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At Saturday's GSHW meeting, I met Don D'Auria, editor of Samhain publishing's new horror line, Samhain Horror.

Among the many thought provoking facts and figures he gave out during his talk, I was particularly interested in this one: eBooks now account for 50% of fiction books sold. No doubt, the percentage refers to quantity, as opposed to dollaroonies. Even so, it's an impressive statistic.

The other number Don mentioned which piqued my curiousity was the $6.99 retail price of an eBook in the new Horror line.

Echelon Press set the retail price for the eBook version of Fur-Face at $2.99, which I think is about right. Personally, while I do buy more expensive eBooks (I think Patient Zero, by Jon Maberry, was the last one), I'd say $4.99 should be the limit for a digital version. This has nothing to do with any logical reasoning on my part, it's just one of those 'gut' feelings. If I see an eBook priced higher, my usual instinct is to move on without looking back.

If I had to guess, I'd say eBooks will settle at around $4.99 eventually, once the big publishers get themselves organized.

How about you?

How much do you think an eBook should cost?  

Poll #1777955 How much do you think an eBook should cost?

What's the most you'd usually be prepared to pay for an eBook?

I don't look at the price
$7.99 - $9.99
$5.99 - $7.99
$3.99 - $5.99
$1.99 - $2.99
If it's more than a dollar, I'm not buying
Something else, which I'll explain in the comments

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( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 12th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Re: effort/pages
Good point.
Re: effort/pages - rowyn - Sep. 12th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: effort/pages - jongibbs - Sep. 12th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: effort/pages - jongibbs - Sep. 12th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
I went for "other" as it really depends on the book.

If it's something that I've desperately wanted to read, I'll probably pay maybe...$30 max? (The most I've spent is $30, so I'll go with that number...) But a lot, really. For stuff that I'm faintly curious about, but not really, I might only pay $0.99.

I think that for your average, mass market eBook, I'd probably pay around $4.99. That's a bit cheaper than what I buy paperbacks for, but not much, and they're pretty equivalent in my mind. But I also only tend to buy paperbacks if I already know the author and think the story looks interesting. (And/or have read a really glowing review from someone I trust.)

I suspect that a clever eBook pricing strategy will be to have a "teaser" that is either free or $0.99, and then have more books at the $2.99-$4.99 sweet spot to get readers who want more. (As I would totally spend $0.99 on a writer I've never heard about, who had an interesting sounding blurb, but would be less inclined to spend much more on an unknown.)
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
That teaser idea is interesting. It's something you can't easily do with a printed book.
(no subject) - mutive - Sep. 12th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rymrytr - Sep. 12th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Sep. 12th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rymrytr - Sep. 13th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Sep. 13th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rymrytr - Sep. 14th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Sep. 14th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
2 to 3 Dollars would be a price I'd always pay. More? Hmm, not sure. Maybe 4 Dollars, yes. But having in mind what a paberback book costs which I can re-sell if I don't want to keep it and which is decorative in case I do keep it, ebooks should be significantly cheaper. Otherwise it's nonense, because you don't even have to print those books (digital copies don't really cost money) you don't have to get them around the country by truck and all this. So why should they cost the same?
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing, Claudia :)
(no subject) - claudee - Sep. 12th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Sep. 12th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - claudee - Sep. 12th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rymrytr - Sep. 12th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
I don't buy e-books, because I don't have an e-book reader (and have no desire to get one) and reading on a computer monitor is uncomfortable for long periods. But, much like MP3s, I certainly think it should be a lower price than for the hard copy (I once bought a CD for $2 LESS than the MP3 album price...). Since paperbacks run $7 or so, I'd say if I did buy e-books, the most I'd pay would be about $3-$4.
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Fair enough :)
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
I have to be honest and say that it depends on the who the author is (i will pay more for an established author than for an unknown), is it self-pubbed or through a publishing house, and how long it is. So far, I've paid about $6.99 on average for e-books (with some being less or for free) but have considered spending $30 for a history text.
Sep. 12th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
'...it depends on the who the author is'

Makes perfect sense to me :)
(no subject) - heleninwales - Sep. 13th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 12th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. 99 cents is too low.
(no subject) - rymrytr - Sep. 12th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
I think the price should be lower than the current physical book in existence, and work down toward a comfortable back-list price. IE, when it launches, it should come out at a higher price, then slowly degrade in pricing over time to settle down to a price point such as $4.99 or so. Why? Well, why do hardcovers and trade paperbacks cost more than mass market? Because people who want the book NOW are willing to pay more. The actual production costs between the three are not sufficiently higher to warrant the higher price points. So, authors/publishers should be able to maximize pricing in accordance to desire that an author can inspire in their audience.
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
I was thinking this, too. I don't mind the 'it costs more when it's shiny-new' pricing model. It's basically what the hardcover/paperback dichotomy already is. Moreover, it's typical of other entertainment -- movies and computer games, for two examples.

The ebook that costs $12.99 when the hardcover is out is too expensive for me (but so is the hardcover) but I can understand it. The ebook that's still $12.99 when Amazon has the paperback sale-priced at $4 makes me go o.O .
(no subject) - jongibbs - Sep. 12th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - temporus - Sep. 12th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Sep. 12th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - temporus - Sep. 12th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Sep. 13th, 2011 08:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
It always made sense to me that ebooks be a few dollars (or more) cheaper than the newest release. For instance, an ebook released at the same time as the hardback could cost $12 or so, but then the price would drop when the paperback came out to $6 or even less.

