e-books pricing (was: Re: a very small quantum entertainment)

From: Damien Broderick (d.broderick@english.unimelb.edu.au)
Date: Mon Jul 24 2000 - 09:45:18 MDT

In the last thrilling chapter, you'll recall,

At 03:15 PM 23/07/00 -0500, Phil wrote :

>I looked, but am disappointed in Eidolon.

>I could buy a big fat physical book for $11 plus postage.

I passed on this customer reaction to Steve at Fictionwise, who made the
following response, which he's allowed me to repost here:


Yes, there are people like that. But there are plenty others who don't
feel this way. The price we've posted is a bit less than the australian
newsstand price, so I don't understand the price issue. The purpose of
ebooks is definitely not to offer books at a "fraction of the cost." This
is really a fallacy. An ebook should be priced a little lower than the
print edition, but not at "a fraction" of the cost. (Unless the fraction
you are talking about is 9/10.) The printing costs for
a physical paper back book are only about $1 out of a list price here in
the usa of about $8. So by any reasonable logic the price should be about
10 percent less for an ebook with the same content. What people are
paying for is the *content* not much the package.

We have over 2,100 readers at Fictionwise right now, and that is growing
by about 1,000 per month. Most of these people read on Palm Pilot and
Rocket Ebook platforms and are quite happy to pay what we're asking. And
we have ample repeat sales to prove that this is not just a fluke. Currently
nearly 25% of all our sales are repeat customers. We have several customers
who have come back 4 or more times (and we've only been open about six weeks).
We have several customers who have bought more than 60 titles and have spent
close to $100.

Anyway, there are skeptics and there are early adopters of any new technology
and ebooks are no exception. All I can say is, the research shows that the
early adopters are growing very rapidly in the ebook world, and we are
thousands of them already. Over the next 3 to 5 years, the early adopters will
give way to the mass markets as the prices of handheld readers drops to the
consumer "impulse" threshhold of about $40. And, we'll be there with plenty
of content for them when they arrive.

If you want to see some arguments that go the other way, check out the
newsgroups on http://www.ebooknet.com There are people there who say they are
more than happy to pay the full hard cover price ($20 to $30) for ebooks.
Steve Pendergrast


Damien Broderick

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