Author Claims $9.99 Is Not A 'Real Price' For Books

from the oh-really? dept

The NY Times is running an article about how publishers' recent attempts (mostly successful) to boost the retail price of ebooks may backfire really badly as consumers revolt. Most of it is not particularly new to regular readers here, but it does talk to one author whose book received bad reviews on Amazon after his publisher decided to hold off releasing an ebook, hoping that it would "protect" hardcover sales. The author, Douglas Preston, lashes out and attacks his fans, rather than being willing to admit that his customers are telling him something:
"The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing.... It's the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It's this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.... It gives me pause when I get 50 e-mails saying 'I'm never buying one of your books ever again. I'm moving on, you greedy, greedy author.'"
So, what's a bigger sense of entitlement? The one where your customers tell you that you've priced something too high and that they're going to spend their money with others who are offering something at a price point they like? Or the one where you insist that books have to be priced high because you want them to be priced high? I'd argue it's the latter... Along those lines, $9.99 is a real price. Just because you don't like what the market decides a book is worth, doesn't mean that it's not a real price.

Filed Under: books, douglas preston, ebooks, entitlement, pricing

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  1. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 15 Feb 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    In some fairness there are up front costs for publishers, even of ebooks. There are still cover design costs, type setting costs (and believe me they're more than when you design for print because very few fonts don't strain the hell out of your eyes when they come off print and onto a screen). Minor things like payment to the author and so on.

    For some there may be costs for readers for ebooks for the blind and that sort of thing.

    From that point on you're right the reproduction price is reduced to practially zero.

    As for customers demanding low prices that's what customers do and it's not a sense of entitlement that drives that it's simply getting the most bang for the scarce buck.

    Will ebooks sell at $14.95? Some will, for a while at least. New books by authors who sell a million copies any time they put pen to paper can demand that sort of thing, or higher. After the bloom is off the rose the price will drift down as demand goes down though not as much as in a bricks and mortar store where the book seller has to clean out storage space for the next best seller.

    However publishers setting a sale price strikes me as price fixing which is supposed to be illegal. They can set the wholesale price at whatever they want, after all that's the cost to the bookseller in this case Amazon. They can even suggest a retail price. And leave Amazon to sell for whatever price they want, even at a loss if they so desire.



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