Recently, on a friend’s Facebook page, the subject of e-book pricing came up.
Right now, it seems many people think e-books are priced too high. When people hear about publishers going from the $9.99 Amazon standard for an e-book up to $14.95, they say, “That’s ridiculous!”
One can definitely make that argument; after all, the cost of editing and many other larger costs publishers bear is covered in the creation of the printed book. Theoretically, the only additional cost for creating an e-book is coding it for publication and proofing the flow in e-readers.
What many people don’t seem to understand, though, is the cost of printing and shipping a book is still just a small percentage of the overall budget of a book.
As e-books become more accepted (if they become the norm), all the effort that goes into print books (with the exception of printing, shipping and returns), will still be necessary. At that point, pricing e-books at $14.99 will be necessary for publishers to not just make money, but to make sure that the e-books they release are quality books. (Granted, we can argue what quality means when it comes to certain authors, but I’m talking about a book that is free of typos and other issues.)
I know many people are on Amazon’s side when it comes to pricing; people naturally seek out the best prices–it’s why Wal Mart is in business. But while somebody might buy a T-shirt and shorts at Wal Mart, I don’t know anybody who’d go there for a bespoke suit or an evening gown.
T-shirts and shorts are something that can be made by unskilled [and often, abused] workers for next to nothing. A bespoke suit or evening gown takes more skill to make, so it costs considerably more than clothing that will eventually be donated to a charity, or turned into rags.
Writers and artists striving for more than mediocre; agents recognizing that talent; editors and art directors shaping that talent; and publicists spreading the word involves skill and money. While there are many books published that I think are cruddy, even the cruddy books are professionally created, free of writing errors and physical errors that I’ve seen in every self-produced e-book I’ve checked out. (“‘Which is why I have yet to make it through a self-produced e-book,’ he retorted snidely while smirking fiendishly and chuckling to himself regarding his sinister sense of humor.” Yes, I’ve seen writing that bad — even worse — in self-produced e-books).
Creating 55,000 – 100,000+ words free of errors takes skill, time, and money.
The cost of printing and shipping factored into releasing books accounts for a smaller percentage of the budget than many people realize.
While I know people love cheaper, if they also want quality, they’re going to still have to pay…even for digital titles.