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.

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  1. icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), 12 Feb 2010 @ 12:24pm

    Re: What is a real price

    "The advent of ebooks makes things hard as printing and distribution are two major cost factors in working out your base line cost (and therefore what you think a real price should be)"

    Why should someone buying an eBook subsidize printing & distribution costs? Those costs should only be associated to the printed versions and should not carry over to the eBook versions.

    As eBook sales pick up, number of printed copies goes down. As the volume savings decreases, the printed version price should go up, and the eBook price should be unaffected. The eBooks price should account for author payouts, editing costs, page layout, and marketing ... plus retailer mark-up. That's it. The existence of paper versions and costs associated with printing & physical distribution should not even enter the eBook pricing picture.

    When paperback books with printing & distribution costs can be $9.99 and less, then why again should an eBook version cost more than that when it should not have to account for printing & distribution costs at all?

    I paid $250 for my physical representation of a book. I should not be expected to help fund other people's physical product by subsidizing the printed versions with my eBook purchases.

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