Ereader e-book pricing still shrouded in secrecy

The popularity of e-readers and e-books continue to grow at an alarming rate, although many concerns remain regarding the inflated cost of e-books.

Amazon was dedicated to a $9.99 price point for e-books, but publishers stepped in and caused a progressive increase in pricing. The publishers, according to them, need the price increases to help make up for overhead that ranges from marketing and royalties to publishing or digital editing.

Ereader e-book pricing still shrouded in secrecy

A common argument against higher e-book pricing is that it’s a digital download that doesn’t require printing, shipping and storage in book stores — but publishers say there are more costs behind-the-scenes that shoppers don’t know about.

If publishers want to try to defend against attacks from critics, it would be fruitful to provide verified numbers. Simply deflecting blame and saying there are unknown circumstances that consumers don’t know about just isn’t enough.

Finding exact information related to the cost of e-books as opposed to printed hardcover and paperback books has been difficult to find — and even more difficult to verify. For an e-book, the publisher stands to gain between $4.56 and $5.54 per $12.99 e-book sold and $3.51 – $4.26 for a $9.99 e-book.

Regular paperbacks and hardcovers sold at $26 ($4.05 publisher profit) will continue to yield lower profits compared to e-books.

Despite higher profits, publishers also note that e-books account for just 3 to 5 percent of overall sales. The $12.99 to $14.99 price tag set by publishers is an effort to combat the $9.99 price tag from Amazon — and is more of an experiment, not necessarily official pricing.

There is a psychological battle in place among stores selling e-books, with companies unwilling to sell e-books at higher prices than rivals. If retailers and publishers can work out a fair selling point with consumers, the popularity of e-books can significantly increase.

I think book publishers have to be careful that they don’t accelerate e-book piracy — a growing problem that hasn’t yet plagued publishers the same way the music and movie industries have suffered.

It just doesn’t make sense that some e-books are priced higher than their paperback counterparts. When that happens, it really just makes the publisher look greedy.

Do you think e-books should be significantly cheaper than paperbacks?