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keriflur
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks


bobstro wrote:

 

Commenter Mel Gross makes another great point: "... But one major reason why many new books are priced where they are is simple economics. Major authors get major advances."


The idea here is correct but the order of events is a bit off.  The amount of the advance relates directly to forecasted revenues, based on what the marketing department believes the book can sell for and how many copies they can sell.  So the expected retail price likely comes before the advance, but the two are definitely related.

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bobstro
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks

That makes sense. I may have taken Mel Gross a bit out of context. My understanding, though, is that the intial hardcover price of a book is intended to (hopefully) recoup all those up-front costs associated with traditional publishing, which includes any advance. For a big name author, with a large projected sales volume, that is a larger amount.

 

I can understand why an ebook needs to initially sell at a higher price if that's the case. Those who aren't in a hurry can read it when the price drops. To be fair, we'd need to compare how long an ebook stays at a higher (near-print) price before dropping, not just the initial price.

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keriflur
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks


bobstro wrote:

I can understand why an ebook needs to initially sell at a higher price if that's the case. Those who aren't in a hurry can read it when the price drops. To be fair, we'd need to compare how long an ebook stays at a higher (near-print) price before dropping, not just the initial price.


My ad hoc research (i.e. looking at the books I've bought/wanted to buy) indicates that there are huge discrepancies across publishers.  The most notable to me is Pegasus, by Robin McKinley, which released in 2010(!) and is still priced at $15.99, even though the paperback came and went in 2011 (it's sold out now), and used copies of both the PB and the HC can be had for under $2.

 

Pegasus can now be had from Amazon and Google at $13.59, but only since the Random Penguin merger (terms were that REP would go once the merger was finalized).  The list is still $15.99.  And this is YA, making this price an outlier even for a new release.

 

On the flip side, there are books I've bought on release day and then have been bummed to find out that they're on B&N's half price list only a few months later.

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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks


Irishelf wrote:

Some of us buy ebooks because we have no choice.  I am legally blind and have difficulty reading most DTB even with a magnifier.  Few books are offered in large print and those that are available are just as expensive, if not more so, than ebooks.    The local library sucks (both large print DTB and ebook catalog)  and even though they are so badly stocked, they are actually considering charging a yearly fee to use it!  I was told when I complained about the cost of large print books that the higher cost was due to ink and paper.  Now the same people are justifying the high cost of ebooks by saying ink/paper costs are negligible.  Bull!  I like to read, so ebooks are basically my only option.  But I would buy a heck of a lot more if they were decently priced.  I noticed that the publishers that settled in the lawsuit raised the prices of their ebooks.  Well guess what, I'll just wait until they go on sale to buy them. Charging 11+ for a regular ebook is ridiculously high.  I rarely am willing to pay that much.  Usually the only time I do is when I get a gift card.  And I'm still finding Amazon tends to have the cheapest prices for them.


 

Most ebooks follow the pricing of the format in print.  Most of the ebooks I've bought have been in mass market when I bought them and were considerably less than 11$.  Even new releases in HC are considerably cheaper as ebooks. 

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.
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Hypatia1
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks

I wonder how this will all settle out and if some of the apparent decline in growth of the e-book market is due to consumers who were early adopters becoming much more discriminating as prices rise. In the early days I would pick up pretty much any e-book that interested me in case I wanted to read it since I no longer was running out of physical space to store books. Nowadays, I will still get a book that attracts my interest if its below five dollars or so. I will often get a book below ten dollars if it seems like one I will enjoy when I get more spare time. Once it goes above this pricepoint though I probably will not buy it (and I probably will not take the time to keep looking for it to come down in price since I have so much else to read).

 

The net effect is that I spend less on books now than I used to even though the average price of the books I buy has gone up since the good old days (which I was reminded yesterday by getting a two year anniversary note from Kobo are really not that long ago - though the pre-ebook era is getting hard to remember)! I guess that someone has figured out that this is the best way to make money (though as a physicist I have never found economics to make sense...). Another side effect that may worry B&N is that once I started being more price concious I also started buying from other purveyors (I really like access to reading apps that enable me to still support independent bookstores though I fear my favorite online mystery bookstore is no more).

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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks

I think the decline in ebook sales is probably mostly two fold.

 

First it's been a few years now since ebooks began really taking off.  The Kindle started it over three years ago, but I'd think three years is a better judge since it's when more and more ebooks started appearing as well as ereaders.  One of the major appeals to ereaders is they take up very little space, and most offered the ability to impulse buy directly from the device.  So you had a bunch of readers no longer impaired by physical storage space and with access to tons of books at the tips of their fingers.  I think that impulse buy power is wearing thin as people look at their ebook libraries and question how they're going to find the time to read all those books, or second guess previous purchases. 

