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Why are kindle editions more expensive than paperback


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Initial post: Nov 4, 2010 6:00:04 AM PDT
I am seeing that the kindle editions tend to be more expensive than the physical book.

This doesn't make any sense.... because there is no physical material or shipping costs with kindle book.

Then why should the kindle edition be more expensive?

Posted on Nov 4, 2010 7:19:27 AM PDT
You can blame the "Agency"model that publishers have forced on Amazon. Publishers, afraid that ebook prices will rapidly decrease and erode their print-book sales as well, the largest book publishers now require Kindle prices set by themselves, making Amazon a mere agent. THen they want to set prices higher than mass paperback.

Publishers like Flying Pen Press believe this is foolish. I believe that, as you say, there is no printing or shipping, and the savings should be passed on to the readers. And if Amazon thinks an ebook should go on sale, well, I trust Amazon to know their customers' needs best; Amazon excels at marketing, if nothing else.

Amazon is paying great royalties--70%--on Kindle editions sold without the agency model between $2.99 and $9.99. We try to price our Kindle books less than $5, but we can't pass up the 70% royalties, so we did raise prices on Kindle books that we were selling for 99 cents.

If you want to see our Kindle books, simply search "Flying Pen Press" in the search bar.

--David A. Rozansky
Publisher, Flying Pen Press

Posted on Nov 4, 2010 10:23:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2010 9:12:41 PM PDT
J. L. Fisker says:
I tend to see the opposite, so the answer is that it depends.

Most of the cost of the books is not in the paper or the shipping or the author royalty for that matter, but in the distribution chain (middlemen) and the editing (publisher).

I think what frequently happens is that the publisher sets a list price after which distributors quickly try to slash prices to make sales go their way. Amazon apparently has web crawlers working to make sure that amazon offers the lowest price.

Since there are more competition on paper versions (especially popular mass market paperbacks) than on kindle or even electronic versions, the conclusion follows naturally from competitive pressures.

Posted on Nov 4, 2010 4:16:42 PM PDT
Peridot says:
I haven't found this to be the case.

When the e-book is expensive it's because the publishers haven't come to a special agreement with Amazon to sell it for a reduced price. IMO there should be a reduction because e-books don't require handling, storage or shipping but everyone (including authors) don't agree, so I shop carefully and read some books from the library in paper and physical form. It works for me.

Posted on Nov 4, 2010 5:40:42 PM PDT
M. Alexander says:
David has it right. The major New York publishing houses along with Gemstar managed to destroy the whole idea of open platform e books, and at the same time put as many obstacles in the way as possible so that files could not be shared, passed around or otherwise be treated like people have always treated books.
Their paranoia has managed to hold e books out of the market place for a solid ten years since they bought out the Rocket and basically buried it.

Back then there were a slew of small publishing firms and hundreds of really promising new authors that were all forced out of business by those people.

Too bad really. Its a great technology, and when it was open source, it also allowed teachers to upgrade text books on the fly, which cut thousands of dollars off college costs as well as having a projected major part to play in protecting the backs of younger students who were developing long term problems from the weight of the books they had to carry.

Now its just another way to read. A good thing, but not the great thing it was, thanks to the publishing houses.

Posted on Nov 4, 2010 5:49:02 PM PDT
Peridot says:
Once again fear prevents progress. My son's in college and has the technical Kindle. So far none of his textbooks have been available in Kindle form.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 4:32:11 AM PDT
anonymous says:
Ramona, that's because students would just copy them from each other and not pay, like they do with mp3s. Why wouldn't they if they are so free in sharing music and movies? Granted, textbooks should be cheaper but stealing is not the answer.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 8:40:59 AM PDT
S.M. Muse says:
'Ramona, that's because students would just copy them from each other and not pay, like they do with mp3s. Why wouldn't they if they are so free in sharing music and movies? Granted, textbooks should be cheaper but stealing is not the answer. '

Seriously, do you think the majority of all students steal or rip textbooks and mp3's??? In every area of life there will be people who are going to copy and steal, not just a certain segment of society. Do we NOT loan library books because someone occasionally might 'forever' borrow them? Do we shut down movie theaters because someone might sneak in and record a movie and post it later, no... we don't do either of these things because the majority of the public does the right thing. Someone correct me on this if I'm wrong, but there is a lot of excessive cost passed along to the consumer by industries that go overboard trying to copy protect their 'works'. They spend millions trying to work around the pirates, etc. Who gets hurt by this, the majority of the public who have to pay the extra cost. Pirates always work around the copy protect, always have always will. Do we give up trying to make sure that artists are fairly compensated for their work... no. Every artist deserves their fair share. But I have found time and again, you respect the public and you get respect back... not all the time, but the majority of the time yes. Which is why so many authors now offer freebies of their work. I for one have purchased more than one book from an author simply because they first approached me.

