A book is worth more than the cost of the paper it's printed on.
So says Nathan Bransford, social media manager for CNET who spent eight years in publishing. In a blog post yesterday, Bransford reminds us of what we're paying for when we buy a book and does the math:
There's a perception among consumers that an e-book should cost very little or next to nothing because there is no paper, printing, and shipping involved.
But in fact, for a new best-selling hardcover, all of the costs associated with print, from the printing to the shipping to the distribution to the warehousing to returns, amount to a mere few dollars per copy, depending on the size of the print run.
The vast majority of a publisher's costs come from expenses that still exist in an e-book world: Author advances, design, marketing, publicity, office space, and staff.
You can therefore imagine the fear that e-book prices instill in publishing executives' hearts. They're only saving a few dollars per copy in the switch to the e-book world, but the prices of books were slashed more than half: from $24.99 to $9.99 and even lower.
That begins to explain why publishers are trying to keep e-book prices high. But it doesn't tell the whole story.
And here's the rub, according to Branford: "Publishers have a massive problem with perception of value. When you can't hold it in your hands and easily pass it along to a friend, $10-plus just feels too expensive to many people."
My fear is that the major publishers wonít be able to stay in business just selling e-books. You canít bring in enough money to support the infrastructure. If that happens, there goes the marketing, the editorial, the author tours, the expertise of the book industry.
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