Printed 2017/08/17 11:40PM

The Cost of E-books

By Steve Jones, 2009/06/18

What’s the cost of e-books? It’s an interesting question that I have always wondered. I found this account of the cost of books, and it makes sense to me. I think this is about what I expect.

It is somewhat confirmed by this section on CoolerBooks: What aren’t ebooks cheaper? However Coolerbooks, which is selling another eReader (in color) called the Cool-er Reader, isn’t giving a huge discount. Wicked Prey, the new John Sandford novel, sells for $22.36 from Cooler books (in ebook form). If you had their e-reader, you’d get 25% off, or it would cost $16.77. That’s the cost from Amazon for the hardcover.

The Kindle edition is $9.99.

I know Amazon takes a loss on some books, but if they can offer the hardcover for $16, can’t Coolerbooks to better? After all, it’s without the paper cost, which isn’t much, call it $3, but that adds up. It seems to me that perhaps Coolerbooks, who says they’ll never sell at a loss, isn’t necessarily disclosing what level of profit they want.

By my reckoning, the publisher's cost of the book is about $10. So Amazon is at cost, but I'd think that other retailers could sell books in the $12-15 range and make a profit. If not, then perhaps they're not doing  a good job.

I was annoyed recently with Amazon offering a book I wanted to buy, brand new from an author, for $14. I wrote them and they responded saying the publisher sets the price. I wrote the author, and got a response back saying Amazon was playing games. Of course the publisher sets the price. At $29.99!!

This was a best selling author, fairly successful, and I heard that he has no input into the price of the book. Based on some reading I've been doing of author blogs, this seems right, but it also seems that no one wants to really talk about it. I think they are concerned about their relationships with publishers, and perhaps they are happy with the arrangement.

I don't know if I'll ever get anything published, but I am tempted to just find a good editor and go it alone. I might not make any money, but I would like to have the control to charge what I think are fair prices.

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