Thursday, September 5, 2013

Culture: The Golden Age For Books

(Drivebycuriosity) - The golden age for books has broken. At least for their latest incarnation: The e-books.

The digital version of books is usually cheaper than the printed. On prices for e-books are often deep below of the printed version. When I open my "Kindle Paperwhite" I usually get ads for books which cost around $3, sometimes just 2$  - as offer of the day. I reckon that this is a trend and that e-books will get much cheaper in the coming years.

The costs to produce an e-book are almost nil. Publishers don´t have to spend money on paper (dead forests), printing, storing and distributing. But today´s e-book prices usually don´t reflect this advantages fully. E-book prices are set by the publishers, who act as monopolists (no one else is allowed to print the same book whithout the permission of the publisher). The publishers don´t want too much competition to their printed books, which are often over prized.

I believe that the monopoly power of the publishers will be macerated in the coming years which will lead to much lower prices for e-books. The reason will be the huge gap between book price and the compensation for the average book author. With the exception of some celebrities authors get just a small slice from the cake. The lion share of the sales proceeds goes to the publishers who use most of the book revenues for covering their high expenses for administration and marketing. An industry insider told me that authors aren´t really important (except the celebrities). Books - and their success - are made by the sales team and by marketing campaigns.

I believe that more and more authors will choose alternative ways to publish their work, including self-publishing of e-books and cooperating with new kinds of publishers like Those alternatives are attractive for the authors because bypassing the traditional publishers will lead to much lower sales prices. In turn lower prices generate higher copy sales.

Besides the cheapness there are more advantages which also could lead to more copy sales. E-books are spontaneous available. I don´t have to bother to go to a bookshop. It needs just a click to get the book on the e-book reader.

Another advantage is that e-books have no weight. I can take a vast library with me when I travel or just when I take the subway - and I can expand the collection anytime. Especially students, who have to read a lot of recommended books, don`t have walk like furniture haulers.

E-Books also don`t need space. Books collectors don´t need extra shelves - and they don`t have to sacrifice parts of their apartments for the book collection. Not everyone has enough money to maintain a huge library. Btw e-books don´t have to be dusted.

Average prices below $5 and the other advantages could attract new buyers and unlock masses of readers. I believe that in a few years the majority of books will only be published digitally. Printed books will continue to exist. Many love to feel and to smell a real book. But  printed books will be bought only by collectors similar to vinyl records today.

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