Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Big-five publishers and lower ebook sales

by Rob - November 9th, 2015.
Filed under: Bookselling, ebooks, Publishing.

Publishers Weekly reported today:

Lower e-book sales were a big factor in the weak financial performance at HarperCollins and limiting gains at Simon & Schuster in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2015.
My own take on this is that the big-five publishers have convinced themselves so thoroughly that their product is worth a premium ebook price that they can’t imagine pricing their ebooks at what has clearly turned out to be the much-lower going rate for independently published books.

It seems to me that much of the ebook-reading public has decided, you know what, for what I want out of a reading experience, your product ISN’T worth three or four times as much as other offerings.

Whenever big publishers say ebook sales are declining, they seem to mean ebook sales of their own titles are declining. It wouldn’t hurt publishers to hire fewer English majors and a few more who had studied economics, specifically supply and demand.

Robert J. Sawyer online:

4 Responses to Big-five publishers and lower ebook sales

  1. I for one agree that they are pricing themselves out of the market. I feel no qualms about paying $5 or less for an author I haven’t read (I did that with the Divengent series) but I WILL NOT pay $15-$20 even for my favourite authors.

    I have even stopped buying books from my most favoured authors like yourself or Bernard Cornwell because of these ridiculous prices.

  2. I buy ebooks on sale or borrow them from the library. If I’m willing to pay more for a book I usually prefer a paper copy.

  3. So totally true. I felt they hit a new low when I got an offer for China MiĆ©ville’s new novella, as an e-book, for $18.00! For a novella!

  4. I know from various sources that the acquisition, editing, and marketing of a book is a major of the cost of a book to a publisher – so ebooks aren’t costless compared to a paper book. But as a consumer, an ebook has a lot less value – I can’t lend, give or sell it, and depending on the eco-system, it maybe DRM-locked or subject to recal, withdrawakl or update. The only advantage is convenience, and that does not command a premium in my book reading budget.

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