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Comments from Kindle Nation Survey Respondents: eBook Pricing and Publishers

In addition to responding directly to the questions in the Winter 2010 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey, the 1,892 individuals who responded also recorded hundreds of individual comments that provide some interesting insights into what makes Kindle owners tick. I’m in the process of breaking these down by category to share them here at Kindle Nation Daily. Yesterday I posted individual comments under the heading “The Pleasures of Kindle Reading,” and today’s category covers individual comments on the subject of ebook pricing and the recent controversies with the Big Six book publishers.

While it may be true that not every comment here is well-informed and overflows with wisdom, I couldn’t help comparing the general sentiments expressed again and again with some of the bizarrely anti-consumer, anti-reader statements that I have read lately by publishers like Michael Cader and authors such as Douglas Preston.  I suspect those in the publishing business might have greater success in addressing these issues if they drilled down on these comments by readers and depended less on screeds such as Cader’s for their talking points. Cader’s talking points may be hidden behind a pay wall, but I have read his “essay” in full and his summary points are that anyone who can afford $259 for a Kindle can afford whatever publishers want to charge for ebooks and that that people pay more than $9.99 for ebooks every day, especially outside the U.S. Preston, as you may recall, told the New York Times that he was astonished by the sense of entitlement of Kindle owners, and he accused us of having a Wal-Mart mentality.

What do Kindle owners think? Read on. Each bulleted comment is from a unique individual, and aside from adding the bullets I’ve done no editing here:

  • Only interested in kindle as a reader and the ongoing increase in prices has been disturbing as I read up to 2 or 3 books a week. e books cost less to produce, are publishers really losing money?
  • We just got 2 Kindles and within a month a 50% hike in prices is announced!!!
  • I’m not terribly knowledgeable about the situation, but as a writer, I think Amazon (and Google and others) have the ability to abscond with rights to intellectual property or distribution.  I’m a tad frightened of allowing too much power to any of these entities, including the big publishing houses.
  • The fact is, publishers are in the business to make money. Amazon was selling e-books at a loss in order to gain a significant market advantage in e-books, which is an indication that no matter what price we might like e-books to sell at, they are not profitable at $9.99. If publishers don’t make a profit, then they don’t publish at all. I don’t think that’s a situation we want to be in. Apple’s model in this case is the better model, and I hope Amazon adopts it so we can all read what we want.
  • Without readers neither poublishers or authors have a purpose.  ebooks are here to stay.
  • I have mixed feelings about this. I love cheap eBooks, but without commercial publishers, it will be difficult for authors to focus on writing, and hard for consumers to know about quality books. I strongly believe, however, that the eBooks should be substantially cheaper than the print editions!
  • I don’t want what happened to the music industry to happen to the book/publishing industry.  I want the business model to enable authors to make a lot of money from their work. I think publishers provide an important role as “gatekeepers” they filter out the writers that are not ready for prime-time.  I like the agency model that the publishers are moving towards.  I think this will protect the industry and keep it healthy.
  • Not really interested in paying higher prices for books on Kindle.  I can go to other places, Barnes & Noble for instance, and with thier discounts get the sames hardcopy book with free shipping for nearly what MacMillan wanted Amazon to charge.  Come on MacMillan, wake up and get green and pay your authors a descent percentage and sell electronic books which cost you practically nothing per copy.
  • it’s not about price – it’s about power & control
  • I am not an expert on what is going on between Amazon and publishers.  I WILL NOT pay more than $9.99 for an e-book though.
  • By keeping prices lower, I have read 75-80% more books than I would have at retail prices. I read a lot, but usually do not keep books around after I read them (unless reference titles) so now don’t have to make yearly trips to Goodwill to get rid of books. Publishers are making a lot more from me with discounted e-books than if I went back to buying actual books. More money, less profit, but also less labor and materials. What’s to lose?
