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Interesting Survey Results


QUOTE:

 

NEW YORK, May 12, 2010— E-readers and tablets—for so long sidelined as niche products for technology geeks—are set to become wildly popular and successful consumer devices, according to a survey of nearly 13,000 consumers in 14 countries, including China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

 

<snip>

 

The survey offers guarded good news for content providers. They have been looking to e-readers and tablets as a potential new revenue source to compensate for the loss of business from traditional products. In the United States, consumers are willing to pay $2 to $4 for a single issue of an online magazine, comparable to the cost of the print version, and $5 to $10 for a monthly online newspaper subscription. While this is less than the cost of a print subscription, the digital version is cheaper to produce. Consumers are willing to pay only $5 to $10 for digital books, however, below the price that book publishers are targeting.

 

The survey found that more than 90 percent of those interested in purchasing an e-reader over the next three years would use it for e-books, and over 80 percent would use it to read the online versions of magazines and newspapers.

 


 

 

http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-46750

 

 


Don't buy from Random House, Macmillan, or Penguin until the agency model is COMPLETELY dead.
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DiAnneInDover
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

And that $5 to $10 price range is exactly what I was feeling long before I bought a Nook.  Indeed, seeing ebooks of books that were available as paperbacks being offered for $7.99 was "ridiculous" in my mind.

 

So, the ereaders are coming.  The public demands it.  If the publishers don't supply that demand with affordable ebooks...well, then the publishers will probably feel the brunt of rampant piracy.  And no, I've never pirated a book. I don't even download music.  But just because I won't doesn't mean there aren't thousands of people who will. 

 

 

Doug_Pardee
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Backlist pricing

DiAnneInDover wrote:

seeing ebooks of books that were available as paperbacks being offered for $7.99 was "ridiculous" in my mind.

 

Yeah, I think that the publishers really need to price 'new releases', 'recent backlist', and 'old backlist' e-books differently. And as I've noted before, I think that when we're complaining on these boards, we should be more clear about what we're upset about.

 

The '$9.99' price point that the Agency Model killed was for new releases. I just checked the NYT Hardcover Fiction bestseller list, and in the top 20—with only one exception—all of the Agency Model titles were $13.99 and all of the titles from the other publishers were $9.99. That's one issue.

 

But let's talk about backlist.

 

Mass-market paperbacks are usually listed at $7.99 for the conventional C size and $9.99 for the premium size, and the big retailers will discount them a bit. The e-book prices for backlist titles were more than the MMPB list even before agency pricing hit us. The publishers generally were continuing to wholesale backlist e-books at 50% of the hardcover price. With the Agency Model, they're generally setting the retail price at 50% of the hardcover price, but sometimes they go nuts.

 

For Google Editions, Google wanted to put a price cap on e-books of 80% of the lowest-price print edition. The last I heard, they had to backpedal on that.

 

For backlist books from the Linotype and phototypeset eras that don't have digital files readily available to be converted to e-books, there's some cost involved in producing the e-book, and those titles probably won't sell very big. But for 21st century titles recent enough to have MMPBs on the store shelves, the e-book prices look indefensible to me.

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Rasyr
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Re: Backlist pricing

As I have said before -- my opinion is that media in which the book is published should be used to determine its pricing.

 

For example, if the book is ever going to be released as MMPB, then my opinion is that the eBook version should be priced at $1-$2 below the MMPB price (even if the hardback version is the only version out there so far).

 

For books that are never going into the MMPB format, then 1/2 the retail price of the physical book (this includes hardbacks, oversized softcovers (i.e. like many computer books), etc) for books that cost over $15.

 

For any single format books with a price of $15 or less, then using the same pricing schema as for MMPB would be, IMO, acceptable.

 

To me, this allows the publisher to maximize profits without gouging the customers. 

 

Cause, quite frankly, with eBooks, there is no longer any such thing as "backlist". Every eBook is actually an evergreen product that will always be available to customers.

 

 

Just my opinions...

