Page count, pricing, and value propositions

Short does not equal cheap, especially when it saves me time

I was going to buy Chris Anderson’s new book but this review stopped me in my tracks:

Reads like a poorly written magazine article that has been unfortunately dragged out into a full-length book.

I’ve read far too many 300-page books that could have been summarized in 5-10 pages as a magazine article. Why do we insist on puffing up articles until they’re the length of a book? One reason is because we’re used to creating a spine presence on a physical bookshelf. That’s less of an issue these days, especially as ebooks become more popular. Another reason is that we haven’t figured out how to sell the value proposition that “shorter saves time so it’s OK to charge more for it.”

This is one area where Amazon gets it wrong sometimes. Kindle Singles don’t have to be cheap.

Anderson’s ebook lists for $12.99 for on Rather than buying it and being disappointed I’d prefer paying $13.99 for a 10-page summary of the core content. Why pay more? Because it saves me time to read 10 pages vs. 300. That’s worth something to me. If publishers offered both options, $12.99 book-length and $13.99 summary, which version would sell more? Long-form will be more popular initially but short-form will eventually overtake it, especially as consumers get more comfortable with this model.

Btw, I’m not talking about those existing book summary services. I’ve tried two of them and they generally didn’t deliver, partly because they didn’t want to give away all the key elements of the book. More importantly, the summaries I tried weren’t written by the author.

Give me an ebook in summary format, written by the author, sell it at a slightly higher price and I’ll buy it. How about you?

tags: , , ,