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Author Topic: $0.99 sells a lot of eBooks  (Read 7659 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2011, 07:56:55 AM »
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- and some people, including me, will tell you that e-readers are not as good an experience as paper books. 

John,
I get the impression that you don't actually own or use an e-reader. It is different from an iPad. For a start, the screen is not transmissive. The e-ink screen is as easy on the eyes as a printed page. In fact, it's easier because one can change the font size to suit one's eyesight.

I admit there will probably always be a few marginal and trivial advantages the old-fashioned book will retain. You can drop a book on a hard surface without expecting it to be damaged, and you can quickly flip through dozens of pages in search of the page with a particular photograph. With an e-reader you really need to know the page number to get there quickly.

On the other hand, if we're talking about trivial advantages, the e-reader also has at least an equal number as well as many major advantages.

An example of a trivial advantage, which I find quite appealing nevertheless, is the fact you can place a e-book reader on any flat surface and turn pages with one finger whilst supping a glass of wine or eating a bag of chips.

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After all the jumping up and down is done, you still read the book. E-readers didn't give us higher ISOs.

Yes they do. Some e-book readers have illuminated screens which allow you to read in the dark. The Kindle DX doesn't, but it does have an audio mode with a computerised voice, which one can switch to any time.

In fact, this is the equivalent of the ultimate high ISO. Even with the Nikon D3s, image quality is somewhat degraded at high ISO, whereas the e-reader provides total clarity of every word in total darkness, whether by eyesight or hearing.

Of course, I already hear the knee-jerk objections to the computerised voice. However, the Kindle DX also accepts audio books narrated by your favourite actor. You've got the choice, and sufficient memory to store the choices.

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But the thing about paper books...I have a large collection of art books. The color prints inside are far better than anything I can get on an iPad, which actually has a pretty great screen.

Art books are in a different category. They are usually even heavier than an MFDB system. They are not easily portable and I think it unlikely you would carry your large format art book of the paintings of Picasso to the doctor's or dentist's waiting room, or take it with you when trekking in the Himalayas.

However, as technology advances, I see no reason why a large format, high resolution e-reader could not be produced which would be half the weight of a single, large art book, display color images of equal or better quality to the paper equivalent, and store 1,000 of such books covering the entire history of art.

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..and I can tell you, neither Confucius nor Shakespeare is really burning up the best-seller lists...

A quick search on Google reveals that 'A Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens is one of the all-time best sellers, but sales of the Bible beat it.

Since China is now embracing Confucianism again, after having rejected it under Mao, I expect sales (or at least the distribution) of the Analects will increase dramatically in the future.

I imagine in the future the old-fashioned, tree-consuming, inefficient paper book will become a niche market for those suffering from technophobia.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2011, 08:58:50 AM »
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Ray,

You forgot another important advantage of a good e-reader: You can do a search for a specific word or phrase if you don't remember the page number. This has already saved me a few hours of page-flipping on my wife's kindle.

We have the Pevear translation of Anna Karenina in both kindle and real book versions, and I wouldn't want to get rif of either of them.

Eric
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Ray
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« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2011, 10:09:30 AM »
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Ray,

You forgot another important advantage of a good e-reader: You can do a search for a specific word or phrase if you don't remember the page number. This has already saved me a few hours of page-flipping on my wife's kindle.

We have the Pevear translation of Anna Karenina in both kindle and real book versions, and I wouldn't want to get rif of either of them.

Eric

Hi Eric,
Yes, there are lots of advantages I haven't mentioned. I particularly like the fact when I open a book it automatically resumes at the precise page I was previously at. I don't have to worry about physical bookmarks falling out. I also like the fact the Kindle DX includes a dictionary I can refer to any time using the small keyboard, and make notes and highlights of any text I'm reading.

E-readers are truly wonderful devices.
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dreed
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« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2011, 07:37:06 PM »
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I wonder why we are discussing on a photographic forum the quality and price/value of cheap thrillers and dumb pop songs at 99 cents.