Tim Dugger
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Doug_Pardee
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Re: Backlist pricing

Rasyr wrote:

with eBooks, there is no longer any such thing as "backlist". Every eBook is actually an evergreen product that will always be available to customers.

 

Of course there's a backlist for e-books. Those are the titles that are only selling a small fraction of the number of copies that it originally sold.

 

But more importantly, they're the titles that have already earned out the production costs. Most of the publisher's cost of a book or e-book is up-front before copy #1 is sold. Selection, acquisition, author's advance, editing, artwork, formatting, working with the printer, proofing, developing marketing strategies, doing the marketing, etc.

 

Typically the publisher comes out with a hardcover first, with a price high enough to try to pay back those up-front costs. In practice, most books never do pay them back fully, but the big sellers cover for the others.

 

Once those costs are recovered, then it's just the incremental cost of production, author royalties, and the administrative overhead, with returns factored in. With author royalties of a few dollars a copy, virtually zero production cost, and no returns to worry about, there's no reason that the e-book of a backlist title that's earned out its publication costs should be 50% of hardcover, or even 100% of MMPB list.

 

The publisher is wholesaling the MMPB at maybe 60% of list. Is 80% of MMPB list really an unreasonable price point for e-books?

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Rasyr
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Re: Backlist pricing

[ Edited ]

Doug, I think you have a different definition of "backlist" than I do then.. :smileyvery-happy:

 

And I have no problems with us having different definitions (and it looks like - after looking up some definitions that we may both be only partially right in our definitions... hehe). Here is the definition that I found..

 

"Frontlist" means a book that has just been published. It usually refers to a title that is less than one year old. "Backlist" means a book that has been in print for at least a year and that is still selling well enough to be stocked in bookstores.

These terms originate from the practice of publishers issuing catalogs featuring their books. The catalogs, which are typically issued twice a year, usually feature a photo of the cover art for the book together with press material describing the book and its author. Book catalogs are divided into a front section, which lists new books, and a back section, which lists older books still in print.

A best-seller like "The Da Vinci Code" is now considered a backlist title because it is more than a year old and it is still selling well. Publishers rely on backlist titles to make a significant portion of their income. Even less-well-known titles, such as "The Art of Kissing" by William Cane, which has been continuously in print for more than seventeen years, is referred to as a backlist title because it continues to sell.

One of the most famous, and most profitable, backlist titles is "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, which sells about 200,000 copies a year, more than fifty years after its initial publication. For more information about writing visit www.hiwrite.com and discover how you can write a frontlist title yourself.

So, apparently, whether or not the book has made its cost is irrevalent in whether or not it is a backlist book. :smileyvery-happy:

 

I was using the term backlist as meaning "old book, that may or may not be in print" and evergreen as meaning a product that consistently sells well (which would actually be a sub-group of a backlist - i.e. Catcher in the Rye being an example of what I was referring to as an evergreen product).

 

But anyways.....

 

I still believe that pricing should be based on the lowest costing print media that it will be released as. And that the eBook prices should be initially set based on that (i.e. once set, the eBook prices shouldn't change).

 

 

 

Tim Dugger
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Wegg
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

 

DiAnneInDover wrote:

 

 

So, the ereaders are coming.  The public demands it.  If the publishers don't supply that demand with affordable ebooks...well, then the publishers will probably feel the brunt of rampant piracy.  And no, I've never pirated a book. I don't even download music.  But just because I won't doesn't mean there aren't thousands of people who will. 

 

 

 

 

There was a book I very much wanted that I just couldn't find available in a format the nook could handle.  Amazon had it. . . but no one else.  But then a quick google search lead me to the pirated version of the book within seconds.  Downloaded, converted, sideloaded. . . done.  I had what I wanted.  

 

In my opinion this is another case where paying customers are the ones that have to fight "The Man" on pricing, DRM and exclusivity with distributors where pirates just snicker and grab whatever they want for free.   :robotsad:

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JustTrish
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

[ Edited ]

My view of this is very simple.  As far as I'm concerned publishers have a choice of whether or not they want my money.

