my books news & reviews

Ebook Updates

I’ve had several emails about an ebook version of Nights of Villjamur, whether or not there would be one, so I thought I’d mention what was going on.

Yes, there is going to be a ebook version. Two, in fact. They’ll both be available around the same time, one from Pan Macmillan (Tor UK) when the paperback is released, and the other from Random House (Bantam Spectra), when the hardcover is released. Both will be released around the start of June. (Why does it feel like I’m cheating on Tor UK when I mention Bantam Spectra? Can I not love them both at the same time?)

You’ll have to check nearer the time what the pricing is going to be, before you run to your nearest torrent site.

As a slight tangent, I wonder, what are people prepared to pay for an ebook? I’d be intrigued if people would give their opinions in the comments – not that it’ll make a jot of difference to the plans of my esteemed Publishing Overlords. I’m a relatively new fantasy novelist – and this is the first novel in a series. What would you pay, honestly? What do you think should be the right price? What would make you pay more or less for one?

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

20 replies on “Ebook Updates”

I will pay MMPB (7.99GBP) prices for an ebook if I really want it or it’s not available in MMPB in the UK (readily). If it’s in every Waterstones in physical or I want to download a book I already have I wouldn’t normally pay more than a fiver really. Perhaps if when you bought the hardcopy you could get a discount to buy the ebook half price i’d be inclined to have both, especially with my ereader arriving at xmas.

Personally I think that the pricing for ebooks should be less than the paper counterpart that it’s being released with. I’d say about 2/3rds of the paper price is fair (around £10 if it’s with a hb release or £5 if it’s a pb releases), but then again I don’t know how much of the cover rpice accounts for printing costs.

One thing I can say for sure – pricing an ebook the same as a hb is wrong. I sure as hell won’t pay £18.99 for an electronic copy (which is what Tor UK charged for Peter Hamilton’s ebook version of Temporal Void).

Well, all the costs of making a book are not completely bound up (pun intended!) in physical production. There’s the layers of editing, the costs of advance, marketing, the sales negotiations in stores, paying for books to go into promotions… the list goes on. The actual cost of printing, per unit, is less than a £1… and tens of pence on paperbacks. Which is why ebooks should not, in my opinion, cost much less (if at all) than their physical counterpart.

Ahh – you see I’ve learned something new today! I didn’t realise that the cost of printing per unit was so low. After basing my opinion on assuming it was higher I feel a bit of a tit now 🙁

What I perhaps should say is that ebooks should cost the same of it’s paper counterpart minus the printing costs. I think that’s fair 🙂

Does that £1 figure include things like storage and transport as well?

I’m willing to pay as much for an ebook as for an MMPB, if only because saving on the cost of having it shipped to India makes it worth it. I think 2/3 the paperback cost is completely reasonable.

I’m one of those weird people that prefers ebooks, so I’m willing to pay the same price if I can’t get it cheaper. One thing that I think publishers often miss is the potential for omnibuses and backlist more than new books – I bought an ebook of the first two books of A Song of Ice and Fire for about twelve dollars a couple of years ago, something which would be immensely expensive and probably the size of a small family home if it was ever printed.

Pricing is something that really depends on a publisher’s strategy for ebooks – standalone books, yes, should probably cost the same or within a couple of quid of the original, but there’s immense potential for marketing and catching up with a long series. This is why I really like Baen’s strategy of putting their backlist and early books in the series up for free.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying I’m happy to pay MMPB prices for a new book, but I think they should go down over time. But I don’t think that ending up at the free pricepoint is really a good idea – a couple of quid to aid catchup with a series, maybe. Otherwise it’s just not leveraging the backlist in a useful way.

Hey, Mark.

I think ebooks should be a little cheaper than a paperback. Say around £4. Due to the reduced costs in both production and distribution, this means they work out cheaper for the reader but more profitable for the author and publisher. Surely a good thing?

I’m sure as the e-book/e-reader market matures, various pricing schemes will emerge…

If the e-reader is given for free (which is not going to happen in the foreseeable future) then the price of an e-book can be the same as its dead-tree format.

Otherwise 2/3 of the price of the p-book seems good to me.

Speaking from a South African POV -where eBooks haven’t yet taken off at all- I’d pay the same price as the book; why change the practice if it’s fair? After all, you get the same enjoyment of the conflicts, characters and action as you would with the physical copy, so I vote keep the prices the same. 🙂

It is wonderful to see that you will get ebook version of your novel. Maybe I can snatch a review copy then with ease. As far as ebooks are considered pricing will be definitely lower than with a copy book, because production expenses are virtually none as in no paper, ink and printing has commenced and no time has elapsed in this process of creation, which should lower the price significantly. I think that current prices vary between 5 to 7 $ right about now with the small e-publishers, but I am not sure particularly. I wouldn’t mind paying for ebooks, but not as much as a physical copy would cost. Maybe a page/price ratio will be established to price longer vs. shorter books accordingly. As Sam pointed out that ebooks will make omnibus editions way more comfortable to handle and cheaper.

As far as ebooks themselves, I see them as both a good and a bad thing. Yes, we will lose the physical magic to hold and read a book, but we will be saving trees. It will be easier to get review copies, which is why Angry Robot is a publisher I like to work with. If you review an e-book ARC, then you can get the physical one as well after providing the link. However ebooks can ease piracy and I have been smuggled quite a few electronic books and so many torrent sites upload scanned books for downloading.

