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Why eContent should NEVER cost the same as printed

(I’ll preface this post with, A lot of publishers seem to get it, based on most prices found on Amazon’s Kindle store. This post is really derived from an interesting question i was asked over twitter.)

Beyond the ridiculously obvious “you get nothing physical” there’s a lot of reasons why an eBook shouldn’t cost as much as any printed version of the same book.

Let’s look at what goes into the price of a printed book vs. an eBook.

eBook Paper
Writing of course
editing Sure
marketing Some will argue it’s value, but yes
printing Nope, not even a little yup, and binding, and color correction, etc.
distribution The Internets trucks, and stores
Stores the Internets again shelf space, depreciation, discount selling

So given that several important factors in price (setting a price that when discounted due to depreciation is still profitable for example) don’t apply to eBooks, why should we as consumers be expected to pay a price similar to that of a hardback book, for an eBook?

While the cheap consumer part of me wants eBooks to be $.99 i acknowledge that it’s a bit unrealistic, since a great deal goes into writing a book, and while a single song is $.99 an entire book, shouldn’t be. Should a book be over $10 for the eBook version? No.

I feel a certain amount of pity for the publishing industry. While the music and movie industry got their heads kicked in, and alienated customers by the thousands, the book industry (rather than learn) watched from a far (i presume) assuming they were immune. Then Amazon came and fucked it all up for them.

Now they’re doing the same thing those other two industries did (killing speach to text on the Kindle, charging $15 for an eBook, etc), and not surprisingly the same type of backlash is being felt.

Publishing at least seems to have learned a little from their cousins in movies and music, but not enough I think.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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