Monday, December 26, 2011

The Price of e-Books: How Much Is Too Much?

The digital age has arrived, and like music and movies before them, books are now available in electronic format. Many readers have strong opinions one way or the other about the ongoing e-craze. For instance, some people adore having books available at the click of a button, while others enjoy the scent and feel of paper in their hands and don’t mind going out to a store to buy it. But one of the biggest questions out there still being argued is price. How much is too much for an e-book?

In the beginning, I was one of the slow believers. I figured I would get an electronic reader eventually, but which one? I wanted to take my time to decide how I wanted to read my books. Then my family took the decision out of my hands, and I got a Kindle for my birthday.

I was hooked. Being able to finish reading one book of a series, then getting the next one with a simple point-and-click, really satisfied my sense of instant gratification. Plus, I noticed that e-books often tended to be less expensive than their paper counterparts. This was a win for me; I remember a time not long ago where you could walk into a bookstore, spend around $20 and walk out with about four books. But over the years as prices increased, I was walking out with only three books for that same twenty. Then two books. But now with e-books, I can often get those four books for $20 again, just like in the good old days.

I recently re-released one of my older titles, ONCE A MISTRESS, via an e-publisher. The book, first printed in 1999 and long out of print, now gets new life in digital form. This is cool for me, seeing a beloved title back out in the market. In addition, the current publisher, Samhain Publishing, priced the book accordingly for an older title available only as an e-book—less than $4.

So I’m wondering, how do you feel about electronic books versus print copies? And if you like e-books, what price point would make you hesitate to click that Buy button?



Liz Flaherty said...

I'm a Kindle convert and I love it. I almost never buy a paper-and-ink book anymore. But I have to admit, I still love it when someone gives me one.

I don't mind the prices. When I was paying for "hard copy," I was paying for the contents of the book, not what it was made from. I still am.

Debra Mullins said...

Good point, Liz. But in these economic times, some people need to stretch their dollars as much as possible, and less expensive e-books are a very attractive proposition in that situation.

Anonymous said...

My book budget is far lower than it used to be -- I used to sometimes buy hardcover, but that's impossible these days.

I also got hubby a Nook for Xmas, so now we have Nook and Kindle. He loves it -- easier on the eyes, and he can better find his spot in the book. I love the convenience. And I have to say I'm a bargain hunter -- I'll try any book if it's priced right.

Lisa F said...

The prices on the kindle were much better a couple of years ago, before the publishers equalized everything. I do prefer the kindle, because of the instant gratification aspect, as well as the extras that they provide, such as the other books in the series, and the info on the characters. That said, unless it's a favorite author with a long awaited new release, I tend to stick to the prices below the paperback cost of $7.99, and actively look for prices in the free to $5.00 range. I've actually found quite a few new paranormal/fantasy books this way that I may not have read otherwise, so it's been successful, on both ends, I think.

Debra Mullins said...

Lisa F, another good point. Have you tried Cate Rowan? Great fantasy author in that price range.

Susan said...

I've paid $7.99 for a book or author I love. But I tend to stay around the $5.00 price point.

susan meier

DJHughes said...

I didn't think I'd like reading books on a device. I was wrong. I LOVE my Kindle. It's way to convenient to not like it. I am so into having instant gratification when it comes to reading! Although I know a writer books a lot of work into creating a book (being a writer myself, I totally can attest to that!), I still look for bargains when it comes to buying books. I always check out any sales for .99 because I know it is a promotional price and I need to grab them when I can but I also know it doesn't depict the book as being "cheap". As far as what I'm willing to pay...I don't buy any e-books over $5. There are too many out there for under that price, even by well-known authors to pay more. Generally, I don't even like to pay more 1.99 or 2.99 for unknown authors. Using my own self as an example, I priced my own book at 2.99 because I felt it was certainly worth at least that much being a full length novel. But since I'm an unknown, pricing it for any more would not be very prudent. That's my thinking on the whole thing anyway! Nice discussion. Thanks!

Vonnie said...

Wow! Those paper book prices are fascinating. Downunder we can easily pay $17.95-$21.95 for a paperback, let alone a hardback which costs through the roof. But I DO occasionally pay those prices because of the author involved. (In my case J.D. Robb and Jayne Ann Krentz are worth anything).

But like many oldies I've taken to e-books with a vengeance. I don't yet have a Kindle and at the moment I'm using Kindle for PC. Should be getting a Kindle shortly.

Already I've got 8 books downloaded I haven't yet managed to read.

Price point? Stop at where e-books and paperbacks intersect, I guess. I wouldn't pay more than about $9.99 for an e-book. Strangely, the 0.99c ones don't appeal. I look at them the way I look at a lot of "bargains." Why are they this cheap? What's wrong with them? Are they novellas and not novels?

Just my two cents' worth!

Debra Mullins said...

Great discussion so far! Seems like a lot of people have a price point that turns them away from a purchase. I have my authors I will cross that line for (J.D. Robb, Krentz, Robin D. Owens), but in general I am definitely more cautious these days with how I spend my book dollars.

ev said...

I have both a Kindle Fire and a Nook Color. My Kindle is so full of free and .99 books, I have only bought one or two more expensive ones. I save those for the Nook as I got my daughter one, set up under my account and we read the same things so they can bounce back and forth.

I'm not above paying $15 for a book I want to read- I can't read it in HC, since I can't hold it for very long anymore, and paperback doesn't let me enlarge the print. There are, however, only a few authors I am willing to pay that price point for, and as I already have their books in HC, I tend to buy them that way still, to keep the collection up to date.

marybelle said...

I've kind of set a price limit for myself: Hardback $30, Paperback $15, Ebook $5. I find this is quite a reasonable price limit.

Michele L. said...

Don't have an e-book reader but as for the prices for an e-book, I probably wouldn't pay anymore than 4.99. I have seen so many books on sale plus there are some offered for free from authors that I wouldn't pay anymore than that.

I love my paperback books and probably won't get a Kindle, Nook or E-Reader in a long while! My friend has an I-Pad and she loves it! It is cool how the pages flip but I love being able to hold a book in my hands. Plus I love the cover art on books!

Diana Guess said...

Yes, digital age is here and eBooks are something usual. We can find so many sites with this kind of books...for free or paid. They are cheaper than printed books and we can download them with just one click. Personally, I love to get them from All You Can Books, because it's free, but for limited time period unfortunately.