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Doug_Pardee
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The permanence of hardcovers - or not


RHWright wrote:

 

Honestly, I'd rather have an old paperback from the 60s or 70s than the 90s or today. "New" paperbacks are disposable. They yellow and fall apart inside a decade. I have vintage paperbacks that are obviously used and worn, but not falling apart like more modern ones.


Sadly, the same is true for hardcovers from some publishers. Some members of the publishing industry are using fast-yellowing groundwood paper even for hardcovers, rather than the freesheet paper that is durable because the processing removes lignin.

 

This report (PDF) from 2005 names Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Warner (now Hachette) as publishers using groundwood for hardcovers. According to Permanence Matters — not an unbiased source — half of the NY Times hardcover bestseller list is printed on groundwood. Presumably that's an average figure.

 

Unfortunately, it seems that it's difficult to impossible for the book-buyer to distinguish the two kinds of paper. [The following information is just from some quick research; I haven't tried it myself.] Groundwood tends to be less white, but that's probably easily covered up by bleaching. And at least until recently, freesheet paper for books was left an off-white rather than being bleached to pure white. Groundwood has a very slightly smoother feel to it. Groundwood weighs less, by maybe 10-20%, than freesheet.

 

A bit more information here.

 

AlanNJ
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Re: The permanence of hardcovers - or not

Other than reference books for work (which are usually gifted to me or provided through a group rate I have not read a book that has not been in e-format since getting my first Nook.

I have no love for the physical esthetics of a book.  I love the act of reading.  Honestly, it means nothing to me if a publisher uses cheaper paper than they used to.  I just want authors to keep writing quality books and not become hacks a la James Patterson (as one example).

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tygerlili
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Re: The permanence of hardcovers - or not

[ Edited ]
"If you bought an e-reader with the primary goal of saving money over printed books you're going to be very disappointed unless something changes in the future. That said, there are huge amounts of free or very discounted e-books out there if you look for them. Newer books are priced pretty high though." Yes, I am very disappointed now that I know that. Would be nice if those superenthusiastic Nook salespeople gave you full disclosure. Also, if you saw my previous post, the books in question are the Lord of the Rings, which came out in the 1940s or 50s, I think. And I am very much into book aesthetics (having taken printing courses and bookbinding in college and considering books to be an art form), so now I'm fully disillusioned with the entire publishing industry. :smileysad: (Meanwhile, the price of books keeps going up while the quality goes down.)
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tygerlili
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Re: The permanence of hardcovers - or not

[ Edited ]
PS: Most if not all of those "free" books have been optically scanned, not proofread, and are full of illegible characters, so they are not even worth the effort of downloading and then not even being able to delete them from your account. All you can do is "archive" them.
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cjdlv
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

Why is the pricing on the following so far apart?

 

Tim Sandlin's GroVont Trilogy has the following prices:

 

On Amazon:

Skipped Parts: $1.99

Sorrow Floats: $1.35

Social Blunders: $6.37

 

On BN:

Skipped Parts: $7.35

Sorrow Floats: $10.49

Social Blunders: $10.49

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GordonF
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.


Sun_Cat wrote:

bklvr896 wrote
You can read this NYT article which puts the printing/shipping costs of books at about 12% of the total cost.  So at most, you might expect to see a 12% decrease, except that there are costs associated with creating and distributing the eBook, so the difference is going to be less than the 12%.

Very interesting to read this pre-agency analysis knowing what came after.

 

Even more interesting is the mention of the 12.5% printing and shipping cost. The suggestion that printing and shipping are the only extra costs incurred in producing and selling DTBs is disingenuous and misleading. Here are a few others, just off the top of my head:

 

  • Inventory tracking (publisher + distributor + retailer)
  • Warehouse space (publisher + distributor + retailer)
  • Overruns (which are inevitable; extra copies end up either being sold at a steep discount or destroyed -- yet another cost)

None of the above apply to ebooks. Furthermore, retail prices for DTBs are set to allow all three players (publisher, distributor, retailer) to make a profit. That brings additional costs into play at the wholesale and retail levels that have to be covered too (e.g. retail space and employees).

 

Ebooks, in sharp contrast, are bought directly from the publisher with just one additional profit added: the 30% agency commission. I believe that's less than the typical retail markup for DTBs, which I think is 40%. Of course in 2009 it was different, but the essence of the sale was still direct from publisher without more than one middleman.

 

Bottom line: I don't think that N.Y. Times reporter probed deeply enough.


 

I can agree that the NYT reporting didn't go deep enough - because you're forgetting all the overhead of an e-file:

 

Each file format (Nook, Kindle, any other RETAILER you sell through) requires someone to redo layout, and make sure each layout is correct for the device.

 

You don't buy an ebook directly from the publisher, you buy it from a retailer too (Amazon, B&N, Whomever).

 

Server Costs:

-Maintenance (and IT guys demands a higher salary that warehouse guys)

-Upgrades (warehouses don't have to buy new shelves every 12-18 months, computer servers often do)

-Physical Server Space (cold rooms for servers can require far more overhead than a warehouse to maintain)

-Inventory Tracking (you still need to report number of sales, that's a whole other program)

-Computer Programs to track sales, track user accounts, downloads, report sales.

-Bandwidth (yes - this costs money, it costs the server owners money every time you download a book, heck, it costs them money every time you load a web page).

-The Computer Servers Themselves: you'll often have hosting servers for the website, storage servers for the books, yet more servers for all the bookkeeping and accounting)

 

Two of your three "none of the above apply to ebooks" actually apply to ebooks in a different way than they do to DTBS, but they still apply. Obviouslt the NYT reporter did need to go into more detail because you have no idea what infrastructure is required for digital anything.

 

ebooks still need to be priced to let three companies profit, Publisher, Retailer, Distributor (and that may be two seperate distributors: the Internet Provider charging bandwidth usage fees and the Storage Company that owns the servers).

 

The model has no changed, just the format. The only people not getting a cut on ebooks is a Printer.

 

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AlanNJ
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.


GordonF wrote:

 

The model has no changed, just the format. The only people not getting a cut on ebooks is a Printer.

 


And the lumberjacks and tree farmers.

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tmr4
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

The Lord of the Rings ebook does have all of the original illustrations, maps and appendicies. Given the size of the nook screen, I'd say the quality of the maps is slightly better than the mass market paperback version on the nook, or not very useful in my opinion. You can force a larger size on the pc or tablet for some improvement but the resolution isn't as high as in the hardcover editions.
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PeterDe
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

The other day I was in a warehouse type club and I saw a book that interested me, so I went home to see if it was in ebook, it was and here were the prices I found for: 

 

December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World

 

Amazon: 8.99


Google: 9.50

 

iTunes: 9.99

 

BN: 12.50

 

There is over a 30% price between Amazon and BN. I find this to be the norm most of the time, if BN even has the book. I found many ebooks I was interested in were only sold as a Kindle version. Since I use my iPad for reading I am not locked into a single version and I have the luxury to shop around for the cheapest prices if its not an agency model publisher.

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MaleficentIL
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

I've been wanting to purchase The Hunger Games trilogy.  B&N wants $26.98 for the nookbook.  Amazon and Sony only want $17.85.  That's a big difference in price.  I guess I'll just have to give some of my business to Sony and sideload their epub book onto my Nooks.  Maybe if enough of us stop buying the overpriced nookbooks, they'll do something.  LOL!!!!:smileylol:

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Irishelf
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

I have mentioned the big difference in price of the Hunger Games trilogy with B&N 's being way overpriced.  I'd rather have the trilogy on my NC without sideloading, but with the price being so high I'll probably buy the Kindle version and download it on my ipad (through the Kindle app).

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scott88
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.


kamas716 wrote:

 

The other thing I find funny is that people have complained about Agency pricing since its inception.  The books are the same price everwhere.  And yet, people also complain because there is a difference in prices, at times, for non agency books.  So we don't want agency pricing but we want prices to be the same everywhere.



I think the problem people have with the Agency pricing is not that the prices are the same everywhere, but that the eBook prices tend to be higher than DTB prices at times.  There's no logical reason for such a price difference between eBooks and DTB since production and distribution costs should be massively lower for eBooks.

 

I also haven't found B&N prices all that bad for eBooks.  And, when I don't like their prices, at least I have the option of purchasing from another site if I want and then loading it on my NST very simply.



How should it be lower for ebooks? Having server farms running 24/7 with staff on hand to fix things that break right away, cost of bandwidth, and unlike brick and mortar stores they can not make room for new book by not stocking old book (since you have the ability to redownload the book it has to stay on the server) so they have to keep adding new capacity.

 

And what does direct cost of a product have to do with its price? Are you willing for your paycheck to be determined by what it cost you to commute to work?

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RHWright
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

As has been mentioned here and elsewhere before, cost is not the main determining factor in pricing.

 

It's the market and what it will bear.

 

And sometimes, if they have a larger profit on the margin from something else they sell, a company will sell an item at less than their cost. They do the loss leader that both overall, and due to building a relationship with you, they figure will come out as profitable in the long run.

 

B&N operates on tight margins and has little ability to run loss leaders like Amazon.

 

Beyond that, we get into debating how "free" a market should be, the ethics of capitalism, should there be a control on profit, etc. But that's wandering waaaaay OT.

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kamas716
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.


scott88 wrote:


How should it be lower for ebooks? Having server farms running 24/7 with staff on hand to fix things that break right away, cost of bandwidth, and unlike brick and mortar stores they can not make room for new book by not stocking old book (since you have the ability to redownload the book it has to stay on the server) so they have to keep adding new capacity.

 

And what does direct cost of a product have to do with its price? Are you willing for your paycheck to be determined by what it cost you to commute to work?


Here's my reasoning.  Granted, I don't know a whole lot about the IT industry, and I'm not sure who would actually have the servers, the vendor or the publisher.  So, my reasoning may be seriously flawed.

 

But, how much does a server cost (several $K, but less than $10K?) and how many are you going to need to run for your business?  As far as having the IT staff on hand 24/7, I'm not so sure about that.  I've worked for a research University, and while they may have someone on call, they don't have anyone on site after normal business hours (other than some students manning the help desk phone, and even then, after midnight you'd just leave a message and whoever is manning the desk in the morning would call you back).  I would guess that the largest yearly expenses would be for bandwidth access and the electric load, followed by personnel/benefits, equipment and building expenses.

 

How many server farms are required to allow B&N customers all across the country to purchase eBooks? 1 or 2?  Someplace like Sioux Falls would be a less expensive area to place a server farm than, say, San Francisco.  As long as they have access to the bandwidth, it doesn't really matter where they are physically located. My impression is that the printers aren't setting type by hand anymore, but using a computer program.  So, it should just be a file format conversion to put the eBook on the server for upload and available for purchase rather than feeding it into the printer.

 

As opposed to have a couple of hundred brick and mortar stores across the country to staff and house the DTB's.  Plus, the warehouse(s) [I'm guessing B&N has multiple warehouses across the country, and each publisher probably has at least one] for extra product.  Not to mention the costs for paper, ink, glue, binding, transportation and the built in markup for discounted books that didn't sell.  And then there are the costs associated with producing physical copies of audio books versus downloadable audiobooks.

 

To me, it seems like one or two server farms could probably sell more books than a hundred brick and mortar stores.

 

 

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Doug_Pardee
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

[ Edited ]

kamas716 wrote:

 

Someplace like Sioux Falls would be a less expensive area to place a server farm than, say, San Francisco.  As long as they have access to the bandwidth, it doesn't really matter where they are physically located.


That's the problem: bandwidth. BN.com's located in Manhattan, in the old Port Authority building. It's reputedly got the most bandwidth available of anywhere in the US. For that reason, Google recently bought that building for $1.8 billion (with a B).

 

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bklvr896
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

[ Edited ]

kamas716 wrote:

scott88 wrote:


How should it be lower for ebooks? Having server farms running 24/7 with staff on hand to fix things that break right away, cost of bandwidth, and unlike brick and mortar stores they can not make room for new book by not stocking old book (since you have the ability to redownload the book it has to stay on the server) so they have to keep adding new capacity.

 

And what does direct cost of a product have to do with its price? Are you willing for your paycheck to be determined by what it cost you to commute to work?


Here's my reasoning.  Granted, I don't know a whole lot about the IT industry, and I'm not sure who would actually have the servers, the vendor or the publisher.  So, my reasoning may be seriously flawed.

 

But, how much does a server cost (several $K, but less than $10K?) and how many are you going to need to run for your business?  As far as having the IT staff on hand 24/7, I'm not so sure about that.  I've worked for a research University, and while they may have someone on call, they don't have anyone on site after normal business hours (other than some students manning the help desk phone, and even then, after midnight you'd just leave a message and whoever is manning the desk in the morning would call you back).  I would guess that the largest yearly expenses would be for bandwidth access and the electric load, followed by personnel/benefits, equipment and building expenses.

