questionsare you willing to pay as much or more for an…


No way. I bought a kindle in January and have yet to put any books on it because I don't feel like $9.00 is worth it for a digital version of a book that I would only read once. I mean, why does it cost as much as a regular book when there is no paper or binding involved in creating it? I think I'll stick with using my Kindle for borrowing library "books."


Guess I'd have to say it depends on the book. I have a hardbound library of around 3,000 books. Have 1/2 that on my Kindle. Love both. Have all of Michener's books in hardcover, will buy all of them in ebook editions when they become available. Cost irrelevant to me.

There is a LONG ongoing debate on the Amazon's Kindle Discussion thread about the merits of both, and why ebooks cost so much in some people's opinion. (Not mine.)

BTW: The huge majority of ebooks that I have were free. Some good reading, some not so good. There's a never-ending supply of free kindle books. The discussion thread I mentioned above usually has a daily thread that lists the links to get the free books. Somewhere between (guessing) 50 & 150 books are referenced.


No. Not because it didn't cost the publisher as much, although that's a valid argument. My reasoning is that I can loan a paperback to everyone I know,and when I am done with it I can exchange it at a used book store for a modest fee for another book, which then also has a loan and exchange value. Or I can donate it if I prefer. It is a very good example of the value of a real object versus the value of a virtual object.


Yes, but only if the writer's cut of the proceeds is increased.

I believe that a minimum point of entry threshold price should be maintained. The problem with the idea that the price should be lower is that reading is actually on the decline, as such it is harder to be a professional writer. Most writers are not financially wealthy, they're working authors.


Nope. I understand that new books are going to cost more, but I refuse to pay more than 75% of discounted paper book price. And obviously, I prefer free ebooks. :)


I never pay full price for a real book except for Stephen King so my (qualified) answer would be yes...looking for the day when ebooks can be sold as Used/Good Condition :-)


I will also add that the nice thing about the E-Book format is that it allows authors (Professional or Amateur) to self-publish works for less money while taking home more of the proceeds.

Nathan Lowell's Solar Clipper series to me is a good example of this while working with a small E-Book centric publisher. He also narrated and released his books on as a free audiobook before they were even available in print.

It effectively breaks the stranglehold of major publishing houses in many cases.


Simply put, no.

The cost to reproduce an ebook is close to zero and certainly much less than the cost to reproduce a printed book, be it paperback or hardcover. The cost to store ebooks in a warehouse is trivial (in fact, an entire library's worth of ebooks can be stored on a single hard drive) and the cost to deliver ebooks is almost nothing (compared with the cost to deliver physical books).

Also, what is the second hand value of an ebook? (This is actually a serious question.... is there a market for secondhand ebooks? Is it even legal to transfer an ebook to someone else? I honestly haven't considered this and simply do not know.)


I wouldn't mind a discounted ebook price with the purchase of a print book.


As others have said, that is a resounding No.
The book is already typed and edited when on the authors PC, so it isn't even needed for someone else to type the material. The cost is basically nil to produce the book. There isn't much advertising for books, so that isn't anything.
When the cost is almost zero to publish the book, I am not paying $10-$15 at times for a copy that only I am allowed to see. With hard covers, I expect to pay more because they will last. And as someone who used to buy one paper back, and one hard cover, I can say that I am willing to pay for my books. I am not receiving a book, I am not going to pay through the nose.
Plus, with ebooks, the publishers are basically just one big "Top 100 list" of books. The authors send the book in, pays an editor to look at it, and then pays a company for per-click sales. The rest should go directly to the author, and since the copies are no longer limited to the number of printings, there's no excuse.


Oh, and this issue actually comes up quite often for me, especially around the time to buy books for class. The ebooks at my college are sometimes more expensive than the printed books, which I find hilariously infuriating. I am expected to pay, at times, $200 for an ebook that is only good for one semester. An ebook that I can't sell back and is sometimes automatically deleted after the semester ends. I was told it was to prevent people from putting it online (like they wouldn't change it next semester anyways).