The reason that I brought this subject up is that there will be (if not already is) an unmistakable shift from producing material for photographers that is delivered with physical media vs in electronic form that is downloaded.

For example, LLVJs are no longer made on DVDs, they're downloaded. Another different type of subject matter was the photography guide to Grand Teton National Park.

In selling physical items, there is an established idea that you get something tangible and of value. It is obvious to the buyer that it must cost "something."

In selling electronic wares, it becomes increasingly apparent that it is harder to get a feel for what something should cost.

What is thus far apparent is that the wider public is quite willing to throw down $1 or less on an electronic book or song. Will that pattern continue into the future or will it fail? How low will authors gamble in bringing the price down for electronic media in the hope of increasing volume now that the distribution costs have changed from being producing the object to allowing it to be downloaded? Are the challenges for selling video substantially different from eBooks/ePaper and music?

There's also an aspect of volume: electronic goods are available in unbounded volume because you can keep copying those digital bits over and over, whereas there won't be any more LLVJ DVDs. I suppose this is the rarity part of the equation.
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Ray
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2011, 09:36:07 PM »
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The reason that I brought this subject up is that there will be (if not already is) an unmistakable shift from producing material for photographers that is delivered with physical media vs in electronic form that is downloaded.

For example, LLVJs are no longer made on DVDs, they're downloaded. Another different type of subject matter was the photography guide to Grand Teton National Park.

In selling physical items, there is an established idea that you get something tangible and of value. It is obvious to the buyer that it must cost "something."

In selling electronic wares, it becomes increasingly apparent that it is harder to get a feel for what something should cost.

What is thus far apparent is that the wider public is quite willing to throw down $1 or less on an electronic book or song. Will that pattern continue into the future or will it fail? How low will authors gamble in bringing the price down for electronic media in the hope of increasing volume now that the distribution costs have changed from being producing the object to allowing it to be downloaded? Are the challenges for selling video substantially different from eBooks/ePaper and music?

There's also an aspect of volume: electronic goods are available in unbounded volume because you can keep copying those digital bits over and over, whereas there won't be any more LLVJ DVDs. I suppose this is the rarity part of the equation.

Dreed,
I'm not an economist, but my understanding of the term value is that it is based upon an individual's comparison of the relative desirability of other items he/she could buy for the same amount of money. It's a very subjective term.

For me, a printable guide in PDF format is more valuable than the same information in paper book format, provided the quality of any images the guide may contain is the same, and provided there are no restrictions to printing or copying.

The reason I value the PDF more, provided it's printable, is because it's easier for me to print out the PDF guide, if I choose to do so, than it is to turn a paper book into an e-book, which would require the scanning of each page.

Your original complaint in another thread that the Grand Teton PDF guide was not as good value as another Yosemite guide in paper book format at the same price, reflects this principle of 'Opportunity Cost'.

Unfortunately, this example is a deeply flawed comparison because these two guides are practical items used for different purposes. It would be very foolish of you to visit the Grand Teton National Park with a Yosemite guide on the basis that a paper book guide is better value than a PDF guide at the same price. A Yosemite guide has little or no value in a different park....
which brings me to another economic principle.

Items which do not have universal appeal, such as guides to particular national parks, or any publication on any relatively abstruse topic, have a limited demand. People who have no intention of visiting the Grand Teton are unlikely to buy a guide to the Grand Teton simply because it's cheap. Lowering the price substantially may increase sales slightly, but not necessarily significantly, as lowering the price of bananas, or plasma TV sets, may increase sales significantly.

Each publication is directed at a potential audience. In the case of a pop song, romance novel or thriller, that potential audience my be huge. Reducing the price substantially may well increase total net profits for both the publisher and the author.

With other types of publications, reducing the price may reduce net profits. I wonder what the effect on Adobe's net profit would be if they were to reduce their next iteration of CS to 1/3rd of the current price.
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dreed
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« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2011, 12:02:22 PM »
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With other types of publications, reducing the price may reduce net profits. I wonder what the effect on Adobe's net profit would be if they were to reduce their next iteration of CS to 1/3rd of the current price.

