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Old 07-29-2007, 12:45 PM   #1
zonicles
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Lightbulb Downloaded books cost how much?

While it is great fun and compact to carry my ereader on trips, I have started to notice that books often cost more when I purchase them from Connect.

Come on now, I am not destroying any trees for paper, burning up oil for transportation, why aren't ebooks cheaper than real books?

The way Sony and others deal with this will probably determine the future of ebooks.

Oh. Hi. I am Zonicles.
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Old 07-29-2007, 01:08 PM   #2
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Hi Zonicles,

You're hit on one of the big hot points of e-book discussions. Every customer agrees that e-books should be cheaper than paper books, because of reduced cost to produce. However, it seems that publishers feel they are selling content and so it shouldn't depend on costs, but the value of what they offer.

Here's one interesting thread with some discussion (and you'll probably find many more here if you dig a bit)..
https://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11657

Seems that the first part of the article is missing at the moment, but you can see the majority of it as well as comments, and hopefully the rest will reappear soon when we get the kinks worked out.
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Old 07-29-2007, 01:52 PM   #3
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It's largely a question of "economy of scale", I suspect. If you're selling 100x as many printed books as eBooks, naturally the unit costs associated with preparing the eBook will be higher than those for the paper book.
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Old 07-29-2007, 05:35 PM   #4
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I recently emailed Powells.com about an ebook they have for more then Amazon.com is selling it for. And they say there is nothing they can do about it. I think there is. I think they can take less profit and make the sale.

Quote:
Subject: Re: Pricing on an ebook is too high

Hello,

Thank you for your message.

I'm afraid that our prices are set by the distributor of the items we carry, and we are unable to make adjustments to them. Amazon.com may get discounts from distributors due to their enormous volume and buying power.

I'm sorry, I wish we could alter our prices for you.

Best wishes,

Emily
Powells.com

Previous correspondence follows:

I was looking up the ebook "Crooked Little Vein: A Novel" Warren
Ellis and you do have it. But your price is higher then Amazon.com's
price of $14.93. Is there any way you might see fit to lowering the
price so it's worth buying the ebook please? Thanks!
I just replied with....

Quote:
Why not contact the distributor and let them know of this pricing discrepancy and find out if they may be willing to do anything about it?
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Old 07-29-2007, 06:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
It's largely a question of "economy of scale", I suspect. If you're selling 100x as many printed books as eBooks, naturally the unit costs associated with preparing the eBook will be higher than those for the paper book.
Since the unit cost of an eBook is $0, this argument doesn't fly.

eBooks are priced high because publishers set the price.

Publishers are either 1) morons or 2) want eBooks to fail.
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:28 PM   #6
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rlauzon:


The unit cost of an ebook is zero only after a "book" is produced. There are advertising costs, research costs, editorial costs. Any labour that goes into producing something that comes from a publisher needs to be compensated.

One question that all ways is unanswered is: is the price of a physical book mostly the actual physical production, or all the intellectual property/ development type stuff?

Proofreaders deserve to be paid, whether they are created something read as a .pdf file or as a bundle of dead tress pasted together.

I mostly agree with your assessment of publishers and their attitudes regarding e-books, but you must remember that everybody needs to get paid.

btw:

What price should/would you expect if e-books were the only form of books?
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Old 07-30-2007, 12:32 AM   #7
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The thing is, if you are producing a dead tree edition, the cost to produce the ebook is very little. There is cost involved in producing the various formats. Someone has to be paid to do it. Now that said, there is no reason for the ebook to be priced higer then the dead tree edition with some of the discounts that the dead tree editions get in book stores. That's where things go wrong. If I get a 20 or 30% coupon in email from Borders, that means that a $7.99 priced book will then cost me $5.87 including tax at 30% off and $6.34 at 20% off. Now if the ebook was priced at $5 then it would be ok.
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Old 07-30-2007, 03:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthulhu View Post
The unit cost of an ebook is zero only after a "book" is produced.
Since nearly all typesetting is done electronically, the book must be in an electronic format already. Therefore the cost of producing the eBook is 3 clicks of the mouse to save it as an open format.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthulhu View Post
There are advertising costs, research costs, editorial costs. Any labour that goes into producing something that comes from a publisher needs to be compensated.
Since the publisher has done nothing, he should get nothing. So take that cost out. If the author wants to incur those other costs, that's up to the author and comes out of his cut.

The only cost to an eBook is the profit to the author and the pennies it takes to "publish" it electronicly.