Granted not all of them are like that, some are only $40-$50 and you may get to keep those, of course the published book is the same cost or cheaper. Really sort of insulting.


Absolutely not. An eBook gives me some more features, but I lose quite a bit in not having a physical copy. With an inexhaustible supply of public domain and Creative Commons books, I just can't justify spending anywhere near the amount I pay on a physical copy.

I'm betting that self-publication will become more and more prevalent, and I'm doing what I can to promote it, by donating to authors of CC/etc. books that I have enjoyed, Peter Watts in particular. I would donate to Charles Stross for his "Accelerando," but there doesn't appear to be a way to do that.

In the meantime, I'll just keep reading what I can get on my Kindle (I certainly am not above purchasing $0.99 books on Amazon, quality issues aside) and borrowing print copies of 2-3 year old books from my university/local library, as well as purchasing used copies from and local stores, until the eBook market becomes more reasonable.


@baqui63: Apparently you're not familiar with the cost of distributing an e-book then.

Not only do you need servers to distribute content, you need DRM servers, store servers, routers, switches, sans, etc... Then you have to buy room in a Datacenter, etc. You need to develop and maintain the software for distributing and maintaining the DRM unless you go with a 3rd party such as Amazon, where they take a portion of each sale to maintain all of the above...

Then there's the part where e-books are more frequently pirated, so the number of copies sold actually goes down by a significant margin.

While it may be cheaper to sell copies of an E-book, the reproduction and distribution costs are not anywhere near close to zero as you seem to assume.

Or, are you saying authors, editors, and publishers of books shouldn't be paid for their work?


For new releases, if one does not wish to wait for paperback, it is vastly less expensive to purchase the Ebook. I also love the convenience of not having a pile of books sitting around. I love my Kindle and there were many very reasonable if not free ebooks that I have read that I would not have if they had not been so inexpensive.


@xavoc: The same servers can distrute tens of thousands of books at once, so that cost is shared amongst many. The cost of each individual book, that each user buys, is close to zero. If you sell 50,000 books at ... we'll go big, 6 megs each. That is 300 gigs. You sell each of those books for $5, and that $250,000 more than covers any cost for those books. Sell 500 different books for that much? See where I am going. The cost is low, no matter how much we trump it up. It is not justified to charge the same amount.
As for ebooks being pirated more, and therefore sales being down.. that is the same argument that record producers use and it doesn't work. I don't like pirating any book but I have because I don't pay $80+ for a 250 page fiction that is out of print. This isn't a lost sale to the author, as you are counting. Lost sales =/= sales that never would have happened. The people pirating are like the people who would get the book from the library. So it doesn't effect sales.


This is the conundrum I have with "A Song of Ice and Fire" right now. The Kindle edition is $29.99 for the first four books whereas the mass-market paperback is only $21.03 (currently.)

I'm reading the local library edition right now, but 800 pages is a long book to read in a short amount of time without constantly checking it out.

I think eventually I'll buy the paperback version, so I suppose my short answer to the question is No.


One of the key advantage I can see with ebooks comes with new releases. I hated when a new book of a popular series came out while I was growing up because there were 4 of us who had to wait our turn to read. With an ebook we could have all read at the same time. (Assuming of course we share one account.)

I imagine that since ebooks are still the latest new thing, publishers are keeping the prices inflated. Prices will usually be only as high as the market will bear. Once the novelty has worn off it will be adjusted to be closer to print price. I don't ever see publishers starting an ebook off at a paperbook price. However I do believe that it will only be a matter of time before ebooks are discounted as paperbacks are released.

I have seen a number of ebooks that are now available in large collections. The low cost of distribution is a great way to squeeze every last drop out of a book.


@geredeth: As someone who builds and maintains these systems, $250,000 won't pay for the hardware itself, let alone the necessary software, programmer, and system admins needed to maintain it., monthly server rack space, bandwidth, and author and editor and and and.