CS is software and for which the market and price seems somewhat established. Furthermore, it can only come in one format: electronic. To use it in this thread is not an apples and apples comparison.

Otherwise, your points are well made.
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Ray
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« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2011, 05:18:21 PM »
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CS is software and for which the market and price seems somewhat established. Furthermore, it can only come in one format: electronic. To use it in this thread is not an apples and apples comparison.

Otherwise, your points are well made.

CS software can come in two formats; on a DVD disc like the LLVJ used to, or only downloadable.
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feppe
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« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2011, 02:22:19 PM »
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On a related note: Best Selling Author Turns Down Half A Million Dollar Publishing Contract To Self-Publish. According to him "it makes a lot more sense to retain 70% of your earnings on ebooks priced cheaply, rather than 14.9% on expensive books put out by publishers."
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John Camp
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« Reply #28 on: March 25, 2011, 03:53:34 AM »
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It will be interesting to see how this turns out, and what he means by "low-priced," and I'd be *very* interested to know who is going to give him 70%. The major e-book distributors (Amazon, B&N, Apple) are just as greedy as any other publisher -- that's what they are -- AND they have a far tighter lock on distribution than any paper publisher ever did. There have always been dozens of publishers, but there are only three big American e-book sources, or four, if you count the newly bankrupt and probably doomed Borders.

There's a story in the weekend Wall Street Journal, an interview with Mary Higgens Clark, in which it says that 20% of her last best-seller was sold in e-book form.Overall, e-books in January 2011 were a little less than 10% of the market (~$69 million in ebooks vs. ~$809 million for the total market.) I would expect, though, that in the bestseller world, ebooks would hold a higher percentage.

If Barry Eisler was offered $500,000 for a book, in a hard-soft deal, I'd estimate that the publisher was expecting to sell no more than 50-60 thousand hardcovers and maybe 200,000-250,000 softcovers. At .99 a copy, keeping 70%, Eisler would just about have to double his readership to break even. But, perhaps he's looking to sell at the bestseller rate, which is $9.99 at Amazon...but then, I don't think he'd keep 70%. I can't think of any reason Amazon would do that...The goodness of their hearts, maybe?

An equally interesting question is how people are going to know that Eisler is selling his book. Maybe he'll advertise? One big problem for all writers is simply getting the audience to know that the book is out there...even if the audience WANTS to know that, it's hard. Advertising is back-breakingly expensive, and, for books, terribly inefficient. But, Eisler is (or was) a genuine bestselling author; maybe he's really worked through this and knows what he's doing. It'll be interesting.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #29 on: March 25, 2011, 10:21:17 AM »
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It will be interesting to see how this turns out, and what he means by "low-priced," and I'd be *very* interested to know who is going to give him 70%. The major e-book distributors (Amazon, B&N, Apple) are just as greedy as any other publisher -- that's what they are -- AND they have a far tighter lock on distribution than any paper publisher ever did.
Amazon pays the publisher (meaning author in the case of self-published), 70% on books priced $2.99 or higher (I think it's 30% for books under that price).

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If Barry Eisler was offered $500,000 for a book, in a hard-soft deal, I'd estimate that the publisher was expecting to sell no more than 50-60 thousand hardcovers and maybe 200,000-250,000 softcovers. At .99 a copy, keeping 70%, Eisler would just about have to double his readership to break even. But, perhaps he's looking to sell at the bestseller rate, which is $9.99 at Amazon...but then, I don't think he'd keep 70%. I can't think of any reason Amazon would do that...The goodness of their hearts, maybe?
I doubt he will price it at $9.99, that doesn't really qualify as "cheap" for e-books. But if he did he would still get 70%. My guess is it will be priced under $5.

Just because the traditional publishers would never pay that kind of royalty doesn't mean it's unthinkable. That's the whole reason the traditional publishers are fumbling so badly with ebooks; they just don't get that the rules have changed.