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Originally Posted by Cthulhu View Post
Proofreaders deserve to be paid, whether they are created something read as a .pdf file or as a bundle of dead tress pasted together.
Cost of doing business. As a consumer this cost does not interest me. That's like GM saying that they are going to add $1000 to the cost of the car to test it for you so it doesn't blow up.

Note that as soon as the eBook is put into a closed format (like PDF), the value of the eBook drops significantly.

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Originally Posted by Cthulhu View Post
I mostly agree with your assessment of publishers and their attitudes regarding e-books, but you must remember that everybody needs to get paid.
Publishers bring no value to eBooks. Therefore they should not get any money from eBooks.

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Originally Posted by Cthulhu View Post
What price should/would you expect if e-books were the only form of books?
$1 for short stories. $4 for novels.

No more than $1 if the eBook is in a closed format.

If DRM is involved, $0. (Any eBook with DRM on it is a rental, not a purchase. I can rent an eBook from the library for free. Hence the fair market value for an eBook rental is $0.)
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Old 07-30-2007, 04:56 AM   #9
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Publishers bring no value to eBooks. Therefore they should not get any money from eBooks.
That is a ridiculous thing to say. Publishers do an enormous amount of work before a book gets to the stage of being published, from the editor who works with the author, to the proof readers, right through to advertising, publicity, etc. All that applies just as much to eBooks as to paper books.
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:24 AM   #10
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That is a ridiculous thing to say. Publishers do an enormous amount of work before a book gets to the stage of being published, from the editor who works with the author, to the proof readers, right through to advertising, publicity, etc. All that applies just as much to eBooks as to paper books.
You are confusing value to the author with value to the reader.

Publishers today bring value to me, a reader, by creating an infrastructure that makes pBooks cost effective.

All of the things you list above bring value to the author. Those are not things that I, as a reader, am willing to pay for. They are not valuable to me. If the author thinks they are valuable, then the author can pay for those out of his pocket.

Those things are not a reason to make eBooks cost more.
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:32 AM   #11
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The things that I list have to form a component of the price of the eBook, just as they do for a paper book. If the eBook sells fewer copies than a paper book, their unit cost is inevitably going to be higher than for a paper book, therefore the eBook could well end up costing more than the paper book. Simply economics.
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Old 07-30-2007, 02:42 PM   #12
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if the ebook sells for more then the dead tree edition, then ebooks are going to fail. It's that simple. I do not buy ebooks priced close to the hardcover. Now take a hardcover at say $30. Take off %20 for $24. Now drop the ebook price to say $10 and I might purchase it if I wanted it. Then when it goes to paperback, drop the price. If it's the newer taller more expensive paperback, drop the price to $5. If it's the standard paperback, drop the ebook to $4. Then you'll see a lot more sales of the ebook then you did before.
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:31 PM   #13
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The things that I list have to form a component of the price of the eBook, just as they do for a paper book.
I didn't contest that.

But the idea that publisher has to provide such services is simply old thinking. And the idea that such services justify paper prices for eBooks is not realistic.

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Simply economics.
We already know that the vast majority of the cost of a pBook is related to its physical-ness. Remove that physical-ness and the costs should drop accordingly.

Simple economics.
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:43 PM   #14
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We already know that the vast majority of the cost of a pBook is related to its physical-ness. Remove that physical-ness and the costs should drop accordingly.

Simple economics.
But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
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But is it that simple? Remember, the online ebook sellers have to pay for the machine their website is hosted on as well as the bandwidth used by the store. Then there is paying the employees as well. Not to mention that there are employees who have to get the ebook ready once it's gone through the editing and whatnot. The ebook has to be converted into about 5-7 different formats roughly. All that costs money too. Do you think once the book is in electronic form to go to pre-press, it doesn't have any more expenses associated with it?
Most of the above are marginal costs. The 5-7 formats are unnecessary costs.

For e-books there are 3 major natural costs, the rest are just inefficiencies:
- compensation for author
- compensation for the house (includes editing, "name of the publisher", advertising...)
- retailer cut

Since the current book business is print oriented, inefficiencies and retailer cut dominate. It is ridiculous for a retailer to take 50% of an e-book cover price for example. For print books it makes some sense, but for e-books...

The way I see it, e-books need either direct selling (maybe through a coop style arrangement, if publishers do not want to damage their relations with the big retailers their print business depends on), or an e-book tailored retailer or two, that take a much smaller cut of the smaller cover price, but have enough volume to make tons of money...

So we have circularity: low volume - high prices/high retailer cut - low volume

Something needs to break here, my big hopes have been resting on Google and digitization or Amazon and Kindle, since I do not see piracy as powerful enough to force the business into change...
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