 

If they are willing to sell eBooks at reasonable prices - which for me is defined between $5-$10, I am happy to give them that much for their product. 

 

If they are NOT willing to sell eBooks at reasonable prices, then I'll just get it from the library and pay nothing.

 

Either way, I AM going to read that book.  Question is, will the publishers get anything from me?

 

So, if publishers don't get their act together - and soon - I'm going to develop a habit of getting books from the library and I'm going to end up wondering why I was ever willing to give them $5-$10.

AlanNJ
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

I've been getting books from the library ever since I purchased my Nook back when prices were lower.  I have never needed price increases as an excuse to borrow books for free.

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flyingtoastr
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

 

JustTrish wrote:

My view of this is very simple.  As far as I'm concerned publishers have a choice of whether or not they want my money.

 

If they are willing to sell eBooks at reasonable prices - which for me is defined between $5-$10, I am happy to give them that much for their product. 

 

If they are NOT willing to sell eBooks at reasonable prices, then I'll just get it from the library and pay nothing.

 

Either way, I AM going to read that book.  Question is, will the publishers get anything from me?

 

So, if publishers don't get their act together - and soon - I'm going to develop a habit of getting books from the library and I'm going to end up wondering why I was ever willing to give them $5-$10.

 

Everyone always forgets so quickly that the $9.99 model was loss selling on Amazon's part, and was very anti-competitive (and therefore bad for the industry as a whole).

 

The price of production between an ebook and a hardcover are actually very close. The paper and ink that goes into making a DTB are a very small portion of the actual cost. They're dirt cheap compared to how much money is spent paying the author, typesetters, editors, etc. That's where most of the cost of books comes from, and is why ebooks are so "expensive". For new hardcovers the publisher is selling you an ebook at the roughly same price that they sell a DTB to a retailer. Anything lower and they're cutting into their profits, so you'll never see anything lower.

 

Charging the same for Mass Markets and ebooks is a whole different issue, though.

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DiAnneInDover
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

[ Edited ]

But that doesn't explain why paper versions of books are consistently LESS expensive than eBooks.  Paperbacks with a list price of $7.99 are almost always discounted to at least $6 but the eBooks are usually $8 at a minimum (and usually a dollar or two above that).

 

 

flyingtoastr wrote:

 

 

Everyone always forgets so quickly that the $9.99 model was loss selling on Amazon's part, and was very anti-competitive (and therefore bad for the industry as a whole).

 

The price of production between an ebook and a hardcover are actually very close. The paper and ink that goes into making a DTB are a very small portion of the actual cost. They're dirt cheap compared to how much money is spent paying the author, typesetters, editors, etc. That's where most of the cost of books comes from, and is why ebooks are so "expensive". For new hardcovers the publisher is selling you an ebook at the roughly same price that they sell a DTB to a retailer. Anything lower and they're cutting into their profits, so you'll never see anything lower.

 

Charging the same for Mass Markets and ebooks is a whole different issue, though.

 

 

 

The concept of eBooks being sold at 20% less than the list price for the cheapest paper version available (I think that is what Google was trying) makes perfect sense.  Okay...Hardcover is $25?  so, eBook is $20.  Otherwise, I wait until it comes to paperback...but then that book should be available for $6.50.  But we're not seeing that.  (And yes, I saw your last sentence, so I think you and I are on the same (ahem) page here.  I'm just reiterating my view as a whole.)

 

Combine that with the fact that the paper books are read numerous times by numerous people (loaned, sold, given away, etc.) but eBooks are a one-time, one-person book, that should lower the price further.

 

But paying MORE for the eBook than the paper book?  Nobody will ever convince me that they can't sell these books for a profit at lower prices.  If they can sell paper books for a profit, they can sell the eBooks for a profit...except when the publishers get in the way and want all the profit for themselves.

