It seems like we’ve been talking a lot about ebooks in the last few months here at Futurismic, which is surely a sign of the times. The thing that’s been bothering me about ebooks for a while (and the principle reason I’ve not really started buying them myself as of yet) is that the pricing has seemed a little… unreasonable. [image by shimgray]
It’s not just me, it would appear. Yesterday, Kassia Krozser of Booksquare laid the boot into publishers trying to gouge the same price from their ebook customers as from their dead-tree buyers:
Let’s go through this one more time: ebooks are a new, different market. You, dear publishers, have been given that rarest of gifts: a new revenue stream (think: home video for the motion picture business). These books are not competition. While there are more than a few readers who would love the luxury of choice of format/style/device when it comes to purchasing and reading books (you’re reading one), the ebook customer is different than the print book customer. Even if your ebook sales are growing by leaps and bounds each quarter, they’re nowhere near the volume that print achieves.
You’re dealing with a different animal, and — wahoo! — you now have the opportunity to change how you do business. Let’s start with smarter pricing. No, let’s start with the idea that you, publishers, are not the only game in town.
Tough love indeed. However, hot on the heels of Ms Krozser’s screed (and far too close to have been a response to it, I might add) came an announcement at SF Signal: genre fiction publishers Orbit are now offering a different ebook from their backlist each month for just US$1.
Now, this is still far from ideal; it’s just a handful of titles in a handful of formats, and the inevitable and much-loathed DRM is involved. But it’s a start. I suspect as the tough times dig in over the next year, we’ll see the start of a race for the bottom in ebook pricing… especially in the genre scene, which seems to tend toward a more tech-savvy readership.