I don't have all the answers, just posting my thoughts.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 9:54:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2010 9:56:57 AM PDT
Peridot says:
Anonymous, I hesitate to respond to one with so amorphous a handle. Is this your personal experience? Have you acted in such a manner yourself? This is what you do? or what you did?

I've never done such a thing, nor has my son. We buy our books and we keep them. Perhaps you're projecting your own behaviour on others? There are those in the community who have this thing called ethics. Do you need to look up the word? I'll be glad to wait. [/snark]

Here's something else you don't know: it's impossible to do such a thing on a Kindle. Amazon is smart enough to have software in place that prevents such a heinous crime. Before I linked our Kindles I attempted to transfer a book (not copy) from my Kindle to my son's device and it was impossible. I called Amazon and learned the extra step I had to take to link the two Kindles and the book became available to both in Archive.

Before you leap to assume I haven't the education or the experience to overcome the copy protection software on these Kindles, I likely do. If I don't I probably know those who could. Nevertheless, I have no motivation to steal. My son has the more expensive Kindle Technical edition because we want to BUY his textbooks in e-book format. Our library is full.

I'm afraid I have a dreadful first impression of you, Anonymous. Your assumption that everyone is dishonest and steals isn't charming in the least. You remind me of my ex-father-in-law. It's creepy.

Posted on Nov 8, 2010 1:44:33 PM PST
Kindle is the most difficult platform to publish on (in terms of an eBook) because the file specifications are unique and very particular. This makes it challenging and elusive for authors who do not have access to the resources of a large publishing house.

If it was easier to use, I think more self published authors (and smaller publsihing houses) would use it and we would see a huge shift [again] in the face and dynamics of the publishing industry.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2010 3:28:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2010 3:21:18 PM PST
Peridot says:
Is the software proprietary? How difficult is it to access? Are authors unable to use it without going through Amazon?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2010 6:20:42 AM PST
anonymous says:
"Seriously, do you think the majority of all students steal or rip textbooks and mp3's???"

Textbooks, not yet, mp3's and movies, yes. Most certainly yes, and have done for a decade. And it's not a question of 'occasionally'. It's the way young people get music now. It's simply a fact. If that's the reason big textbook companies aren't offering their products in electronic format, then it is actually their right to do so.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2010 6:30:13 AM PST
anonymous says:
Wow, you certainly did read a lot into what I wrote that wasn't actually there. I didn't mean to accuse YOU of stealing and I don't think I did. Why are you so aggressive? Your creepy disfunctional relationship with your family is absolutely none of my business, thank you very much.

Anyway, the fact that kids download pirated music and movies is just that - it's a fact. It is the way young people get music now. I think it's destructive.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 9:17:08 AM PST
Peridot says:
Some people do steal, it's true. A young woman has just been fined 1.5 million dollars for uploading 24 songs to a public site for others to download. This will no doubt be a watershed moment in the courtroom and hopefully will bring members of the public to awareness that this is theft.

However, there are others who do not steal content. My family are proud to belong to the second group, the one with ethics. Be that as it may, one of the advertised points of the Kindle Tech is that it's designed for textbooks. Since my son is in college he received this particular edition of Kindle. Nevertheless, none of his textbooks have yet been available on the Tech as yet. In future this will alter...otherwise we wasted funds on an upgrade.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 10:59:50 AM PST
anonymous says:
I hope for everyone's sake that some time soon people will feel safe in offering their products. Kudos to you and yours for doing the right thing, Ramona!

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 11:08:51 AM PST
Timothy Hohs says:
My wife designs digital images for scrapbookers. For a while her income was high enough to allow her to work at designing full time. Now her kits are showing up on file sharing sites and newsgroups almost every day. We send the sites DMCA notices, the sites usually will remove the files a couple days later, and the pirates often reupload them within hours. Her sales are, of course, dropping and she is considering another line of work. Her customers are usually moms and grandmas who place their kids in fantasy images they create with these kits. If these types of customers are willing to pirate - good luck trying to convince the rest of the world it's wrong stealing digital products. Sure there will always be loyal customers willing to pay to keep their favorite authors, entertainers, designers, etc. in business but, depending on the business I guess, for most digital artists those honest customers will not be enough to earn a living.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 1:26:46 PM PST
S. Shafer says:
It irks me no end when I see some of the prices for Kindle downloads. Vince Flynn's new book was on sale for $14.99, while the hardback was $15.11! And I can do so much more with the actual book, so I bought the actual book.

What I would also like to see is the Kindle price of a book come down to the paperback price when that book comes out in paperback. I would like to have some authors' earlier books on my Kindle, even though I have the actual book, but I refuse to pay for the Kindle edition when it's more than the paperback.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2010 3:20:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2010 9:30:14 AM PST
Peridot says:
That's deplorable, Timothy Hohs. I can't imagine stealing someone's livelihood in that manner. There will always be some who have the idea that 'if it's on the internet it has to be free' mindset, but it's difficult to conceive theft is so widespread.

