Keep E-book Prices Affordable

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Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby Gymcobb » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:07 pm

I was an early adopter of e-book technology but I've gone back. E-books are a pain! When you change systems (and you will) you can't get e-books you've purchased in the past sometimes especially if you've used a security code. Furthermore, there's no secondary market for e-books - you can't sell your used ones. With these things in mind, prices need to be half of what a comprable print book costs.

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby caroleannmoleti » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:30 am

As for hefty author payout, I made a total of $ 4.87 in royalties on my short story for the first quarter after release. The promo cost a lot more. Okay, its a 10k story that the publisher offers for about $4.00 PDF download. Out of that I get a cut, so does the cover artist (she did a great job) my editor and the copy editor. Not much left for the publisher.

A novel sells for under $10.00, depending upon the actual length.

I would say the cost is affordable for the buyer, but how long can a reputable publisher keep that up? Short stories are a "loss leader" I suppose. If/When I publish a novel, or another story in the series (we're talking) it will boost my back list. And if someone sees my trailer or other promo's they might by something else on the site.

I don't like e books, prefering to curl up and turn pages. And my short is in print for only marginally more, but there is shipping. And I get even less of a royalty because Booksurge get the rest.

Not complaining. The publisher has been great to work with. And if I went into this for the money I'd have given up a long time ago.

Piracy is another issue. It's too easy to post illegal copies on the web. That cuts into profits too.

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby Brian » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:41 am

The reason for picking one dollar is:- people would not feel swindled if the chosen book or story did not live up to expectation. Which in turn translates to them being more likely to download material. As a very famous British retailer once said 'pile it high and sell it cheap.' This scenario would benefit both authors and readers. Especially given the high cost of e reading devices. Also, one dollar would not entice people to download a work and then, to defray their costs, selling it to friends or others for less than the posted price. A similar scheme would benefit the movie industry which, it appears, is run by morons who, failing to learn from the music industry, sell movie DVD's at exorbitant prices and thus allow pirates to flog cheap copies. Something which further reduces the profitability of the movie studios. People prefer to view movies in their own homes nowadays. So if books, movies and music downloads were made a reasonable price people would buy them, as opposed to buying bootleg copies.
One dollar for an electronic copy of a book or story is, I submit, fair. It costs less than a fraction of one cent to the host computer to download and if royalities were on a fifty-fifty basis, then the site owner and the author would both benefit due to vastly increased sales.
Cheers, Brian

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby Karen » Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:47 am

My thoughts on e-books.

I don't know that I have a defined price-point for them. I think an e-book should cost less than a paperback all the time, but I don't think it should cost peanuts. (At least, definitely not for the first few years.)

I'm happy to have an e-book cost more when it comes out, and go down in price over the years.

I think that authors should get a higher percentage in royalty on e-books than they currently do for printed books, because they incur a higher percentage of the costs. -- all that time to write the book, while the publisher has typesetting (of a kind, although it ), cover, blurb and marketing, but they don't have the cost of printing it, storing it or returns.

And while on the subject of returns, no e-book contract should ever allow a publisher to claim returns. It simply does not compute. There is no such thing.

I refuse to buy anything protected by DRM -- e-books or music. Early on I got caught with CDs I can only play on one PC. Never again. I am happy, however, with some kind of licensing system that would let me share a book and only one person able to read it at the one time. I've heard there is some library-type system that does that.

Things like Amazon's control over their Kindle scare me a little. If I buy an e-book I expect to own it. I don't like to think that a company can take it back (even if they do refund the money) without my permission.

As an e-book user. I do buy the occasional e-book. I read them on my PC because until recently that's really the only e-book reader we had over here. I'm looking forward to the new generation of e-books because I'm hoping to find something I can use. (Although, I take my netbook everywhere now. My bag's heavy enough.) If I like an e-book well enough I'll buy the paper version as well.

My e-book nirvana is good, reasonably-priced e-books backed up by a quality POD system.

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby Nobilis » Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:24 pm

For me, a lot depends on the length of the book, and how useful it is to me.

I expect to pay about $1 per 5,000 words or part thereof. Then, if it has DRM on it that makes it less useful to me, take half that.

Then, since most of the shops want prices that end in 99 cents, subtract one penny as the American Cultural Discount.

So a 100,000 word novel in an open format would be 9.99. A 10,000 word short story with DRM would be 0.99.
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Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby egtalbot » Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:46 pm

I will mostly stay away from the "cost of production" argument. The idea that ebooks from a traditional publisher should only cost a small fraction of the selling price (ignore the list price, that's irrelevant to readers) is as ludicrous as the idea that ebooks should only be a dollar or two cheaper than that price. Whatever statistics people are throwing around about costs are based on assumptions, and I don't see any reason to accept those assumptions.

