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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » E-book Sticker Shock

   
Author Topic: E-book Sticker Shock
Smaug
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According to this article at the Wall Street Journal: E-book Readers Face Sticker Shock, the prices for E-books are going up to close to actual book prices. What do you call a traditional book anyway? They used to be called 'books', but now, so are e-books. Hmm. Anyway, it looks like no longer are e-books a bargain compared to traditional books, unless of course, it's a new writer trying to get his or her stuff out there.
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History
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Well, I suspected traditional publishers would resort to this as the only way to stop the hemorrhaging of their revenues.

And, for their big name authors, I can understand a premium price being set. If people will pay, then why not.

But there are some who will not pay, particularly with the barn door having already been opened, the flood of new material and new authors now available, and the public expectations for comparatively inexpensive e-reading being commonplace. I concur this is good for new self-publishing authors, and for sites who will cater to reviewing them to select the best inexpensive ebooks for consumers.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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LDWriter2
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I think it will still depend on where you buy them. Some or most of the mainline publishers will probably raise their prices as much as possible. Some of the smaller ones like Baen I'm not sure about and places like Smashwords may keep their prices down but that will probably depend on the writers. There could be a downstream raise in the prices also when the writers there see they can get more for their e-books.
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Treamayne
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quote:
Originally posted by History:
Well, I suspected traditional publishers would resort to this as the only way to stop the hemorrhaging of their revenues.

I don't think it's so much stopping a decrease in revenue as it is trying to increase revenue. When you think about it, an Ebook does not have printing, warehousing, storage, shipping, return and overage costs. While there is overhead to an ebook that printed books don't have; the overall overhead is so far reduced that having prices nearly the same only means that extra money is going in someone's pocket. I'm guessing it's not the Author's (though it should be).
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Robert Nowall
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Well, one thing with eBooks is that the reader won't have the problem of storing them---space might grow short in one's reader memory, but not in one's home.

Market values will determine price...if Author (whoever it might be) or Publisher (the same) puts too high a price on the work and it hurts sales, prices will stay down. But if Reader (also whoever) will pay, they'll stay up.

As I recall, I paid nine-ninety-nine each for a couple of eBooks by Barbara Tuchmann, the late historian...the price was, I think, six or seven dollars under the trade paper edition, which would be ten to fifteen dollars under the retail for the hardcover. (Gross oversimplification.) I paid the price 'cause I wanted them on my Nook Color---I already had them both in trade paper---I don't object that much to buying multiple copies of books, and have done so many times.

On the other hand, I paid ninety-nine cents for an eCopy of Voyage au Centre de la Terre---it's in public domain, of course. But this one did not turn up in my usual places of supply, and was easier than seeking out something published in France...

So it's whatever you're willing to pay...

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Smaug
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As it should be. I'm fully in favor of the free market driving things, but like Treamayne says, someone's getting a much larger cut, and it should be the writer...at least, I think so.
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Treamayne
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Market values will determine price...if Author (whoever it might be) or Publisher (the same) puts too high a price on the work and it hurts sales, prices will stay down. But if Reader (also whoever) will pay, they'll stay up.

I brought up the differences for a more insidious reason. Yes, market driven economy is generally a good thing. If they set the price point too high sales decrease and they either lower the price or die out. However, in a digital world that is not what will really happen. There are already novels where the E-book is equal to or slightly more expensive than the Mass Market. Those publishers (and many others) are trying a hegemony to get "the public used to this price point for ebooks." and they don't intend to lower the price (though production and supply chain supports a lower cost). So the result isn't just decreased sales (which the company will not allow to change thier pricing practices) but increased piracy. They are creating their own piracy problem by setting a product out there that makes consumers feel they are being cheated. many people who would normally never engage in this type of behaviour feel justified (I bought book one and it was way over priced - but good. So I'll get books 2 and 3 from my friend since 3 books for 10 is reasonable where 1 for 10 is not).

You have only to search the web and see the plethora of file type converters and DRM stripping software to see that Ebook piracy is on the rise. I firmly believe the crowd of devoted readers is not quite as narcisistic as the "music sharing" crowd. With realistic pricing most people would find the annoyance of actually stripping and converting too much hassel when I could just buy it for $2,$3,maybe $5. However, at $9.99 for a product I know full well doesn't have the same production costs as your $7.99 MM papaerback - well, no thank you.

