Today I thought I’d talk about the cost of ebooks. There have been other discussions on blogs and social media about this topic due to the agreement made between Amazon and 4 of the top 5 publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan). The result of this agreement is that the publishers can set their own prices and keep them set, with no changes ever made by Amazon. The publishers receive financial incentives to keep the prices down, yet many of their books cost much more than those published by smaller publishers and indie authors.
The graphs below show the difference in the cost of ebooks published by different types of publisher. As you can see, the books published by the biggest publishers are the most expensive, in some cases more than double than that of an indie published book. They have also been increasing month on month from the time shown between Feb 2014 and May 2015.
In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Codex CEO Peter Hildick-Smith points out “Since book buyers expect the price of a Kindle e-book to be well under $9, once you get to over $10 consumers start to say, ‘Let me think about that.’” It seems as though that is exactly what is happening. Instead of paying higher prices, readers are more likely to search through the Kindle store to find a bargain and discover new authors.
Ebook buyers are seeing the cost of their preferred format almost matching hardback and paperback versions of the same book. The major publishers are seeing sales of ebooks slump, whilst physical copies are selling better. This is obviously because some buyers are choosing to buy the physical book as it is similar in price to the ebook.
The deal between Amazon and the publishers has had an impact, not only on the sales of ebooks, but on the earnings of the authors who are represented by the publishers. The authors tried asking Amazon to lower their books prices when the deal was being negotiated. It is now impossible for Amazon to lower these books prices and as a result the authors have seen a 20% reduction in their daily earnings.
Whilst traditional published authors are negatively affected, indie/self-published authors are seeing the benefits. With the majority of indie authors choosing to charge lower prices, their books are more appealing to those searching for their next new read.
The above graph clearly shows the impact of the Amazon-Publisher deal from Feb – May 2015. The number of daily sales made by indie authors has increased sharply, as have those books that are Amazon published. Traditionally published daily sales have dropped by around 10%.
The evidence does suggest that the majority of readers like to find a book that they think is value for money. They are not willing to pay more for top traditional books anymore when they can read other books for a lower price. Indie authors do stand to benefit, whilst authors represented by the top publishers look like they will lose out. All authors work hard at their craft, so it seems as though even though some authors still seek the representation of a top 5 publisher, those publishers may not have the authors best interests at heart.
How much would you pay for a new ebook?
How much do you think is too much for an ebook?
Are you an author who is concerned about the price of your books?
Please let me know what you think in the comments box.
As always, thanks for reading