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Customer Discussions > Kindle Book forum

Why are Kindle books more expensive than paper back?

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Showing 1-25 of 421 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 26, 2012 11:37:18 AM PST
D. Ganz says:
I just don't understand this.
Sometimes they're more expensive by a few cents, sometimes by a few dollars.
And why should I continue to buy Kindle books or even upgrade to a new Kindle if I'll save money by buying a real, physical book?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 11:52:17 AM PST
King Al says:
Most of the time, these are books published by one of the Agency Model publishers (the book description says "Price set by publisher.") Since the publisher is setting the price, Amazon CANNOT discount them, but Amazon does discount paper books.

Many people (including me) think than an ebook is worth MORE than a paper book.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 12:12:27 PM PST
Sometimes they are the same but some are cheaper by a few cents, and sometimes cheaper by a few dollars (sometimes by a lot of dollars). This is very book dependent and it is a rather specious argument to write as though only the more expensive examples exist.

As for not buying a physical book, there are many reasons. The book remains 'real'--as in a collections of words that you do not own, you merely own the media via which you receive the words--whether via a piece of paper or a collection of electrons.

Sometimes the physical version is desirable...I prefer that for obvious things such as photography books, but also cookbooks, crochet/knitting books, gardening books and textbooks given my propensity for flipping pages and browsing in a non-linear fashion. Or, because it just looks better.

Of course the advantages to the electronic media abound--while living overseas in tiny houses I have not had to house hundreds of new books and I have access to hundreds more of my older volumes that I did not have to drag around the world. I am happy that should an untoward event occur (like a fire in the storage company building that houses my paper books, or a natural disaster where I am living--both are risks and have occurred in the past) I will not lose my books. I can share a book simultaneously with my family members if I so desire (or lend later via a spare e-reader or the lending program). I am not requiring the shipment of many things overseas when I shop Kindle. I can carry as many books with me as I choose when traveling. I can read on top of the highest mountain in Bavaria, on the Great Wall of China or on the Rock of Gibraltar with ease. I can download a book in Benin, Madrid or while sitting in an airport in Dallas.

I can buy a book on my 'wishlist' for $1.99 when I catch it on sale (The Handmaiden's Tale). I have so many reduced price and freebies/near freebies (Dracula, The Wizard of Oz etc) that I can feel fine when I do drop a full price on a latest bestseller using agency pricing with my discretionary income.

In other words, I have plenty of good reasons to 'go-Kindle'. Even books I buy elsewhere and add to the Kindle work fine, though with the cool send-to-Kindle feature I tend to do that so everything remains backed up in my Amazon account.

If these are not sufficient reasons for you, well you have choices. Many people do prefer the paper feel or find they can get better deals at used book stores. Some are quite happy with the selection at the library. If you prefer the paper books get them, but I find price to rarely be a determining factor. These are luxury items after all, so make your choices.

I will continue to enjoy using the Kindle for my fiction reading, and will enjoy not housing/not buying shelves for thousands of books.

It's not all about the lowest cost or the lowest bidder. It's about what fits my life better. I also buy expensive running shoes rather than the cheapest feet thank me. Same idea. I buy the best value which is not synonymous with the lowest price.


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 12:18:07 PM PST
Dog Lover says:
Example please?

It is VERY seldom the case for .com customers but regional differences can affect prices for (store).com customers. I see your profile says you are in MA so I'd like to see an example.

As always, the choice to buy any version of a book is strictly that of the purchaser. If price is an issue, buy the DTB. The "why" of any pricing of eBooks is really irrelevant - see the gazillion threads on the Kindle forum where this has been discussed to absolute death.


Posted on Dec 26, 2012 12:18:17 PM PST
D. Ganz says:
I do prefer Kindle books, and I did not mean to imply that all of them are more expensive than paperback - just the ones I want to buy, it seems.

But to charge more for a "collection of ions" than a book made of paper and ink makes no sense - it's indefensible and it is highway robbery.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 12:21:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 12:23:25 PM PST
Dog Lover says:
<it's indefensible and it is highway robbery. >

Oh please. Robbery gives no choice to those from whom something is taken. eBook purchasers ALWAYS have a choice.

"Indefensible" implies that an infraction has occurred. There is no law that requires an eBook price meet your expectations.

Don't like the price? Don't buy the item. Flagrant hyperbole doesn't serve a purpose in any of these discussions.


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 12:34:27 PM PST
I don't have a link handy but IIRC the cost of the paper and ink on the average hardback is on the order of a dollar or two. The rest is for the author/publisher and other non-reducible costs. Also, though the electrons are free, the server space and the customer support are not. There are also costs for formatting and whatnot though I suspect those are not costly when taken in the context of the typical bestseller. There are also transportation costs for the physical ones, but again, these do not (supposedly) add a great deal.

Don't forget, part of what you are paying for is to avoid the 'paperback windowing effect'. Paperbacks cost less, hardbacks more...if you want immediate gratification (like I do) then I pay more for that bennie.

Again, it boils down to luxury item pricing. There is no obligation on the part of the publisher to make the prices less than what the market will bear. It does SEEM as though the price would be less. And I, personally, do choose less pricey titles when otherwise deciding. I like to go to Baen--I paid $6 for a brand new title (Captain Vorpatril) while the paper version lists for $26. Amazon knocks that down to $15.54. The paperback is listed for release in September 2013 at $10.20 (which astonishes me--last time I bought a paperback it was 7.99--I guess oil and paper prices are up...).

