Sunday, May 17, 2009

10 Reasons Why Ebooks Should Be Priced Lower Than Paper Books

What is happening to much of the publishing industry? ... Why does it seem as if they have focused on profit-making only, and have forgotten their sacred mission to enrich our culture by sharing innovative visions and ideas?

A recent article in the New York Times, by the talented Mokoto Rich, reveals another symptom of publishing's decline. The article, Steal This Book (for $9.99) reflects an unfortunate attempt by publishers (and some authors, too) to defend the indefensible sentiment that ebooks should not be priced significantly lower than the paperback.

Rich writes:

"In making such arguments, publishers risk being viewed much like recording labels were a decade ago: greedy corporate titans who hide behind claims of high costs and creative entitlement as they resist the transition to a digital landscape."

Lower-priced ebooks benefit ebook buyers, and — in the long run — benefit publishers and authors as well.

10 Reasons To Sell Ebooks At Low Prices

1. Ebooks cost less to produce. Yes, of course we know that ebooks are not free to produce. But we also know that ebooks do not need to be printed, do not need to be shipped to distributors and booksellers. Ebooks eliminate the problem of book returns, overstock storage, and book shredding -- thus adding even more savings to the publisher's accounts beyond the cost of printing.

2. Ebooks cannot be re-sold. The ebook edition of a work makes it impossible for book buyers to get some money back on their purchases.

3. Often, ebooks from big-name publishers cannot be loaned, even between members of the same family. Which means: an ebook buyer might need to purchase multiple copies of the same ebook.

4. Most books published today are not unique enough so that book buyers think: "I must have this specific title and no other!" ... Instead, most book buyers who love love stories think: "I want to read a romance novel." ... If the ebook copy of the novel "Copyright Coquette" by Lance Buckmore is priced at $ 15.99, then book buyers will be very tempted to buy another book in the same genre -- "Let Love Be Not Lonely" -- for $ 2.99.

5. Many ebooks, but not all, are best read on ebook reading devices. Consumers who invest hundreds of dollars on these devices and get no discount on ebooks may wonder why they have invested. On the other hand, if ebooks do get priced low, then more people will be motivated to buy ebook reading devices.

6. Ebooks at a low price will not be pirated as much as ebooks at a high price. I am against piracy at any price. Nevertheless, ebook and paper book piracy is a cost to publishers that may be reduced when ebooks are priced lower.

7. Today's consumers are smarter and more Net savvy. As more people realize these facts above, these consumers will be angry at the publishers, and may express this anger via book buying boycotts. The Internet makes these kinds of boycotts both possible and popular.

8. Selling ebooks at a lower price is likely to sell more books.

9. Some large publishers are already selling ebooks at lower prices, and doing so with great success.

10. People these days are reading less and less; aliteracy is a growing problem, concisely explained in a recent article by Andy Beckett. The Print publishing industry in general is dying. Within 5 years the book publishing industry of the future may look as unhealthy as the newspaper publishing industry right now. Publishers who alienate their readers by grabbing for profit above all else may be the first publishers to sink. Selling ebooks at low prices is one way to promote reading. The publishing industry can survive if and only if we create an American Renaissance in Reading.