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Old 01-12-2007, 12:26 PM   #1
tobiasj
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e-book pricing - why cant they get it right...

The more and more I use my Reader the more I love it. I noticed however most of whats on it is converted by me from freely available texts,free books I have gotten from fictionwise, etc and the 50$ in free books I got from the connect store for registering my Reader.

I was thinking about that some today and I wanted to share my thoughts before I forgot them... (a mind is a terrible thing...)

I prefer E-books for portablility, however I have a library of thousands of real paper books, my entire library of e-books is in the low hundreds(I have had some form of e-reader for years and in fact my Rocket Ebook is still working and full of books). This discrepency can be attributed to one thing:

E-book pricing.

Somebody needs to realize that e-books in order to really take off have to be CHEAPER then paper books. E-books are no less entertaining, they are not abridged, nor missing anything you might get in a paper book EXECPT THE PAPER!

Now, I understand the cost of the binding isnt really what drives the cost of a paper book, and that HardCovers are more expensive mainly because of the money paid out for aquiring the book, typsetting (even digital typsetting has some cost involved I am sure), and advertising and not so much the binding.

But lets look at an example:

Michael Crichton - "Next"

Hardcover edition from Borders: $15.37 (Next by Michael Crichton)

E-book from Connect Store: $15.96 (I cant figure out how to make a link to the connect store, but its there...)

I didnt go looking for a book that was cheaper in print (I know I know, the list price on the hardcover is 27.95 and the list price on the e-book is 19.95 but this is real world purchasing here) I actually wanted to buy Next and looked to see if it was available in the Connect store.

I (and this is all just about my opinion) just can NOT bring myself to purchase a book in a DRM protected e-book format (that will probably be dropped in a couple years for something better or more secure) when it costs MORE than the HardCover edition.
In 10 years when I go to my library and look I can grab that hardcover and pull it out and read it again. When my reader fails or support is dropped and the format changes that e-book is GONE FOREVER.

I purchase ALL my digital music through Itunes. why? because it is cheap, cheap enough that I dont care if 5 years down the road all the music is useless because protected AAC files have been supplemented by something else. PLUS I can burn the music to a CD now to protect against a future AAC demise.

If e-book publishing took the same route (I dont think we would ever see 99 cent e-book new releases but I can dream) where you could either not care about loosing it because the cost is low, or allow an export to an unprotected format (like burning a CD of music) for future import to the next format or even a different reader should I decide I like the new full colour rollup epaper reader from brand x (where brand x isnt Sony) then e-books will reach sales no one has ever dreamed of.

Certainly licensing, copyright, sales everything has to be taken into account, I dont deny anyone making money especially the author. I would have no problem purchasing a book in both Paper and E book format as long as I didnt feel I was being taken. Right now I have to decide which I would prefer to have for each book, Why? Because I feel I am being hosed somewhere paying double the cost of a book so I can read it on paper and in e-book.

One solution (from a reader standpoint though not so much a publisher one) would be to include a download coupon with each paper book allowing the download of the book in e format from the publisher or various e-book stores either at a greatly reduced rate or even (dare to dream) free.

Disposable income is a very finite thing (in my case VERY VERY finite) and if the book in question isnt a carreer related book it falls into this catagory. This decision making process does not allow me to buy a book at full price twice so I usually default to the Paper book as it (at least by me) expected to have the longest shelf life.

I know there is a solution out there somewhere, someone just has to find it. I hope they find it soon.

Sorry for the length of this, but some things just need to be said.

-John
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:08 PM   #2
b_k
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I think this would be better in the general Content section.
But the situation is the same here, I see no reason why I should pay the same or a higher price than for the paperback. Especially when it comes to a DRM format that may be dropped in the future.
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Old 01-12-2007, 03:09 PM   #3
JimCuk
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I suppose there is the advantage of not moving to buy the book...The price of petrol (or Gas) is so high its probably going to create a very real ebook advantage all on its own.

Yes I agree the price for that book is crazy. But there are a few good deals on the connect store. I couldn't bring myself to pay that much. To me the beauty of the device is putting my own PDFs on there that I cant be bothered to read on my PC.
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Old 01-12-2007, 06:02 PM   #4
RWood
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In the 1920s publishers offered low cost books to increase demand. Books were cheap enough that people would buy their own copies rather than wait for a friend to loan them around. When the depression started book sales dropped and publishers raised prices in an effort to keep their profits up. They also started a campaign to keep people from lending their books to others and tried to popularize the term "book sneak" for a person who would loan their books to others or for a person who would borrow rather than buy a book.

What the publishers want is for everyone to buy their own copy of the book and not borrow (even from a library) a copy of the book. Depending upon the study the publishers estimate that without the passing on of books sales would be 2 to 5 times what they currently are. DRM restricts this ability to pass on the books. Therefore the correct response from publishers should be to encourage people to switch from paper based books to eBooks by lowering the prices on eBooks to less than one-half of the pBook price.

For example, if I think a certain book is great and tell Bob (to pick a name) and he wants to read it I could just loan him my copy of the pBook. However since we both have Readers he cannot read my copy and must buy and download his own copy.

The ultimate in DRM books (IMHO) was William Gibson's 1992 "Agrippa (A Book of the Dead)". The package was designed to degenerate upon exposure to air and visible light and the 3.5" disk included with the text allowed you to view each page once and then it deleted the text so you could not go back and reread any part of the book. Thankfully the practice did not catch on.
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