I don't condone or encourage piracy, but I do encourage *not* buying overpriced EBooks and possibly leaving negative reviews on sites where you can indepentantly rate the version (so you sren't impacting the authors work wo leave comments on how you disagree with Ebook pricing). And, all that said, if the authors commission increased proportinately I would have less of a problem with this. But prices being equal I'd rather hold a dead tree.

<that was a joke, you're supposed to laugh>

V/R

AT

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Wordcaster
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I gotta say, I paid $16 or so for the latest Steve Jobs biography. I didn't think twice about it. For me, my time is more valuable than the price of a book. The tipping point comes when I feel I can wait to get it from the library if the price gets too high. I just paid $2.99 for the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell book and would have gone as high as maybe $6.99, considering it is an older title.

I think in general the backlist titles will have to stay low to get a reasonable amount of sales.

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LDWriter2
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Interesting discussion.

I decided to add that with E-books it also seems to depend on how long they have been around. At Barnes and Noble you can get some of the classics for a dollar or so. But new books can be half in-between the hardback price and the paperback price.

I wanted a new book in a series and was glad to learn it was coming out very soon but then I discovered it was hardback. Ugh. I decided to check to see how much the E-book version was. As I said it was half way between the two. So I decided to wait. But books that had been out for a year or two were cheaper in the E-book version than the paperback but not by much. So it depends on how long the book has been out and probably if it's out in paperback or not.

Not sure how Amazon does it, or how Boarders did it and I'm not sure if they are any other big E-book sellers to check.

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EVOC
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If I have to choose between a paper book and an e-book, I will almost always get the paper book (and pay more for it).

There has been a few exceptions to this rule, but I would never pay the same for an e-book as I would for a paper book. To me, Paper books are worth more then e-books.

When I see a paper book at the book store, I buy the books because I like them. I don't think twice about the price. E-Books always have me looking at the price first.

I think this is just a way for publishers to line their own pockets. The ability to self publish is getting easier and easier. Many talented authors are doing it now. Publishing houses see this and they are just trying to "get while the getting is good."

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Robert Nowall
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I'm thinking that if prices get raised beyond the market's willingness to pay, the "get" won't be "good" at all. People won't by Brand X if Brand Y is selling for a third of the price---unless there's some intangible to Brand X that Brand Y can't provide.

Of course books have at least one intangible. Writer's reputation. I doubt if an unknown could get away with charging close-to-regular-hardcover prices---but a well-established writer / brand name could.

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pdblake
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To me it's all about perception. I perceive a physical book to be more valuable than an e-book. There is no logical reasoning to this, it's just that something in your hand feels more 'real' than a downloaded file. I know the work that has been put into the e-book is just the same from the author's point of view (I self pub my own e-books), but that is not the way most people see it.

If big houses price physical books and e-books the same then most people, myself included, would buy the physical copy. It makes no sense to be honest, as there surely is more overhead with print compared to digital.

I think e-books should always be half the price of a print book, if not less.

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Robert Nowall
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I think one thing that might drive me to purchase more eBooks would be if they were simply not available in print form. That could break down into two things: (1) brand-new stuff that's just not issued in the traditional manner, and (2) classic reprints whose print editions are long gone and impossible to locate even from used book suppliers.

(That last one gives me food for thought. There are some dozen or so books I've always wanted but never been able to find. I think I'll go see if a couple turn up.)

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Corin224
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I'll always buy physical books. Period. There's just something about something I can put my hands on, but for me, e-copies of something should be cheaper. I'd buy e-books all over the place for $1-$5 each, just like I get on Steam and buy computer games I KNOW I'll never play 'cause they're on sale for 80% off at $5 a pop. But the current prices . . . no way.

And I gotta admit I'm not beyond a little piracy at this point for books I already own. I'm sorry, but I own 2 paperback versions and a hardback of EVERY Wheel of Time story ever made, I've turned a dozen friends onto that series, and they've all bought their copies too. My contribution has been made, and if I want the e-books on my phone so I can run through the series one last time before AMoL comes out without lugging a 7-ton book around everywhere I go, I'm not forking over another $10 for each one.

Same with Dresden, same with Ender.

But honestly, I don't have a problem forking over $5-$30 for a good physical book, where I really would for an e-book. If the e-book's the only way to get it, I'd pay $10 for that, but that's about it. There's just something more valuable to me, in echo of pdblake's comment, about having a physical book, as nonsensical as that may seem.

But the e-book is the hook that'll keep me from losing my way halfway through a read when I leave the book at home during vacation, or want to sneak in a few pages in the bathroom. (oh, come on, you KNOW you all do that!)

