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Old 09-30-2009, 09:31 AM   #1
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Publishers 'completely divided' over e-book pricing

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/98...k-pricing.html
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:12 AM   #2
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while 4% of respondents said e-books should be more expensive.
This part I don't get at all. Why should it be more expensive? It doesn't cost any more to produce (arguably cheaper), and the person is not getting anything tangible, plus have to deal with DRM that makes it difficult or impossible to do what they could with a paper book.
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:15 AM   #3
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This part I don't get at all. Why should it be more expensive? It doesn't cost any more to produce (arguably cheaper), and the person is not getting anything tangible, plus have to deal with DRM that makes it difficult or impossible to do what they could with a paper book.
It should be more expensive because the reader is less subject to the tyranny of the publisher, author, and typesetter (if any) than they would be with a physical book. It's the price of freedom!

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Old 09-30-2009, 10:28 AM   #4
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This part I don't get at all. Why should it be more expensive? It doesn't cost any more to produce (arguably cheaper), and the person is not getting anything tangible, plus have to deal with DRM that makes it difficult or impossible to do what they could with a paper book.
Book prices actually have little to do with "what you're getting"... they are largely arbitrary prices set by publishers, based solely on what they think they can get away with. This is the real reason Big Pubs can't agree on pricing... they just don't know what they can get away with yet.

Also, basing an e-book's value on whether you're getting anything "tangible," as in an object you can hold in your hand, is a mistake, and one of the things that continue to hold e-books back in the market. E-books actually have more inherent value than printed books, being more portable, less space-taking, more flexible in display/read/translate possibilities, and more environmentally-positive. They should not be thought of as printed books' "poorer cousin."
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:31 AM   #5
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This part I don't get at all. Why should it be more expensive? It doesn't cost any more to produce (arguably cheaper), and the person is not getting anything tangible, plus have to deal with DRM that makes it difficult or impossible to do what they could with a paper book.
More expensive than what? I think the objection is that of Hachette's president, who is unhappy at Amazon's $9.99 becoming the de facto price for most ebooks.

There will be per-book limits on how cheap an ebook can be. There will be costs to acquire a title, edit, copy edit, and proofread it, and mark it up for production, plus an allocated share of general corporate overhead, whether or not a book is actually printed, bound, warehoused and distributed. Those costs will set a lower limit on the price an ebook can be and still be economically published, depending upon the perceived size of the market for the book. (Obviously, a best seller expected to sell hundreds of thousands of copies can be priced less than a reference volume with a market of a few hundred specialists.)

Publishers thinking this way are seeing lower costs because they don't have to print, bind, warehouse and ship a physical book, and want to see more of the price flow to their bottom line. Well, fine. Price that way, and see how many people buy the ebook.

The fact that value is relative, and something is worth as much as someone else is willing to pay for it is widely forgotten, even among those who should be most aware of it.
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:35 AM   #6
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They should not be thought of as printed books' "poorer cousin."
Except that they are just that (at best) because publishers cannot be bothered to put in the work to even make them a near-equal value proposition. (All things [DRM, non-existent proofreading, et cetera among them] considered.)

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Old 09-30-2009, 10:35 AM   #7
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while 4% of respondents said e-books should be more expensive.
Macmillan (St. Martin's, Tor, etc.) seems to think this. They often set the list of an ebook at $14 when it has a MMPB release at $7.99
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:40 AM   #8
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Book prices actually have little to do with "what you're getting"... they are largely arbitrary prices set by publishers, based solely on what they think they can get away with. This is the real reason Big Pubs can't agree on pricing... they just don't know what they can get away with yet.
Not entirely.

Every book in a publisher's list has costs, including the advance to acquire the title, the line editing, copy editing, proofreading, and markup for publication, plus the cover design and art, plus an allocated share of corporate overhead, even before the book is actually printed, bound, warehoused, and distributed. Those costs will set a lower limit on how cheap a particular ebook can be.

Pricing is far from arbitrary, though publishers will try to charge what the market will bear, just like any other business. The trick is determining what the market will bear.

I think it will eventually settle out to "No more than the mass market paperback cost".
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:46 AM   #9
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Except that they are just that (at best) because publishers cannot be bothered to put in the work to even make them a near-equal value proposition. (All things [DRM, non-existent proofreading, et cetera among them] considered.)
Non existent proofreading is a major problem for paper books as well. An old friend used to be a VP at an editorial production house that did copy editing, proofreading, that typesetting for publishers. She lamented the lack of it on a mailing list we were on. Another member of that list was an editor at a major publisher, who said "But copy editing, proofreading, and such are part of the budget for the book, and are always done!" "Maybe they still are in your house", replied my friend, "but I'm the one who gets to deal with the ones who used to pay us to do it, and don't do so any more." They were trying to cut costs, and decided proofreading was an unnecessary expense...
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:50 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
Non existent proofreading is a major problem for paper books as well. An old friend used to be a VP at an editorial production house that did copy editing, proofreading, that typesetting for publishers. She lamented the lack of it on a mailing list we were on. Another member of that list was an editor at a major publisher, who said "But copy editing, proofreading, and such are part of the budget for the book, and are always done!" "Maybe they still are in your house", replied my friend, "but I'm the one who gets to deal with the ones who used to pay us to do it, and don't do so any more." They were trying to cut costs, and decided proofreading was an unnecessary expense...
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I keep hearing anecdotes like this on mobileread... but to date I have yet to come across a single non-vanity-published paper book that has the sort of errors seemingly every eBook I've read contains.

