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Why eBook Should Cost More Than Paperback Copy?

My wife wanted to buy a book written by Desmond Tutu (former Archbishop of S. Africa). We went to check it out from the Commercial Press because books were on sale.

After a 15% discount, the book costs HK$130. I then searched the book at the Amazon Kindle Store. The e-book was priced at US$ 11.99, which was HK$36 cheaper. So we decided to download the e-book from Amazon and read it with the iPad Kindle app. We can actually share the same book and read simultaneously because my wife’s iPad and Kindle app were registered under the same ID.

We were happy with our decision, but one thing I don’t quite understand is that why the e-book we have purchased should cost even more than its paperback copy, which was priced at US$10.8? This doesn’t make any sense, does it? Just like the need to pay a surcharge to purchase a cinema ticket online. The merchant should have saved quite a bit of costs for online transactions. Is this a rip-off for customers to enjoy the convenience?

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10 Responses

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  1. Anthony says

    it is just my educated guess.
    -ebook marginal production cost is near to zero.
    -publisher will be the one suffered most as they will be replaced by Amazon will if everythings go well
    -the overall utility of ebook is better than paperback (in term of storage, search, portability only drawback is reading experience)

    from consumer perspective, since ebook marginal utility is higher than paperback, they would pay more for better option
    from publisher perspective, to maintain their existance, the only option is their “inferior” product sell cheaper than ebook(so they sign agreement with Amazon to limit the lowest price it can sell)

    did I make any sense?

    • TS says

      I don’t think Amazon can replace the publishers. I think the role of Amazon is to provide an e-commerce platform for selling the books, it doesn’t do the printing or own the copyright. Publishers and the writers can still get the share for each additional ebook sold. So, my naive thought is that it would sell more if the ebooks can be sold cheaper. 所謂薄利多銷。In the Internet world, there is no lacking of good (and free) stuffs to read. Like the apps in the App Store, your app has to be very good in order to put a price tag on it, because there are many other free apps doing similar things.

  2. TS says

    I think the printers (printing houses) are most affected. However, in the long run, the role of the (traditional) publishers would become less important. Why do the writers still need the publishers if their works can be published and sold easily online with minimum cost. It is the “Long Tail Theory”. I think this is already happening, e.g. In the blogsphere.. When ebooks become more and more accepted by the readers’ world ……. “OMG, we must not allow this to happen”, the major publishers yelled, “Let’s publish those who want an ebook”. You are right, Anthony. It makes sense now.

    • TS says

      I mean …..”Let’s PUNISH those who want an ebook”…

  3. Jen nei says

    They tried to protect the publisher and printing industry I guess. Also by selling at a lower price will mean a one way ticket. That is a point of no return. They don’t wanna to take less profit as they always go for a higher and higher margin. Customers are there to be ripped off definitely. They never consider whether we can get more for less :)

    • Anthony says

      Posted onbehalf of TS due to technical issues
      =======================================
      It will be a shame if this is true.

      The current pricing is a bit too deterring as compared with other knowledge and digital products being sold online, such as music, movies, apps etc. With the considerable reduction in cost (in printing and distributing), I think it would be reasonable for the price of ebooks to be reduced to half or even 1/3 of the paper back copies. Both the publishers and writers would earn even more because much more copies will be sold. Changes are coming, I believe.

      • TS says

        Thanks Anthony. Seems that I have no problem posting comments at home. Strange!

  4. John Davis says

    The printers unions want prices to stay the same as a printed copy. Otherwise, the printers union would fall apart within a few years.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Why eBook Should Cost More Than Paperback Copy? – k4fun | Write Your Own E-book linked to this post on March 8, 2011

    [...] Why eBook Should Cost More Than Paperback Copy? – k4fun [...]



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