I’m chuffed that we’re getting an ebook. PanMac have a fabulous digital team so it’s gonna look good. You’ll soon get some US fans flooding in. So definitely be rejoicing both sides. And if you have other editions coming out in different languages share those!

Now ebooks. I’ve bought 15 epubs which are the most supported in the UK and are DRM locked around Adobe Digital Editions and you can use them on Cool-er, Sony Readers, Elonex, Irex, to name a few. I use a Sony Reader for mine. Those are my preferred choice of format and I’ve paid on average £6/7 and I don’t mind paying around a paperback price for them.

And as much as I love my physical books there are two reasons why I like an ebook on my SR. One is I can read it flat and I don’t need to hold the pages, which works quite well for me. And the second is that 1000 page books shrink to the size of pamphlet. So it’s worth the £7.

I’ve also bought a couple of dedicated iPhone apps that are ebooks like H2G2, again a great way of adding to the format with some great extras. Again for pb prices.

The problem isn’t the price as such but it’s the implied unfairness in pricing when a real book, which has a physical cost in transport, storage etc is half the price of the ebook.

It’s taken so long for audiobooks to become reasonable and that’s down to even the new Wolf Hall is 15.00 in Waterstones for 6CDs – some time ago it would have been £40-50. And they have changed the model and improved sale no end.

There is only so much you can charge and not seen to be ripping off your customers.

Of course this model of following traditional book sales needs revision.Why not rent books out like Lovefilm? You can keep them as long as you want, 3 books at a time as long as you subscribe?

And if you want a physical copy then go and buy one to keep?

But the market for physical books is going to long outlast and outperform ebooks – they are just going to be a different way of accessing certain readers.

I listen to ebooks using text to speech software. I know, lots of you cringe at this idea, but I’m an artist who prefers to listen to books instead of music while he paints and most of the books I like don’t have an audiobook version. Besides, some of the text to speech voices are surprisingly good. Better than many live readers I’ve listened to (too many of them have annoying habits in regard to how they do voices of the opposite gender).

The one ebook I’ve bought had DRM on it that makes it impossible to copy into my text to speech program—making it money down the drain.

I’ll never buy an ebook with DRM on it again.

As to what I’d pay. No more than half the paperback price. They don’t have printing costs, shipping costs, warehousing costs. Its absurd to pay as much for an ebook as for a printed edition.

The actual cost of printing, per unit, is less than a £1… and tens of pence on paperbacks. Which is why ebooks should not, in my opinion, cost much less (if at all) than their physical counterpart.

All I can say is if that’s the case I’m never likely to buy any ebooks.

Hi guys,

Lots of very interesting comments here, a lot of them touching around the same area that you’d be prepared to pay the price of the paperback.

There does seem to be a myth about that ebooks should be less because there’s no paper, as if all the costs of production are bound up in the physical printing. As I mentioned, it can cost a matter of tens of pence to simply produce a book.

Aishwarya – as for storage and transport – that kind of thing gets looked after by distributors and whatnot, who’ll end up taking a cut. I’d love to show some kind of pie chart about how much money from a book actually makes it back to the publisher – it’s not much, when you take into account massive production costs before the thing is typeset.

Good spot on Audio books, Gav, though I dare say they’re a different model completely, with other production costs – which is why, for unabridged versions, you could end up paying so much.

Didn’t some library try the idea of renting an ebook? I thought the appeal of an ebook was to own lots on one device? (Which, I keep stressing to folk, isn’t the same as music – you don’t skip through chapters of various books unless it’s non-ficiton, in which case it works like a lo-fi internet).

David, DRM does seem like another can of worms entirely, doesn’t it? But the thing is, the printing costs, shipping, warehousing – for mass market novels, with the economies of scale working – simply do not put the costs of a physical book up much more than an ebook, and certainly not by half…

I think I’ve mentioned before why ebooks won’t really go anywhere near replacing books, and there won’t be an iPod moment. From my bookselling days it was easy to see a whole different psychology involved from music. Why? Books are already the device, whereas music was nearly always played on a device. Simple as that.

I’ve never bought one but I would expect it to be considerably cheaper than the physical copy. If it’s not then I would stick with the hard copy, as I do with music.

The argument of it costing the same should only really be valid when epublishing is as successful as hardcopy. Most of the money comes from booksales, so ebooks shoudl still be reaching out rather than pushing away.

elibraries would be an interesting concept that could work wherever you can get an online service. You could pay to use the site but you would never “own” a copy as it only exists on the server.

I honestly think ebooks should be priced about the same (maybe just a tad cheaper) as the cheapest physical counterpart available.

Most of the money spent on making a book does not go away just because you can copy the finished product for nothing, but I also expect to see a little saving because publishers and retailers have to pay less (they still pay for servers and retail websites and other e-business costs) for transport and storage.

But if i’m paying the same as a hardback or paperback I want the same quality editing , proofreading, layout in an ebook as I get in a paperback.

If I could get it on release day, I’d pay full hardback price, but I think when the paperback is out, the price should be reduced to that price. I love having a print copy for the shelves, but I prefer reading on my ereader more than real paper these days. Its so conveniently sized, and as pleasing to the eyes as paper.

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