When E-Books Cost More than Hardcovers

NEW YORK - MAY 06:  Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hold...
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I’m frugal. Frugal does not mean cheap. But, the price of an -book can be a bit surprising.

The New York Times reported recently on two Kindle editions that were more expensive than their hardcover counterparts. The differences were a dollar or less, but still. Publishers and writers deserve to make money off of their books, but if the goal is to encourage e-book adoptions, and factoring in the reduced distribution costs(although now, of course, the ebookstore gets a cut), then there should be at least some difference.

Publishers have argued that the problem isn’t that the ebooks are priced too high, it is that the hardcovers are priced too low. Amazon had set the price for the Kindle edition of a book out in hardcover at $9.99, but did raise it due to pressure from the publishers.

Kindle editions are outselling hardcover books on Amazon. E-books are estimated at 8& of total book sales, up from 3-5% a year ago. But paperbacks are still so inexpensive, it will likely be a while before electronic books outpace them. Amazon puts this milestone at perhaps a year away. Perhaps then we’ll get a price drop…or not. But then…will less books be published, or more? Does electronic publishing lower the bar or raise it?

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that e-books may be hurting writers. Many e-books generate less income for publishers, and thus publishers are approving fewer deals and signing fewer new writers, as well as offering smaller advances.

The problem, however, is for those new writers. Big-name authors and novels are doing well electronically. But sellers of e-books aren’t set up as well to help readers discover new authors. Perhaps that is where third-party sites would come in. But Amazon should have an interest in selling as many different books as possible.

What do you think?