Pricing is a red-hot topic among publishers when it comes to ebooks. As I said in a Q&A for Forbes.com last week, cost-driven pricing (especially when the costs in question are calculated based on printed output) is a poor approach for ebook publishers. Readers simply don’t care how much it costs a publisher to produce an ebook — they only care how much it’s worth to them. (This is especially true for the iPhone, where books must compete alongside games, music, movies, and other “apps” primarily priced well below $10.)
Now a group of readers is rebelling against books priced above $9.99 in the Kindle store (using Amazon’s own tagging system, ironically) and there’s a very interesting explanation of the rationale over at Electronic Cottage (all emphasis from the original):
The price also acknowledged the obvious: a Kindle edition is less valuable than a hardcover; although you cannot pass along your Kindle edition to friends, you are at least paying a significant amount less than the hardcover price. Unfortunately, short-sighted publishers feel they are losing dollars instead of realizing that a $9.99 Kindle sale doesn’t usurp a hardcover sale. It is a brand new entity. A plus. Pure gravy.
I joined the boycott yesterday when I went to buy the new Harlen Coben book, only to be stopped by the high price. Since then, I’ve added the boycott tags to books over $9.99. I’m not happy about it. I’d rather buy the latest installment of Myron Bolitar’s adventures and Chris Knopf’s 2008 release, “Head Wounds.” In fact, I was one of those who clicked Amazon’s “Tell the Publisher” button to indicate that I wanted a Kindle edition of “Head Wounds.” But not at $15.40. I’ll wait for the paperback. Or get back into the library habit that I abandoned for my Kindle habit. I was irresistibly tempted by the lower prices of Kindle editions, I admit it. I just counted my Kindle orders since I got the reader in December 2008.144 Kindle books. Yikes. 144 books. I had no idea. Publishers, are you paying attention?
That’s a very good question.