Ebook Retailers Have it All Wrong – Part 2

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Yesterday, in part 1 of this post, I talked about how ebooks are unreasonably priced compared to their physical counterparts.  Given that the publisher can produce an infinite amount of digital copies for almost nothing means that ebooks should actually be cheap given the low barriers to entry. (Yes, I know the economics of the publishing world are far more complex than I’ve laid out here) My point is that with the increase in sources for information including blogs, video, social media and news, why aren’t ebooks priced cheaper? I believe that the issue is one of value. When I go to the book store and see that I can purchase a physical book for slightly more than the digital copy, I am more likely to pay more for the hard copy because I’m getting something tangible. If ebook retailers are not going to go for a low cost strategy, then they should aim to increase value for the customer.

One way to increase value for customers is to make purchasing ebooks similar to the model that the magazine industry has. You purchase the physical copy of the magazine and you also have access to a digital copy which is available in tablet form.

Another way to increase value is to provide a discount on a complementary item. Amazon has a deal with its subsidiary Audible where if you purchase the kindle version of a book first, you can sometimes get the audiobook for as low as $3.95. This model works well for me because I can read a book faster by having different options available for consuming the material.

I’ve love to hear your comments on how you think ebooks should be priced and what you think retailers could do to increase the value proposition for customers.

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4 comments

  1. While I don’t disagree that they should be less expensive than paper books, the thin you forget is that the authors still need to pay, and that the book you are buying is months sometimes years of their time. Few get the astronomical advances you hear about and this is their living and they get paid last. Decreasing the price too much will lead to less books from new authors

    1. Hey Melissa, that’s a really good point I hadn’t considered. I suppose paying $10 for a great piece of work isn’t much considering the value of the book. That being said, comparatively, printed books are higher value to the customer than digital books.

  2. I am a fairly recent convert to eBooks, only really taking to them about 2 years ago when I was living in a share house and had limited space. I do still buy physical books but only specific ones (additions to a series of books usually) In a lot of cases I agree that prices are too high for eBooks (I have found that this applies mostly to Kobo & Google Books) Amazon has a great selection books which are always free as well as offers which see an eBook available for either free or a significantly reduced price (I have paid as little as 20p for one of these) and it is a good idea to subscribe to a blog feed that publishes a list of new price reductions. I am picky about what I buy though and I think the maximum I would buy an eBook for is about £4 or £5, currently I think the most I have paid is about the £2.30 mark

    1. Hey Jenn! Thanks for reading the post. I’ll found Amazon books to be cheaper than other retailers. I’ll definitely have to check out the free book selection. I’m usually looking for a specific book so it’s often priced at $10 or more.

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