Home » Ebook/Ereader Growth, Non-US, Pricing » 16-24s say ebooks are too expensive

16-24s say ebooks are too expensive

30 November 2013

From Voxburner:

Results from Voxburner’s most recent Buying Digital Content Report found that 17% of 16-24s in the UK feel ebooks need to be 75% cheaper than current market prices.

When being asked if ebooks should be cheaper, only 8% of young people found ebooks to be reasonably priced. 28% thought the price of ebooks should be cut by 50%, and 17% said 25% would be enough.

. . . .

I don’t buy ebooks, partially because it’s ridiculous the price is near identical to the print version. It costs so much less to sell an ebook than a hard copy, why not price them appropriately? It’s insulting.

Sean

. . . .

Prices for physical books, which used to be high due to printing and delivery costs, do not apply to ebooks. Selling ebooks on places like Amazon is practically free for authors. Young people are aware of the costs involved in the past, and are holding back from adopting the digital way of reading books primarily on cost.

. . . .

While e-readers are practical in saving space – and weight when travelling around – there is definitely a lack of emotional attachment to books in a digital format.

. . . .

Old models of publishing have to make way for the new. While technology has allowed us to access books we may not have been able to afford because of delivery charges or cost of print, now any text-heavy book – or even magazines with the surge of tablets – can be conveniently downloaded on to various electronic devices. There are readers who seek out physical copies of books and are happy to pay for it, but those who are fans of the e-reader feel like they’re being overcharged.

Link to the rest at Voxburner

Ebook/Ereader Growth, Non-US, Pricing

33 Comments to “16-24s say ebooks are too expensive”

  1. So all the people who have bought the millions of $2.99 indie eBooks that are causing the demise of culture are over 25 years old. News to me.

  2. All my ebooks (including a novel and short novel) are .99. :-)

  3. They’re selling their 28 page report for £495.00. Heh, lost sale right here. ;)

    • You know, they may be the first group that’s outdone Elsevier for the “You’ve Got to be *itting Me” book pricing award. And to think that I almost fainted at the $380 US geology and physics e-books from Elsevier.

      • I’d give it to Bowker. They’ve built a huge business charging exorbitant sums for reports based on incomplete data generated from the sales of numbers they made up.

  4. I agree with Sean. It is insulting.

  5. Dunno, what are the prices they don’t like?

    • “some are almost the same price as paperback – which has risen from £6 to £9 over the last few years.”

      I think that last price is about $15 at current exchange rates. I think that is too high for most books too.

      • Yeah. That’s pretty rough. I’d better love the author then. But even then… times are tough and I’ve started to cut back on hardcovers and double digit priced books.. completely..

      • The price hike in print paperbacks in the UK is due to the fact that British publishers have done away with mass market paperbacks in the past few years and are only selling trade-sized paperbacks now. It’s rather annoying, if you like print books and mostly get yours from the UK.

      • $15 really is too high. I still remember the day I picked up a book that was a $25 or $30 hardcover book and I remember thinking that that was it for me. I can’t justify spending that much on a book. Gosh that seems like it was ages ago. My limit is usually up to $10 or $12 nowadays. I like to buy a few books at once and I just can’t imagine spending what I spend on groceries that will last me 2 weeks on books.

  6. some companies are taking the ****
    take games workshop’s fiction arm Black Library who work as an ur example of this effect…
    The Unremembered Empire novel
    £11.99 BUY EBOOK
    £20.00 BUY NOW Hardback + shiping
    mass market paperback from amazon 6 quid

    Aurelian (enovella)
    £9.50

    Riven e-short
    £1.50 Riven is 1000 words

    Yeah so the price of e-books is just fine for EVERYONE

    fact is publishers big and small are being out evolved by self published writers

  7. And they’re universally right! Well. Almost universally. They’re right about books distributed by corporations.

    I’m relieved to see a headline that’s actually something that can be stated from the report. Every other entity I’ve seen report on this study has gone with “16 to 24s prefer print!!11!!”

    Which is not what they responded, because it’s not what the study asked. The study asked “Of all file formats available for digital purchase, which do you prefer to buy in physical format.” Which is a really stupid question to ask, because it’s not like a 16 year old is going to say “Oh, I prefer eight tracks.”

