karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

How much should an ebook cost?

If it comes to that, how much should a book cost? Just why is it that a hardcover book costs so damn much more than a mass market paperback, especially now that publishers are yelling from the roof tops that printing and binding costs are a minor part of book production? I'll tell you why. It's because people will pay $20 to $30 for a hardcover, that's why. The price is what the customer is willing to pay.

Which brings us to ebooks. The (British) Bookseller site reported today on a survey of publishers as to what an ebook should cost. The article says they are divided, but the results shown in the article (the list is repeated below) reveal that 58% of publishers think the ebook should be at least 10% cheaper than the printed book:

 The price for an e-book should be:

 More expensive than the printed book: 4%
 As expensive as the printed book 15%
 10 per cent cheaper than the printed book 11%
 20 per cent cheaper 17%
 30 per cent cheaper 14%
 More than 30 per cent cheaper 16%
 A standard price as with Amazon ($9.99) 15%
 Other price model 6%

First off, let me point out yet again that Amazon does not, in fact, charge a flat rate for ebooks. Most current best sellers are $9.99 on Kindle but there are Kindle fiction books that cost $12, $13, and $14, and even more. Nonfiction goes well beyond that. On the other hand, older books that are out in mass market paperback are often (but not always) less than $6.

Now that ebooks are heating up, publishers are scrambling. It might be that the 6% of publishers who said "Other" have realized that ebooks are a different animal and they need to figure out how to create and market them in a way that makes both sense and money.

The Bookseller article also mentions that publishers are interested in the idea of a subscription model all their content would be available to a customer who paid a fixed price, presumably by the year. That would be really interesting to see implemented, but it would also be complicated. Would 2009 subscribers receive all books released in prior years? Or would it only cover new books? That kind of a selling model could play havoc with things like best seller lists.

This is where it gets interesting!

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Tags: ebooks, publishing, technology

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