questionshow much less do you expect to pay for an ebook…

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It should be lower but they're setting the price based on what people are willing to pay. I don't pay much attention to ebook price history but I'm guessing that months after the original release the cost probably starts coming down.

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Supply and demand :) Even though they have a virtually unlimited supply, they'll charge you up the wazoo because there is demand. There are people who get paid to figure out what the maximum price a product can be sold for to get the maximum amount of buyers. So for whatever reason $21.97 was the number they came up with. Same reason that Apple coincidentally had a "computer glitch" that caused the price of Whitney Houston's songs to spike after her death. They knew there would be a demand, people wanted to hear her music and wouldn't mind paying extra.

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It's a multitude of things that keeps the cost of an ebook (or any book) high. Editing requires an actual skill. Sometimes I believe that they've skimped terribly on some of the ebooks (you can't just transcribe them over, they need to be re-edited, and it shows if you don't). Any technical book that you'd buy in electronic form may cost as much, or more, to edit into that format than it did to originally create it.

The actual printing on paper is often one of the least expensive parts of the whole process. There's advertisement/marketing. There's fees to the author/authors/editors/other staff. There are expenses to being listed on places like Amazon (surely you didn't think that was free). In addition, either the publisher, or the author, or both, may have insisted on the ebook price. If I had a technical book that was in ebook form, I'd probably do that because I'd want you to get the paper version instead.

{Sometimes, though, it's just greed.}

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@eraten: You know, I never really considered it before you brought it up, but I wonder if any economic researchers have done a study on how the law of supply and demand applies to something like ebooks where the supply is, at least in theory, unlimited.

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@shrdlu: I have to completely agree with you on all of the points you made. The other thing to keep in mind also is the different e-readers that are out there. I'm sure the Kindle handles e-books differenly than the Nook, Sony, etc. I own the kindle and the other hard part for some books is that the text size can be changed.

One example of where this is an issue is with Ellen Hopkins books (Crank, Glass, Impulse). She has a very interesting way of writing where her words travel to various parts of the pages. I bought the Crank trilogy and they are formatted quite well at default text size, however if I increase it, things get pretty messed up. On a lot of pages her writing style is so hard to replicate in digital form that they just scanned the page from the book and pasted that picture on the page. This is an issue IMO because it looks poorly done, and people who need the font bigger cannot have that.

I feel E-Books are reasonably priced.

E. Hopkins Example: http://bit.ly/M7zYSF

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I would expect an eBook to cost about 75-80% of a paperback. (so, 20-35% less) Unfortunately, that is rarely the case where eBooks cost the same or more than mass produced paperbacks.

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it should be about half the price, but unfortunately, publishers know you will pay more if the book is in demand. for example, the Game of Thrones books, are actually more expensive than the set, considering you get a good discount if you buy the set all at once in paperback. that is not an option for the ebook (at least it wasn't when i bought it a while ago). recently, my wife told me i needed to read the Dune trilogy (the original 3). the second and third ebooks, were $7.99. the original, was $18.99 because it was some BS 40th anniversary copy or some crap like that with extra material (which i didn't care about). unfortunately, they didn't have a regular copy so you were forced to buy the over priced special edition e-book. wanna know how much the actual book was? $16.99. the actual book was two dollars cheaper than the ebook. i wrote a scathing letter to amazon and they credited me the amount of the special edition (Amazon has amazing customer service) cont.....

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.... regardless, no ebook should be more expensive than the physical copy. the issue is that publisher are allowed to set the prices in many cases, and they are fighting ebooks tooth and nail. personally, i'd rather Amazon refuse to carry books from publishers that want to gouge customers, but i'm sure if they stopped offering Game of Thrones the negative customer feedback would be overwhelming, so i dont expect things to change until publishers wake up and stop being A-holes.

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I feel like it should be at least 15% less than the hard copy though in most cases I see that its very close if not the same. I usually refuse to buy it at that point. Its probably my naiveity into what the cost of a book actually comes from but I always assumed the physical parts of the book were expensive

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Shrdlu made some very valid points. I still think it should be at least 25% less.

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I'm good with paying $5-$8 for an ebook. The latest Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris was over $15 when it came out last month. Now it's $13. That's ridiculous.