  • Amazon rapes the author/publisher by taking 65% of the list price.  the 30% proposed by Apple is far more reasonable.  E books should sell for less than printed ones, but $9.99 is too low, at least as long as Amazon takes 65%
  • Let market set price. Increase in prices will open direct sales by authors as too much is being taken out by publishers
  • The reason I did not buy an ebook earlier (Sony and others) was because I researched how many books were available and the cost of the books.  Amazon has ruled the waves in these areas!
  • no cost for paper, ink or printing. the cost should be much lower. paper back books should cost more than ebooks !
  • Publishers need to adapt and embrace the business benefits of the ebook model
  • i read my Kindle and I also publish a few books for friends on the Kindle page.  We need marketing advice how to promote these books on different sites.
  • “Setting a max ebook price is fine for most books, but for scientific works and the like with a limited potential market, a higher price is quite reasonable.  
  • I am presently working with an author, coding his book for Kindle publication.  He asked his publisher to do this, but the publisher has done nothing in 5 months, probably because with Kindle publication, the money goes to the author, not to the publisher.  I suspect other publishers share this view.”
  • It is much cheaper to develop an ebook – there is no excuse for excessive pricing.
  • The outcomes of the competition among ebooks, publishers, and authors will decide the issue–not my opinion!
  • “Why would a book that costs much less to produce because it does not have to be printed, bound, and shipped, stacked, sold and delivered cost as much as a printed, bound, etc. book?
  • Would the publishers make that much more since they would not be sharing costs with others in production or…. will their costs be the same with smaller publication numbers and so are making up the costs of producing hard copies with ebooks. I think $9.99 should cover that though.”
  • I don’t know why MacMillan cared what price amazon sold the ebooks for, since they were getting an agreed upon price.  Why do they care if Amazon lost money?  If publishers would put out a quality physical product, that didn’t fall apart after just one or two readings, then it would be easier to justify paying for it.  Maybe it’s time for authors to leave the publishers and simply sell their books as ebooks through Amazon…
  • Why would a copy of an ebook cost any more than 9.99. It’s just a digital copy.
  • As a lay person who has little idea of the economics involved in publishing, it would be foolish of me to tell anyone what their prices should be or that they should put the readers’ interests first if it would cause them to fail. Self preservation has to be the first priority of any business.
  • By putting reader’s interests first publishers and authors will sell more books and, therefore, make more money!!  Everyone is happy!  It’s just simple logic.
  • Ebooks should cost less because production costs are less and because they cannot be shared or resond (unlike a conventional book which can be shared multiple times).  There are much fewer costs associated with producing an ebook than a conventional book.  I don’t think publishers care about authors; it’s all about the “bottom dollar”–and I am a Macmillan author, so I speak from experience.
  • I would be willing to pay $14.99 for a new release ebook, not a penny more.  However, if the publisher decides to charge that much then it should be released the same day as the hardcover counter part and the ebook should not contain any errors or glitches.
  • When I buy a book I shop for the lowest price be it electronic, hardback or paperback.  If I do not find a price I like I borrow the book from the library or do without.  If I feel that publisher’s ask too much, I won’t buy the book.
  • I love my Kindle but I still read paperbacks and hard cover books, and any ebook that is over $9.99 I get from my library.  Once a book becomes an e-book, the cost is practially free and all profit. Why does it have to cost so much?? I don’t believe e-readers will put publishers out of business. There are many reasons and people who prefer holding a book. There is room for both.
  • Lousy questions…loaded…cutesy.  If you want good information from a survey, you ask simple, unambiguous questions.
  • I’m a writer and a reader, so I suppose I’m my own worst enemy.
  • I think that ebooks should be cheaper than paperbooks, after all there are no production costs involved.
  • Authors have a right to be paid well for what they do, Publishers have a right to make money in their business,but price-fixing and collusion in any business is illegal.  E-books are the least expensive cost to a publisher and that should be reflected in the price of each e-book.  Increasing the prices on e-books will decrease the amount of books I can purchase although I prefer it as my primary form of reading material.