Hell a decent SAN is about $250,000. Throw in 10 servers at $9k each, probably $50k for backup, another $250k for firewall/switch/load balancer. This is without rack space, bandwidth, or a DR site. Then software costs of $2000 per server.

Then you have to develop the ereader software, drm, and continually update/improve it. Those users can also redone load the same book repeatedly for life to a device. Not to mention you have to create and maintain an ebolk standard for your software, engineer an updating mechanism to fix typos, etc.

Doing this with halfassed hardware/software gives half-assed reliability and fifth-asses uptime.



I am quite familiar with the cost of running a data center (it's part of my day job).

However, I'm not talking about the aggregate costs but rather the actual cost of replicating and delivering one single copy of one specific ebook vs the cost of replicating, storing until sold, and then delivering one single printed copy of that same book. Are you honestly trying to convince anyone that it costs MORE to make and deliver that one ebook than to make, store and deliver the same printed book?

As for payments to authors, editors and publishers, why should they change? Are you suggesting that this work is somehow more valuable when a book HASN'T been printed on paper?

As for your point about piracy, I'll grant that ebooks are more easily stolen. But if the solution to this problem is to overcharge the people that don't steal books, then they are likely to put themselves out of business (and deservedly so, IMHO). I don't have a solution for this but overcharging isn't it.


@baqui63: As for your point about piracy, I'll grant that ebooks are more easily stolen. But if the solution to this problem is to overcharge the people that don't steal books, then they are likely to put themselves out of business ....

In the print business, editing, layout, font, paper and cover become significant publishing costs. As is the promotion, storage, distribution and inventory management through-out the entire market chain, down to the bookshelf. If a book doesn't sell, copies are returned, credited, remaindered and stored against future demand & sales. It costs a lot.

Popular hard copies get traded, gifted, sold again at yard sales, thrift stores. They take on a life, post sale. Some publishers see that as piracy.

eBooks allow a long tail. No post distribution costs, incremental storage and distribution costs are small. DRMed copies don't get past on or resold.

Piracy is a myth. Market theory says there is a lower optimal price to maximize return and sales.


@xavoc: Okay, let's look broadly. That was $250k for one book. How about a publishing house that has.. oh, 200. If we keep the rate the same, since it will fluctuate more and less for different series.. $50,000,000 for those 200 series.

Also, once you have the hardware you have it. You don't need to keep buying it. While it certainly isn't a "one time cost" it is a cost that is very easily covering itself in the long run. As for building the DRM and the e-reader software... come now. We know that isn't the case. The software is already made, and the DRM is already there. You would just need to enter your info, and run it through the batch processing.

Not saying it isn't expensive, and I have worked with enough servers to know that they are a hefty investment, same with bandwidth when your talking about providing everything in house. However, again, the bulk of that cost is a one time cost every 5 years, max. Once everything is in place, it is all profit.


Absolutely not! Amazon and the publishers are really sticking it to us charging that much.

Not only that we also have to take into account that Amazon can take that ebook from us anytime they want and for any reason (they've done so before). In fact if they shut your Kindle down you also lose all of your ebooks.

It's really no different than the smartphone apps you get from them.


Would I like to pay as much for an ebook as I would for a paper copy? No. Would I like to pay more for an ebook than I do for a paper copy? No. Do I do it anyway? Yup.

I'm less likely to buy an ebook if it's more expensive than the paper copy, and I grumble every time I buy one for $10. But, I can also get free public domain books on my Kindle, or I can get very cheap books at the thrift store or the used bookstore by my work.


This is the one thing about digital distribution that i have yet to understand. Why is it not cheaper than real copies of items. Games, books, movies, all available at the click of a button without a case, shipping, a middle man. Nothing, yet they still want me to pay full price.
It's ridiculous.


@xavoc: "Or, are you saying authors, editors, and publishers of books shouldn't be paid for their work?"