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JustTrish
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

[ Edited ]

 

flyingtoastr wrote:

 

The price of production between an ebook and a hardcover are actually very close. The paper and ink that goes into making a DTB are a very small portion of the actual cost. They're dirt cheap compared to how much money is spent paying the author, typesetters, editors, etc. That's where most of the cost of books comes from, and is why ebooks are so "expensive". For new hardcovers the publisher is selling you an ebook at the roughly same price that they sell a DTB to a retailer. Anything lower and they're cutting into their profits, so you'll never see anything lower.

 

Charging the same for Mass Markets and ebooks is a whole different issue, though.

 

 

Your reasoning would be valid if the book in question was only  released as an eBook.  But if the book is released in both HC and electronic format, then all those costs are shared AND you would have to deduct not just the cost of "ink and paper" (production) but the cost of distribution to arrive at an eBook price. 

 

There are more costs than "ink and paper" in production, there are labor costs, because someone(s) has to run the the machinery that produces books, packs them, warehouses them, and prepares them to be distributed. The highest costs of production are always labor costs.  People have to be paid salaries, they have to have benefits, employers have to have all sorts of insurance.  The machinery that creates the books is not free, it breaks down and has to be repaired by yet more people, there is a building where all of this takes place, with all the ensuing costs and so on and so forth.

 

As for distribution, more people have to plan how those books will be distributed, and arrange for the freight (which can change with fuel prices) and storage of those books to the bookseller's common warehouse (yet another expensive building with machinery) and then to all the different stores.

 

Someone(s) also have to keep track fo what is selling in order to place more orders with the publishers so that books that are moving are in stock at the store level.

 

Even more people have to keep track of store inventories, set orders with the DC and physically handle the book in store.

 

And I haven't even started with the people who create promotional signage for the stores, or the cost thereof.  Or those who constantly create promotions to bring you into the store in the first place. Or the cost of having and maintaintg a physical building to sell the books and the cost of the people who work at the stores.

 

I think it's safe to say that it's the other way around.  The pre-production costs of books is WAY less than the physical production and distribution costs.

 

None of this changes the fact that libraries have all the popular books and that they are available free,  So the price has to be low enough or there won't be an incentive to buy.

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Rasyr
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

 I do fully agree that eBook pricing is very screwy.

 

In regards to DTB, the publisher actually only earns about 50% (on average) of the cover price of a DTB (regardless of format). So their "profit" and all of their overhead (i.e. ALL costs associated with the book that the publisher has to pay) comes out of that. This often requires large volumes to be sold before profits begin, and also often has "incremental" costs such as additional printings, etc.

 

In regards to electronic products, the standard (there are some companies that are different) is for the retailer to earn about 30% of the sale price, with the remainder going to the publisher.

 

Personally, I am strongly of the belief that  publishers should set eBook prices so that they get paid approximately the same for each eBook as they do for each DTB. But I also believe that this should be based upon the lowest costing (i.e. retail price) version that the publisher plans on releasing for that particular book.

 

Hell, I wouldn't mind if the cost of the eBook was based on the lowest DTB price "currently available" (i.e. where the price of the eBook would drop when a MMPB was released).

 

Unfortunately, we have no idea what sort of criteria they are using for setting prices (and I am not sure they really know either, based upon some of the pricing oddities we have seen).

 

But then again, eBooks as a market (i.e. revenue stream) is still in its infancy, so there are bound to be stumbles and falls before the publishing industry learns how to set prices in a more acceptable manner (and the only way they will learn is through our purchasing choices - all yelling at them will likely do is make them defensive and make them think we are loons):smileyvery-happy:

Tim Dugger
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

[ Edited ]
flyingtoastr wrote:

 

For new hardcovers the publisher is selling you an ebook at the roughly same price that they sell a DTB to a retailer. Anything lower and they're cutting into their profits, so you'll never see anything lower.

This is what the music industry thought and they came crashing down to Earth like a scud missile.

