The Absurd Cost of eBooks

Have you ever noticed that online book retailers often sell an eBook for the same price as a printed copy?

If you talk to any reseller, or book author, they will tell you that the eBook price is set by the publisher and that they have no control over the pricing.  So why do the publishers charge so much?

Sure, there are going to be overhead costs and piracy, but traditional publishers have to deal with those too.  eBooks don’t consume paper, and they don’t have to be shipped or stored in a warehouse.  The overhead costs have to be lower, so why are they so expensive?

I’m sure the publishers have their reasons, but two companies in particular show us that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Amazon has created two innovative programs that allow would-be eBook authors to self-publish.  The first program is the Kindle Direct Publishing program.  With KDP, an eBook can be published and on sale within 24 hours, available globally in multiple languages, earn up to 70% royalties, and be read on a Kindle or any of the free Kindle readers.  The author retains full control over their work, and a Kindle eBook can be published with or without DRM.  Many Kindle titles offer the option to download a free sample so you can decide whether or not you like the eBook well enough to buy it.  You can even electronically return an eBook within a couple of days of purchase if you decide you didn’t like it.

If an author’s book is more suited to print than to eReaders, Amazon has an answer for that, too.  CreateSpace is Amazon’s answer to traditional print publishing.  With CreateSpace, authors get access to professional services to help them self-publish and distribute their books and leverage the considerable power of Amazon in the marketplace.

Amazon isn’t the only company doing great things in the era of modern media.  O’Reilly Media is a publisher at the forefront of the digital media revolution.  Best known as a publisher of high-quality technology-related books, they are beginning to include non-technical titles that appeal to business people and innovators and they now offer titles from over 25 other publishers, including Microsoft Press and the “Dummies” collection.

What makes O’Reilly a great digital publisher is that they ‘get’ it.  They know the difference between traditional print and eBooks and they understand their customers. 

When you buy eBooks from O’Reilly, you get lifetime access to them via their website and they are available for download in multiple eBook formats: PDF, ePub, Kindle-compatible .mobi, and DAISY.  Their eBooks are DRM-free, which means you can read them on any device you choose.  When a title has corrections or addendums, they will notify you and you can download the updated eBook for no additional charge.  If you have a Dropbox account you can sync your entire collection to it.  When new editions are published, O’Reilly’s policy is to give you a discount on them if you own an earlier edition. They even run daily specials on eBooks for 50% off and you can sign up to be notified of these specials via email.

I’ll even let you in on a little secret.  O’Reilly doesn’t generally offer free samples, but Amazon carries O’Reilly titles and they do.  You can check out a sample of O’Reilly’s daily special on Amazon before you decide to buy it.

To the best of my knowledge, both Amazon and O’Reilly are doing quite well in the marketplace.  I hope other publishers and retailers will follow the outstanding examples they have set.


1 Comment

Filed under Digital Media

One response to “The Absurd Cost of eBooks

  1. Pingback: The Truth About Ebooks That Publishers Don’t Want You To Know | Cindy D

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