    Stupid lazy “journalism.”

  8. Best not trust anyone under 30.

  9. The other day there was a post about serial returners, and someone said that if you’re getting a lot of returns, it’s because you’re not putting out a quality product. The comments were closed by the time I got here, so I couldn’t refute–but the contents of this article here are what I was going to point out.

    I’ve written for both adults and teens under different pen names. The YA stories, even the ones priced at $0.99, have a ridiculous rate of returns on Amazon. Buyers never return the “adult” romances. They frequently return the chaste high school romances–sometimes buying and returning an entire short story series in a single day. Presumably, my quality of writing is not significantly worse without sex and cursing. The difference in behavior boils down to audience.

    16-24s, who are largely unemployed or underemployed students, think any price over $2.99 is “unfair.” A lot of high-earning adults have the same opinion. They don’t think they’re paying for the creative work of the author; they think they’re paying for the physical product. Authors can put e-books on Amazon for free, so $4.99 is an outrageous mark-up. They don’t think about the lost opportunity cost of the two years the author spent writing it, or about the hundreds they might have spent on editors and graphic artists. They think like book content just pops out of a factory machine, and they should only have to pay for the materials that make them. No physical materials, no real value.

    • Pretty much this. People in this age bracket are always the least wealthy among us, generally speaking, but the last six years has been really hard on them with respect to employment and wages. As in, even if you have a job, you’re probably paid a pittance, and everything keeps getting more expensive every day.

      My guess is, though, that the books they were really complaining about were the ebooks from traditional publishers, which usually/often still run the same as the paperback prices, or 7.99 to 8.99 for the most popular genre authors in small format paperback, 12 bucks and up or trade sized.

      Heck, I’m not in that age bracket, I do have a bit of discretionary income, and I personally feel 9-12+ dollars for a paperback or ebook is a bit on the high side, too.

      • I have some discretionary income, also, but there’s a limit. I read a hundred books a year, give or take, and I buy more than that. E-books priced at $2.99 or less have been a godsend. I’m reading more, buying more, and spending the same amount of money that I was before I got my Kindle.

        I fully agree that the reader has to take into account the “cost” of the time it took to write and publish a book, but my understanding is that authors were making a couple of bucks per hardcover sold and less per paperback sold. A $2.99 e-book nets you about 2 bucks on Amazon. That’s a decent return compared to the “old days”. I’ll spend more for an author I know I like, but I’ve tried dozens of new writers that I wouldn’t have tried in the ‘old days”…

  10. Although some Publishers have some mild experiments going on about pricing, for the most part, Publishers (not indies) are the ones keeping prices too high. They set the e-book price similar to the hardcover.

    They are doing it intentionally to try to slow down the transition from print to e-books. They don’t care if they are losing sales from this, it’s about survival.

    I could be wrong, but I think as the public increasingly shifts to e-books, pressure will be placed on Publishers to lower prices. Articles like this are the first vanguard.

    It will be interesting to see if public pressure changes things. Publishers tend to ignore public pressure, but then they’ve never really been tested in that arena. They’ve been invisible for the most part, and this will be a new experience for them, if it happens.

  11. The saying goes: Customer is always right. And in this case the customers/readers are right, even if they don’t know that it cost nothing to e-publish on Amazon. And the costs of writing (time), editing, and cover design to name a few are invisible to readers. Should they care? Do you care about other producer’s merchandise cost? When I am a consumer, I don’t. So what’s an author to do about making a penny in this business? Amazon is paying only 35% for books under $1.99, and consumers baulk at e-books priced at over $4.99 (that’s my guess.) As an Indie Author, I’m glad that the Trad Publishers are overpricing their e-Books, either to protect their paper books or because they are greedy.
    The Market (consumers, Trad Pubs, Amazon) has set the rules for Indies Authors, and they are:
    1-Don’t write any book too short to be read quickly and returned by the buyer/reader.
    2-Price everything over $1.99, unless your book is so short that it may tempt the reader to return it if you price it over $1.99.
    3-Price your books below the Trad Pubs lowest e-book prices.
    Too restrictive? Unless you come out with a marketing angle that side steps the current rules, you must obey them to sell your books. Of course you can play by your own rules, but will you be successful?

