KingMidget's Ramblings

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The Price of a Book


Last year, there was a lot of noise about a battle between Amazon and a publisher.  If I recall correctly, the battle was over Amazon’s desire to get publishers to agree to lower e-book prices.  Which I find really somewhat interesting.  The e-book prices for traditionally published books continue to disgust me.  Case in point…

Based on a friend’s recommendation, while I was at the Long Beach Airport, I purchased a novel by Lee Child, who writes the Jack Reacher series.  The book was Personal and it was a mass market paperback published by Dell with a price of $9.99.  (On Amazon, that same paperback is $6.42, and with Amazon Prime could be shipped to me for free.)  Odd thing though, without the cost of production and shipping, the e-book for Kindle is $9.99.

I see this all too frequently these days.  E-book prices that are higher than book prices.  Anybody want to explain how that makes any sense at all?  Other than that it’s a business and they’re looking to maximize their profit where they can?  Is that it?  If it is, it sucks.  E-books with no production costs, no paper, no cover, no nothing, more expensive than actual books is something that simply should not be happening.

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8 responses to “The Price of a Book

  1. Carrie Rubin November 4, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I’m with you here. My book club is reading “Between the World and Me” and since I couldn’t get it in time from the library, I bought the ebook. Priced at $11.99 for a 163 page book. That didn’t make me too happy. But it allowed me to start it right away which is what I wanted. But I rarely buy traditionally published ebooks for this very reason.

  2. Kevin Brennan November 4, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Here’s a pretty interesting CNET article on the topic: http://www.cnet.com/news/why-e-books-cost-so-much/ .

    Publishers claim that an ebook still has most of the costs of a print book, but Amazon artificially lowered the price to $9.99 back in the early days of the Kindle. Hence the big fight that took place. Yet, in the consumer’s mind, an ebook should cost less than ten bucks — or at least less than the print version of the same book.

    What kills me is that the hard-core ebook reader thinks the price should be 99 cents or even FREE! That’s no good for publishers and it’s even worse for writers.

    Take it from me… 😡

    • kingmidget November 4, 2015 at 8:44 am

      As noted in the article publishing a book involves at last two or three dollars in production costs. By not reducing eBook prices to reflect that difference either Amazon or the publisher or both is increasing their profit at the expense of the reading public. Of course, if the reading public pays the price …

      And you’re right, the .99 and FREE as the only options for us self-publishers is driving me crazy.

  3. Charles Augustus November 8, 2015 at 4:02 am

    I cannot read a traditional book anymore because it’s an excersise in frustration. My hands won’t turn the pages. So, all of my books are in e-book form.

    There are production costs involved with e-books (editing and cover design for example), but the heftiest cost for print books is printing. This is exactly why an e-book should traditionally be approximately $3 to $4 cheaper.

    I personally don’t venture into the $0.99 market for a book to read because 80% of the time the old adage, you get what you pay for, really applies. 🙂

    • kingmidget November 8, 2015 at 11:25 am

      The sad thing about that is there are a lot of good writers who are going the self-published route who can’t find anybody to buy their book unless they cut the price to .99 or FREE. I agree there is a lot of schlock out there, but I’ve read some incredible self-published books that were .99.

      I get that there are still costs involved in marketing and producing e-books, but as you say, there is a cost element that is completely absent and publishers aren’t passing any of that on to the consumer.

  4. Cinthia November 11, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Great post! That publisher that fought with Amazon is my publisher, and my book was one of those “hijacked” by Amazon. But yeah, the price of “Dolls Behaving Badly” is $9.99, which means it’s basically dead or at least sleeping. Which, as you said, makes no sense because higher prices means less sales which means less money for the publishing company. And less sales for me! (I could go on and on about this but I’ll thankfully shut up and save it for another round.) Happy writing, and thanks for following my blog.

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