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eBooks and Print books. Are we being ‘duped’?

Posted by in Books for Sale , eBooks on May 20, 2011

I am starting to really question what is behind statements like this which came out of Amazon yesterday – 19th May 2011

“Amazon.com is now selling more Kindle books than paperbacks and hardbacks combined, with its UK business shifting twice as many e-books as hardbacks, it has announced today.”

Now I am very much in favour of eBooks and the continuing growth and development of eBook devices. I like the ability to move your content around digitally and to load multiple content onto a small portable device. The devices need to ‘mature’, rather like MP3 players or Mobile phones but this will come. However to say that eBooks are outselling print books by a factor of 2 is perhaps a little ‘headline grabbing’.

 “Since 1st April 2011, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.co.uk has sold, it has sold 242 Kindle books”

But then you read on and it says –

“Amazon.co.uk’s bestselling digital titles appear to be those most competitively priced. Among the UK bestsellers it identified are the basement by Stephen Leather, which is on sale at 49p, The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris, priced at £1.20 and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson sold at £3.50.”

So is it surprising that the quantity of books sold is much greater considering the price? What would be much more interesting would be to see the revenue figures and how the eBook is impacting on the top line for book sales.

If you take for example The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris, the Hardback version retails for £15.99 (paperback not out until September). That is a big difference from the eBook version at £1.20. Granted there are negligible production costs for the eBook once the initial eBook is created but the hardback production costs are not going to be £14.79 per book.

So it brings me to wonder if Amazon is just using this as great marketing to sell more Kindle’s at £152 or £111 depending on the version, which they probably make good margins on perhaps?

However we all need to be looking closely at how eBook pricing is going to affect the writing/publishing business model. Is there going to be enough margins left out of £1.20 to provide a sensible income for authors? And if you build in production costs of a book such as editing, proof reading, layout, cover design etc it starts to make the whole business model unviable for everyone. If we are not careful the book market is going to be dominated by poor content (a little like the Internet) which tends to be the outcome of ‘Free’ or ‘Cheap’.

Read the full article The Bookseller.com

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