Monday, January 14, 2013

What the Feck (WTF) - eBook vs Print

What the Feck?! (WTF?!) 
Is a new feature here at The Book Nympho.
 On Mondays we will post a book related topic 
that had us thinking WTF?! while reading a book 
or talking to others in the book community.

Jonetta and I was talking about doing more posts outside of reviews in 2013 so WTF?! was born. It's a mis-mash of editorial type posts and questions we will share with you guys on different book topics.

And the Feck part of WTF comes from my love of the Fever series (points to Mac Halo on avi).

WTF?! was inspired in part by similar features like Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks' Question and Parajunkee's new feature, Dishing Junk.

This week's WTF?!


Like my fancy Nook holder? LOL

After talking with a group of my blogging buddies on Twitter I thought this would be a great 1st topic for WTF?!

eBook Pricing:

Should they be the same or less than the print books? 

I'm only guessing but it seems like the production cost of an ebook would be less than the printing cost of a print book. So why wouldn't the cost of an ebook be less? 

For the most part ebooks are cheaper than hardbacks but they are rarely less than the cost of their paperback counterparts. (At least the new releases.) Sure you can find deals where an ebook is on sale or even free for a short time.
But most of the ebooks I buy are in the $5.99-$7.99 range. Your usual cost of a mass market size  paperback. Now some of the trade size (larger size) can run a little higher in the $9.99-$14.99 price range and their ebook counterparts are priced higher too.

But when it comes to ebooks there are no differences in their size or the material used in making them (hardback vs mass market/trade size paperbacks) so why are we being charged difference prices for the SAME ebook product? No matter the size of the print book, the ebooks are the same size. Doesn't make sense to me.

When is the price too much? Do you have a spending limit? 

My personal spending max per ebook is $9.99 (US) for authors I've read before. Not to say that I've not bought a FEW $12.99 or even $14.99 ebooks. But that's only because they were books I REALLY WANTED like books from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward or books in the Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill, for example.

In the case of the BDB books they are now released in hardback 1st (mid-series, but that's a topic for a different WTF?!) so if you buy the ebooks when they hit the virtual shelf then you are paying the higher price than if you wait a few months to buy the SAME ebook at the paperback price. As for the CV series they are released in trade paperback so they cost more. (again another topic for a later WTF?!...why have different size paperbacks.)

I've decided to start waiting for some new releases to be released in paperback so I can buy the ebook at the lower price or (shock) get them at the library and not spend a dime on it.

Back to my personal spending limit; for authors I've never read and I'm not sure if I'll enjoy their writing style then I'll stay with the $7.99 or less price range. Or again use my local library or used book store. (And when I buy from my local used book store the publishers don't see a dime of my money)

I understand that this is a business and that everyone that has their hands in making a book needs their paycheck - authors, editors, publishers, marketing, etc. But who's getting the biggest paycheck? I'm sure it's not the authors that actually write the books.

News on eBook Pricing:

A couple of weeks ago, Penguin announced they were settling with the Department of Justice on the eBook price fixing case. Here's a link to that announcement (New York Times)

Libraries Cut E-Book Deal With Penguin - The Wall Street Journal

Judge Cote’s rules in favor of settlement in DOJ’s price fixing case - from Dear Author

eBooks vs. Print Books: 

What are you giving up for digital formats vs print?

A few things that came up in the same Twitter discussion:

Limited sharing 

Whatever your ereader choice may be, you are VERY LIMITED in which ebooks you can share with your friends. I've noticed for the most part (at least in my ebook library) the only ones I can lend are the freebies I downloaded. IMO that's not sharing. Anyone could have downloaded the freebies.

If I buy a print book, I can then share it with as many friends as I want.

When you checkout an ebook through your library (if they offer the program) then they are SHARING an ebook with many people, many times. Why can't we do that on a personal level?

From what I understand, when a library buys ebooks from publishers, they are licensing them for a number of times they can be checked out. So once they reach that max it either comes off their catalog or they have to buy another license for that ebook. WTF?! So the publishers are making more money off the SAME ebook from the library, in turn making money off of tax payers that fund libraries.

Can't trade or resell

When you buy paper books you can trade your old books with friends or take them into your local used bookstore to trade for "new to you" books. Or you can sell them on Amazon, B&N, Ebay, etc. to get some of your money back to use on new books.