 

CDs often sold at $15-$16 or more at retail.  Lots of plastic, and retail space, and big trucks driving them around.  Then they went digital, and you can buy pretty much any CD for $9.99 or less on Amazon or iTunes.

 

http://www.amazon.com/MP3-Music-Download/b/ref=sa_menu_dmusic2?ie=UTF8&node=163856011&pf_rd_p=328655... 

 

Everybody gets paid, and the industry hasn't died.  It's a loser argument.  They learned that the hard way in a painful lesson delivered by the pirates and file-sharers.  The publishing industry is falling into the same trap, and will be disabused of their anti-consumer position in due time.

 


Don't buy from Random House, Macmillan, or Penguin until the agency model is COMPLETELY dead.
flyingtoastr
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

 

JustTrish wrote:

 

 

Your reasoning would be valid if the book in question was only  released as an eBook.  But if the book is released in both HC and electronic format, then all those costs are shared AND you would have to deduct not just the cost of "ink and paper" (production) but the cost of distribution to arrive at an eBook price. 

 

There are more costs than "ink and paper" in production, there are labor costs, because someone(s) has to run the the machinery that produces books, packs them, warehouses them, and prepares them to be distributed. The highest costs of production are always labor costs.  People have to be paid salaries, they have to have benefits, employers have to have all sorts of insurance.  The machinery that creates the books is not free, it breaks down and has to be repaired by yet more people, there is a building where all of this takes place, with all the ensuing costs and so on and so forth.

 

As for distribution, more people have to plan how those books will be distributed, and arrange for the freight (which can change with fuel prices) and storage of those books to the bookseller's common warehouse (yet another expensive building with machinery) and then to all the different stores.

 

Someone(s) also have to keep track fo what is selling in order to place more orders with the publishers so that books that are moving are in stock at the store level.

 

Even more people have to keep track of store inventories, set orders with the DC and physically handle the book in store.

 

And I haven't even started with the people who create promotional signage for the stores, or the cost thereof.  Or those who constantly create promotions to bring you into the store in the first place. Or the cost of having and maintaintg a physical building to sell the books and the cost of the people who work at the stores.

 

I think it's safe to say that it's the other way around.  The pre-production costs of books is WAY less than the physical production and distribution costs.

 

None of this changes the fact that libraries have all the popular books and that they are available free,  So the price has to be low enough or there won't be an incentive to buy.

 

 

You're confusing the publisher's costs with the retailer's costs.

 

1) Ebooks still require a support staff. You have to have programmers, tech support, etc. Not as much as for publishing a DTB, but still people.

2) The Publishers almost never do their own shipping. In almost every case the retailer covers the shipping costs (Barnes and Noble, Borders, Wally World, etc.).

3) The Publishers tend not to run the promotions or merchandising of their books. That cost again goes to the retailers.

4) Sales tracking and replenishment are almost exclusively done by the retailers.

5) The cost of keeping a book on the shelves is completely covered by the retailer.

 

That is why you see a 100% markup on list prices of HC DTBs.

 

Libraries have had free versions of expensive books since... forever.

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JustTrish
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

 

flyingtoastr wrote:

 

 

You're confusing the publisher's costs with the retailer's costs.

 

1) Ebooks still require a support staff. You have to have programmers, tech support, etc. Not as much as for publishing a DTB, but still people.

2) The Publishers almost never do their own shipping. In almost every case the retailer covers the shipping costs (Barnes and Noble, Borders, Wally World, etc.).

3) The Publishers tend not to run the promotions or merchandising of their books. That cost again goes to the retailers.

4) Sales tracking and replenishment are almost exclusively done by the retailers.

5) The cost of keeping a book on the shelves is completely covered by the retailer.

 

That is why you see a 100% markup on list prices of HC DTBs.

 

Libraries have had free versions of expensive books since... forever.

 

 

I'm not confusing the costs I'm detailing all of the costs that are no longer involved in an eBook.  Let's face it, the price of a book is based on production plus the entire supply chain and everyone understands that there should be a considerable difference in price between an eBook and a DTB that needs to be produced, warehoused, transported, and displayed.

