Friday 4 March 2011

E-books are making an impact...

There have been two news items on e-books this week that show they are starting to play an important role in publishing.

On Wednesday (2nd March) European Commission Inspectors made 'unannouced inspections' at a number of European publishers on the basis of "suspicion of anti-competition practices on the pricing of e-books."

Nothing is being said about it relating to agency pricing, but it isn't likely to be anything else, when the OFT in the UK has already launched an investigation into this issue and cited complaints and EU laws as the basis.

I do like the comments from appropriate spokespeople saying they have no proof and are not accusing anyone...

You can read the interesting responses from officials in this article.

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Mintel (a market research company) have revealed that existing e-book owners are more realistic about pricing (doesn't mean they are always happy with that pricing though) while younger readers expected to pay less- Mintel took this to be a reflection of previous experience of obtaining digital products cheaply or for free (and some of those free sources could have come courtesy of piracy). 

But it did confirm that most readers expected to pay less for an e-book, 40-70% off the hardback price. (As agency pricing has been selling e-books at the same price as a hardback- sometimes even more, then there is still a long way to go before a satisfactory compromise is reached between publisher and reader).

(For anyone thinking about pricing of their e-books) those who expected to pay less-for an e-book-preferred a price of £3 to £6, while existing e-reader owners expected to pay £6 to £10.

(For an 80-90,000 word e-novel by an author with a few books to their name I'd personally have no issue with paying £6 to £8).

The research was undertaken in December 2010 and in the run-up to Christmas there is often a push on e-readers. So by December 2011 the results they found could have changed if they asked those same people again.

49% did say they they would rather have a book than an e-book- so there's no risk of the mass demise of the paperback.
But clearly these same respondents were concerned (like everyone) about their money as 1 in 10 said they expected to buy less books this year than they bought last year...

I know I'm not buying as many books as early last year- whether solid or digital. So are you buying less books than previously? 


Patsy said...

I'd rather have a 'real' book than an e-book and I'd expect the electronic version to be cheaper. With e-books there are no raw materials to buy, printing or transport costs or storage requirements to pay for.

Lexia257 said...

I also would rather have a 'real' book than an e-book, but if I did buy an e-book, the price I'd pay would depend on the suject/interest to me rather than whether it's online or not.
If there was a book that I really wanted but could only get as an e-book, than I would pay the same price as I would for it as a hard copy. This is of course from my point of view as a reader as opposed to my writer's perspective !

Carolb said...

Interesting, thanks Patsy and Lexia.
The one costs that publishers cannot overlook on e-book pricing is VAT, which is not payable on books.
As writers we expect to be paid for our writing and copyright- so there is a cost there.
Cover design is another chargeable service. You might be able to use the existing book cover but the contract was probably just for a book. If a cover is graphic heavy a different cover is needed, so more money.
Soon adds up but no to hardback prices.

Jennifer Lee Thomson, Jenny Thomson said...

The book people seem to be saying they will take over because they save money and are POD.

Carolb said...

I honestly don't think they will ever take over Jennifer, though they certainly offer a way for writers to get their work read by the reading public, rather than waiting for a publisher who might decide their book fits their lists.
The important thing for a writer is that e-books make money. For the reader it is more variety.
But it will never replace a book.

Teresa Ashby said...

I've been quite surprised at how expensive e-books are and given the choice I'd rather have a real book in my hands.
I can't see me cutting back on what I spend on books. There are other things I could do without, but books would be one of the last to go.

Carolb said...

I can understand your preference for a real books Teresa- I always buy my favourite authors latest books in book form.
I agree with you that e-books can be expensive, though many of these tend to be from big publishers who are using the agency model, or for non-fiction.
Fortunatly there are smaller publishers around who sell their e-books at more realistic prices.
But the real dilemma is: if you had to choose which to give up, would it be chocolate or books? :-)

Teresa Ashby said...

It pains me to say this, Carol but it would have to be chocolate if I had to give up one or the other. I once gave up chocolate for a year and for every week I didn't have chocolate I put a pound aside. At the end of the year I spent my "winnings" on books!

Carolb said...

I'm not sure I could be that strong-willed Teresa...

Patsy said...

Carol, I've given you a Stylish Blogger award over at my place.

You don't have to accept or take any notice (I won't be offended), but if you like you can copy the award onto your blog, post seven things
about yourself/yourselves and nominate some more stylish blogs to recieve the award.

Carolb said...

Thank you Patsy- my second within a week, so I better get on with my list.