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Shouldn't digital be cheaper than paper

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Showing 1-25 of 50 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 26, 2012 6:01:42 AM PDT
Why are Kindle books the same price as paper copies?

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:15:50 AM PDT
Jazzy_Jeff says:
It is the same story. Why should it be less?

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:23:02 AM PDT
Probably because the content is the same for a digital book as it is for a DTB and the author wants to be paid regardless which format you choose. JMO

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:27:48 AM PDT
K. Rowley says:
"Shouldn't digital be cheaper than paper" + "Why are Kindle books the same price as paper copies?"

Digital will never be cheaper than paper.. Given that you first have to buy an expensive gizmo just to access a digital file...

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:30:26 AM PDT
Apparently, or so I'm told, for a mass produced paperback, the materials cost is about 20cents. The rest goes to pay for the publishing & retailing infrastructure which is the same for a mainstream publisher regardless of format.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:31:46 AM PDT
Because you pay more for convenience.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 12:52:47 PM PDT
Perry says:
Amazon stopped discounting mass market paperbacks so that the paperback price will now be the same as the Kindle version which is price fixed by the publisher at the paperback MSRP. Previously, the paperback would be around $2 to $3 cheaper than the Kindle version which would hurt Amazon's more profitable Kindle ebook sales.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 1:11:02 PM PDT
M. Kean says:
I don't believe the 20 cents quote. Even so, you still have to ship everything, get it in actual store space, have surplus copies that never sell. There are tons of jobs you don't have to support if you bypass the physical book route. One person could sell as many ebooks as it takes dozens (i'm just stabbing at a number of people, who knows what it really is) if they wrote, edited, formatted and did everything themselves, which many indie authors do. Then they wouldn't have to pay part of the profit to all the publishers, printing, distribution, store; the list goes on and on.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 1:34:36 PM PDT
Dittie says:
Do you mean are printed books priced too low? Yes. Yes, I do and I do think Amazon in particular should stop putting remainders on sale just so you'll be happy when you compare.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 1:39:08 PM PDT
quilt lover says:
They aren't always the same. Sometimes they are more. Sometimes they are less.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 2:57:50 PM PDT
Denis Powell says:
M Kean, I can't speak for costs in the US, but I can assure you that in the UK a typical Mass Market Paperback costs less than 75cents to print and distribute because of economies of scale and because retailers are buying in bulk, and up front in most cases. The publisher has been paid and doesn't really care what happens to the paper books afterwards. With eBooks he only gets paid as they're sold to the end user, you and me. Go into any store and offer to buy 1,000 units and you'll amost certainly get a discounted price. Buy one unit and you won't.

Let's say a publisher sells Amazon 1,000 copies of a particular book. That's 1,000 copies sold and paid for. If the same book is offered to Amazon as an eBook it may not sell 1,000 copies in total. The author may have invested a year or more of their life in writing, several editors and proof readers may have worked on it, office staff, taxes and utilities have been paid throughout and the Publisher wants a return from all sales so distributes those returns amongst all versions. The 1,000 paperbacks may have cost him $750 to print and distribute but the ebook will also have needed extra formatting and preparation costs prior to release, and the file needs to be active for sales purposes whereas the paper book file doesn't (remember that a number of publishers sell ebooks direct to readers).

The above is a simplified version of the actual situation but I've tried to illustrate how the difference in "costs" for paper and e versions may not be as big as some people think. Of course, cost is only the bottom line in deciding on a price. Profit needs to be made and that's true no matter which format the book is in and publishers will charge whatever they think the market will pay. At the moment I suspect, with increasing sales, they think they've got it right. Publishers know that many people are willing to pay a premium price for a Hardback in order to be amongst the first to read it. They know the same will be true of the ebook if it's released at the same time. Think of the lines there were at bookstores when the Harry Potter hardback books were released. Some people stood outside stores for many hours before they opened in order to the first in through the door. Now we wait at home for a wireless delivery.

I'm sure we're going to see more authors self publish, but I'm afraid some of them are very poor at editing, proof reading and formatting so if they're going to match the quality of the best traditionally published books they're going to have to invest some money in editing at the very least, and that's certainly expensive.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 3:08:07 PM PDT
Jazzy_Jeff says:
Just as you said. Surplus copies that never sell. They have to make up the money somewhere.
Just because someone has a good story does not mean they would make good editors.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 3:10:12 PM PDT
Cassie Anne says:
I buy books for the story - not for the paper and ink. If I don't think the story is worth the selling price, I don't buy it. Plus, I greatly value the convenience of being able to buy a book at 2 am from the comfort of my own bed. My husband thinks it's beyond wonderful that he doesn't have to hear me rummaging through the book cases and 2 am anymore.

