Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why e-books cost more than they "should"

Today's GalleyCat newsletter features one of the more frivolous lawsuits I've seen in a long time: Apple & Publishers Sued Over eBook Pricing. Thank goodness the right to ultra-cheap e-books is finally being stood up for! Here’s more about the suit, from the law firm:

"While free market forces would dictate that e-books would be cheaper than their hard-copy counterparts, considering lower production and distribution costs, the complaint shows that as a result of the agency model and alleged collusion, many e-books are more expensive than their hard-copy counterparts."

Hmm. What's wrong with this picture?

-E-books are (almost) never more expensive than print versions. It's ludicrous to state otherwise.

-Since e-books are cheaper than print books, and publishers still pay distribution fees, wholesaler discounts, and author royalties, we almost always make even less than we do on a print version. (This is literally true for Tachyon.)

-You can (almost) never publish an e-book without publishing a print version. So e-books absorb part of the costs of doing the print books, including printing, warehousing, and distribution, as well as all of the associated production costs.

-We live in a free market economy in which, within reason, prices are dictated by supply and demand. If people think e-books are too expensive, they don't have to buy them. You can't sue someone for that. Or can you?

***

So in case anyone is wondering why they're paying $9.95 for something they can't put on a bookshelf (unless it's that cute one in Calibre), remember that someone still has to publish that book. We're not trying to rip you off. I promise.

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