For what it’s worth

There’s been a lot of debate this summer over what the price of e-books should be. E-books should be $9.99 or less. E-books should be $3.99 or less. E-books should be 99 cents.

Pfft. Whatever, dudes.

Because you know what? In the end, the debate about e-book prices is all just noise. Because the fact is that readers will pay what a book – e-book, print, or audio – is worth to them. Not what retailers or publishers or even writers think that book is worth.

Should a cup of coffee be $5 or more? Even for a double-shot vanilla bean salted caramel espresso latte that melts in your mouth? Probably not. But people will pay that much for it. And do you know why? Because they want it. There are lots of articles out there talking about how much money you can save – thousands of dollars a year – if you just cut out that $5 cup of coffee every day, but there’s a coffee shop on practically every corner.

The Republic of ThievesLast year, The Republic of Thieves, the third book in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series, was released. I could have saved money buying the e-book or the hardcover book online, but I went to the store and got the print book, even though it was $28. Why? Because I wanted it.

I had been waiting on that book a long time (so had my significant other), and I was happy that it was finally out. To me, it was worth paying $28 to read more in the story/world.

People spend money on the things they want, and I want to read good books – no matter if they are 99 cents or $28.

What about you guys? Do you think e-books should be a certain price? Why or why not?

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16 Responses to For what it’s worth

  1. I don’t have a set price I’ll pay for an e-book, or a physical book. Really the only time I’ll balk at paying a certain price is when you hop on to Amazon and see the publisher has set the ebook price higher than the physical price. Really? Do they think we’re dumb? It’d be like walking into McDonald’s and seeing the small set at higher price than the large. It’s insulting.

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    I agree with David! Especially since I know I can go to Walmart and get the book for even less.

    I don’t think too much about the prices of other books – other than my own. It’s all just a lot of talk and writers worrying – and that’s understandable. It’s our livelihood. A friend recently raised the price of her book, and she said it’s selling more. OTOH, permafree gets new readers who will buy other books. There’s no one-size-fits-all price, that’s for sure.

  3. I completely agree with you Jennifer. If I want a book badly enough I’ll pay whatever price is being asked. Because my wife is visually impaired (20/400) I often buy the e-book, she buys the audio version, and if we know the author and think we can get a book signed we’ll also buy the print version. We spend the money because it’s something we want to read by an author we enjoy. If the author is unknown to us then I will often get the sample sent to my Kindle and read that and then purchase it or not.

    • I don’t mind paying for books that I or my significant other really want to read. Even if I haven’t read an author/series before, I will still pay full price if I’m interested in the book. Sometimes, I really enjoy discovering a new author, and sometimes, I am disappointed. But that’s just how it goes with books.
      Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Happy Labor Day …

  4. Jude C says:

    Theoretically, I don’t have a set price that I’ll pay but I’m aware that I won’t pay the equivalent of getting a hard copy. I use e-books as a chance to try out new authors at a low cost – if I like them I might be buying the paper versions next. I get e-books for holidays as I used to spend hours choosing which 6 novels I could take on vacation then worry about reading too quickly! Of course, for books that will be keepers there’s no point even contemplating the e version. However, it’s a sign that I really like an author if I have both hard and e copy. And at this point I’ll add that I’ve recently bought all the Mythos Academy books in e version to go with my hard copies.

    • If I know I will likely keep a book or that it’s something that both I and my significant other will read, I will get the print version. But if I see an e-book on sale, then I’ll get that too to go with my print copies. I also use e-book sales as a way to try out new authors/series.

      Aw, thanks! I appreciate that. Glad you are enjoying the series. 😎
      Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Happy Labor Day …

  5. Mary Hughes says:

    Well said, Jennifer! Supply and demand. I am more likely to try an unknown author at. 99, but I will pay more for a book when I know the author can deliver.

  6. I really like how you put this, Jennifer – thank you! I’m with you on if there’s a book I really want to read, the price doesn’t matter. (Coffee drinks, too! LOL) But lately it seems to me pricing is affecting readers buying habits – especially with digital books. (I could totally be wrong about that – I’m definitely no expert.) I’m not sure if it’s because readers want to buy as many books as they can within a certain budget, or if they’re sticking with favorite or well established authors, but I feel like there does seem to be a threshold.
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Teaser Tuesday

  7. Ada says:

    I buy more print books than ebooks at the moment but like David mentioned, I totally scoff when I see ebooks priced higher than the print version. For me, if the author is one of my favorite, I’m more likely to go get the print anyways so I’ll pay for it (hopefully on sale) but I’ll buy it. For ebooks though, I tend to wait until they are about $3 or so unless the book is only available in e-format. I just don’t like the idea of paying as much for an ebook as I do for print when I’m not getting a physical book that I can place on my shelf to take down and admire and cuddle 😛

    • If I see a series/author I’ve been wanting to try, and the e-book is on sale, then I will often buy that instead of the print copy. But for books that I am likely to keep, then I usually get the print version. I still like seeing the books lined up on my keeper shelf. 😎
      Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Happy Labor Day …

  8. I wrote a blog about this nearly a month ago when I got a letter from Kindle Publishing about their work in getting the prices of e-books lowered and their reasons. With e-books you do not have to buy paper, binding, buy shelf space, warehouse space or ink, pay overhead for printing, printers, printing press repair men, ad infinitum. So when it comes right down to it, the publishers are not paying the authors any more so everything they make on the e-book is pure profit for them with almost no overhead involved.

    There are some authors I will pay list price for their books. There are others that I will wait for a special to come along. I’ve got no beef paying a writer what I feel their works are worth. I mind paying a publisher the same for an e-book as I would for a hard cover dead tree copy when the author will be seeing no extra ducats for that purchase.

    Publishing is nearly a dead industry, and just like the movie and music industries, they see government protection for a failure to look ahead and build a better business model. Movie and Music made that leap after losing significant law suits. I don’t see publishing doing that merely because, with Amazon alone offering the Kindle Direct Publishing it’s easy to publish, it’s just hard to market. However, many have done the unthinkable and flourished by self-publishing.

    I get all of my books digitally now. I have them with me always and it’s cut down on clutter and dust in my house and no more need to buy new book shelves. Most of the dead tree books I have I have also bought digitally (which is a whole other argument) so my favorite authors are winning twice with me, and then I donate the paper books to the local library and nursing centers. So far everyone is winning. Everyone, including the publisher who is not allowing me my free, digital back up copy of books I’ve already bought from them.
    Angela Richter`s last blog was …Gun Grabber Anxiety – Dealing With The Anxious Gun Grabber

  9. I can see both sides of the argument for 1) keeping e-book prices the same as print prices and 2) lowering e-book prices below print prices.

    The production process/amount of work on my (the author’s end) is still the same whether it’s a print book or e-book or audiobook. Write, revise, edit, copy edit, proofread. And there is still work involved in the production side of e-books. I know from self-publishing some of my own stuff that it can be tedious and time-consuming to format/upload/etc. the e-books.

    But you’re right in that readers are not getting a physical copy and authors are not getting any more money from publishers. Maybe a happy compromise would be charging $1 or $2 less for the e-book than the print version, and publishers splitting e-book royalties with authors 50-50. I doubt that will ever happen, but who knows?
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Happy Labor Day …

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