British fantasy hopeful Joe Abercrombie (of "The First Law Trilogy" fame) has posted some thoughts about ebook pricing on his blog (about his own books, now available as ebooks on Waterstones.com):
The prices are a tad disappointing - £10 and change for Best Served Cold when a hardback is selling at £8.50, and around £6 for the First Law books when mass-market paperbacks are available for a mere £4.
My own feeling about e-piracy and so forth is that it's virtually impossible to put a stop to - the more popular you are the more torrents will endlessly spring up, and most of them in places where folks don't respond to a polite email. The only effective way to combat it is to provide people with a higher quality service than pirates do, more easily available and at a price that seems reasonable. Then I think most will be happy to pay.
One problem is that a lot of users somehow think that e-books, since they don't have to be printed, are pure profit for the publisher and should therefore be virtually free whereas, of course, the great majority of the costs that go into making a paper book (commissioning, editing, artwork, marketing, repping, promoting and, erm, paying the author) still apply with an ebook. Champions of a revolutionary future of free-love filesharing where writers and readers will all be liberated from the shackles of publishers tend to forget the vital role they play as gatekeepers and ensurers of a certain level of quality (you may think some books that are published are rubbish but believe me, until you've seen a slush pile you really have no idea).
Even so, selling ebooks at more than the cost of the paper books is going to look just a wee bit like taking the piss to some buyers, I suspect. I'd like to see them retail at most at the same price as the paper equivalents, and ideally somewhat lower. At the moment most publishers and booksellers are still focused on the paper market where heavy discounts are applying more and more widely, making ebooks something of a speciality item and hence relatively more expensive. Hopefully in due course that will change, and I'll certainly be pressing them to lower the price as soon and as much as possible but, hey, it's a start.
I quite enjoyed his books, I have to admit. Though he's certainly right that with tjose prices, I won't be buying them in electronic format.
Although his arguments regarding the role of publishers are interesting.