 

Second the prices have been changing, generally going upward to be closer to the DTB price.  Which may be souring those who have become used to the drastically lower price.  It's also putting off the new to ereaders group when they compare the prices and see that they aren't as big as whoever got them in to ereaders had been saying they were. 

 

I'm sure there are other factors, the economy, a general decline in reading, not a lot of big books being released recently.  But I think those two are the big players with the rest just supporting them.

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.
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keriflur
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks


Mercury_Glitch wrote:

 

Second the prices have been changing, generally going upward to be closer to the DTB price.  Which may be souring those who have become used to the drastically lower price.  It's also putting off the new to ereaders group when they compare the prices and see that they aren't as big as whoever got them in to ereaders had been saying they were.


Huh?  Do you have numbers on this, or is this ad hoc or guessing?

 

The only drastically low prices I remember where from three years ago, before the agency model, and AFAI can tell, prices are going down, with the removal of REP and the increase in available backlist.

 

I think, as B&N noted in their recent statement, that part of the reason ebook growth is down is that there wasn't a major bestseller in this period.  I think the downshift is temporary and numbers will be back up next period, especially if we see some breakaway titles.

Doug_Pardee
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks

[ Edited ]

Wot, again???

 

A link to my earlier treatise on book/e-book pricing.

 

Do bear in mind that the price of a book (or e-book) isn't based solely on the costs and projected sales of that title. Not every book that a publisher puts out is a big-seller. Many of them lose money.

 

Publisher's option 1: price expected big-sellers below the price of expected low-sellers. Result: customers buy the cheaper big-sellers and the low-sellers seriously tank. This is bad for the authors of the low-sellers, and bad for the publishers because they lose revenue due to the lower pricing on their hot titles and the lower sales on the boutique titles.

 

Publisher's option 2: price expected big-sellers above the price of expected low-sellers. Result: customers get upset and write raving rants about price-gouging and economy of scale on B&N forums. Authors of low-selling titles feel like they're being branded as second-rate. Big-seller sales are hampered, and the low-sellers sell more copies but at a reduced price — this may or may not be overall profitable for the publisher.

 

Publisher's option 3: price all titles at about the same price, and average out their sales and profits across all titles. Result: customers think that the price reflects the cost of printing, and write scathing rants about how e-books should be cheaper on B&N forums. Everybody else is reasonably happy. This is what the publishers had been doing.

 

Publisher's option 4: sell only expected big-sellers and price them at a level that should return a profit. Result: new authors and authors of low-selling titles don't get published. Nobody else cares. The big publishers are moving in this direction.

 

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keriflur
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks


Doug_Pardee wrote:

 

Publisher's option 4: sell only expected big-sellers and price them at a level that should return a profit. Result: new authors and authors of low-selling titles don't get published. Nobody else cares. The big publishers are moving in this direction.

 


I'd say they're darn close to being there already.  The problem they have is that to have the new big thing, they need to keep adding fresh writing to the pool, which means making educated guesses at which new author's book will be the new big thing.  This is why some pubs are mining the fanfic sites and self-pub, to find books that already have audiences in search of a guaranteed new big thing.

 

IMO this hurts readers more than authors, because it means that more literary or creative works from new authors will be overlooked, and it encourages authors to write to trend.

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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: Correcting the Cost of Ebooks


keriflur wrote:

Mercury_Glitch wrote:

 

Second the prices have been changing, generally going upward to be closer to the DTB price.  Which may be souring those who have become used to the drastically lower price.  It's also putting off the new to ereaders group when they compare the prices and see that they aren't as big as whoever got them in to ereaders had been saying they were.


Huh?  Do you have numbers on this, or is this ad hoc or guessing?

 

The only drastically low prices I remember where from three years ago, before the agency model, and AFAI can tell, prices are going down, with the removal of REP and the increase in available backlist.

 

I think, as B&N noted in their recent statement, that part of the reason ebook growth is down is that there wasn't a major bestseller in this period.  I think the downshift is temporary and numbers will be back up next period, especially if we see some breakaway titles.


 

Mostly just my personal experience.  I've seen the numbers creeping upward over the years.  When the whole ebook craze started in B&N you would be hard pressed to find ebooks priced above their print version.  About a year and a half back I noticed there were some titles, I think they were YA, that were at or above the print cost.  It's tapered back down but not to what it had been prior to that hike.  I don't have titles since they were just things I was showing customers at the time, and to be fair even the prices above print were not as high above print as print is typically above ebooks.

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.