I know, I know. We’ve discussed this before. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your point of view — this is a topic that isn’t going away any time soon.
What started me back down this road is a link I received via email yesterday from Charlie Martin. Basically, author John Locke discusses his road to self-publishing via the kindle with Joe Konrath. It’s an interesting read. I don’t agree with everything he says and my mind boggles at the prices charged authors by some services to prepare their e-books, but that’s the author’s choice and not mine.
Along this same line, unless you’ve been living under a rock or sleeping in a very deep, dark cave recently, you’ve read the buzz about Amanda Hocking. She is the poster child right now — and rightfully so — for how an author (and hopefully a small publisher) can take the e-market by storm. Check out this blog post for more on her thoughts about publishing. I have to applaud her for knowing that she won’t be the only person to be able to take advantage — successfully so — of the e-book wave. But what really impressed me is the fact that she warns that not everyone, in fact that very few realistically, will. Ms. Hocking seems like a young woman with her head on her shoulders and her shoulder to the proverbial grindstone because she knows it takes hard work to succeed — hard work and a bit of luck.
For more on this, check out this post and this one from Nathan Bransford. While I agree with most of what he says, I’m not sure he’s right about the cost differential between hard covers and e-books. For one thing, he is only looking at the cost of paper and ink, not necessarily the costs of printing, binding, storage, shipping, returns, etc.
And this all comes down to how much should an e-book cost and how much are readers willing to pay. This morning, I pulled up the list of the top 100 best sellers in mystery for the kindle. Looking at the first 20, ten are priced at 99 cents. One is $2.99. There are three at $7.99, two at $9.99, two at $11.99 and another two at $12.99.
But it is looking at the comparison prices between e-books and physical books that is really interesting. At least one of the e-books is actually more expensive than the mmpb. Another costs the same as the mmpb — that has been out for 7 years. With others, there is less than a dollar difference between the price of the hard cover and the e-book. Why? Because the e-books are subject to agency model pricing and the physical books are not.
Don’t get me wrong. I love physical books. I’m surrounded by them by choice. But I also love my e-books. I know what it takes to prepare a book for digital publishing. Monetarily it is nothing compared to printing a book, especially one without a huge print run planned.
So, my questions to you are: what do you see as a fair price for an e-book and should an e-book cost the same as the latest edition of the physical book?