Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I received a Kindle for my birthday in October, 2010, so I can't claim any real knowledge of how e-books are priced, except from what I have observed in about ten weeks.
I have watched the prices of top sellers coming from the "traditional" publishers, i.e. the big houses that reside in New York, and the new releases appear to be $14.99, $12.99 for an e-book. Often that is not much less than the Amazon discounted price for the paperback version.
I subscribe to a couple of blogs that publish daily lists of e-books that can be purchased for less than $5, and often for less or even for free. (My favorite is Dailycheapreads.com) Sometimes the low price is temporary, sometimes a pre-order. I got Jackie Collins' "A Santangelo Story" as a pre-order for free. Often the bargains come from independent publishers, or direct from published authors with a back-catalog of unpublished work. In recent weeks I have seen some price wars among the big publishers. You might find some $5 bargains in e-books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
According to Amazon's Russ Pham, Amazon has tried to set a standard of $9.99 or lower, but this "infuriated a number of established publishers, who feared that digital sales would undercut the lucrative hardcover market."
This reminds me a lot of the pricing for digital photo prints ten years ago when we first started using digital cameras. If you wanted prints from Kodak or Wolf Camera they charged enough to recoup the cost of the film you didn't buy. But then after online photo processors like Shutterfly and Snapfish got into the mix, prices dropped significantly. Now Kodakgallery charges 10 cents per print if you wait for a holiday special.
Just as with digital photos, where we snap hundreds more photos...I used to take one roll of 35MM photos on a week's vacation, now I'm likely to take 300 photos. I don't print them all, but I probably print 100. It seems to me that publishers can make a whole lot more from e-books than from printed. No paper cost, no printing cost, no warehousing, no shipping cost. Since October, I have spent $100 on 35 e-books; 23 of them were $5 or less.
I never make predictions, but I do believe that by June, 2011, we will see a big change in the pricing of e-books. And publishers will see a bigger profit than any previous year.