Those costs are going to be the same no matter how it's published. It's the rest of publishing chain where your costs are going to diverge. Hell, just look at the costs involved with just the involved with the selling of a book. How much do you think it costs to lease a store in a mall? Times how many stores? How many servers does it take to distribute every ebook in existence? A couple?

That is just one area where your argument falls to pieces. While publishing an ebook is not "next to nothing", it is when compared to publishing physical books.

If I'm downloading something, book, game, whatever, I expect to pay less for it than I would for a physical copy.


No, I won't. The biggest issue, as noted above in not so many words, is the loss of the Right of First Sale. When you buy a physical book you keep the Right of First Sale. This means you can resell the book, loan the book, or give the book away as you see fit.
The ebook is a license for one person to read it. None of those rights apply. In addition to the decreased costs (noted above) there are fewer rights available with ebooks. So I should be paying less. Far less.


@xavoc: I have a file with 2400 books in it. It is 558mb. These books are approx. 300-1,100 pages each with the majority being about 500 pgs. That really screws with your theory about space. I can have a free website with 2gb of server space. Again, this is free. This would hold about 8,400 books.


Nobody has mentioned how there is no first edition or signed value to a ebook, have they? Also, for this cost argument, yes, after you have the hardware setup, it does cost next to nothing per book for an ebook vs hardcopy. Anybody arguing otherwise is trying to convince themselves. Hell, I could setup my home pc to be a server for hundreds and never touch the specs. Amazon already has the servers there, they just have to load the software and go.


"Popular hard copies get traded, gifted, sold again at yard sales, thrift stores. They take on a life, post sale. Some publishers see that as piracy." This mindset suggests that libraries are illegal. The protection of intellectual property rights is a valid concern, but there needs to be a re-examination of fair use in regards to IP. It's very difficult to share a family photograph or a film of a sports event without violating IP, all those ads on the bleachers are IP. And the logos all over sports cars and their drivers! The TV show or painting in the background at your kid's birthday is a violation if you post that photo on Facebook. So is singing Happy Birthday to her if her party is at a restaurant or park or if you post the video to YouTube(the song is copyrighted). The prevalence of visual and voice recording and electronic sharing of personal experiences while the commercial world hovers in the background has made the strict enforcement of IP impossible.


Nope because there is very little manufacturing cost, not zero due to server and front end costs but very low, and because sharing the book is much harder. I can lend a paperback to anyone I want. Also our library system actually checks out ebooks for free.


@pyxientx: That is because you don't know anything about hardware for content distribution systems. What works for on person will not support 10,000+...


@moondrake & @basqui63: "This mindset suggests that libraries are illegal. The protection of intellectual property rights is a valid concern, but there needs to be a re-examination of fair use in regards to IP."

Which was the exact point I tried squeezing into the 1000 character limit. Publishers are now looking at libraries and concocting complicated license programs to control eBook distribution, while ignoring the historical benefits. Libraries help make people aware of books, authors, topics. They help build sales, not steal sales.

DRM is a separate topic that @xavoc claims adds a huge cost to books. I call B.S. on that claim, but it is not the point I care to argue.

The benefit of eBook sales is that storage, archiving and distribution costs approach $0 as sales increase. Thus, the marginal cost really represents the writing and publishing investments.

Mini-Max theory shows that a lower price increases sales, till the cost represents fair value. It is just optimization.


Ugh this topic angers me. Ebooks should cost less than physical copies. Especially since you don't actually own an ebook, you're merely licensing it. Give me a break. If I buy a physical copy I can resell it. If I buy an ebook.... its not even mine to resell.

[edit: Keep it legal.] I would GLADLY pay money for ebooks if they were half the price of paperbacks.



"[edit: Keep it legal.] I would GLADLY..."

Not buying/licensing the book at all and finding other ways to read it is my solution.


Oh and something else that makes me VERY VERY angry Harper Collin's absolutely moronic Library Ebook rules (26 checkout limit):

Oh and Random House decided to TRIPLE the cost of ebooks for libraries: