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E-book pricing

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N. Gemini Sasson
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Post by N. Gemini Sasson » Thu January 6th, 2011, 12:32 am

[quote=""Misfit""]Interesting. I've seen the Kindle price at Amazon with those one star reviews to b!tch about the pricing and I just cringe - that is so unfair to the author to tank the book's ratings over prices.
[/quote]
Not too long ago, people were tagging Kindle books over a certain price as "overpriced", "costs too much", etc. I just went and checked one of those books (which has been nominated for numerous awards) and it looks like Amazon has removed the negative tags. I thought it was very unfair and childish, too.

And Sarah - spot on about volume sales making up for the difference. For many years, I showed dogs and I remember one dog club at one point lowered the entry fees for their dog shows. The result? Instead of entering one dog at $20, the exhibitors entered three at $10 each. The club's treasury exploded. Their expenses hadn't increased; their income did.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Thu January 6th, 2011, 12:54 am

[quote=""SarahWoodbury""]On the other side, a whole swath of people (myself included) grew up never, ever buying books because they were too expensive. We used the library. What if lowering prices allowed you to sell more books? What if pricing e-books at $5 instead of $10 tripled the sales because the audience that can afford a $5 book is so much greater than $10? [/quote] I'm in that swath, too. :)

Interesting points, but I'm wondering about the question you've raised above. To my thinking, the dividing line between the haves and have-nots in the world of e-books is the price of the reading device, not the price of the ebooks themselves. It's lowering the price of the reader that's going to open up ebooks to more people; once a person takes the plunge to buy the ereader, logic says they (should) be able to afford an ebook whether it's $5 or $10.

As for the theory that bookstores will be gone in a few years -- that's a terrible thought. Yes, you could still buy books at Target or on Amazon, but it's the atmosphere of bookstores that make them unique and special places.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu January 6th, 2011, 1:03 am

Misfit, it costs nothing to put your book on Kindle. And for right now, an indie can price it any way they want, even give it away free. That is part of what I had in mind when I said that supply has buried demand. In less that five years, ebooks will overtake p-books; 100% of ebook retail will be online, so shelf space will be meangingless, as will sales venue. It will all be about visibility, and that will be very hard to control.

Here's the curve: I've had an e-reader for less than four months, and I've bought twice as many e-books in that time as I have p-books. I am now so pleased with the ease of reading on it, that I found myself annoyed when I had to buy a paper copy of this month's book of the month. Last night I even put the thing in a ziplock bag so I could read in the tub.

I'm not one of the readers screaming about pricing, although when our budget was tighter I might have decided based on price. But now, the biggest price to me is the time spent reading a book. And that price is going to get scarcer and scarcer as the diversions clamoring for a consumer's attention increase.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Thu January 6th, 2011, 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Thu January 6th, 2011, 2:34 am

Wow. Great thread. I am one of the people who complain about ebook prices, even though I don't have the kindle. I'll be honest I never thought about the things that cw gortner brought up. It never entered my mind. But I'm glad he did bring them up. These are important points to argue.

I don't think that ebooks should be 2 bucks, but I do think they should be a tad cheaper than 19.99 like Ken's book. That just seems crazy to me. Way overpriced.

I'd be fine with paying $10.00.

Authors, do you think this is an acceptable price?
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Susan
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Post by Susan » Thu January 6th, 2011, 3:01 am

[quote=""Divia""]I don't think that ebooks should be 2 bucks, but I do think they should be a tad cheaper than 19.99 like Ken's book. That just seems crazy to me. Way overpriced.

I'd be fine with paying $10.00.[/quote]

From my experience the price of Follet's book is an exception to what I've seen and I won't buy it at that price. Most Kindle books are $9.99 and I don't mind paying that at all. The most I've paid for a Kindle book was $13.99 (for Queen Hereafter) and the least I've paid is $1.70 (for Great Maria). I have to agree with MLE about the ease of reading and I certainly agree with CW's points about the needing to compensate all the people involved with the writing and publishing of a book, whether it's an e-book or a book published in the traditional way.
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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Thu January 6th, 2011, 3:24 am

But now, the biggest price to me is the time spent reading a book.
This is the really crucial point, I think. I went to a lecture last night on self-publishing given by someone who believes it is the future of the industry. She was talking about the exponential growth in the number of books that have been self-published vs. the number of books published by the "big 6" as though it was a signal to authors that self-publishing is really the way to go. But there is no screening for quality when a novel is self-published! From the reader's perspective, that means having to wade through a swamp of really, really bad books (the more exponential the growth in the numbers of books self-published, the bigger and suckier the swamp) before you can manage to find the relatively few gems that are really good. The books published by the "big 6" vary in quality, but readers are at least assured of a certain basic level of readability and literary value.

There are people out there who think artists, writers, musicians and alternative health practitioners should all work for free, because the work they do feeds the soul, and the feeding of souls should be available free for everyone. Until the day when artists, writers, musicians and alternative health practitioners are provided rent-free living spaces and waved through the grocery store check-out counters without being asked to pay for their food, this is going to be rather impractical.
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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Thu January 6th, 2011, 4:21 am

Ditto on the "great thread" comment. C.W. put it all out there and that's what the public needs to know. Everyone I talk to seems completely ignorant of the time and effort involved in writing a great novel or the numerous people who make the manuscript into a book (e or paper). Most just say "I'm only getting a download--there's no real book. What am I paying for?" Arrrrgh! It is so frustrating and I'm not even published yet! I think all the big namers should get together and demand a certain price. Create your own union. Have a website for it and market it. Let the people know why. And mention what Margaret just said concerning rent and groceries! Okay, I have to go calm down. All I can say is that I hope Sarah Woodbury and MLE and you other positive thinkers are correct. Perhaps everyone will buy more and therefore the authors will still be able to survive. One can only hope because I hate TV.