    • I personally have yet to meet a book I couldn’t finish in 1-2 days, snatching reading time between regular life stuff.

      Which means I could easily read and return every book that caught my eye within the 7 days Amazon allows.

      I don’t (I’ve never returned a book, physical or electronic, that I can remember), but I’m surely not the only person in the world who can gobble down a novel length book in a few hours.

      • the funny thing Scath, is some people pay A few hundred cuks for a dinner they eat in 20 minutes flat. Try returning that. lol

        • The analogy I usually make (To the point that on another forum I no longer even NEED to make it – as soon as the question arises someone will post “And cue Dreams and his coffee analogy.”) is to a cup of gourmet coffee. A cup of gourmet coffee costs three to five dollars, lasts twenty minutes or so, and can only be drunk once. If one of my books gives you twenty minutes of pleasure, and can be reread later if you’ve a mind, or even lent to someone else if you want to, then charging the same price for it is actually quite a bargain.

          Since my books usually cost less than a cup of gourmet coffee (the only ones that cost more are much longer, and thus provide more experience-time) I think that if anything they’re under-priced.

          • This isn’t an exact analogy, though.

            -Coffee is bought in response to being thirsty, which is a more basic urge, and in response to a chemical desire for caffeine
            -The buyer knows exactly what they’re getting, i.e. 20 minutes of caffeinated bliss
            -Drinking it requires no mental effort
            -You can multitask while drinking it, so you can also check your email/play Angry Birds on your phone/chat to someone on Facebook
            -It requires no commitment on the buyer’s part, because it only takes 20 minutes to drink and if they want to drink tea next time, they can

            Ebooks, in comparison:

            -there is no basic, built-in urge to read
            -a buyer’s experience is inconsistent, even with authors they know and trust
            -reading requires a much higher level of mental effort (yes, even for crap like Fifty Shades of Grey)
            -multitasking is impossible
            -you need to commit to several hours minimum to get full enjoyment out of it, if you’re a speed reader, and it’ll likely be a few days minimum otherwise

            So I think the 99c – $2.99 bracket is the right one, and ebooks are not underpriced in comparison to gourmet caffeinated beverages.

            • Good points. Rebuttal:

              -Coffee is bought in response to being thirsty, which is a more basic urge, and in response to a chemical desire for caffeine

              Caffeine, yes, thirst no. If you’re thirsty, coffee is not the way to go. In any event, see Point B1 below.

              -The buyer knows exactly what they’re getting, i.e. 20 minutes of caffeinated bliss

              Unless they spill it, or they find out after they drive away from the window that it’s the wrong order, or have to take a phone call and it has gone cold and yucky by the time they get back to it.

              -Drinking it requires no mental effort

              No rebuttal, but I’d point out that if you don’t pay any attention to your coffee while you’re drinking, you might as well get free coffee out of the machine at work or dollar coffee from McD’s or something. If you are spending multiple dollars on coffee, it seems odd you wouldn’t devote at least a little concentration to enjoying it.

              You can multitask while drinking it, so you can also check your email/play Angry Birds on your phone/chat to someone on Facebook

              I multitask while I’m reading, and I have yet to come back to a book and find it has gone flat, stale, or cold because I had to take a phone call in the middle of a chapter.

              It requires no commitment on the buyer’s part, because it only takes 20 minutes to drink and if they want to drink tea next time, they can

              And if they want to read somebody else’s book next time, they can. But coffee shops don’t usually offer returns either, and you can’t give or lend coffee to someone else after you’ve drunk it, unless you’re into that kind of thing, which is probably not what you meant. ;) In some ways ebooks are less of a commitment.

              there is no basic, built-in urge to read

              I can only say, you don’t know me very well. :)

              -a buyer’s experience is inconsistent, even with authors they know and trust

              Granted coffee shops are probably more consistent with product, but the experience can be highly variable. What’s the line like? Are they out of soymilk? Is that smelly guy behind you going to *gulp* touch you? This is all part of what you’re paying for when you get gourmet coffee, and enters into the calculus of whether the experience is worth the price.

