Sunday, 22 August 2010

Why you should have to buy eBooks but what should you really expect to pay?

Many publishers have been asked to quantify why they charge what they charge for eBooks and many are keeping quiet.

There is a misconception that eBooks cost nothing to produce and it could not be further from the truth. There is physical costs in time, effort, production and distribution associated with eBooks. Each eBook has to be totally reset for eBook publication and conversion into different formats, this is a time consuming and expensive process.  And that is before we begin to include other costs such as promotion, advertising and marketing. Even more expensive.

Because we have lived in a world where up until now there has been availability of many free eBooks and many sub-standard eBooks which have had very little cost associated, consumers have been happy to download them for free and this has led to a false expectation that all eBooks should be free or only cost pennies.  The market has grown up considerably in the last six months and consumers have to make the transition too.  Quality products which are well produced and marketed have to have a reasonable cost attached.  The cost per title also includes the cost to the reseller usually between 35 and 60%. Authors have to be paid for their hard work and publishers should also be rewarded for their hard work too. So £4.95 for an eBook which retails at £7.99 for the physical paper version is a good balance.

Some publishers are charging too much for their eBooks and consumers will vote with their wallets and rightly so but an eBook which costs a third to a half less than the paper version is a price which will make the market sustainable and allow strong growth, leading to more choice for consumers.


Anna Jacobs said...

>>Authors have to be paid for their hard work

Thank you for saying this. So many people think books should be free, as if authors don't have to eat and put a roof over their heads like other workers. And it is hard work writing novels, even when one loves doing it.

In fact, it was a very well-reasoned article.

Thank you.

Jon Renaut said...

It's not so much a misconception that ebooks cost nothing to produce, but rather a correct notion that each additional ebook unit costs nothing to produce. Yes, there are sunk costs up front, but in an efficient marketplace, these costs do not have much effect on price.

That authors need to be paid for their work is an entirely separate issue that is frequently lumped in with ebook pricing arguments to hide faulty economic logic.

As an aside, if you aren't getting your money back plus some from marketing, advertising, and promotion, you either need to stop doing it, or hire better help.

Bill Peschel said...

What is left unsaid is that the e-book model is more economically efficient for authors than it is for traditional publishers.

It costs more for a traditional publisher to get an e-book out than an author. Their costs are higher, their expectations for profit are higher. They have more people to support.

An author can get a book up on Kindle for about four hundred bucks, and that's to hire someone to prep the book properly. The author can sell it for $2.99 and recover 70 percent of it in royalties.

Now, is it a viable publishing model? Can an author support himself off the proceeds? Maybe not off one book, but then an author can't support himself off one published book, either. It takes a long-term investment, attention to quality and marketing, and then ... well, the jury's still out, isn't it?

mgibs17 said...

Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a long struggle with sincere effort it’s done.
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