Personally, I think they should do like the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital bundles the movies are doing. When I buy the book, give me a code for a free DL of the e-book from publisher X's site. I'll buy that book every time, even if it's a few bucks more expensive.

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Robert Nowall
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Just a few pages in the bathroom? You must be young.

Well, this morning, I forked over just over a hundred bucks for four physical books...maybe I'll read 'em, or maybe I won't 'cause I often don't get around to it. So reading in the traditional manner is not dying in me.

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History
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I do collect a few authors and will pay for "deluxe" editions--most recently Stephen King's new DARK TOWER novel THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE [Donald M Grant].

However, I purchased George R.R. Martin's A DANCE WITH DRAGONS for my Kindle because paper books of over 1000 pages are too unweildy and feel like lead weights resting on my chest when I read in bed.

I have become more inclined to try new authors because of the low-cost for their ebooks. At higher prices, I would do this less.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Utahute72
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I have changed how I buy books since I got my kindle. I buy e versions through amazon, theoretically there is unlimited space since you can store them at the site and recall them when you need them. As far as cost, there are enough free books on there that you could read forever without buying a single book.
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Treamayne
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I would second the Digital Copy idea. I still more often buy physical books over eBooks. I really only buy for the Nook:

- Cheap reads where I am trying out a new author or series - and only if it is cheaper than if I were try the paperback, not like it and sell it to a used book store.

- Collections on Sale: Such as I bought a single "book" that was the first 4 GRRM Game of Thrones books for $20ish (cheaper than getting all 4 in paperback)

- New releases I am waiting on that I know will release while I am deployed. These are more expensive than I like for ebooks, but cheaper than the hardcovers and I can download on release dat rather than waitign for them to ship. e.g. I pre-ordered Shadows in Flight for my Nook.

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Robert Nowall
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Appropos of the difference in prices...when I was young---yeah, right, I was young once---I pretty much bought paperbacks exclusively. I had a pretty generous allowance [I belatedly realize], but I could only stretch it so far, even in the days where the paperbacks ran from ninety-five cents to a dollar ninety-five. (Long about the time I moved here, I discovered used paperback stores---after you've read it swap it for credit---but that's another story.)

I passed up some hardcovers, a lot of them future favorites, for a year or so till the paperback showed up in stores. I think the first full-price brand-new hardback book I ever bought on my own, as opposed to talking my parents into buying one for me, was The Silmarillion.

Nowadays I can pretty much afford any book I want, print or eBook. Money and easily available credit may be more available to you younger types than it was to me, but, offhand, I'd say price would still be an important part of the deal---and somewhere out there, there may be some kid with an eReader gift from his parents, weighing the cost of the brand-new George Railroad Martin against a couple of recommended ninety-nine-centsers...

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Pyre Dynasty
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I'm a big fan of paper, and I keep a large library. To me digital has a pretty short shelf life. I can't play computer games I loved from five years ago, but I own books that are over a hundred years old. I have discovered some really great books that were random picks at a thrift store.

That said I love digital as well. I'm burning through the free classics on my kindle like Wilde fire. (I just finished Dorian Gray tonight.) I love the idea of never being out of print, as long as people are dedicated to keep bootstrapping the books up to the new formats.

I don't believe that dead tree editions are going away, ever. (Well perhaps if the trees go extinct, but if that happens then we have bigger problems on our hands.)

I don't think that a digital file has as much value as a physical object, but that doesn't mean it costs less to make. Where you are destroying a warehouse you are building a server farm. Where you are firing a printer you are hiring a software tech. Yeah, at the bottom line it's cheaper, but not by much. There is also the idea that the value of a book isn't in the ink, it's in the shape of the ink, and pixels/magnetic balls can take that shape just as well.

I do think there should be a graduated pay scale for e-books, just like there is for paper books. (And for movies, electronics, games, etc.) When the book is newly out it should be nearly as much as the print version, so the first adopters choose whatever format suits them best. Then when sales slow on it they can reduce the price.

Oh and I like the idea of a digital copy coming with the print version. You should have sold that idea to Tor, or some such instead of posting it here.

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LDWriter2
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This might deserve its own thread but it fit shere.

I saw this and had to come here directly and post this link to an article for Christian Science Monitor.

http://tinyurl.com/Ebookprice

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Robert Nowall
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Might be worth a fight...but, probably, they'll settle and modify.
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LDWriter2
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Even modifying could mean a little cheaper.
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