 

How many server farms are required to allow B&N customers all across the country to purchase eBooks? 1 or 2?  Someplace like Sioux Falls would be a less expensive area to place a server farm than, say, San Francisco.  As long as they have access to the bandwidth, it doesn't really matter where they are physically located. My impression is that the printers aren't setting type by hand anymore, but using a computer program.  So, it should just be a file format conversion to put the eBook on the server for upload and available for purchase rather than feeding it into the printer.

 

As opposed to have a couple of hundred brick and mortar stores across the country to staff and house the DTB's.  Plus, the warehouse(s) [I'm guessing B&N has multiple warehouses across the country, and each publisher probably has at least one] for extra product.  Not to mention the costs for paper, ink, glue, binding, transportation and the built in markup for discounted books that didn't sell.  And then there are the costs associated with producing physical copies of audio books versus downloadable audiobooks.

 

To me, it seems like one or two server farms could probably sell more books than a hundred brick and mortar stores.

 

 


As was pointed out, cost rarely determines price.  The market apparently is ok with the current prices.  

 

As to having someone onsite 24/7.  If the servers go down in the middle of the night, there's going to be a lot of unhappy customers if problems are only fixed during business hours.  They may not be physically on site, they may be able to remotely connect to the servers, but if so, they still have to paid. 

 

But it comes down to regardless of how much it costs to create the book, they're going to sell it for the highest price the market will bear.

 

Conversion - Files for printed books are formatted to be fixed pages, fixed lines.  eBooks need to reflow.  This is one of the biggest problems with PDF on eReaders.  You can see where someone has tried to take the printed file and simply convert it, if you've ever read an eBook where a sentence simply stops in the middle of line and goes to the next line, or there is one word on a page.  The hard formatting was completely removed.  So, there is more too it than simply file save as or file convert.

AlanNJ
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.


Doug_Pardee wrote:

kamas716 wrote:

 

Someplace like Sioux Falls would be a less expensive area to place a server farm than, say, San Francisco.  As long as they have access to the bandwidth, it doesn't really matter where they are physically located.


That's the problem: bandwidth. BN.com's located in Manhattan, in the old Port Authority building. It's reputedly got the most bandwidth available of anywhere in the US. For that reason, Google recently bought that building for $1.8 billion (with a B).

 


When I was a telecommunications field engineer in NYC I spent many hours in that building.  You can literally hear the humming and feel the floor vibrating from all the telecommunications companies that are in there.  Amazing place!

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GordonF
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.


kamas716 wrote:
How many server farms are required to allow B&N customers all across the country to purchase eBooks? 1 or 2?  Someplace like Sioux Falls would be a less expensive area to place a server farm than, say, San Francisco.  As long as they have access to the bandwidth, it doesn't really matter where they are physically located. My impression is that the printers aren't setting type by hand anymore, but using a computer program.  So, it should just be a file format conversion to put the eBook on the server for upload and available for purchase rather than feeding it into the printer. 


Oh... Gods.. NO

 

it is NOT just a "file format conversion" it's not SAVE AS.

 

It's an entirely new layout process to shift from what a printer wants to a different format. Find the crappiest formatted ebook and that's probably some idiot just changing formats and not making sure the layout flows correctly.

 

Also, high end servers can START at 10,000$ - and go up fast.These are machines that should never even Reboot, much less shut down, that's a lot of wear on a hard drive. RAID-5 at the least per SERVER DRIVE.

 

One ebook may be a MB or 2. A couple hundreed thousand ebooks? B&N and Amazon claim, what, a million titles?

 

Putting a server farm in an out of the way place probably means running you're own OC-12 (that's the smallest fiber line available), that's gonna be in the 10s of thousands of dollars. Which means you want to put your server farm near an already existing high speed high bandwidth connection, like a city. They don't run these things on tiny little T-1s.

 

Anyway, go on believing what you want about pricing, or whatever. The cost of an ebook isn't too far from the cost of dead tree.

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AlanNJ
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

And don't forget it's not just downloading the book.  There is also software necessary for keeping track of what's been downloaded, verifying credit card info, etc.  E-Books are not a simple process.

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PeterDe
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Re: Nook book prices higher than other ebooks.

I guess a server costs a lot more than the monthly rent, utilities and payroll of a single brick and motor store. :smileywink:

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