You can't do this with ebooks.

Granted if I could share my ebooks with others then I would not care about trading or reselling.  To bad we can't gifted an ebook once we've read it. They could put a 1 time limit on it like they do with the lending.

Yes the ebook pricing bugs me and your probably asking yourself, "Why does she have an ereader?"

Don't misunderstand, I love my Nook and I'm glad I received one as a gift. They are great for storing TONS of books. I enjoy reading books on my Nook. I just wish the price of ebooks would come down when it comes to a few issues and the publishers let us share our ebooks. GIVE US MORE LENDING OPTIONS if you are not going to lower the prices. I would even be ok with keeping the lending to a one time for each ebook IF we could share ALL our ebooks.

I hope you enjoyed my little rant this week and will come back to see what made Jonetta say WTF?! in the next post.

What are you thoughts (good or bad) 
about this week's WTF?!


  1. I really enjoy reading ebooks. I think they are extremely convenient because I can read from my phone anytime I have unexpected down time. I've even read at restaurants sometimes (it would seem really weird to me to pull out a physical book and read at a restaurant.

    That being said, I usually will buy the physical book (either paperback or hardback, which ever is available at the time), for all the reasons you mentioned. I like to be able to share or sell if I want to. Probably the biggest reason for purchasing physical books is that I get very frustrated at the fact that the physical book is cheaper (since I can use my BN membership and coupons) than ebooks. I want everyone to get their pay, but it is impossible for a ebook to cost more or even the same. The cost of paper and shipping is on the rise and let's not forget the manpower required to move the physical books. Someone is making extra and I agree it's not the author.

    I also get many books from the library, though I've never tried digital formats from them. It is a great way for me to keep my costs down. I would love to be able to afford to buy all the books that I love, but it just isn't possible.

    1. I mainly shop at B&N since I have a Nook and it bugs me that the membership can't be used on the ebooks. I'm sure it a publisher thing and not the store. So I don't spend the money on the membership cuz really I don't buy enough physical books to save money so what little I would buy I'm actually paying more when you add in the cost of the membership.

  2. Jennifer you know my feelings on this matter - which pretty much echo your own. It's very frustrating. When I bought my very first Kindle back in the day, ebooks WERE CHEAPER than paperbacks but a couple of dollars usually. Then prices started creeping up, and then the whole issue between Amazon and the publishers erupted (another WTF topic!). Suddenly ebooks were just way too expensive. It really pisses me off.

    I personally don't have a set limit on how much I'll spend on a book, but generally, I don't buy too many directly from Amazon. I buy smaller books that don't cost as much. I read a lot from NetGalley. If there is a book I absolutely want, I will buy it at the $7.99 rate. But I've been holding off on the more expensive titles - going to the library instead. Or just not reading the book.

    I keep hoping that ebooks will go the way of the music industry and eventually even out. Regifting is an option that should be available, and sharing limits need to be relaxed. Until then, I'll keep reading on my Kindle and hope things will get better!

  3. I could not agree more! This is a huge pet peeve for me. I actually bought an ebook recently that was more than the hard cover. Only by a few since but it's the principle. $10 -$14 for an ebook is frustrating. It has to cost less for the publisher than actually printing the books and distributing them.

  4. My problem is that I have two options: buy ebooks or nothing. Where I live books take a lot of time to arrive to bookstores and imported books (English) cost over $20 per book, also the selection is very limited. I can buy them in Amazon but the shipping is very expensive (Book depository doesn't ship to Turkey); for that reason I love my Reader, I love that with just one click I can get any book I want. But as we were talking the other day sometimes it hurts to pay so much for an ebook, in my opinion when an ebook costs more than $10 it’s expensive, and the ones that are $14+ OMG! Are they crazy? But sadly, if I really want the book, not having any other option I have to pay whatever the price.

    I have a Sony eReader, but luckily months ago I discovered that I can read Kobo books on it, Kobo usually has better prices than Sony (every cent counts) and I always find discount coupons; those I usually use to buy books that are over $10.

    I’m not one of those that read the same book over and over, I think I can count with one hand the books I have re-read in my life. I wish I could share my ebooks with my friends as I do with my paperbacks and hardcovers. :(

    1. That really sucks for you that ebooks are your only option. You need to load up on books when you come to the states to visit family. LOL

  5. I prefer the convenience of ebooks, but I very rarely pay full price for an ebook. I lend a lot of books to my BFF, so I would rather buy the paperback version. I also trade a lot of my unwanted books to a used bookstore, so yet again, the paperback version is more beneficial to me.

