm not a Sci-Fi, Fantasy or classics reader.

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Old 01-07-2009, 09:45 PM   #25
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This will be the last time I weigh in on this discussion. I'm going to give a couple of real-world examples from the company I work for.

Keep in mind, we are a very small publishing house serving a very select niche market.

The last book we printed was a 324 page, trade paperback book that we put a list price of $9.99 on. We printed only 5,000 copies of this book; a ridiculously small number. Our final cost per printed book is $0.89.

The last time we did a run of a similarly sized book of 20,000 copies, our cost was $0.48 per book.

If we were a large publishing house, printing books in the 100,000 copy range, on a daily basis, buying paper directly from the manufacturer, months in advance, our costs would be far lower per copy.

I get the impression some may think that a $10 book has $3 worth of paper in it. I hope this is helpful.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:48 PM   #26
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Even though I am able to save a little by purchasing ebooks through various online sources than I would buying a paperback from my local bookseller, that wasn't the point of buying my first reader. I LOVE being able to have a number of books available to read no matter where I go! Saving a little money on ebooks just makes it possible for me to buy more books!!
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:52 PM   #27
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Yes, but assuming the cost to produce is the same. Ebooks cannot be shared.

Major publishing houses acknowledge that its the growing resale market that is hurting them. So if they encourage eBooks which cannot be shared and price them to encourage e over p, it could be a win-win.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:57 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xianfox View Post
This will be the last time I weigh in on this discussion. I'm going to give a couple of real-world examples from the company I work for.

Keep in mind, we are a very small publishing house serving a very select niche market.

The last book we printed was a 324 page, trade paperback book that we put a list price of $9.99 on. We printed only 5,000 copies of this book; a ridiculously small number. Our final cost per printed book is $0.89.

The last time we did a run of a similarly sized book of 20,000 copies, our cost was $0.48 per book.

If we were a large publishing house, printing books in the 100,000 copy range, on a daily basis, buying paper directly from the manufacturer, months in advance, our costs would be far lower per copy.

I get the impression some may think that a $10 book has $3 worth of paper in it. I hope this is helpful.
I knew it was low, but I didn't think that low.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:59 PM   #29
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All the belly aching and whining about how big are the digital costs or how much of the cost is about editing, converting, marketing and so on are given a lie by the difference between the price of a mmpb at 8$ and a hc at 25$ - and I am talking here about original releases since lots and lots of books are realeased mmpb first and also lots and lots of books released as hc do not see mmpb editions, so we cannot say that mmpb is a second hand edition so to speak.

Why the same kind of content is priced at 8$ vs 25$. Case in point Way of Shadows which is a mmpb original priced at 7.99$, no hc edition - only some bookclub whole trilogy edition - and say a comparable 600 page hc release fantasy. What is the difference in all those intangibles that seem to figure out so high in ebook accounting? Editing, marketing, advance... I contend none, and the 16$ list price difference or the fact that one costs triple another is due ONLY to format, a solid durable nice hardcover vs a cheap, disposable mmpb.

So people bellyaching about those high intangible costs are dissembling at best, putting it politely. If Orbit can release and hope to make good money on Way of Shadows as mmpb original - and it seemed they sold boatloads of it so made good money btw - no hc edition at 8$ a pop, there is no reason any (fiction) ebook whatsoever should cost more since ebooks are even more disposable than mmpb's...

The high costs of ebooks is simply due to a normal desire to get revenue, or as some put it best not to exchange the analog dollars for digital pennies and sadly this strategy failed badly until now and I do not think it will succeed with books either.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:08 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by xianfox View Post
The last book we printed was a 324 page, trade paperback book that we put a list price of $9.99 on. We printed only 5,000 copies of this book; a ridiculously small number. Our final cost per printed book is $0.89.

The last time we did a run of a similarly sized book of 20,000 copies, our cost was $0.48 per book.

I get the impression some may think that a $10 book has $3 worth of paper in it. I hope this is helpful.
Well that's great.. but are you saying there are NO other costs involved in that? What about shipping, warehousing, returns, pulping... If you print 20,000 books and 10,000 get pulped that doubles the cost of each book you've sold. If you do a run of 20,000 and 50,000 people want to buy it you have lost out on 30,000 sales because of your poor projections. Most of those people won't come back after you've printed another run. That is opportunity cost.

Also, now consider what would the cost be of NOT printing that book. Putting it on a server somewhere that you perhaps rent for $20 a month, or pay storage/transfer fees to a service like Amazon S3. You make those files available to ebook sellers. They can sell 1 or 1000 of that book and your costs are the same.

I think to say it costs 48¢ per book is simplistic and not looking at the full business cycle.

That said, lets assume printing a book is 48¢ per unit. Lets assume doing digital only costs you 10¢. Also, lets say that you sell that book directly so your revenue is $9.99 per book rather than whatever you get wholesale for each book. Isn't that a better business model?

But, I think that the basis for alot of the complaints and miff is the fact that ebooks are selling for MORE than the price of a TBP or MMP. That certainly makes ZERO sense to any of us.

Thanks for you comments.

BOb
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