  • I would have strongly disagreed that Amazon has egg on its face – except that the protracted time it has taken to get hardback buy buttons back hasn’t benefited Amazon; just alienated their print title customers, many who don’t care about Kindle titles. I do care about the Kindle titles and was very distressed to imagine not being able to buy favorite authors books in any format directly from Amazon, but was also distressed that my Prime shipping option wouldn’t work for a Hardback release.
  • First question:  Are you serious?  Publishers are corporations, they are out for themselves.  Period.  The last question. . .publishers:  strongly agree, authors: somewhat disagree
  • There are a lot of ways to get discounted books. ie library, clearouts, ebay, half.com, used book stores. The $30+ price for HC is ridiculous and especially when they can be purchased at a big box store or amazon. There is no way that ebooks should be even close in price to amazon, costco HC. You can resell the print edition, but not with the ebook. Besides if a book is a bestseller, then by defination it will generate a profit to the publishers.
  • I wouldn’t pay more than $9.99 for an e-book (if even that) because it’s not a book I can loan out or share with others if I think it’s really good. I don’t buy hardcovers because of storage space.  If I read a hardcover, I usually borrow it from the library.
  • i just got my kindle in december 2009, based primarily on the 9.99 book price. i typically wait and buy paperbacks and was happy to pay a bit more and have immediate access to new books. the new pricing is very disturbing
  • Publishers do not care about authors, despite their protestations.
  • I have tried to understand this issue, but I find it very complicated and I remain unsure of what is fair and unfair to each of the parties involved. Certainly ebooks should be *much* less expensive than hardcovers, but I’m not sure what the price point for either should be. Certainly authors should be paid adequately for their work, but again I don’t know how that is best determined. Publishers, it seems, will have to adopt new business models to fit with new technologies.
  • The $9.99 pricepoint was a MAJOR consideration in my choice to purchase an ereader when I did and the one of the major deciding factors of which ereader to purchase.  As a major reader and book purchaser I’d been watching the development of them for years comparing those available, their price points as well as their features.  Budget is very important to me and I seldom can afford to purchase a hard cover when newly released, I would either get on the library list or wait for the paperback.
  • I am willing to pay more then $10 for some ebooks, Never more then $15 for a new release and certainly feel they should be significantly less then the price of hardcover or paperback (whichever format is currently int he bookstores)
  • I don’t know this for a fact, but I tend to think that Publishers are only out for their own interests…not the authors.  The Publishers don’t have to do much (if anything) to publish e-books.  Save lots of money with e-books.  Authors ought to get ALL the money generated from e-books and Publishers should get NONE of the money generated from e-books.  I am not an author…but we all know the Publishers have gotten rich off the backs of authors!
  • I bought the kindle because the prices were originally about $4 for a paperback and $9.99 for a hardback.  Now that prices are over $6 for most mass market editions, I’m back to going to the library and used book stores.  Unhappy that the Wall Street Journal has jumped 50% since I first purchased the kindle, and it’s not nearly as good as the print version.   Also, disappointed that Text to speech, a selling point for K-2 is disabled for so many Kindle editions.
  • The book that sells the most and creates the biggest stir with awards may have been the easiest to write –The Road, IMO. The book that was researched for 25 years and finally released — but nobody read it??  It’s tough to establish pricing and stick to a single formula. A fluff piece may be the writing of a lifetime. The hard to write, and the writer nearly starved to death — may be a flop commercially. I see many books as exceptions to any rules.
  • Amazon may have blinked first but I believe, as E readers, we can reinforce the point they were making by boycotting expensive Ebooks.
  • Because iPad has yet to launch, collusion is tough to prove. But if they stay the course, sue the bastards!
  • I think publishers and authors are in business to make money and I think they every right to. It just seems to me that publishing by ebook is a lot cheaper and should eventually provide for a wider distribution of books, magazines etc at much reduced costs.
  • “i read that macmillian with their price increase is now actually getting LESS money than they were at 9.99 …  eventually, publishers will go the way of record labels …
  • and i find i read a lot of FREE content on my kindle anyway”
  • Isn’t competition supposed to drive prices down?  Isn’t lower cost of production supposed to equal lower cost of goods?