    I would be more willing to buy ebooks if the publishers relaxed their lending polices. Being able to lend a book out twice would be ideal. Even if there was a waiting period to do so for new books.

  6. I personally don't have the room for all my paperback books. My closet is full. My hubby got tired of seeing all those books and bought me a kindle. I love my kindle just ask my kids. But why are all the ebooks going up in price? Is there tree's being cut down, ink being used, glue being used for the binding. Um NO! Plus I don't like someone telling me I can't lend someone my book I paid for. To me thats being too controling. I'm getting to the point where im gonna stop buying there books and go back to using the library.

  7. THIS! I had a conversation the other day on Twitter about ebooks vs. print prices, and actually found someone who disagreed with me. My limit is $7.99 for an ebook, the only time I make an exception is if I have a gift card. It makes me angry ...

  8. This became a huge issue for me near the end of 2011 when Penguin announced they would no longer allow eBooks for new releases (beginning in 2012) be offered by libraries. I've pretty much boycotted buying any of their eBooks since. Also, they were one of the five publishers who were part of the eBook price fixing complaint.

    I also made it a policy for myself to never pay more than $9.99 for any eBook and haven't done so for the last 15 months.

    What can you do? Make your feelings known. I've sent emails to the publishers AND the authors I consider my favorites. Tell your friends to do the same. Find your cutoff and tell them that's what you'll be doing. Consumers force change. Share your discontent. I have and if for no other reason than knowing I've communicated my point of view, it makes me feel better. And, I don't think it's a coincidence that Penguin is now merging with Random House as well as settling with the Department of Justice. They have until February to cease the pricing model they've been using which caused eBook prices to go up beyond $10. Hang in there and make your opinions known.

  9. I've been called a traditionalist because I don't have an ereader and don't plan on getting one. I buy print books and that's it. Unless the rules change for ebooks and they can be shared and given away like I can do with my print books...I'm not buying into the whole ebook thing. I can spend a few dollars more on a print book and sell it, trade it, give it away it looks good on my bookshelf.

    1. Even though I have an ereader I still buy print books. If they are cheaper I buy them or if I find something good at the used book store I'll buy or trade for them.

  10. Love this new feature. WTF?!

    I previously was a a printed book reader only. I held off on purchasing an ereader until last year. It was around the same time I started discovering all these wonderful indie writers who were only offering theirwork as ebooks. For the most part most of the ebook I purchase range from .99 - 3.99. There are occasions where I purchase published books even if they cost more that 7.99. I think the last time I purchased a book for more than 9.99 was ICED by KMM. I just don't have the patience to wait especially if it's a books that I am really dying to have. I'm sure that I will be purchasing the next BDB book on ebook and print just because I can't stand waiting for the mail man to deliver my book.

    I agree with the sharing. I wish we could share ALL ebooks we purchase. Most of the indie books I read I can be shared which I'm grateful for. And you have a great idea about reselling your ebook. If I REALLY love a book then I will keep it but then there are some ebooks that I've bought which I will probably never read again, wish I could trade those for something else.

    1. Thanks for stopping by for the 1st WTF?! and I'm glad you are enjoying it.

      I plan to use my library more for ebooks to have save money and for those I know I won't reread.

    2. I agree with what ya'll said Jennifer and Cimmaron! It makes me really mad what they are doing to us readers their customes with regarding to eBooks. I buy both (eBooks and paperbacks and the occasional hardback) but I won't buy them until they are on sale! Period. And if it is a must-have-auto-buy-author-or-series release I most ALWAYS buy them through my membership. So I'm still getting the new release right away and it's discounted. I'll spend no more than 10.00 for paperbacks and hardbacks. As for eBooks my price range is almost always .99 to 4.99 max. I won't spend more than that for an eBook! I would like to add that I wish would let me lend my audiobooks if I chose to, ya know? I think it's the same thing as eBooks and I should have that right to share. I do make trips to the used local book store (for store credit or trade-ins) but mostly I buy them through Amazon. I've never had a problem buying used books through them and they are reasonable priced. But the bottom line for me is I'm always shopping around looking for the deals. Doesn't matter the kind of format that it comes in either paperback/hardback/eBook or audiobook!
      Great new feature, Jennifer! ;)
      DeAnna Schultz

  11. Love this Jennifer! Great Idea, I prefer an e-reader, I love the convenience, but I do think the publishers are taking advantage, I hate that I can't share my most of books, and for me that's a big part of being a book lover; being a able to share a book that loved is a pleasure we can all understand.

