Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Speaking of Ebooks (with your wallet)...

I have long felt that the model of selling ebooks is flawed at the least--a prohibitive measure against developing electronic reading at the worst.

There's a lot of conversation out there about what an ebook should cost. Some (like Amazon) feel there should be a cap at a certain level, say, $9.99. Others feel that the absence of a hard copy should equate a significant difference in price ranges. I'm more in favor of the sliding scale of price--an ebook that's a little less money than the cheapest form of the book out in hard copy--i.e. a new release in hardcover is $25, so the ebook is $20; when the trade paperback comes out at $15, the ebook can be $10; when the mass market is released at $8, the ebook could be $6)


I also like the new Barnes & Noble structure announced recently:
Barnes & Noble is planning to begin bundling print and eBook editions of books in the next two or three months... Customers who buy the print edition of a book will have the option to get the digital version of the same book at a discounted price.
That, personally, is something I can get behind. Bundling is--I hope--the wave of the future. And a great model for introducing people to ebooks.

So, would a "bundle" of ebook and hardcover entice you to buy a book more? What price model for ebooks do you feel is fairest?


Corinne said...

I love the idea of bundling print and ebooks - though I'm not sure what price I'd find fair. On one hand, they're likely to be treated as entirely separate products, but on the other hand... the reason ebooks cost more than what a lot of people expected is because publishers still have to account for editing/marketing/the works. When you buy a print book, you're covering those costs. Since ebooks don't really cost anything more to distribute, is it fair to pay double for what's essentially the same product? Do you end up paying more than a few bucks for the ebook? Because that seems off, somehow.

I don't know what it's like in the US, but here you can legally own a digital copy of something you have a physical copy of. So you're free to torrent CDs or DVDs that you own. Their reasoning is that you can make those copies for yourself, anyway, and you're allowed to copy something you own for private use. I haven't checked if the same goes for ebooks, but it would seem to follow.

Even if it's not legal in the US, though, I wonder if it should be - if it's morally OK. If you've paid for a product, do you have the right to it in any medium?

Theresa Milstein said...

I follow the blog of this author who is a big fan of e-books and sells his own, doing pretty well. Here's the link, if you want to take a look:

MeganRebekah said...

I would 100% support this -- if the price is good.
There are so many times I buy a book and later wish I had it to carry around on my Kindle.

As Corrine said, the price shouldn't be double (and really shouldn't be more than a couple bucks) because you've covered the overhead expenses with the purchase of the hardback.

Really you would think they'd give away the e-book with a hardback (at least in the beginning) because it has the opportunity to get people hooked on e-books and e-readers.

I'm excited to see how this idea takes off!

Kristi Faith said...

Oh yes, I think this would be the best thing for the publishing industry, the authors and the readers. Although-Corinne brings a good point as well. Hmm.. I do hope that something is figured soon.

Anonymous said...

Bundling is a really cool idea, although I'm not sure I'll utilizing that myself--probably only with my favorite books.

I definitely support the sliding scale model for ebook pricing, though! It seems reasonable to me: if you want an ebook for cheaply, just wait until the price decreases, the same way you'd wait to buy a paperback if you don't want to spend the money on a hardcover. :]

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, I could definitely get behind the bundling idea - love it! :-)

Katie Anderson said...

Ooo I love that Barnes and Noble thing. I would definitely buy more! Oh wait... I was thinking the bundle included the audiobook.

durn. I want the AUDIO with it.

Unknown said...

Bundling would be a good idea, you could take the book anywhere. Hey, they're now doing that with movies (bundling an electronic version with DVD's) so what can't it work for books?

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I like the bundle idea-it makes sense to me and I think it's a good idea. That way readers can get the best of both worlds. As for pricing, I'm not really sure what that would be, but I agree that it shouldn't be double.

Christine Fonseca said...

I so agree with you regarding bundling - when I read that I was thrilled. It made sense to me. Great post!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Bundling is interesting because it inherently says that you are paying for access to the story - pay once, and we'll give you a discount on the rest. This model works in many ways - it recognizes that e-books can't be ridiculously low in price, because the publisher has to gain some profit, but that once the publisher is paid, then you shouldn't have to pay twice. However, it also works against a more free-market approach to books in general, and e-books in particular. I happen to think that, once e-readers are commonplace amongst the literati (those that spend $$ every year on books), that having lower priced e-books would vastly expand the market, making more money for everyone. But there's no indication (yet) that the publishers will go this route.

Fun times!

Christina Farley said...

Interesting. Bundling. I suppose this isn't what the Puritans used to do (kidding!). Anyway, I do like the idea. It's smart and a great marketing pull.