Thursday, January 22, 2009

ePricing - Be Careful What You Wish For

Fictionwise the ebook specialist retailer appear to be monopolising the publicity machine of late. In one breath they claim to have "one trillion words served" mark recently and the other they have had the interesting but unexplained fall out with Overdrive.

Now all this week through to the 25th, they are offering a 60% micropayment rebate when buying with a credit card or PayPal. This is not a cash rebate but a credit to be set against future purchases. They are now actively promoting their own format both for those caught in the fallout with Overdrive and as part of this latest offer by giving an additional 5% rebate for titles bought in the format.

The market issue of what the digital price point should be for ebooks remains unclear. Although Amazon has boldly ventured with setting a $9.99 price point on their Kindle store, few have followed and there have been limited digital discounts to date. What offers have been visible are on special limited time window offers which are usually focused a promoting specific titles.

Some may say that publishers are trying to reduce the digital margin given to resellers and using this to offset their digital costs. Others would argue that there is a reluctance to get dragged into the current discounting fiasco on physical books that is rife in markets such as the UK. However, given that the ebook is often a carbon copy of the physical book with no extras what is the price comparison with it and the price to the consumer? Why would the consumer pay more for an ebook than a discounted physical book? If libraries are going to lend ebooks for free with no obligation to visit the physical library why would the consumer pay to own and ebook?

Pricing is important to the consumer and often when there is uncertainty things fall to the lowest common denominator and on price that’s often free.


Anonymous said...

In the UK there's 15% VAT (purchase tax for Americans) on eBooks and 0% VAT on books.

Anonymous said...

Re ebook pricing. We avoided Fictionwise on learning they charge a fee to the publisher for each book listed. There are several other reputable ebook retailers now with more acceptable terms, i.e. simply a percentage of the sales price and no extra charges for formatting or listing.
We have found Mobipocket's ebookbase an efficient wholesale distributer (on commission) to these digital retailers (who include Amazon). We price our ebooks at a fraction of our traditional hardprint titles because the overheads are slight. I believe most publishers do the same. Pricing will sort itself out, as always, when the greedy and the sloppy disappear.
Charles Bryce, publishing exec at Darling Newspaper Press,

Anonymous said...

Why the hell would anybody buy an ebook that cost anything close to even the discounted paperback price of a physical book.

Books have to be printed, bound, stored, distributed and shelved.

With an ebook, its MY broadband connection that downloads the books, so if thats not worth a couple of quid off the paperback cost, the ebook bird will never fly.