  12. i have had the same thoughts i like the fact that we can now take 200 books in our bags whever ever we go. But i miss holding a book. I miss that new books smell ugh i'm so torn. In my eyes Ebooks should cost less but i notice there isnt much difference.

  13. I feel your pail! I buy more physical books because of the lower prices and I like being able to share them. I think it's ridiculous that eBooks are as expensive, if not more, than physical books. Unless it's a book that I'm DYING to read (and there are only a handful) I'll usually wait until it comes out in PB.

    P.S. You've made-up for your SR review.

  14. I vastly prefer ebooks to paper, but it has to be something I am dying for to spend over $10 for an ebook. Like you said, JR Ward's BDB. Maybe Kresley Cole, Kim Harrison, or Patty Briggs. For 98% of other books... $7.99 or less. That's it. I still haven't read Envy for this very reason.

  15. I believe that ebooks should always be less than their print counterparts and here’s why: When you buy a print book, it’s yours. You own it. You can do what you’d like with it. You can sell it. You can trade it. You can loan it out to whomever and loan it out however many times you’d like. When you buy an ebook, you’re not buying the book itself; you’re acquiring a license to read the book. Therefore you can’t sell it, trade it, or loan it out like you could with a print copy of the book. This is why I find it absolutely absurd and ridiculous when I see an ebook that’s priced more than the print edition. I would love to know the reasoning behind that decision.

    I personally don’t like spending more than $5.99 for an ebook. I’ve had an ereader (a Kindle) for 3+ years now and I can tell you exactly the number of ebooks I bought that were $9.99 or more: TWO. One was Shadowfever, because I wanted that sucker on my Kindle at midnight. And the other was a gift for a friend, who was totally worth the $11.99 price tag. If there’s a book I want and the mmpb version is $7.99 and the ebook is $5.99 or greater, I’ll get the print version (for reasons I explained above). That said, most of the ebooks I buy are in the $0.99-$2.99 range. And if it’s a novella, I usually only buy them if they’re $0.99. I can’t justify paying $2.99+ for a novella. (I consider a novella 150 pages or less.)

    One thing I wish publishers would do: provide a digital copy of the book when you buy the print version. Movie studios are doing this with DVDs and it’s gaining more and more popularity. I really hope publishers see this and make the same move.

    1. I totally agree about the novellas. I'm not paying $3.99-$5.99 for 100 pages? I will pay (and have) $2.99 for 150 pages if it's a novella in a series I love.

      I didn't think about the idea of getting a digital copy with your print like you do with Blu-ray movies now. Good idea.

      One thing that is close to the movie idea is that Amazon and Audible (which is owned by Amazon) is offering the Whisper Voice with the audios/ebook combo. BUT you are buying BOTH. You just get the audio at a discount price if you also buy the ebook.

      I love audios but I'm not going to buy a book twice. I'll either get it to read or listen.

    2. I'm not buying a book twice either. Unless I'm buying another copy for a friend :)

      Great topic! I'm looking forward to the next one.

  16. I think after one purchases the device to read an eBook on the eBook should be cheaper than the print. As for the self pub eBooks they typically do not have a paperback to compare price to.

    I get aggravated at some eBook prices. 2.99 for under 100 pages... seriously. Or 6.00 for less than 300 pages. Then you get into the fact that some of them are definitely worth it. That leads to opinions though. Books I love are sometimes meh books for others and vice a versa.

    I do prefer paperbacks. I'm big on buy local. I have a huge used bookstore near me. I buy 90% of my paper books from that used store. I often get new releases just a few days after they come out. I never trade my books in. Once I've read it the book becomes a friend where it is pampered and put on a shelf.

