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29 December 2011 @ 03:43 am
The Price of Ebooks  
When Jim Butcher’s book Ghost Story came out, the ebook price slightly exceeded the hard cover price by about 20 cents or so. [Roc Hardcover, affiliated with Penguin.] I gritted my teeth and paid it since the previous book ended on a cliffhanger. Then the price-fixing lawsuit was publicized and suddenly they reduced the ebook price and raised the hard cover price (as set by the publisher). I had already paid the higher price so this didn’t make me very happy. Now, months later, the ebook price is $14.99, slightly higher than what I originally paid by about 50 cents. The hard cover price is now $13.97. It is hard not to feel like we are just being jerked around.

I see no reason why I should subsidize the print production costs and certainly no reason why my copy should cost more than a hardbound book. My eyesight makes ebooks a necessity since publishers no longer wish to take on the expense of printing (many) large print books. I certainly don’t see large print editions of my favorite sci fi and fantasy authors. I did recently find a contact email for a real person at an imprint who kindly responded to my email about pricing and am in dialogue with him but I don’t see many such email links or even contact forms. I think if I were a big publisher I would have polls about things like ebook pricing, how many customers preferred ebooks for vision-related reasons and so on, to get an idea of how customers are thinking about such things. I read a lot and have bought many new hard cover books through the years but I have always supplemented that with affordable used books. That’s not really an option now.

I am increasingly reluctant to invest in reading new series of books if new Kindle editions are going to cost me more than a hard bound book. I find myself checking out more and more self-published books and there are some good writers there. If publishers were smart, they would realize that they could nurture more new authors by publishing some in ebook only, with all of the editing, cover art etc., they’d struggle to produce with self-publishing. If those ebooks start earning, then they can do print runs.

This post was inspired by discussion and debate at the following sites:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/12/20/a-note-regarding-future-big-idea-comments/

http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/the-entitled-reader

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/12/27/dear-readers-publishers-think-of-you-as-customers-i-swear/

http://www.ilona-andrews.com/2011/12/28/the-complaint-department/

ETA: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/business/for-libraries-and-publishers-an-e-book-tug-of-war.html?_r=1
 
 
 
Tapatitapati on December 29th, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on December 29th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
i won't pay more than 5.99 for an ebook. it's rare i pay that much for a paperback. and i'm too poor to buy hardbacks (unless it's something i find at half-price books or online and know i'll want to keep for the rest of my life).