Tuesday, March 2, 2010

eBook pricing

One problem with buying eBooks, rather than printed copies (or pBooks as I've seen them called!) is the pricing. OK, for most books, the actual cost of printing is pretty low compared to the royalties, marketing, margin, etc. However, this completely fails to take into account the second hand market for pBooks. In some countries there may not be mush of one, but in the UK it is thriving. Chairty shops and dedicated second hand bookshops, not to mention alibris, abebooks, ebay and amazon marketplace are full of cheap books to read. In South Queensferry, my hometown, there is during the summer a second hand bookshop that lets people buy books for an entirely voluntary donation so if you're feeling really cheap you could get 20 books for 1p.

And unlike digital music, this source of cheaper old novels is entirely legal. How can full-price ebooks compete? Well, they have some advantages: immediate delivery and compactness. However, I can't but help but feel ripped off paying £15 for such a tiny file if I buy a new eBook.

Well, of course, like all digital media there is the illegal copying possibility, but perhaps the pricing will get more sane if someone produces a cheap automatic book scanner that can take a 50p second-hand paperback from the local charity shop and OCR it all in in under an hour. That takes away nearly all the advantages of an eBook AND leaves me a hard copy too if I want it.

Meanwhile, I'll stick with Tolstoy, Twain, Dumas, Chesterton, Dickens, Shakespeare, Doctorow and the other free stuff.

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