 

 

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sub_rosa
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

flyingtoastr wrote:

 

You're confusing the publisher's costs with the retailer's costs.

Doesn't matter.  Publishers' costs and retailers' costs are both built into the retail price the consumer pays.  And if those costs aren't present in the eBook format, then the retail price should be less without affecting profits.

 

However, removing those costs may not be enough to get eBook prices down to where customers will be willing to pay over the long term.  I think some fundamental restructuring must be done just like the music industry did.

 


Don't buy from Random House, Macmillan, or Penguin until the agency model is COMPLETELY dead.
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JEJoyce
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

flyingtoastr is actually well on point.

 

What many see to not realize is that, in order to actually stay in the publishing business, publishers are having to scramble to put plans in place to ensure business can be sustained if/when ebook sales begin to have a significant impact on overall sales.

 

Part of what they're looking at is that if ebook sales are going to take away hardcover sales (which as has been pointed out is where most cost is recouped), then one of three things has to happen:

 

1. If hardcovers and ebooks are released simultaneously (which many seem to be demanding),  either hardcovers become insanely expensive and ebooks are sold cheaply or hardcovers are priced reasonably and ebook prices are increased to help recoup the lost hardcover sales and recover the initial publishing expense of the book in both formats.

 

2.Hardcovers are priced normally and ebooks hit the $5-10 price point people say they're willing to pay but are delayed until paperback release to protect hardcover sales.

 

3. Hardcovers are priced normally and ebooks are released simultaneously at the $5-10 price point. For this to work, publishers have to have confidence that volume of ebook sales will makeup the difference in lost hardcover sales at the lower price point.

 

Obviously the third is a longer-term view given that with the reported percentage of sales that ebooks account for, the volume isn't there to sustain it yet.

 

Bottom line, argue about how ebooks have "zero production cost" all you like, but in the near-term, we're going to have to accept that with ebooks you either can pay more to have it when the hardcover's released or you can wait  six months to a year for a lower price with the paperback.

 

Seem to recall plenty of people screaming when publishers proposed plans to hold back the ebook edition (when they were at the 5-9.99 price point) so....Somehow I suspect the wait longer, pay less plan wouldn't work well for those that seem to feel some sense of entitlement to cheap ebooks immediately on initial release.

 

 

 

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DiAnneInDover
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

I agree, for the most part.

 

So here in a nutshell is what I think would be the best solution:

 

Release eBook and Hardcover simultaneously.  Ebook should be approximately 50% off the HC list price (because most big stores already sell the HC for 40 to 50% off to begin with and then that HC gets read numerous times.  That would mean a $29.99 HC would be $14.99 in Ebook.  That's probably more than I'm willing to pay.  But that's okay.

 

So then, when the HC has been on the market for several months, drop the eBook to $9.99.

 

Finally, when the PB hits the market at $7.99, the eBook should be $5.99 (again,that one PB will be read numerous times, the eBook will be read once (possibly twice, but doubtful).

 

With this scenario, I still won't pay $15 for an eBook (though others will) but I won't be so irate because the more affordable price will be coming.  It won't cut into the HC sales as much.  Everyone is happy.

 

But the concept of paying more for an eBook than the same story in paperback is enough to make me stick solely to the library, as I have been doing.

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sub_rosa
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Re: Interesting Survey Results

I think the $14.99 eBook is a model for failure.

 

If hardcovers are released at an MSRP of $25, but retailers are allowed to sell them at $13-14, then the eBook should be $9.99 or less because it's data - not paper, cardboard, glue, binding, etc.  Whatever publishers and authors have to do in order to be profitable with $9.99 as their top price-point, and $5.99 and under being their lower price-point - they need to hurry up and do it.  Because I think that's where this is going.

 

The music industry went through the same transformation.  Publishers should learn from their mistakes.

 


Don't buy from Random House, Macmillan, or Penguin until the agency model is COMPLETELY dead.