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An equally interesting question is how people are going to know that Eisler is selling his book. Maybe he'll advertise? One big problem for all writers is simply getting the audience to know that the book is out there...even if the audience WANTS to know that, it's hard. Advertising is back-breakingly expensive, and, for books, terribly inefficient. But, Eisler is (or was) a genuine bestselling author; maybe he's really worked through this and knows what he's doing. It'll be interesting.
For an author who already has a following, blogging and social media can be a very effective means of marketing, and then there's the review system at Amazon and other etailers. (I've found more a few new authors I like strictly due to the reviews and recommendations at Amazon, that I would have never found via traditional marketing). And there are still places he can do advertising (online especially) that would target potential readers and probably have a better return than the traditional methods of marketing.
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feppe
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« Reply #30 on: March 25, 2011, 12:39:30 PM »
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It will be interesting to see how this turns out, and what he means by "low-priced," and I'd be *very* interested to know who is going to give him 70%. The major e-book distributors (Amazon, B&N, Apple) are just as greedy as any other publisher -- that's what they are -- AND they have a far tighter lock on distribution than any paper publisher ever did. There have always been dozens of publishers, but there are only three big American e-book sources, or four, if you count the newly bankrupt and probably doomed Borders.

There's a story in the weekend Wall Street Journal, an interview with Mary Higgens Clark, in which it says that 20% of her last best-seller was sold in e-book form.Overall, e-books in January 2011 were a little less than 10% of the market (~$69 million in ebooks vs. ~$809 million for the total market.) I would expect, though, that in the bestseller world, ebooks would hold a higher percentage.

If Barry Eisler was offered $500,000 for a book, in a hard-soft deal, I'd estimate that the publisher was expecting to sell no more than 50-60 thousand hardcovers and maybe 200,000-250,000 softcovers. At .99 a copy, keeping 70%, Eisler would just about have to double his readership to break even. But, perhaps he's looking to sell at the bestseller rate, which is $9.99 at Amazon...but then, I don't think he'd keep 70%. I can't think of any reason Amazon would do that...The goodness of their hearts, maybe?

An equally interesting question is how people are going to know that Eisler is selling his book. Maybe he'll advertise? One big problem for all writers is simply getting the audience to know that the book is out there...even if the audience WANTS to know that, it's hard. Advertising is back-breakingly expensive, and, for books, terribly inefficient. But, Eisler is (or was) a genuine bestselling author; maybe he's really worked through this and knows what he's doing. It'll be interesting.

Amazon gives 70% royalties on ebooks to authors (minus delivery) on books priced 2.99 to 9.99 USD - I'm not an author and haven't read the fine print, though. It is in their interest to push ebooks since they produce Kindle and (presumably) retain a higher cut than on dead-tree books. They sell more ebooks than paperbacks these days and it's only going to grow. It will be interesting to see how that percentage will be affected by their market share: they face stiff competition from B&N, Sony and others.

Kindle (and Nook) is crippled by DRM and Amazon has some very questionable policies regarding their right to delete or alter customers' books, but people don't seem to care.

It's much easier for established authors to do these kinds of deals in writing and music - they already have a fan base who are looking forward to their future work. Still, there's no reason why a distributed model of finding great authors or musicians wouldn't work. It's already happening on a small scale, with stories about youtube stars making it and of course the continued barrage of TV shows Idol This and [country's] Best That.
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feppe
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« Reply #31 on: March 25, 2011, 06:07:25 PM »
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Looks like there already is a self-published author-millionaire who made it from nothing, without the support of traditional publishing.

Interestingly she is only now signing a seven-figure contract with a legacy publisher, after becoming a best-selling author. As a further sign of reversal of roles, she says about the deal in her blog "Part of the reason I'm taking [the publishing deal] now is because I have made enough of my name for myself that I had the leverage to get the kind of deal I wanted."
« Last Edit: March 25, 2011, 06:22:05 PM by feppe » Logged

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