I was just doing my pre-reading research on a book (yes, I'm that obsessive ... I need to have all my info for doing my reviews set up and ready to go before I start to read), and noticed that Amazon had the hardcover book in question at a very generous 34% discount, which is swell of them. However, the thing that jumped off the page was that they were selling the Kindle edition of the book for only 10% less, or to put it the other way around, the electronic, no-paper, no-ink, no-shipping, 1¢ worth of bandwidth, download of the book was costing 90% of what they were currently asking for the actual, tangible, hard cover BOOK!
Who the heck is getting suckered in by this?
Now, I'm probably "not the person to ask" about this, as I literally have the first book I ever bought (at age 6 or so) in my physical library, but you really must not like books to do this Kindle thing. I suppose that if one lived in a zendo-like setting with a mat, a cushion, a low table, and a small vase with a single flower in it, having a Kindle would have a certain appeal ... but for everybody else, it would seem to me that nearly fifteen bucks for a download is mighty steep.
I spent 10 years running my own publishing company. For a $10 book, 40% is retail markup, another 15% is wholesale markup, another 10-15% is likely distributor markup, so you're looking at only three bucks or so for the actual book costs, out of which needs to come the printing, the storage, the shipping, the marketing, and all the development (editorial, author royalties, etc.) costs ... with something hopefully left over for a profit. For an e-book, your base costs are probably 10-15% of cover, pretty much being stripped down to the last two, development and marketing. How in the hell can Amazon, et al, justify charging sixty percent of the printed hard-cover book's cover price for a Kindle edition? Who's making the money?
I'm pretty sure that the authors aren't making it. And it would be my guess that the publishing houses aren't seeing any more (and my guess would be that they've getting substantially less) than the 35% of cover that they get for actual books. Is Amazon really being that rapacious?
The only thing I can figure is that Amazon assumes that if you've got the spare cash to buy a Kindle, you don't care about money and they can charge what they want. Sort of like the Apple approach ... you find a sucker to buy your "cute" computer and then you can charge them $90 to get a cable to hook it up to a printer ... since they were stupid enough to buy your "proprietary" system, what are they going to do?
This brings me back to the whole music thing. Had the MP3 revolution not been based on piracy, there might have been a sane model developed. There is no way in hell a downloaded song should cost more than 25¢ ... but the record companies insisted on maintaining a pricing structure that approximated the retail on a CD, without actually involving the printing, manufacturing, and shipping costs involved.
The MOST an e-book ought to cost would be 20-30% of the print edition (and, arguably, the mass-market paperback print edition), as its production and distribution costs are very nearly zero, and all that's involved are development and marketing costs!
While there may be "a sucker born every minute", I can't see the high price being maintainable (and hell, HERE's an article saying that the prices are going UP!). If 65% (or more) of the cost of ANY standard book is distribution mark-up, and suddenly the Distributors, the Wholesalers, and the brick-and-mortar Retailers aren't involved, where is THAT money going? The figure for e-books should start at 45% of the cover price (standard wholesale) of the cheapest print edition, and then go down reflecting the absence of costs involved with printing, shipping, and storage of the books!
Arrgh. Sorry to be venting, but this just got under my skin today!