For those crying foul, reduction in price is pretty common in other markets too, like video games and dvds. New releases always cost more. The Indiana Jones Lego Wii game I picked up a few years ago was $15, when it was $50 initially. Same game (same content). Just didn't want to pay the premium price to have it on release. I waited.

If you don't want to pay $12 to read the new release of x novel, then wait a year (like you probably do for the paperback). If you want to read it NOW, then pay the premium.

It's up to the readers. Some books I buy in hardback to read NOW (or just want the nice shiny on my bookshelf after I read it) and other books I wait until the cheaper version comes out.

I do think that we are kidding ourselves by thinking he value of a book (the content) is the same in a physical or electronic form. Yes, the experience is the same (the same story plays out in your head while reading), but issues holding/possessing something in your hand feels more valuable than a deletable file on a device with an unknown shelflife.

If Amazon goes out of business in 20 years, my library would disappear too. If Tor goes belly up, I still have my massive sagging shelf of Wheel of Time books.
Sep. 12th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
If Amazon goes out of business in 20 years, you should have your library backed up somewhere so that you can access it when you like. Digital books are tiny. Minuscule even compared to digital songs. Do not be distracted by the device. The device may come or go, but the technology to display the files exists in multiple platforms already. There's no reason to believe you'll never have access to the books again if Amazon goes under, or even if they just stop producing the hardware.

And of course, on the contrary, if your house burns to the ground, as happened to my uncle, or floods, as happened to my former roommate, you could lose all those precious Tor physical books, but would have your Amazon collection restored as easily as obtaining a new Kindle. (Or for nothing if you want to use the cloud reader and access to any random PC.)
(no subject) - saetter - Sep. 13th, 2011 10:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Sep. 13th, 2011 11:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Sep. 13th, 2011 08:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roninangel - Sep. 14th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
Enough less than the paperback
to make it worth buying a kindle.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:55 am (UTC)
Lol :)
Sep. 13th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
Ugh, I feel like a jerk saying this, because I've read about how much it costs to make en e-book ad how you still need editors, etc etc. But honesty, I don't want to pay more than a few dollars for something I don't physically own. Especially if I know the publisher has made substantial money on the books.

For example, I loved the Animorph series as a kid.(I had the whole collection for years, but as they were a popular series I donated it to my library when I moved across the country.) The physical books were $3.99 at the beginning of the run and I think hit $4.99 toward the end. Recently, they rereleased the series with new lenticular covers. The new MSRP is $6.99. Okay, maybe some of that is the faancy lenticular cover, but how much considering thee have already gone through several print editions already. The kindle price is $5.59. So if I were to purchase the kindle edition I would pay almost $2 more for a book I didn't physically own...
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:58 am (UTC)
I know what you mean. Logocal or not, there's something about not physically being able to hold an eBook or MP3 that automatically affects it's perceived value - at least, that's how I feel.
(no subject) - rayechu - Sep. 13th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2011 12:49 pm (UTC)
My feeling is currently - for BOOKS - full on novel length or longer - e-books should be 50% of the paper format. Hardbacks - $9.99 - $14.99

Trades - $5-$7

Mass - $3.50 - $50

Chapbooks - $2-$3

Short stories - $1
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)
Is there a specific logic to your choice of 50%? For example: is 50% the usual pre-store-markup price.
(no subject) - reudaly - Sep. 14th, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
I think publishers have been a bit hoist with their own petards with this one. It's not really that much more expensive to make a hardcover versus a trade paperback, but they have been able to charge almost twice the price of a trader paper book for a hardcover because readers perceived the value of a hardcover as being much greater. When it comes to ebooks, publishers are now stuck with reader perceptions that something that has no physical substance simply cannot be that valuable. This would not be so terrible except that readers also really want books in a digital format, so publisher can't get away with not selling them.

But of course, the real kicker in this situation is that the publishers are setting the price for the ebook, but the retailers are setting the price for the printed book. Thus, Amazon might discount a brand new trade paperback with a cover price of $14.99 to $11.99, which the publishers is still asking $13.99 for the ebook version. This is what makes book buyers see red and foam at the mouth.

Sep. 14th, 2011 09:16 am (UTC)
You know, Karen. If I did a Comment of the Week feature, like Nathan Bransford, this would win :)
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Sep. 14th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC)
I think this is a very complicated question... One may think, that since there isn't the cost of the actual paper and materials to make the book, that it should be cheaper. It seems to me that if we still want the quality that we expect of books than we need to realize that the same effort still goes into making them. They still go through the same processes of editing and proofing and publishing that paperbacks go through. However, for new releases which sometimes run for $30 because of their fancy hardcovers or somesuch, I think the price should be lower for the e-book. Not making hardback books and not having to pay the cost to destroy them if they don't sell seems like it would balance out somehow. But then I also agree that new releases should be at a higher price when first released and then go lower after a few months on the market... ugh. What did I tell you? Complicated.
Sep. 14th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
It'll be interesting to see just how much of the retail market share (as opposed to, what I suspect is, the unit market share) eBooks have.
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
honestly, i feel like e-books should cost less than the actual print copies - it seems to me that there is much less on the production side of things for e-books, whereas there's the actual cost of paper/ink for physical books - therefore, if an e-book costs more than it's paperback version, i will wait until the price drops on some sort of sale - it should be noted though that i have a HUGE backlist of stuff to read (like the ENTIRE Valdemar series from Mercedes Lackey), so there is PLENTY for me to read while i wait for that price to drop
Sep. 14th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
Lol, so there's no rush then :)
( 54 comments — Leave a comment )

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