  • “1) without readers there is no need to publish
  • 2) e-books are more economical for the publisher and the reader and better for the environment”
  • “I believe that Amazon caved to the publishers (starting with MacMillan) because it fits their own interests. They will make more money selling the ebooks for a higher price, and it gets them off the hook with many by claiming they tried to honor their original commitment to keep best sellers at the $9.99 price. Now they can put the blame for higher prices on the publishers.
  • As for the publishers there is no way that they will convince me that it costs as much to produce an ebook as a hardcover.”
  • $9.99 without the ability to lend it or give it to someone is too much.  Charge less or let us give them away.
  • I stopped buying HardBks in 2006, even w/ coupons, discounts, &Costco the price was $16- $18.  I now buy ebook immediately at around $10-$11 instead of waiting for paperback ( w/ coupons were $5-$6).  Guess what, I’ve found tons of independent authors I love and who are happy to sell me books $5 or less.  I will not buy ebook OR physical books from a publisher who is trumping up the price, I have choices. I am comfortable w/ up to $11.99 for an ebook I don’t own, can’t sell or get get signed.
  • I appreciate Amazon taking a position and informing Kindle owners of same.
  • Some ebooks are already price outrageously, even more than the the soft cover price and much too close to the hard cover price!
  • Publishers 7 authors are of course interested in their bottom line.  Keeping readers happy should improve that bottom line so it should always be a consideration for them, but not their sole purpose.  That would be naive to think.
  • I don’t see any reason for fiction books to be priced more than $5. But there are many other kinds of non-fiction that probably have to cost more than $10 because the market is too small to support accurate research otherwise.
  • One of the main incentives (other than portablility) for the Kindle is the money saving aspect on newly published books.  The $9.99 price tag is very appealing to me.
  • I am sympathetic to authors, however I can’t afford to pay any more for e-books. If the prices go up I will go back to using he library.
  • with the absence of traditional publication costs and the reaching of a large audience the ebook prices should be kept low. Many people still love the feel of a book in their hand and I don’t believe paper will be going away.  I will personally alter my kindle book buying if bestsellers and other titles are in the $13-15 dollar range vs $9.99
  • In the long run, if you cater to your market you will always come out on top.  To get what you want you need to help enough others get what they want.
  • As long as most publishers insist on “protecting” ebooks with DRM, and Amazon (and presumably Apple) aid and abet them, the squabbles between them on pricing are irreleant.  Both Baen and O’Reilly have demonstrated that offering ebooks without DRM can be done profitably, to highly technical audiences well capable of pirating them if desired.
  • If prices were higher I would not be able to purchase the books I do.  And receiving a free sample of the books makes a huge difference
  • The reason I bought the Kindle was because I could read more books since they weren’t so expensive.
  • I feel ebooks,  at least some, are WAY overpriced. I read a analysis by an author on how much she actually makes, compared to the selling price, and it was a surprise to me. On the low end! In some ways, we could argue that ebooks are subsidizing print books since the marginal cost of an ebook approaches a number close to zero. A print book —  it’s costs are set at the beginning, sold or not.
  • “I have purchased new Kindle books BECAUSE I get a better price on them than hard copies.  If the prices weren’t as good, I would have passed on getting the books and discovering new authors.  In this economy, any way to save money helps.   
  • What publishers don’t say is that once a digital book is read, it can’t be given away or resold like a book.  The Kindle audience is much smaller than hard copy audience, so digital sharing can’t have nearly the impact Napster had on music.”
  • I obviously haven’t kept up with this controversy.
  • I think $9.99 is a reasonable price for a bestselling e-book.  I would not pay anymore than that, regardless of the author.  Since I’ve gotten so many free or very low priced e-books, I don’t feel guilty spending $9.99 for some books.  I still would not pay more than that though.
  • “I don’t know enough about the publishing industry to have an opinion about most of these questions. I have read some of what is currently going on, but still do not know enough.
