Feeds

WTF is... up with e-book pricing?

Price rises coming

The essential guide to IT transformation

Electronic books are a topic that never fails to generate comment on Reg Hardware – most often along the lines of, 'why are they so expensive?'

With the launch of Amazon's Kindle in the UK, many book buyers hoped that e-books would become cheaper. Together with the falling price of readers, and Amazon trumpeting large e-book sales compared to hardbacks, could e-reading finally be about to take off? Or is publishing still an industry fighting to maintain old ways of doing business in the face of new technology?

How much does an e-books really cost?

None of the publishers Reg Hardware spoke to was willing to break down the price of a book to reveal the costs of physical distribution – paper, printing, shipping to bookshops and paying for premium display space there, though some estimates suggest only 10-20 per cent.

Tolkien at Waterstones
Tolkien at Amazon
Tolkien at WHSmith

Taking Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings at Waterstones (top), Amazon (centre) and WH Smiths
Hint: The omnibus version is way better value than the separate editions

But all of them stressed that there is a lot of work that goes into a book before it’s ready for production in any form: finding material, nurturing talent and editing. These are arguments that readers will have heard before, from the music industry when justifying the price of CDs and downloads.

It's worth remembering that unlike musicians, authors are unlikely to make a living from other income streams, most notably performance, so their money has to come from somewhere. When it comes to just how much work publishers do, SF author Charles Stross provides a useful insight into how a book is made. Of the 17 steps to creating a book that he outlines, the majority apply regardless of whether the result is an e-book or a printed one.

There may not, then, be quite as much room for manoeuvre as some buyers think. Yet it’s clear that many publishers want to reap the rewards from high-margin hardback sales for as long as they can, an approach that pricing e-books at paperback levels would undermine. Better, they think, to cut prices only when the paperback goes on sale.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?