how much should ebooks cost?

How Much Would You Pay for an eBook?

First off, apologies for the lack of any sort of activity here. My degree has pretty much sapped all of my reading time – I study American and English Literature, which means I spent a significant part of my week reading stuff – and haven’t really found a way to balance pleasure with work. So there’s that.

But what I really want to talk about in this post is eBook pricing. Now that my academic work has concluded for this year, I’ve got a little more time. And instead of frittering it away on Netflix (which is what I’ve been doing so far…) I really need to get back to reading.

The problem: I feel like I’ve forgotten how it works. I need a guide – “how to book” – or something.

In any case, I’ve decided that the best way to get back is to start with a book I’m really looking forward to. That way, I know I’ll get straight into it. The book I’ve been thinking about is the third and final instalment in the Red Rising trilogy – Morning Star.

That was, until I saw the cost on Amazon. At the moment, you can buy the hardback for £14.99 or the kindle edition for £9.99. The paperback is also listed at £7.99 but won’t be released for a while yet.

£9.99. What?! How is pricing an eBook above its paperback equivalent at all acceptable? I know that publishers don’t want to cannibalise sales from the hardback too much – and in this case, they can afford to price the book really very high – but I still think this is outrageous. No wonder people are turning to pirate books. The publishers, Hodderscape, have stated that the kindle price will then “drop accordingly”, but I still can’t see this as being as acceptable. It feels exploitative. They know they can get away with it due to the series’ popularity. For readers, any pricing structure where the kindle costs more than the cheapest copy of the book – normally paperback – doesn’t make sense. You’re paying more for what is as easier product to distribute: no printing costs, no warehouses, no transportation, no physical shelf-space. Just an easy download.

I went to twitter to ask what you guys though was acceptable pricing for eBooks. Here’s what some of you said:

It definitely looks like the paperback-or-less pricing is a clear winner here. (For those of you who don’t know, $9.99 is the equivelant of £7.99 pricing). Frankly, this has turned me off and I won’t be purchasing Morning Star until the paperback version is released. I’ve started reading Dune instead.

About Rhys

Rhys is a 19 year old with roots in the UK and Germany. Aside from reading and blogging, he also produces theatre, loves Kate Bush and hopes to pursue a career in publishing. His reviews have been widely quoted in books such as Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet, Catherine Bruton’s Pop!, James Treadwell’s Advent and Anarchy and he has presented at such events as Book Expo America.

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