Case in point: I just read a glowing review of Jonathan Tropper's "This is Where I Leave You." I'm sold; I want it. But something's amiss here: Amazon's hardcover price is $15.57, while the Kindle edition sells for $14.01.Now, here is my favorite part of the article (even though I realize it will be a cold day in you know where before any publisher would dare try this idea):
Now, I understand books cost money. There's editing, publishing, and distribution. Paper, ink, trucks, gasoline. Storage, shipping, shelf space, sales staff. And the countless people involved in all those transactions.
E-books, on the other hand, consume zero trees. They weigh nothing, occupy no physical space, and don't get shipped in the traditional sense. Middlemen are few and far between. So you're left with, what, editing costs and the pittance you pay the authors?
Let's get some perspective. Publishers have vast libraries of old, forgotten books that are generating zero income, or close to it. Why can't I buy e-book editions for 99 cents? Last I checked, some revenue was better than no revenue.Book publishers are making the same mistake that music labels have made in recent years. Both businesses are sitting on a goldmine of out-of-print material that generates absolutely zero income for them right now. Why not bring some of those gems out in e-book format as a test to see what might happen when they are made available for a dollar or two. I suspect that the publishers would be amazed at the amount of cash that would roll their way.
Why aren't best sellers priced at, say, $2.99? That's an impulse-buy price, one that would encourage readers to pony up instead of waiting weeks or months to check out the one print copy the library bought.
Sadly, though, I doubt that book publishers are any more visionary than music labels proved to be. Incompetent management has just about killed the major labels; I would really hate to see that happen to the book publishers.