Apr 27 2009

Unoriginal thought of the day: Selling e-books for $10 is inane

Published by at 6:40 pm under The Publishing Industry

Shaun Hill covered $10 e-books yesterday. Harper-Collins tried to justify this outlandishly high price by saying that the paper, binding and other physical costs of a single hardcover copy usually run out to about $2.

Shaun points out a few good reasons why $10 is well above an optimal price point. I’ll expand on these a bit.

1.  An e-book is intangible and generally harder on the eyes. Given the choice between an equally priced e-book and paperback, the overwhelming majority of book buyers would take the paperback.  This may explain why US e-books combined for only $50 million in sales in 2008.

2.  Someone that buys a paperback or hardcover can recoup at least half of the cost by selling it afterwards. For example, I bought Soon I Will Be Invincible for $15 (including shipping) and sold it for $8 plus shipping.  The real cost of reading the paperback was only $7 for me.  Needless to say, most consumers would rather not pay extra money for a generally inferior product.

3.  E-books are better for publishers because they remove copies from circulation. You know that guy who bought the book from me for $8 plus shipping?  He didn’t buy a new version from the publisher.  If the publisher had successfully convinced me to buy an e-book, he might have decided to get a new version because fewer used versions were in circulation.

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Unoriginal thought of the day: Selling e-books for $10 is inane”

  1. Wingson 27 Apr 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Personally, I like regular books. Libraries and bookstores have always been a central part of my life. I’d go as far to say that I loved them. The day when electronic books replace real ones will be a dark day for me.

    – Wings

  2. B. Macon 27 Apr 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Hmm. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, within 50 years, publishers won’t even bother putting out a paper version. Maybe 25 years. Those printing presses cost many thousands of dollars to run and force the publisher to sell a set number of copies. The publisher has to buy back every copy that a bookstore can’t sell. Newspapers are already moving in a paperless direction.

  3. Bretton 27 Apr 2009 at 7:30 pm

    According to Popular Science, they’re supposed to have a new technology now where you can download ebooks to a portable device (kinda like an ipod for books). That makes it tangible and easier on the eyes. Also, you can carry many books that way.

  4. Dforceon 27 Apr 2009 at 9:10 pm

    What if a magnet fell on it?

  5. B. Macon 27 Apr 2009 at 9:35 pm

    If the magnet did ruin the device, your warranty would probably cover it. (Assuming you have a warranty).

  6. Tomon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:45 am

    “According to Popular Science, they’re supposed to have a new technology now where you can download ebooks to a portable device (kinda like an ipod for books). That makes it tangible and easier on the eyes. Also, you can carry many books that way.”

    A DS?

    Seriously, they sell cartridges loaded with hundreds of classic novels now. It’s actually pretty cool.

  7. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:48 am

    Note to self: Find one and buy it.

    But I’ll miss regular books….*grabs nearest book* *hugs*

    – Wings

  8. Holliequon 28 Apr 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Hmm. I’m kinda hoping that when eBooks take off, audiobooks will too. I’d much rather take those over an eBook.

  9. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I like audiobooks. They’re useful for when I’m doing something with my hands (I like making jewelry, sewing…What? I’m old-fashioned). Plus, if the audiobooks are like the Redwall series (a full cast is used for the characters) it’s a bit like listening to a movie.

    – Wings

  10. Beccaon 28 Apr 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I much prefer tangible books over audio and e- versions, although the Amazon Kindle does sound like an incredible piece of technology. I would enjoy having a kind of iPod-for-books, but I’d take a paperback over intangible versions any day.

  11. B. Macon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I’d like to get a Kindle, but I think it’s more of a status item than an office tool at this point. Then again, there was a time when laptops were hopelessly extravagant. So Kindles should be affordable within a few years. (I’ll consider it affordable for me when I can buy a Kindle and ten books for under $150).

  12. ikaruson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Until kindles do color (and therefore comics), they aren’t worth it.

  13. Ragged Boyon 29 Apr 2009 at 7:25 am

    I guess I could get used e-books. I kind of like the appeal of bookstores, but I could see the benefit in a Kindle. I’ve never seen one before, but I’m guessing they’ll catch on sooner or later.

  14. Luna Jamniaon 01 May 2009 at 6:11 am

    Never! I will publish my books, make a ton of money, and buy a bunch of libraries and printing presses with that money.

    Books shall live on! No, seriously … along the same lines as what Wings said, I would die if we reverted to mainly e-books.

  15. Hamon 09 May 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I think books will always be published. Just like vinyls are still made to this day.

  16. ShardReaperon 12 Jul 2009 at 4:50 pm

    If we have ebooks, then that means that there’ll probably be new computers to handle the software for it without said computer blowing a gasket. This in turn will wipe out the main purpose of libraries. We need libraries. They’re probably one of the only things today that isn’t totally wiped out by technology. Everything else (stores, movie theatres, songs) are physically dead.

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