The cost of Kindle books

I was waxing lyrical about my Kindle at work on Thursday. This followed my post extolling its virtues the previous evening.

My client was lacklustre about the concept of an electronic reading device. She claimed she liked the feel of a book, and didn’t see the appeal of reading it on a screen. In fact, she was mildly repulsed at the thought.

So I showed her. She immediately warmed to it. She liked that it was the size of a book, and that the contents of the screen looked just like a book, as opposed to being backlit in an iPad-esque kind of way. She liked that it could hold 3,000+ books, and that its battery would last for weeks. She was particularly interested in being able to take lots of books on holiday without having to pack them all. The upfront cost didn’t bother her too much either.

She asked whether all titles were available. So I asked what she would be interested in. We did a quick search for the book that she was currently reading. On Amazon UK, Martina Cole’s The Family was priced as follows:

She will never buy a Kindle.

This needs to be sorted. I’m not sure why the Kindle book costs more than both the paperback and the hard cover. Is the publisher charging more for making their author’s work available electronically? Or is Amazon strapping on a significant margin for Kindle editions?

Whatever the reason, the electronic version of a book should *never* be more expensive than its physical equivalent. Same price, possibly; cheaper, almost always. As well as not turning people like my client off immediately, such a cost model is important to reflect the true cost of delivering the work to the buyer. Kindle editions are cheaper to create in the first instance, and the incremental delivery cost is so much lower than that of physical editions.

So Amazon, sort out your cost model. And don’t shame yourself in front of prospective customers again. OK?


3 Responses to “The cost of Kindle books”

  1. Stefan on January 30th, 2011 01:40

    You can’t blame Amazon for this one. Look at the kindle page for that book – £9.99, Amazon is at pains to point out, is the price set by the publisher. For those ebooks, Amazon is, in effect, the publisher’s agent, not an independent retailer. Why that should be so is a tangled story, but it is so.

    To complicate things further, there is also VAT, which doesn’t apply to printed books, but does to electronic ones. So the comparable price is £8.33, not £9.99.

  2. John V Willshire on January 30th, 2011 10:48

    I don’t think it’s necessarily Amazon; I wonder if it might be the publishers. I only say this dues to experience with film & TV producers of content. They complain that ‘no-one is buying the digital versions’ in one division, yet it’s because another division won’t set a lower price for the digital product than the physical. Apple in the past have been pretty vocal about wanting the standard cost of shows & films to come down. But the studios don’t really want to make the electronic version cheaper than the physical, because the physical sales market is still so big. So for instance, virtually every TV box set is more expensive to buy in iTunes than it is physically through Amazon. And they then wonder why people are tempted onto torrent sites…

  3. gerry on January 30th, 2011 11:02

    The same is true with itunes, digital music is nearly always cheaper drm free in cd format.

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