  • #2 is really a two part question. I don’t know if hardcover books are overpriced, but I definitely believe that the ebooks should be less.”
  • Don’t believe hardcovers are necessarily overpriced. Do think ebooks should be much cheaper.
  • 72 year old man on s. s. will be going to library if prices get to high
  • I don’t have an understanding of the intricacies of publishing, but it stands to reason that it costs far more in materials to publish a physical book than to provide a digital copy of that same book.  Therefore pricing a digital, intangible form of reading material at a similar level as a physical book makes the average, uneducated reader suspicious, and less likely to pay a higher price.
  • “Yes, the writer is, after all, writing for the reader. 
  • Don’t get too hubristic, Amazon, in this “”war”” with other publishers–this is a transitional phase in publishing that requires skillful diplomacy at times.”
  • bought the kindle to have $9.99 prices.  Love my kindle.  Wouldn’t trade it for world, but really need prices kept in line.
  • I feel that if you pay the money to buy a kindle and you don’t actually get the tangible product you should be able to purchase top sellers for less that $5
  • Most books written today are simply ‘bad books’ and I get back at the publisher and author by not buying them.  The same will be said if the price is jacked up…..
  • Publishers and authors will promote self-interest that requires consideration of reader’s interests, as well as their own adequate compensation–but not satisfying their excessive greed.
  • Since e-book prices can be easily changed, I suggest they start out high before the release of the hard copy, then drop to less than hard copy when that is released, drop again when paperback is released and in general keep flexible to drop the price as the demand goes down until they reach a floor for the long tail.
  • What the publishers don’t get is that a lot of us prefer to read most content on our Kindles. I also check books out of the library. Since I read over 100 books a year, I cannot afford to buy all of them. I don’t buy hard cover or soft cover fiction, so e-books and the library are my only choices. If the publishers price the e-books too high, I will be getting most new fiction from the library in contrast to getting at least half as e-books, which I do now.
  • Publishers must be able to make a profit to insure the capabilities needed for mass distribution and promotion. However, I see the ebook industry opening up many more opportunities for nitch markets which are not well served by big publishers.
  • I, for one, will not pay more than $9.99 for an e-book.
  • Authors and publishers are making millions as it is.  E-Books should also be able to be given to others, just like a paper book.
  • eBook should be much cheaper than traditional (hard & paperback) because of the electonic capabilities.  The publishers are price fixing and unreasonable.
  • It seems as though they may sell more at the ebook price compared to the book store price, so it should be an advantage.  The author should not take a cut, the publisher should… I buy books that I would never buy in hardcover because they are too expensive.  I love the opportunity to purchase them at 9.99.
  • Part of the reason for purchasing the Kindle was the reasonable price for just released books.  I am unhappy with the news regarding ipad release and discussions of Steve Jobs and prices being manipulated.  Wonder if Amazon will cave in on the prices or is just waiting things out. As a senior citizen and fulltime RVer rising costs and fixed earnings means book pricing is important to me.  I’d hate to go back to trading paperbacks while my Kindle collects dust.
  • Authors need to make a living. Publishers price the books, and I prefer to read them less expensively on Kindle.
  • Authors should get paid.  Publishers should expect less and authors need to be more involved in self-publishing.  Without need for big presses, publishing becomes less important.
  • Publishers have less to offer both the reader and the author than they once had. They should get less and the author more of the price.
  • Come on, publishing, writing, distributing are businesses…how many times have businesses put customers first?  It sounds good, though.
  • Realize that this is business, and as usual the consumer is the one that suffers. Personally, this makes me so angry, I would go back to reading paperbacks and sharing books with friends.
  • I think the publishers and Amazon need to figure out a strategy for making ebooks similar in price to paperbacks. I wouldn’t mind waiting a few months after the hardbound book is published to get the ebook.But I really feel ripped off paying a premium over paperbacks and get an ephemeral object that I can’t share with others.