YMMV, of course. Buy the books you like in the format that meets your needs/wants/priorities.

Posted on May 26, 2012 3:16:32 PM PDT
CBRetriever says:
mine thinks it's wonderful that he doesn't have to haul the ones I don't want any more, or pack them when we move

we had to clear 20 years worth of stuff out of our house in 2 months and the books were the hardest:

300+ cookbooks which I kept most of
a wall's worth of art, geology, poetry and chess books - he kept about 1/4 of them
three wall's worth of scifi, fantasy and fiction - I got rid of 3/4 of them and will get rid of more when i return to the US

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 5:04:13 PM PDT
I'm afraid your view of how books are printed and sold is rather simplistic.

First: The publisher prints a certain number of books of a single title all at once. The number of books printed at one time is based on the publisher's best guess at how many will be sold. If the guess is too high, the extra books are expensive waste paper.

Second: In the US, unsold books are taxed based on their cover price - not on the price the publisher is actually likely to get for them. That is why unsold hardbacks get "remaindered" or disposed of rather than being held in stock until they can be sold.

Third: Most books are still sold in Brick and Mortar stores. Those bookstores take the books on consignment. If they don't sell, they are returned to the publisher for a refund. I'm not sure if it's true of hardbacks, but only the front cover of paperbacks are returned while the bookstore is supposed to destroy the rest of the book. That is the source of the notice about buying books without covers that you occasionally see.

Fourth: Taken individually, publishers loose money on most titles. The pricing of e-books, like the pricing of paper books, is based on making a profit on the total of all books the publisher sells rather than on that particular title.

I think the price of e-books will drop as the public shifts to that as the dominant form in which they are sold. In the mean time, they are being priced to protect the investment the big publishers have in the physical facilities to produce paper books. That is the main reason that e-books from independent publishers are cheaper than those from the major publishers - essentially all of whom are not primarily publishers, but are the publishing wings of media conglomerates.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 5:41:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 26, 2012 5:42:24 PM PDT
Perry says:
Folina Dubernol says: "Because you pay more for convenience."

I'm always surprised that people believe this. The fact is that the only reason that Kindle prices are as high as (or higher than) paper versions is the agency agreement between Apple and the top 6 publishers, from which the Justice Department has recently filed a lawsuit. 3 of the publishers have already agreed to settle, agreeing to eliminate the price fix agreement with Apple. When the settlement is finalized in the next few weeks, Amazon will begin to discount again and balance will be restored between paper and digital.

The ebook price increases have nothing to due with supply and demand, or "convenience", just good old fashion collusion and price fixing. The 10 or so agency backers here will downvote every post about the higher fixed agency prices, but the truth is the truth.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:09:11 PM PDT
flipoid says:
Perry, I know this will not make it through your purposefully dense skull, but there were plenty of books that were over $9.99 well before the Agency Agreement went into effect.

Do you work for Amazon? If not, then how do you *know* that "When the settlement is finalized in the next few weeks, Amazon will begin to discount again and balance will be restored between paper and digital." That is just your OPINION of what may happen when the settlement is finalized, whenever it's finalized.

I am just so *tired* of people trying to put their *opinions* across as FACTS in forum posts.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:19:30 PM PDT
Perry says:
Why do you keep saying this is just my opinion? Here is what Amazon said again...

"This is a big win for Kindle owners, and we look forward to being allowed to lower prices on more Kindle books." -Amazon's statement on Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins' settlement with the Department of Justice

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:19:57 PM PDT
Flipoid, the ignore button is your friend. ;o)

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:23:05 PM PDT
flipoid says:
Yes, Amazon *will be allowed to* lower prices. No one but Amazon knows if it will discount e-books or how much it will discount them. Saying at this point that the company *will* do it is still only your opinion, not fact. Also, saying that the "balance will be restored" between paper and digital is strictly your opinion, not fact.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:23:35 PM PDT
flipoid says:
Oh, I know, Emerald Coast. (-:

Posted on May 26, 2012 6:26:45 PM PDT
Perry says:
I just don't understand the hostility. The settlement will mean lower prices. This is a good thing for us Kindle readers. Why deny this reality?

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:29:03 PM PDT
Cassie Anne says:
The settlement *may* mean lower prices, Perry. No one, not even Amazon, knows if prices will be lower yet. We'll see in a few weeks, I hope.

Posted on May 26, 2012 6:29:51 PM PDT

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:31:06 PM PDT
Perry says:
I guess I'm a glass half full kind of guy, but I don't see much of chance of higher prices after the settlement is finalized. But as you say, we will soon find out.
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Discussion in:  Kindle forum
Participants:  26
Total posts:  50
Initial post:  May 26, 2012
Latest post:  May 27, 2012

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