  17. I agree that eBooks should be less than print. Especially hardcover books because yes, they are a lot less expensive to 'make'. But I think we all need to remember that authors - you know the people who actually bring us the amazing words on the pages - deserve their cuts. And if eBooks were all $2.99, do you think the publisher would cut their take? No. The authors would be penalized. And they are the ones who do all the work!
    That being said, I still prefer my print books but I am growing on the Kobo. I received a Kobo Glo for my birthday and I am loving the built-in light. Makes life easier for me, so it is creeping up to my print books. But I think I will always love print books more since I love having my books signed by the amazing people who wrote them and I need paper books for that. :)

  18. I have yet to actually purchase an ebook, so I hadn't noticed the price increase. It makes no sense to me for ebooks to cost the same or more than the physical book; and with physical books, I mostly visit a local Half Price Books. If it's something I really want and haven't been able to find, though, I will go to Amazon or another online retailer to purchase it.

    I also use my personal library as sort of a backup, last resort, emergency piggy bank: there have been situations where I was absolutely desperate for as much cash as I could get (emergency vet visits come to mind), and it's something of a small comfort to know that I can always fill up a few paper grocery bags full of books and BAM I now have maybe $10, $20, whatever.

    I know that a lot of people lately are talking about buying their textbooks as ebooks, and I can see the pros to that, but it's not for me...but for the people saying it's cheaper, I have noticed that for the most part, the ebook textbooks seem to cost about the same as the physical textbook when you get a copy used at the bookstore. So what's the point? At least when you buy the physical book, if you don't plan on keeping it, you can sell it back (or rent it instead of buying it).

  19. I totally agree that the price of ebooks needs to be adjusted. I personally don't see how publishers can justify charging the same (or even more) for an electronic version of a book as opposed to a print book. And I do think that we should be able to share a book with friends, within reason (like maybe 3-5 times max). I don't buy hardback books because they tend to be heavier and due to arthritis & such I can't hold them for long periods of time when reading, so most of my print books that I buy tend to be the MM paperbook editions (about $7.99 or less). I personally feel that ebooks should be at least 1/4 to even 1/2 less than their print counterparts. While I would NEVER download an illegal/pirated copy of a book, books that I might buy I will try to borrow from the library or get from a used bookstore if they are not ones that I know I will love. But there is no way I will ever pay more for the electronic version of the book, and have never paid more than like $9.99 for the ebook (and that would have to be a book I really, really want NOW).

  20. I have like a $5 limit. If I can't get it for that much I will request it from my library. If I can't get it from my library then I will wait for the MMP. Most MMP are $7.99 so I can't ever see spending more then $5 on an ebook. But I am cheap. I really think ebooks should be about half the price of hard backs or MMP or whatever is out at the time.

  21. I have a Kindle and I love it, but I still buy print books as well, especially if I have the rest of a given set in print. (Black Dagger Brotherhood comes to mind, as well as Chicagoland Vampires).
    I think the most I've ever paid for an Ebook is $9.99, but I usually pay far less. I agree, Ebooks should cost less than their print counterparts. It's crazy that the prices are sometimes so high!
    For me, the best thing about having a Kindle is that I've discovered so many wonderful lesser-known and indie authors whose work I never would have become acquainted with if not for my Kindle.

  22. As both an author and a Kindle owner, I sympathize with both sides on this issue. I have no room left in my house for more books, so ebooks are a way better idea.
    On the lending issue, I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I love being able to share new books with friends. But as an author, that's a lost royalty payment. If someone lends a books to ten people, that's ten copies I didn't sell.
    While on the face of it ebooks should cost less than print books-- they're just data-- some publishing costs are the same. Editing, copyediting and cover art still need to be done. Somebody has to do the ebook design and layout, for multiple formats. There needs to be some central electronic repository for the ebook data files, and that requires tech staff, electricity and whatnot. The author needs to get their cut, which runs around 40% of the net profit. Having said all that, yeah, ebooks should be no more than $7.99, tops, and generally around $5.99.
    I won't spend more than that unless it's the BDB and a gotta-have-right-now.

    1. Thanks for giving us the author's side. I totally agree that the author needs their pay. You guys are the ones that do the work of writing the book. Without that work there would be no book to edit and produce.

    2. Thanks for your perspective. I love eBooks and am glad to see the price points you consider reasonable. I'm all for authors getting what they earned and deserve. EBooks price at the same or more than a hardcover book just makes no sense. I can't justify paying more than $10.


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