  • Without readers willing to pay a fair price, the authors and publishers would fail.  They are trying to flex their muscles and extort exaggerated prices for ebooks and I personally think it will backfire and hurt them in the long run.  I will find myself looking for up and coming authors who offer their work at a reasonable rate.  There is minimum cost in publishing ebooks and that should be reflected in the price to the consumer.
  • I do not have enough time or money to buy every book, so an important part of my purchase decision will be when the e-book is released and at what price. The higher the price or longer delay from hardcover release, the less likely I will be to ever purchase that title.
  • All books, regardless of author and publisher, should be made available in ALL formats and that includes ebooks.  All anyone wants to do is read, and we need to teach that at a very young age.  Limiting the printed word to only one form is wrong.  Whatever happened to “Reading is Fundamental?”  If we believed that, then all written words should be available in all formats, not just DTB’s or electronically.  Authors & publishers are hurting themselves and doing all mankind a huge disservice.
  • Publishers have been griping against e-readers ruining their hard book sales when they should be thrilled people are increasing their reading with the Kindle.  They should view e-readers as a new way to sell their books, not penalize us for doing so.
  • At higher than $9.99 per ebook, I will buy less books.
  • Either way, for the books I want to read, I’m screwed with a Kindle, and probably with any other device. Sadly disappointed that most good 20th century books are not available.
  • I have talked to authors who say that they really take a hit with ebooks. I don’t mind paying more for newly published ebooks. I feel that high prices are offset by much lower prices for older books.
  • The $9.99 price seems like a reasonable price since I usually wait for books to be remaindered before purchase unless needed immediately.
  • Personally, I will not pay more than $9.99 for a book, so if they want to play games they should be prepared to have less sales.
  • authors and publishers both should get their fair share.  Put the price too high and I go to bit torrent
  • Once the cost of translating it to E-book format is covered, there is very little cost for a publisher on an ebook and no disadvantages (such as unsold returns or out of stock due to unanticipated sales). The cost of an ebook should be less than the cost of a hardcover (certainly) and a paperback (once it comes out in paperback).  There is no problem with charging a little more for a hardcover when it first comes out, but it certainly shouldn’t be the same cost as for the hardcover book itself.
  • Some ebook prices may need to be higher, especially if publishers move towards school texts.
  • Publishers should stand up for their authors and if ebooks are to highly priced there is always the library! Hardbacks are high, not necessarily overprice and yes ebooks should be cheaper they are ‘green’. Publishers and authors are trying to make profet or income – so is Amazon – the readers will ‘do’ what best meets their purpose.
  • I may be willing to pay more than $9.99 for an e-book, but it will be rare and the book better be available the moment the hard-cover is available and it better not have any formatting errors or editing errors (in excess of what the hard cover edition has)
  • I believe that ebooks should be cheaper than the printed copy.
  • will go back to library and drop buying books if prices go up.
  • Producing and distrubing books paperlessly should keep the price down and many more books availabe to read and at the same time paying the authors a better amount for their product.
  • I strongly dissagree with the first statement simply because big publishers are not in this for the authors, they are in it for the money.  I would imagine the authors get paid the same either way. Publishing companies loose out on the price of printing and storage, they are just trying to gouge the readers and make up for that with the idea of raising the price of e-books
  • The big publishers seem to be desperate to prop up what is fast becoming an obsolete product – hardback books.
  • Ebooks should be cheaper. Once an ebook is created there is no other cost involved.  You can make as many copys as you want for little to no cost.  A paper book on the other hand has a lot of costs associated with it.  Paper, printing, distribution, sales, etc.
  • I strongly belive in capitalism and the right of authors and publishers to make money. But, to have e-book prices anywhere near the price of a hardcover or even paperback is rediculous. I don’t mind paying for content but when I am not using paper, when I am not requiring a warehouse, and when I do not require UPS or FedEx then I expect to somewhat of a discount reflective of the lower cost.
  • I had a lot of respect for Amazon for standing up to MacMillan – I no longer do.  It is unlikely that I will be buying e-books at the proposed prices.  I will read what I have and will use my local library, I will not participate in assisting people to rip off consumers to fill the pockets of publishers who refuse to move to a new and innovative model or others who  insist on gauging the consumer.