What does astonish me in this example is that there is a Kindle version listed. I bought my Baen copy the day it was published for the aforementioned $6. I even see the price is now $9.99 on the Baen site which makes me say hmmm. I am guessing there was some deal to finally bring Baen to Amazon...and the pricing is now more exalted. I suspect $6 is a reasonable base price for a bestselling author's work...and it will be my set point for deciding how much of a luxury premium I am willing to place on an item.

So there you go. I would 'guess' that $6 was a profitable pricing point for everyone...and one has to decide if the higher price is worth it as a luxury, vs. the other options available of course. The indie books are less but they are not supporting a publisher (or an editor in many cases....).

I have to say this made me re-examine the pricing of my 'gold standard' Baen and it was illuminating. I still prefer electrons to dead trees due to my previous comments, but I do have a bit of a hmmm going on. Very Interesting.


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 12:38:03 PM PST
Then stick to paper books and you won't be robbed.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 1:47:28 PM PST
King Al says:
It's NOT robbery. By definition, a sale of an ebook is only made if the purchaser agrees to pay the price that the seller is asking.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 1:56:50 PM PST
D. Ganz says:
Sorry for the hyperbole, how about if I change "indefensible" to "unreasonable" and "highway robbery" to "unfair"?
There's no question that the production and delivery costs of ebooks is less than that of printed books.
So why then should ebooks be priced higher than paperbacks and even hardcover in some cases.

As for a specific example, I've run across this many times, but the most recent one that lead me to ask this question was Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" The Road
$11.99 Kindle edition, $10.20 paperback.

And yes, it does say "Price was set by publisher".
I'm not blaming Amazon, and I'm not about to give up my Kindle.
I just don't understand why a cheaper to produce and deliver version of something should cost more, and it doesn't seem fair.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 2:02:40 PM PST
An ebook might cost less than a dtb to produce, but unlike a dtb, a sold ebook incurs a perpetual and recurring cost to the merchant to maintain its e- library, data center, customer account management, customer support, electricity, physical plant, taxes and utilities, etc. Once a dtb is sold, there is never again a cost to the merchant.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 2:03:31 PM PST
King Al says:
It is perfectly fair -- people are willing to pay. If people stop buying it at the current price, then the price will come down.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 2:17:32 PM PST
alice fox says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 2:21:06 PM PST
I don't know who told you that life would be fair, but they were liars.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 2:25:05 PM PST
D. Ganz says:
"Flagrant hyperbole doesn't serve a purpose in any of these discussions."

And pedantry does?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 2:58:10 PM PST
Dog Lover says:
Nope - sorry.

In the free market, the only thing that matters is if the consumer will pay the price - what the market will bear.

There is no "fair/unfair" or "reasonable/unreasonable" factor involved.

To further make my point (i.e., the choice to pay the price belongs to the consumer) I won't buy eBooks for more than $5.00. It is my choice.


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 3:00:51 PM PST
Dog Lover says:
Nope and as soon as I detect pedantry, I will remark upon it.

Perhaps you are confusing effective language with an undue display of learning. If so, with my feeble postings prompting that remark, your view of "undue" is a sad thing.


Posted on Dec 26, 2012 3:18:21 PM PST
Prin says:
If you want the book badly enough you will pay the price, whatever that price may be. If you aren't to the point of "I've got to have this book or I will die", then you can pass it up. Life is made up of choices, you determine what you will and what you will not pay. I personally am very happy with the prices at Amazon. There are so many free books that I have downloaded that when I see one that I really want the price doesn't seem that important.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 3:46:54 PM PST
"There's no question that the production and delivery costs of ebooks is less than that of printed books."

Not necessarily. Paper and ink and postage are replaced by disk storage, computer programming/maintenance/operations, high speed lines for downloaded, etc. Those things are not cheap.

In the book you mentioned, the List Price for both the paperback and the Kindle edition is $15. That's the price the publisher suggests it should be sold for. Amazon discounts the paperback version to $10.20. Random House, who is the seller of the Kindle edition, discounts the price to $11.99.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 4:39:22 PM PST
D. Ganz, you could change, "I don't understand this," to "I'm slow and don't know how to use search." The topic has been dealt with at least hundreds of times and thousands of posts.

But, not a problem. Sell your Kindle and go back to buying paper books.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 5:48:42 PM PST
seedlady says:
does anyone else wonder if people go into starbucks and complain that folgers costs less?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 5:59:30 PM PST
D. Ganz says:
You think eBooks are Starbucks and print books are folgers???

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 6:07:06 PM PST
I think seedlady was making a very pithy comment about utility, price value relationships and consumer preferences.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 10:03:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 11:09:08 PM PST
However unfair you think it is for some Kindle books to cost more than paperbacks, the fact remains that you do have choices.

1. Grit your teeth because it's more expensive and buy the Kindle book.

2. Grit your teeth because it's not the Kindle book and buy the paperback.

3. Put the Kindle book you want on a price watch list and wait for the price to come down.

4. Choose a different book.

5. Do not purchase the Kindle book as a way to let the publisher know you are not happy with the price. Write to publisher to express your dissatisfaction.

6. Remember that there are some things about which you can do little and be happy that there are many things about which you can do much.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 8:55:58 AM PST
Perry says:
I find it amusing that you and others are trying to create a perception that the storage costs for an ebook is anywhere near the cost of paper publishing. If we agree that a paperback costs $1 each, to store a 1MB file (ebook) on a secure server costs roughly 0.2 cents per year (using as an example, I'm sure Amazon costs are much lower). This one ebook can be sold 1000s or millions of times at this fraction of a penny, 10 cents for 50 years of storage assuming costs stay they same (they won't, they will go down by an order of magnitude).
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
Participants:  55
Total posts:  421
Initial post:  Dec 26, 2012
Latest post:  May 27, 2016

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