What's happened to ethics and morals? If one cannot afford them, one should do without rather than STEAL! It's appalling. I do not know exactly what it is you are referring to, but I surmise it is a luxury? Scrapbooking is a hobby. Hobbies are a luxury. Music is a luxury. When one cannot afford luxuries, one does not steal them, one does without them.

I regret Mrs Hohs is losing her intellectual property to theft. It's not right.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 7:00:32 PM PST
I don't know about other author's publishers but mine is only able to afford to convert the top sellers to Kindle and this is from PDF. I could fork over a few thousand dollars but considering I only get a whopping 10% royalties, that doesn't seem like a good idea. Also, since what I get paid as an author is a percentage of the retail price, if the retail price falls, so does my income. At some point I'm making way less than minimum wage to do the hard work of writing.

Posted on Nov 10, 2010 9:42:57 AM PST
Linda Welch says:
"Kindle is the most difficult platform to publish on (in terms of an eBook) because the file specifications are unique and very particular. This makes it challenging and elusive for authors who do not have access to the resources of a large publishing house."

Actually, publishing for Kindle is very easy using Amazon's DTP platform. One simply converts a Word doc. to html and upload it to the DTP platform. You then preview it for formatting and make any necessary changes, then publish.This costs the self-publishing author nothing. Yes, you can do this using a pdf, but the results are not always as good. Why, then, is this process difficult and expensive for traditional publishing houses?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2010 10:16:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2010 10:17:49 AM PST
Peridot says:
Here's an example that only occurred to me today: I'm friends with a local jeweler. Recently he employed his relative and she, being young, has made several errors in filing jewelry belonging to other clients. They'd been searching everywhere for a pair of diamond earrings she had mislaid.

I went in to check on my several repairs and remounts and they gave me my bag of goodies. As I went through I discovered a very nice pair of diamond earrings I didn't recognise as mine. I immediately handed them back to my friend and they hugged me in thanks. They would have had to pay for replacements for their customer who owned the earrings. They made such a big deal about how I turned them over. I didn't see what the fuss was about: they didn't belong to ME!

Ethics. Gotta have 'em.

If there's a situation I can't figure out easily I turn it around. What if I were on the other side of things? How would I feel? What if they had been my (deceased) mother's favourite earrings, give to her by my (also deceased) father that had been misplaced? Sure, the items could always be replaced by other ones, but those particular ones would be priceless TO ME!

These thoughts make it easy to be honest. It's always rewarding.

Intellectual property is property nonetheless. At times I do wish there was a way I could lend my Kindle books to my friends who have Kindle, but I understand how this isn't possible because of piracy problems. One day, perhaps...

Posted on Nov 10, 2010 11:02:28 AM PST
Supply and demand. I can buy used books anywhere, even on the street. But i have to buy kindle titles from Jeff Bezos, who has shareholders to kiss.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2010 12:03:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2010 12:10:40 PM PST
Peridot says:
That's great for you. If you have enough space for books you can certainly do that. We've run out of space for books in my home. One runs the risk of getting all the mites and germs the used books contain as well.

I've jettisoned all unnecessary books (and some I would have preferred to have kept) and still all my bookcases are double and triple-stacked. There is literally no place left for any more books in my home. I do reread favourite books, books which make an impression upon me. I collect authors as well. This becomes more difficult each year.

The Kindle is a bit of a compromise but it's the best that can be done for now.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2010 4:01:08 PM PST
Joe Hill says:
"Most of the cost of the books is not in the paper or the shipping or the author royalty for that matter, but in the distribution chain (middlemen) and the editing (publisher)."

Please cite some sort of evidence for your statement.

With the exception of a (very) few publishers like Knopf, the majority of mass-market publishers (as well as some professional and monograph publishers, and many niche publishers) are relying more and more on the author to provide final copy to the publisher, which generally means that copyediting is limited to the author's spell checking his own work or having a friend or family member 'look it over'. Copyediting, as a metier in the book publishing industry, is going the way of buggy-whip quality control supervisor.

Author royalties have historically either been lump-sum (aka per-word) payments, or royalties. Royalties, at least since 1976, have almost always been a percentage. And in the last 35 years, percentages have undeniably increased, which means that the percentage of total book costs allocated to royalties has increased, so a statement implying that royalties are not a significant part of book-publishing costs is not only inaccurate, but disingenuous.

Distribution chain costs are less clear and up-front than production costs, and have gotten even more adcane with the consolidations and publisher involvement over the years. But the goal is to sell books while maintaining profitability, and that puts constraints on the wiggle room that distributors have in either direction.

What does seem to be happening at -some- publishers is that, rather than having best-sellers suppport less successful but no less important titles, they are using the relatively large profits (compared to print titles) to support some print books. Of course, my understanding is that some publishers are using these profits primarily to pump up investor dividends, and purvey an image of health that might not be entirely justified.

Posted on Nov 10, 2010 10:17:11 PM PST
Joan Defers says:
I have only seen the kindle prices dip below USED paperback prices. Which isn't exactly the same thing.
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