  • A writer myself, I think authors are being excluded from the conversation almost exclusively.  Unless they are a blockbuster author, they are being ignored.
  • It is ridiculous to expect an eboook purchaser to pay more for a book that the publishers don’t have to spend as much money to produce.
  • I think that ebooks should be priced lower than hardbacks. If you look at 14 compared to a store’s price on a hardback, that is a significant savings. The issue is complicated because amazon lowers prices on hardbacks, so then people expect ebooks to be discounted from there. I don’t know the solution but I believe authors should recieve fair pay for their work.
  • If authors wish to pay publishers large fees for editing, promotion, production and distribution this is up to them, but they should also be (and generally are) free to sell their content / intellectual property directly to readers.
  • I have always bought paperbacks in the $12 $14 range I THINK $10 is an acceptable price considering only one person can read it and I do not get $2.50 back at the local when I have finnished with it and I cannot lend it to my freinds
  • eBooks should always cost less the lowest print price of a book, especially because of DRM. I can’t trade it or sell it like a DTB, and there’s less cost in creating it than there is for a DTB.
  • I believe that publishers & authors should charge what they believe the market will bear. This is a free market society. If they price their e-books too high they will not get purchased. I sometimes pay over 9.95 for an ebook if I really want to read the book when it first comes out but usually wait until they are less than 9.95
  • Given the state of the economy and limited resources for producing paper books, I would think that publishers might want to venture into the electronic age more. People don’t have the kind of disposable income to buy several hard back books anymore. By using an electronic medium which reduces the overall costs of producing such works, you could charge a reasonable fee and still have a readership following. If publishers don’t find a way to move with the times, I am afraid they will be overtaken.
  • All books are different, so I understand that not every e-book can  be $9.99. I have bought biographies, histories, non-fiction current event books and long-form fiction (1000 pages+) at higher prices. But just as I pay less for mass-market paperbacks, I expect to pay significantly less for text-only digital delivery and I will not buy any book that is overpriced, period. Which is why I have declined to buy a lot of recent trade paper priced over $12 no matter the author.
  • Ultimately keeping prices low will work to the benefit of the publishers.  I know that I will buy more books since I have a Kindle than I otherwise would.  If prices go up, it’s back to the library.
  • So what are the publishers saying, that because some people want a pretty cover, all people should pay the same price for different versions of the same item.  Have they shopped for cars lately?  I’ll bet they pay a different price for Folgers they brew at home vs. Starbucks the grab & go…
  • Free market should win out, customers will show with their dollars their views.  Price fixing should not be allowed.
  • Amazon made a nice move when they stood up to a publisher to keep prices down, but whether that was a good decision or not is beyond my ability to know.
  • I never seem to want to pay even the $9.99 price for the run of the mill fiction book the prices remain high for a lot of my favorite authors. I do buy the paper back books and trade them in for 1/2 price but can’t do that with e_Books.
  • I believe the market needs to dictate ebook prices.  If publishers/retailers raise ebook prices to 14.99, for ex., and readers don’t want to buy books at that price, then they won’t.  The prices need to adjust based on purchases.  If no one buys at 14.99 but many buy at 9.99, then price it at 9.99.
  • “Amazon is now charging $9.99 for the Kindle version of a 3 year old paperback book. I was about to buy this one when the dispute broke out at $6.50. I will not buy it now.
  • I will tend to not buy anything priced over $10 for Kindle.  Due to the much reduced cost of “publishing” and ebook, the cost should be markedly reduced!
  • an ebook should be a lot less than a hardback or paperback book because an ebook is intangible,and I can by various means lose my ebooks,by theft,by not replacing a worn out kindle, by just getting tired of reading ebooks and finding a physical copy more satisfying. I can always keep a physical copy and trade it,or have multiples
  • I am disappointed that Amazon did not stick to their guns but understand that they need to follow  business model and giving up may have been in their best interest.  It was their business, not mine, to make that decision.
