Friday, April 22, 2016

Books: Are The Publishers Irrational?

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like ebooks. I can get almost any book published in a minute, I can carry a whole library with me without doing heavy weight lifting, I don´t have to rent an extra room for my vast book collection and ebooks used to be cheaper than the printed version. But, suddenly a major advantage disappeared: Many ebooks cost about the same as their paperback version and some are even more expensive (screenshots below), even that there are zero expenses for paper, printing, storing and distributing.

Amazon wanted to sell ebooks cheap, thanks to the lower costs, but Hachette, Macmillan and other publishers started a war (books), supported by New York Times, Atlantic Magazine, "The New Yorker". "Fortune", "The New Republic" and other media (economy). The publishers won the war. Now the publishers set the price for books sold on Amazon, not the online company. The victory of the publishers let to a price hike for many e-books.

I am reluctant to pay $2 extra for an ebook just because the publisher prices it higher than the paperback. So I often skip the overpriced books, usual from well known authors (like New York Times bestellers) and focus on books which are still cheap. As a result I buy less ebooks as I would have if they would have been reasonable priced ($9 and below). Obviously the majority of other book lovers respond the same. The sales of ebooks are shrinking (consumerist goodereader ). This response had to be expected, consumers alway reduce their purchases when prices are rising. Most customer have just a limited budget and expenses for books are competing with expenses for movies, traveling and other purposes. So, the publishers shot themselves into the foot.

The book culture - and the literacy of the general public - also got a dent. The New York Times and others, who had supported the publishers in the ebook war, had claimed that Amazon is destroying the book culture by selling books cheap! But the shrinking ebooks sales show quite the opposite: The publishers are destroying the book culture by overpricing their products and so are reducing the demand -  people are reading less and less people are buying books. It seems the book market is becoming elitist again. Books are for those who can afford the high prices, people with a tight budget read less.

Thank you publishers and thank you New York Times & Co.

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