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The score right now is "advantage book publisher," but the consequence is that e-book prices don't reflect the normal laws of supply and demand or the current costs of producing a digital book.

I think this is the most telling and the reason people are disgruntled about prices.
 

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Wow - interesting article. I've been published traditionally and just released my first e-book independently. While the publishers do give the authors a bigger share of the e-books (25-35% or so), there's still no need to keep 65% of the profits when there's no production cost. Granted, they do some promoting - but not like they used to back in the good ol' days.
 

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Very interesting article. 

I'm curious the numbers of overall unit sales with the Big Six publishers, however.  If their hardcover sales are down 28.4% and ebook sales have increased 10% since last year, are they seeing an overall drop in units sold?  Are the indie authors and the smaller publishing houses picking up more sales that would ordinarily have gone to the major houses in years gone buy?  Looking at my wishlist, 31.2% of 247 books are not from the big six.  I'm not sure how that tracks from my purchases but I'm guessing about a third as well ...

If the Big Six are losing overall market share to the smaller publishers, that will accelerate their change to more strategically prices ebook models than they are anticipating based on the comments in this article.
 

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Nowhere in that article did it talk about the $2.99 threshold, or  "sweet spot" that many authors on Kindle use. I'm sure it's because the Big Six know they cannot survive by pricing their wares that low. But for them to price their books upwards of $9.99 just seems like highway robbery to me. Don't they know Kindle users, in particular, are fairly savvy when it comes to price?

I just can't see the agency model succeeding in the long run.
 

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It's no problem for me to sell my novel at $3.99, but then my office is an unused bedroom in our tiny house in a somewhat rundown neighborhood of St. Paul. As far as I can tell, I'm the sole employee of this publishing empire-in-waiting. I don't occupy some of the most expensive commercial real estate in America, I don't attend the Munich book fair, I don't believe I have in-house counsel, and my edit staff, if it exists, seems to be on strike. All to say, I think the Big Six will have trouble beating your average indie author on price. It's a different business.
 

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I can understand why online distributors such as Amazon, Apple, Lulu, et al charge a healthy (for them, at least) commission for selling our books. The money involved in creating and maintaining the complex websites necessary for the service is enormous. It's a huge investment; dozens of graduate software and hardware engineers plus 24 hours help desks, promotion, sales, etc etc. But does this address the reason why they are charging similar prices to the printed equivalents?

Self publishing is quick and easy, and we have all done it. However, it costs the same to publish my low profile $1.49 book as a prize winning best-seller from, say, Stephen King. And the online book stores such as Amazon are brimming with books like mine. Amazon is unlikely to recoup the costs involved with setting up my page and hosting the book unless I hit it big. Therefore, I expect my measly contribution is being subsidised by the higher prices charged for popular books.

This is no excuse for ripping people off, of course, but the ebook industry is still in its infacy and I hope online retailers are simply looking for the cut off point that determines the acceptable price - the price it can get away with. Just an opinion open for discussion.

JT
 

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MichelleStimpson said:
Wow - interesting article. I've been published traditionally and just released my first e-book independently. While the publishers do give the authors a bigger share of the e-books (25-35% or so), there's still no need to keep 65% of the profits when there's no production cost. Granted, they do some promoting - but not like they used to back in the good ol' days.
Agreed.
 

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I think the publishing world is still reeling from how popular ebooks have become and they are trying to catch up.  Speaking as an author, I love that setting the prices of my books low has allowed me to step into voids left by larger publishers who either refuse to publish their big name authors as ebooks or who price them way too high.  It has allowed me to finally reach an audience.
 

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libbyfh said:
Don't they know Kindle users, in particular, are fairly savvy when it comes to price?
To play devil's advocate: Are they?

#4 on the Kindle Top 100 is a $9.99 book. #9, #10, and #11 are all $12.99. Only four books in the top 20 are priced at $2.99 or less.

I'm not saying that people aren't having great success with $2.99 and $0.99 price points. But I am saying that "$9.99+ titles don't sell" is self-evidently not true.

(OTOH, I have yet to pay that much for an e-book.)
 

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Geoffrey said:
I'm curious the numbers of overall unit sales with the Big Six publishers, however. If their hardcover sales are down 28.4% and ebook sales have increased 10% since last year, are they seeing an overall drop in units sold?
I wonder if the net difference is due to the economy. eBooks have caught on much quicker than expected, and people don't need to buy a device to read them, so those sales have probably helped cover publishers' bottom lines. But because most people still read physical books, maybe they're less likely to spend the money when it needs to pay for gas in their cars. That said, as bad as the Great Depression was, people still splurged on a movie. So books/ebooks can still provide that inexpensive entertainment.

Given the economy, it's the perfect time for less-expensive ebooks to have made an appearance, when people are watching their expenses. Publishers probably didn't foresee that, either...
 

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apbschmitz said:
It's no problem for me to sell my novel at $3.99, but then my office is an unused bedroom in our tiny house in a somewhat rundown neighborhood of St. Paul. As far as I can tell, I'm the sole employee of this publishing empire-in-waiting. I don't occupy some of the most expensive commercial real estate in America, I don't attend the Munich book fair, I don't believe I have in-house counsel, and my edit staff, if it exists, seems to be on strike. All to say, I think the Big Six will have trouble beating your average indie author on price. It's a different business.
Hey! Sounds like my house in California. Mine is priced at $3.99, too. I get booted out of the office when someone stays over, so I try to discourage visitors.
 

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apbschmitz said:
It's no problem for me to sell my novel at $3.99, but then my office is an unused bedroom in our tiny house in a somewhat rundown neighborhood of St. Paul. As far as I can tell, I'm the sole employee of this publishing empire-in-waiting. I don't occupy some of the most expensive commercial real estate in America, I don't attend the Munich book fair, I don't believe I have in-house counsel, and my edit staff, if it exists, seems to be on strike. All to say, I think the Big Six will have trouble beating your average indie author on price. It's a different business.
With new releases, yes, they can't touch indies on price. With their vast backlist, however, they can. Witness Amazon's sunshine sale of 600 traditionally published books priced between $0.99 - $2.99.

In general they won't go that low with backlist, but I see no reason all the Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald might not be available at $4.99 or even $3.99 someday.
 
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