The proper price of an eBook

£ eBook = £ (book – printing) / (eBook sales / book sales)

I have major issues with the way Amazon prices eBooks. They are consistently (I’ll need some proof of that…) within 10% of the price of a paperback. That’s a farce.

Here is one perfectly good example of a more sensible pricing structure, from Jon Hicks’ The Icon Handbook:

So the main paperback book is £32. But the eBook is half that (AND DRM FREE). Further to that, if you buy the paperback then you get the eBook for £6. Six quid is almost an after thought, so there’s a good chance that anyone buying the paperback will buy the  eBook too. Thus the author gets more money per book and the reader gets extra value for their book.

When you print books especially for a small publisher you have to invest in printing so many books. There’s a cost associated with gambling on the correct number of books to print and there’s always a cost associated with printing another one, storing it and shipping it.

Cost of printing another eBook – zero. Cost of storing eBook – zero (Dropbox do free 2GB accounts and you only need to store one of them).

The only other cost of producing an eBook is the creation of the eBook in the first place. Now given that pretty much all books now will be typed on computer, its likely that what ever program is used to print the book will also convert it into a PDF, so it would seem that an eBook is simply a by-product of creating the paperback.

I bet you don’t have to pay double for the printing software to get it to print eBooks. Of course if you want to put DRM on it , you’ll probably have to pay a shedload to Adobe. They’ll be happy and your customers won’t.

I guess this comes down to two simple questions:

  1. How much does the company make once the costs of paperback printing are set aside.
  2. How many more copies do you sell of an eBook than you do of a paperback book? (So that the author can still make the same income).

Proper eBook price: £ eBook = £ (book – printing) / (eBook sales / book sales)


2 thoughts on “The proper price of an eBook

  1. I agree totally. While I think £32 for any book, and £16 for any book is really expensive, I assume it is some kind of text book and so warrants it!

    If A New paperback costs £10, then the E book should be no more than £5. I think a ratio of 50% cost of paperback list price is OK. You could offer periodical discounts on either paperback or E book to reduce further, but no more than 50% of list price should be allowed for an E book.


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