In terms of what I would pay, that depends on whether I am buying the book or renting the book. Right now when I buy a book on kindle, I am renting it. Even if it is not DRM enabled, it's going to be hard to read it anywhere except my kindle or kindle for PC. So I'll pay $1-$3 for such books, maybe as much as $5 if I either expect it to be a five star read or I specifically want to support the author. I simply will not be paying $10-$15 for a kindle book with the current restrictions. I can't lend it, and if my kindle breaks I either have to get a new kindle or read it on my PC, even if a superior device comes along (yes, I know there is the Kindle App for the Ipad - $500 or more for an ebook reader is even more insane and I don't need any of the other functions of the Ipad).

For a DRM-free book that I can get in an open format, I would at this point pay at least $10 if I really want the book. But the irony is that there aren't a lot of DRM-free books that I really want to read that cost that much.

Even from Smashwords, though, the whole issue of "lending" is a problem legally. Legally I cannot lend my Smashwords books, so I don't. But I borrow and lend paper books all the time. I buy 30-50 books a year as well as borrowing at least that many and lending that many. maybe in the future, I'll be willing to give up that experience, but I can't see it as long as new books are $8-$20.

I don't think the lending issue will be resolved anytime soon - it's simply a new model and I don't see publishers embracing anything resembling it. For that reason I think somewhere around $4.99 is the breaking point. At $4.99, I think many of the concerns about rights and proprietary things start to go away - it's like renting a movie. Plus a $4.99 book by an upper midlister can compete effectively with an indie author charging $1-$3, while a $10 or more book can't - even if the midlister gets more actual sales, with its overhead, it can't survive the death-by-a-thousand-papercuts that $1-$3 books by talented DIY authors represents.

Maybe the real figure is $4 or $6, not $5 but I think it's somewhere in that range. I'm not sure a variable charge done after the fact will work in practice, but it couldn't hurt to try.

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby mwlcarter » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:16 am

Personally, I think $5 is the magic number for e-book pricing. With virtually zero production cost, $5 divvied up between publisher and author probably still leaves both parties with more profits than they make off a mass-market paperback. If they want to charge, say, $6.99 for new releases, that'd be fine, but backlist books need to be $5 or less.

With paper books, they start off with the premium hardcover price (justified by the new release status and the hardcover format), then about a year later the price drops by two-thirds with the release of the mass-market paperback version. There's also the remaindered book market, where hardcovers usually cost less than paperbacks. In contrast, with e-books, publishers are trying to sell us a digital product for the price of a physical product, and the price remains the same in perpetuity. It's crazy that it's cheaper for me to go buy a remaindered hardcover than it is to buy an e-book.

I also simply refuse to pay more for an e-book than a paperback, and quite frankly I think the paperback at the same price is a better deal, because you're receiving a product you can hold in your hands and there's a perception that there's actually value to what you've just paid for. Paying the same or more for a virtual object compared to a physical object just doesn't work... people understand intellectually that the value is in the words that make up the book, but emotionally we immediately question why we're paying the same when we're not receiving a physical product in return.

Regarding e-books, I expect I'll start buying them in the future if/when they're reasonably priced, simply because I've not only run out of room on my shelves, but I've also run out of room for shelves. And it's nice to know that unlike my current library which can burn down with my house, an e-book library is safely backed up on the Internet, ready to be downloaded again in case of system failure. As for eReaders, I've recently ordered the Kobo eReader, which supports PDF and ePub, and is much less expensive than other ereaders (it's $149, coming closer to the $99 price which is where I think ereaders will really take off...).

Of course, as e-books become more prevalent, I think that the whole publisher model itself is going to be threatened. As an author, why should I go through a publisher if I can produce my own e-book through Lulu, or simply issue my book in PDF format?

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby Janetta » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:17 pm

I think keeping e-book pricing needs to be kept low, but sufficient to pay the writers and producers adequately.

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby samwaltz » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:51 pm

$100 per year.
We subscribe to the SciFi channel. We pay a monthly fee, and watch what we want.
I would like a similar fee for ebooks. Consider it library membership fee, so that individual loans are free (rather than the model you are presenting with free membership, but charging for loans). I'd have months where I'd read 4-5 SciFi books, and months where I'd read maybe one. The benefit for the publishing industry, of course, is that you would have a lot of readers who read less than the average number of books... but the ones who read all kinds of obscure titles would highly recommend a significant number, which would their friends, etc., would then be more likely to purchase in paper copies.
You could also sell a $50 annual subscription to short stories. It's nice being able to grab a quick story before a commute - which is why I subscribe to
A $25 per year "book of the month" club could also make sense... Send out the same book to hundreds of thousands of people, and get them talking about it. It would be a quick and easy step from that into the $100 "what you want, when you want" plan.

Re: Keep E-book Prices Affordable

Postby Rich Baldwin » Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:52 pm

If nothing else, you poll demonstrates the variable pricing would be better (all else being equal) for authors of works that people really liked, but probably a little bit worse off for people whose work is considered average.
Rich Baldwin

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