              -reading requires a much higher level of mental effort (yes, even for crap like Fifty Shades of Grey)

              You say that like it’s a bad thing. :)

              -multitasking is impossible>

              For some people yes, for others no. And, again, you can split the experience up into a myriad of pieces and not lose much if any of the value of it, which isn’t true for gourmet coffee.

              -you need to commit to several hours minimum to get full enjoyment out of it, if you’re a speed reader, and it’ll likely be a few days minimum otherwise

              Again, you say that like it’s a bad thing.

              The point here is really twofold: 1) I am a pedantic so-and-so, and 2) The underlying point of the analogy is that these are roughly comparable experiences. You get, for a certain amount of money, a certain experience, and in each case it’s something you don’t really need – or at least it’s not something where you couldn’t get a similar experience for a lot less money. (McD’s, Project Gutenberg.) In my opinion – which is just that – the “quality” of the experience in buying a short story or novella is roughly equivalent to the “quality” of the experience in buying a cup of gourmet coffee. Also, some people buy a cup or two (or more) every day and others save it for a treat – which again, makes the experiences somewhat analogous. :)

              • I am also a pedantic so-and-so. :P

                I’m still not happy with the analogy overall. It’s not fair to bring in the extraneous advantages of having a book vs having a cup of coffee – returning or lending it applies equally to, say, a DVD, and this analogy apparently deals specifically with the experience of reading vs the experience of drinking a cup of gourmet coffee. Anyway – in short, I don’t think they’re comparable enough when applying it to a broad section of the population.

                So, you personally can multitask while reading, and you find it odd not to spend a while enjoying your coffee if you’ve spent money on it, and you have a built-in urge to read (for example) but unless this is true of a majority of people – and it seems that it’s not – then those points are moot, and the analogy is flawed because its usage is limited.

                Fact is that a gourmet cup of coffee requires far, far less of a mental and emotional investment than a book for a statistically significant section of the population, even though the price of said coffee and and said book are similar. This can be due to the actual investment required, or due to the perceived investment required due to personal bias, but there it is. As well as that, the expectation of either experience is vastly different because coffee is far more homogenized – drip coffee, the staple of caffeine addicts everywhere, is more or less exactly the same wherever you go, whereas copyright alone makes such a level of similarity all but impossible for books.

                So, tl;dr, this fundamentally changes the quality and potential pleasure of each experience, thus making comparisons very weak unless they’re applied narrowly.

                I think a better comparison would be to something like playing a video game. Effectively, you pay $60 vs $2.99 to add graphics, sound effects and some gameplay to the story :P

    • I don’t think my solution is expand a short story into a goat-choker novel in hopes that people will take a week or more to read it so they won’t be tempted to return it…

      I’ve seen Trad pubbed books go for as low as free. I don’t think free is going to feed me either.

  12. This is interesting. The age range of 16-24 is definitely facing some financial strain these days, so it’s no surprise they want a cheaper book. I think most of us have laughed at the $12.00 ebook, as well. Still, 75% off of a $12.00 book leaves you with a $4.00 book and 50% off leaves you with a $6.00 book. $4-$6.

    That price range has been the “traditional wisdom” among indies for a year or two (well, that and the $0.99 thing). I bet there’s a lot to learn from what questions were asked and how, though. The article says 92% are unhappy with pricing. Only 45% of them want a 50% or 75% cut. Where is that last 43%?

  13. I’ve many grandchildren. I thought it was my work as grandparent to make sure they have every book they desire. Used book stores, libraries, downloads, we browse clean books at garage sales, brand new for birthdays whether downloads or actual. They might, some, also want a superfuper megagamegirl whatsis. I’m only the go to for books, grandparent. All else, they have to work for and save their money. Stupid me.

  14. I could be wrong, but I think as the public increasingly shifts to e-books, pressure will be placed on Publishers to lower prices. Articles like this are the first vanguard.

    Articles don’t matter. As long as the public buys at the publishers prices, there is no pressure.

  15. In other news, people who have the least resources find that many things cost more than they wish to pay for them. Next: Fire hot, water wet. More as we get it.

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