Monday, July 25, 2011

The Cost of E-books

I got in a slightly heated debate online about the rising cost of e-books.  Actually it was a one sided debate and I gave a different perspective and was shot down immediately.  Well rather than fighting a one againest twenty battle I thought what better place to vent than on my blog.
You know cause no one really talks back to me on here.
So the question: Do I find the cost of e-books to be high? 
The answer, my answer, is not simple. 
On the surface all is find and dandy on planet Kindle.  I have the opportunity to download a lot of free books, some good, some not so good.  I have read many books ranging in price from $.99 to $4.00.  Again some good, some not so good. 
Most of the books that I have purchased under the $4 mark are also "lendable."  This means I can pass on this book to a fellow Kindle reader to read.  After you lend that book to someone you can no longer lend it to anybody.  So if you lend that book to Sally, Timmy is going to have to get his own copy.
Now this is all good.  An author will get their fair shake at making money off a format that should be considerably cheaper than the paper format. 
All is right with the world, right? 
I mean the reader is happy because they get a low cost book that they can pass on at least once.  The publisher is happy because they can make money with little overhead.
So what is wrong in the world of e-book?
Okay didn't I make it look all sunshine and roses a minute ago?
Well I can't help but to see a growing trend, the rising cost of e-books.
The new Sookie Stackhouse book came out early summer and there was some rumbling about the cost of the e-book.  Was it cheaper than the paper copy?  Yes, but not by much. The cost of the e-book and the hardcover had only a few dollars difference .
The cost of the hard cover of the new Sookie book is $16.21 on Amazon.
The Kindle version is $14.99.
Less than a $2 difference.
When it came time to purchase the book I bought the hardcover, at Target which was approximately $15.  The deciding factor was the fact that the Kindle version of the book was not lendable, and a friend and I both love the series and share the cost.
Now I know if an author were to read this we would condone the practice of sharing copies.  I get it, I do.  BUT lending copies introduces people to an author's body of work.  I started friends on books and they in turn either bought their own copy, or continued the series on their own dime. 
 In the end though, the cost to produce an e-book is significantly lower than the cost to produce a hard cover and paperback.  The practice of sharing copies is greatly reduced with e-book formats as well, giving book publishing companies a chance to make larger profits.

In this one-sided "your argument sucks" debate  was the argument of "if you can't afford it don't buy it." fair enough.   Her argument being that if she wanted gold earrings and could only afford to buy the silver earrings she won't demand that they sell her the gold one.
This comparison makes no sense on so many different levels but brings up the subject of books and a free market.
In my town, on our Main Street, in a five mile radius we have three jewelry stores.  In my town we have zero books stores.
In a fifteen mile radius from my house there are countless jewelry stores.  In a fifteen mile radius from my house there are two books store.  Okay, nope scratch that, one bookstore.  So long Borders.
It really is not looking good for the brick and mortar book stores.  They are a dying breed.  Even mom and pop book stores are struggling.   Online is taking over, and as consumers we should be concerned.
Competition keeps prices down.  If you don't like the price of the gold earrings at one jewelry store your options to find a better price is greater.  Jewelry you can actually barter to get a better price.  There is a market that helps consumers with the true value on gold and silver.
  The pool of places to buy books is getting smaller and smaller.  There really is no competition to keep book cost low.  Of course if this trend continues I am afraid that books and ebooks especially will go up even more for consumers.
Comparing gold and books is like well comparing...well no it isn't even comparable.

I will continue to monitor this trend.  I have a feeling this is not the end of this debate.

What is your take?


  1. Very interesting article! I noticed as well the rising of e-books prices. I usually buy my e-books from an online store called all you can books and even there the cost differences were obvious. I looked as well on other websites and I was astonished to see that this is some kind of trend. Hope e-books will not get to expensive.

  2. I agree that the publishers would be smart to not raise the price of ebooks too much. As you say, the price of producing e-books is so much smaller than print ones--that should be reflected in the retail price.

    That said, I hate e-books. I much prefer paper ones. I'm old fashioned that way and I hope, hope, hope they never go out of style. And I rarely buy a book, but use my library constantly. I know that's not so great for authors and publishing companies, but I just can't afford paying for the number of books I read!


Thanks for your comments- they are like pennies from heaven.


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