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Old 09-30-2009, 10:52 AM   #11
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It should be more expensive because the reader is less subject to the tyranny of the publisher, author, and typesetter (if any) than they would be with a physical book. It's the price of freedom!

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Old 09-30-2009, 11:00 AM   #12
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I keep hearing anecdotes like this on mobileread... but to date I have yet to come across a single non-vanity-published paper book that has the sort of errors seemingly every eBook I've read contains.

- Ahi
You do know the classic Stephen King 'The Stand' examples don't you? Some of the most notable (that to this date, and my knowledge, have gone unchanged).

If not here's a brief rundown from wikipedia:


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There are also a number of typos in prints of The Complete & Uncut Edition that have not been corrected in any subsequent printing of the book, for example "Arrowsmith" for Aerosmith and "On The Boarder" for "On The Border" (the title of Book II).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stand
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:06 AM   #13
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I keep hearing anecdotes like this on mobileread... but to date I have yet to come across a single non-vanity-published paper book that has the sort of errors seemingly every eBook I've read contains.
Where do the ebooks come from?

If you are talking about Amazon Kindle editions, those are often produced from OCRed scans of pbooks, because an electronic version of the manuscript doesn't exist. They don't seem to bother to proofread those.

Things like Project Gutenberg etexts will vary depending upon when they entered PG. These days, Distributed Proofreaders is the main feed, and generally passes on quality output. Prior to DP, you were at the mercy of whatever enthusiast produced the PG edition. (Ask HarryT about the state of the PG Charles Dickens volumes he's been turning into ebooks for distribution on MobileRead. Most date from before DP, and he's done enormous amounts of proofreading and edits on his versions. At this point, I suspect his ebook editions should be considered definitive.)

For others, the ebook should be produced from the same manuscript that becomes the base for the printed edition.

I've seen one ebook from a trade publisher that made me stop in my tracks. A Baen ebook edition of one of John Ringo's books had a fair number of typos and John's notes to himself and his editor. A query to John got the answer I suspected was the case: they needed to include it an a CD that would be bound into an upcoming hardcover, and there wasn't time to include the fully copy edited and proofread version. What they issued was an Advance Reading Copy (essentially an uncorrected galley proof), because it was what they had available when they had to go to production.

I didn't mind, and was actually fascinated by the insights into the process provided by things like John's "marginal notes", but it was the first time I'd seen that level of errors on a Baen ebook. Generally speaking, they are clean and relatively typo free.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:11 AM   #14
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I think a big problem is that publisher's don't incorporate (not yet, anyway) ebooks into their original work flow and are converting ebooks, so without another proof read, a lot of typos get in. And makes it more expensive.

Aslo, from M Tamblyn at Shortcovers: That's what our customer stats say: lower price = *way* higher purchase frequency. *And* the first one's free ;-) (@mtamblyn on Twitter)

eBook purchasing is a LOT different from print book buying. It's convenient, it's immediate, and is not just competing against books, it's competing against all portable media. Maybe you want to download a movie onto your ipod, but maybe you'll just get a book instead.

I also would debate the cost of production vs. distribution knowing that a friend of mine works at a large house, makes crap wages, and in her three years of being an editorial assistant has gotten one raise.

Plus! The cut that publishers get is usually at least 10% higher than they get on print titles, often more with big houses (excluding Amazon).

And here's a funny article about ebook pricing from Kassia Krozser
http://digitalbookworld.wordpress.co...r-my-revolver/
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:18 AM   #15
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For others, the ebook should be produced from the same manuscript that becomes the base for the printed edition.
What percentage do you suspect eBooks like this to be? In my experience, the numbers are despairingly small... though perhaps if I read more American novels written in the last 2-5 years, I'd feel otherwise. Is recent popular/pulp fiction the bulk of those books that actually get produced from the same source used for the print edition?

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You do know the classic Stephen King 'The Stand' examples don't you? Some of the most notable (that to this date, and my knowledge, have gone unchanged).
No, I don't. I've only ever read a single Stephen King book, and do not foresee reading any more... ever, to be honest.

But thank you for the example. It is interesting, and certainly worse than anything I've encountered in my own reading materials... but, those errors are still not as egregious as the errors all too frequent in eBooks. (e.g.: spelling errors that would have been caught even by the most inept spell-checking program, OCR-garbage that has not even the resemblance of language, et cetera)

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I think a big problem is that publisher's don't incorporate (not yet, anyway) ebooks into their original work flow and are converting ebooks, so without another proof read, a lot of typos get in. And makes it more expensive.
I suspect that's the issue in most cases.

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