eBooks – The Rant

I have not hidden my love for my Kindle. I love having my virtual library with me in a single device – the Kindle itself or even on my iPhone. I love getting that instant gratification of downloading something while laying in bed. I love not having to find room on the eight million book shelves in the house for the new books. I love scrolling through my list of books to decide which one I want to read – not having to look through all of the book shelves in the house (and in our house that is a lot).

What I’m not liking so much? The price increase they are threatening on the ebooks on Amazon. For bestsellers, that could mean an electronic copy of the book could sell for $13-15.

If I could actually share these books of mine, I may not have as much heart burn over this price increase. But, I can’t help but feel this is pure profit on part of the book sellers. Think about all of the middlemen eliminated from the process – middle men that should drive DOWN the price not keep it the same. There is no paper. No distribution costs. No printing costs for the books and the glossy dust covers. eBooks should be streamlining their process and making it cheaper given those costs you are eliminating.

At Barnes and Nobles today, I can buy a best seller in hard cover for $15. There is NO way they can tell me it costs the same for the eBook. Yet, they sell the eBook for $14. WTF??

Look, I worked in manufacturing. I know how “operating costs” need to be recouped in the price. I also know how “engineer” costs need to get recouped in the pricing. While this doesn’t translate 100% to the literary world, i know they have Operating Costs – marketing,
distribution, book production, materials. I also know they have overhead costs for each book project or “engineering costs” – cost of editors,
rewrites, literary agents, etc. I get that. But, are they really saying it costs $1 to produce a real book versus and electronic copy?? So, it
only costs them $1 for paper, printing and distribution? Excuse me for being a cynic for a second, but no fucking way.

I know how technology works. I know that Amazon and Apple have it nailed. They have the technology infrastructure to distribute electronic media regardless of the type – book, music or video. It is a pretty awesome piece of technology. They have made it easy. I know Apple for podcasters is pretty damn self explanatory in terms of adding new ones. Hell, it’s really a set-it-up-once and you’re-done model. I read recently how they are extending it to independent musicians as well. Amazon has tools to let authors self-publish electronic books and stories. The fact these tools exist like they do tells me the technology is solid. It’s not like the price needs to stay the same because Amazon and Apple are needing a giant cut to fix things. I bet they have both paid for their investment a long time ago.

So I’m back to asking “what am I paying for with an electronic book that I’m not with a regular book?” Is the difference in cost a convenience fee?

Any ideas? I doubt the authors are getting a larger cut.

What am I missing?

I do know I am seriously looking at how I buy books in the future.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Dana says:

    My library is offering both books on tape (MP3/MP4 player) and ebooks for download. You might want to check your library.

  2. This is the disappointing thing with the electronic books. I thought they would be way cheaper than paper books, but they are not.

    I will have to check out the Library thing.

  3. 13messages says:

    I’m with you. Looks like solely profit margin love to me.

  4. Greg says:

    I completely agree with you! One of the reasons I bought the Kindle was the 9.99 price point for electronic books.

    I enjoy using the Kindle very much and will continue to do so, but I feel like they just did the bait and switch on me.

  5. I heard an amusing story on NPR where one publishing expert explained that we shouldn’t expect e-books to be lower priced because regardless of medium the publishing houses still have to support their brick and mortar infrastructure. Idiot.

    I’m not a big ebook fan. I like that I can read my books while eating, or in the John, or on the beach and not worry about fucking up some nice piece of electronics. That being said, I accept they are the future.

    I suspect that if you had the right marketing connections and stable of authors there’s a business opportunity in bypassing the traditional publishing model.

  6. bought my Kindle the day Oprah featured it on her program and offered a $50. discount. I thought it such a good deal I bought one for my wife. Like you, we both think they are great. While the beginning price of e-books (9.99) was a factor it was not the only factor. Ease of purchase and not requiring storage space were others. We have down sized to a much smaller home for retirement. Additionally, we spend a lot of time on our boat and being able to download a book from the Gulf of Mexico is a great plus.

    I have noticed “bracket creep” on the price of books. I just purchased the “Quants” for 9.99 but “Inside the Black Box” a similar subject is 29.67. I’m not sure where the other 20 dollars goes.

    On the other hand, older books are much cheaper. I have purchased some fiction classics that I missed along the way for as little as $2.00. My hope is that competition and more people purchasing e-books will bring prices to a reasonable level.

  7. Hubman says:

    I think it’s simple supply and demand- as long as people keep buying books at whatever price Amazon sets, there is no incentive for them to lower prices.

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