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E-Book Price Discussion

April 16, 2010

After reading a number of posts and comments about e-books, I think I’ve come to some pretty sure conclusions.

1. Bundling is important. People like paying once for all formats available. They also like the idea of purchasing the print version and getting the e-book version either free or for a smaller price with the print version.

2. Readers have an overinflated sense of entitlement. I am a reader as much as I am a writer and publisher, but I don’t believe that I have every right to purchase an e-book, and then share/duplicate/use that digital content however I want.

3. Readers don’t like DRM (and I, as a publisher, think DRM is a waste of everyone’s time and money).

4. The ability to redownload the e-book at any time, as many times as desired, is very important.

All-in-all, I am rather annoyed by the general feel of readers regarding e-books. To many of them, e-books should be free, that if they have purchased the print version, they should be given the e-book version at no cost ever. Not only that, but they feel that they should be allowed to buy, sell, share, and trade their digital copies freely however they want.

I think that part of this is due to fanfiction and the ease with which non-professional writers can share their original works for no compensation. We’ve raised a generation that believes anything that can be found via the internet that does not have a physical presence outside the internet should be fair game and freely offered.

Well, that’s unacceptable. My writing, be it found in a printed volume or a digital file or an audio format, is worth something. It took time to create that work, it’s taken money to put it in any edition I choose to offer it in, and I should be fairly compensated no matter what edition the consumer happens to be purchasing.

I am not of the camp that says e-books should cost less than $3. Should they cost less than their print and audio formats? Of course. But, by saying a digital file is “only” worth $0.99 devalues the work the author, cover artist, editor, and publisher put into that edition. Words are not worthless, and they shouldn’t be made cheap, either. Fair, yes, but not cheap or worthless. If my print edition costs $9.99, I will sell my e-book edition (in the most popular formats in one download) for $4.99, and I think that fair. And, if someone wants to buy both the print AND e-book versions together, I will sell them for $12.99. I won’t use DRM. I won’t limit the number of times you can redownload the file. I will give you as much freedom as I can, but at the same time, I want my work and my time respected.

I want to be fairly compensated, and the average consumer is not aware of the time, money, and talent that goes into a creation. As such, I don’t believe the consumer can tell me, the creator of the work, what is truly fair compensation.

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