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Post by annis » Thu January 6th, 2011, 4:32 am

This is an interesting one for us in New Zealand, because local branches of international publishing companies do a lot to promote and prop up our relatively small literary scene - and let's face it, very few NZ authors are going to make it on a large international scale. E-books are inevitably going to take over more and more of the book sales market. This also means that national branches of international publishers will just as inevitably soon become redundant. Where that will leave NZ authors remains to be seen.

I was checking out Bernard Cornwell's website today and see one of his fans quizzing him about the "inflated" price of his books in digital format. The Q & A may be of interest to writers on this forum, so here they are:

Q: Hello Mr Cornwell, I am a huge fan of your work, if fact just lately I have become an addict, having just got a Kindle I find it so easy just to pick up a book and read at any time, having finished all of the Sharpe series in 4months (I have turned the television on only for the news and question time....), I have now read the first two books in the Alfred series, the first was a paperback bought for me(£4.50) and the second Pale Horseman a kindle edition (£4.49) I now come to buy the third book in kindle format I notice the price is more than the paperback(Paper£4.44,Kindle£4.49), whilst I value the story at more than this price and will buy it anyway, I am interested in your opinion(from the other side of the debate - Writer instead of reader) of the merits of pricing the paperback lower than the electronic version, I know sending electronic mail around the world has its own carbon footprint and costs but I cant believe these are greater than the cost of printing, packaging, delivering and all of the unseen costs to the planet of the paper version, as well as this when I buy an electronic book I cannot then sell it or pass it on to anyone outside my immediate family thereby reducing its perceived value in my opinion, this to me will discourage people from buying electronic versions, some people will always prefer paper but I think e-books are the way and to have access to such a library from anywhere in the world can only encourage more readers which is in all our interests I believe. Sorry to bother you with this, dont let it stop you writing or researching. Best wishes for the year ahead etc

A: I really know nothing about the way e-books are priced, or why they're priced the way they are, and I guess that's a question which should be asked of the publisher (with the help of a sharp pointed object). But I am interested in what you say about the impossibility (or at least difficulty) of passing on an e-book to friends or relatives. If e-books were easily transferable then I would be out of business inside six months! That's what happened to the music business (when did you last see a music store?). I'm beginning to think you're right and that e-books are the future (I like the Ipad, but that's just me, and I know its battery runs out much faster than the Kindle, which my wife prefers), but if you allow easy file-sharing then how does a writer earn a living?
Last edited by annis on Thu January 6th, 2011, 5:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu January 6th, 2011, 4:47 am

Actually, Alisha, I don't think that the best will happen. That's the way the world OUGHT to work, but it isn't the way it does work. (edited to say, not the best for the writers. The readers will have ever-wider options, and once they figure out a system to fish through the sea of mostly-awful they will have more excellent options than they can handle, and likely cheaper, too.)

What I have seen in other industries-- artistic ones like writing and painting and music and films, and more mundane industries also-- is that when there are enough people who are willing to produce a commodity for the sheer pleasure of doing so, then it becomes impossible to make money at it except for a very elite few.

And how do those few get to the place where they can make money producing a superior quality of a too-plentiful product? They start out by paying for the privilege. Which is what self-publishing is -- producers paying for the privilege of putting their work out there in the hopes that someone will reimburse them the effort and expense. Mostly the effort of writing and editing, and the expense of whatever they do in terms of time and advertising to attract attention to their product. A lot of blood, sweat and tears for very little reward--but people will continue to do it, because self-expression is its own reward.

What the self-publishers don't realize is that, in terms of getting an audience, at least until the current system re-sets (in whatever future mode it will become, which I can't predict any more than the next writer), it is actually LESS work to climb the publishing ladder than to go out and market on your own. The thing won't fly as a self-published work unless its good enough for readers to recommend to their friends, and if it is, and a writer has the persistence required to market it themselves, they would very likely crack the big six in time as well.

What the publishers offer right now is curation--sorting out the money-makers from the money-losers. The consumer knows that something published by a commercial publisher involved the input of money and resources from people other than the writer and his/her relatives and friends. That's not a guarantee of quality, but it does increase the odds.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Thu January 6th, 2011, 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Margaret
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Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Post by Margaret » Thu January 6th, 2011, 6:17 am

I think MLE's post is exactly right, and very succinctly put - with one exception, which is that I don't think the current trend toward lower pricing is necessarily best for readers either, if the prices get so low that writers capable of writing really well have to resort to slap-dash hack-work to keep their heads above water. Yes, writers do work for the love of the craft, but they need to feed themselves while doing it, and the best writers are not necessarily independently wealthy. We're clearly not at that point yet, because I've read some really, really good books over the last few months. But I've also read a lot of books that I would have enjoyed 100% more with 20% more editing. If consumers demand that book prices be slashed to the bone, there are going to be a lot more books published that don't get the editing that would make them truly exciting to read.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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