  • Let’s let the market run its course and sort things out. Getting self-righteous doesn’t help anything. If MacMillan is overpricing its books, the market will let it know.
  • NA
  • The publishers claim that they make money on paper backs with printing costs, distribution costs,retail store costs, and return costs, yet lose money on ebooks is insultingly absurd on its face.
  • Those are tough questions – as an individual, I want the most for my money – However, an author should have the right to get as much as he or she can for their labors.  The real question should be – how much does an author get for selling an e-book and how much more does the author sell in quantity on an e-book as compared to a hard cover? Is e-book selling profitible?  Maybe Amazon needs to give more to the author and keep our prices lower-Is there a compromise?
  • I love my Kindle; if book ebook prices are too high, I shall find better economic means – the market will fix this issue; I shall vote with my feet.
  • I strongly believe that if ebook prices are kept at a reasonable price, more will be purchased, which will surely put more money in the pockets of  the publishers and authors!
  • How dare the publishers try to make e books more expensive?  Books are much more expensive to produce than e  books are.
  • Publishers need to remember those of us whom comsider the top 10 lists crap
  • All parties concerned need to consider the readers’ needs first
  • A book without a reader is a waste of someone’s time, energy, and resources. Every writer has an intended audience. That audience should be at the foremost of their decisions or there is no point in the book’s existence.
  • I am not sure what the issue is–shouldn’t ebooks be nearly 100% profit–no paper, ink, postage etc?
  • The day is coming when publishers will be cut out of the distribution loop with authors dealing with e-publishers directly, benefitting both the authors (hopefully better royalties and easier access to publication) and readers (lower prices for e-books and more selection).
  • As an author, I’m not exactly unbiased!
  • “Prior to Kindle purchase, I primarily purchased paperbacks or trades. I rarely purchased hardcovers due to price and physical size.
  • Since Kindle purchase, I doubt I will spend much on paperbacks due to the comfort level of using a Kindle/eBook Reader with a large font size.
  • Since I imagine hard costs of producing an eBook would be less than the cost of a hard cover or paperback, I can only attribute the desire for higher eBook prices as greed on the publisher’s part.”
  • In today’s electronic world, especialy in this troubled economy, books should be affordable and accessible in electronic format as well as print.
  • I actually would like to see the flexible price plan that MacMillan has suggested it wants to use in action. It might give the customer more control over pricing of ebooks in the long run.
  • I don’t care about who gets paid for what, I only care about the bottom line , how much is it going to cost ?
  • The free market will prevail in this issue…if books (e-books or paper) are over-priced, they simply will not sell.
  • As I understand it, MacMillan want more leeway to set their price. (like initially the book premiers at 14.99 and as demand goes down, they would reduce the price to keep the books moving). I have an issue that 15 is too high for an e-book. Maybe 9.99 is too low as well, but I don’t like the books that I want to read not being available or being more than I want to spend for something that doesn’t have any printing or storage costs.
  • Big publishers are only looking out for themselves and their dollars, not their authors.
  • This whole thing is quite complicated and I expect my answers are somewhat inconsistent because of that complexity. As a reader I would love low e-book prices but if I were a writer I might feel very differently about it.
  • I am perfectly happy with prices.  Love the books and have no complaints.  Best gift I ever got.
  • Ebooks represent hugh savings in manufacturing costs.  This should be passed on to the consumer.  Kindle books cannot be resold.  This also must be taken into consideration.
  • “Things are quite strange right now.  Example Stephen King’s latest $35 in stores and $7.20 at Kindle.  (Good book, big,  interesting read.)  $9.99 for lesser quality / lesser priced book by other well known writer.  Some A list authors are not available at all.
  • Things art in flux but ultimately the laws of supply and demand ought to start shaping the market.
  • Authors, like everyone else, need to be rewarded for their labor.”
  • Made the best choices I could from the selections, but some don’t really do a great job at reflecting how I feel.  I don’t feel Hardcovers are as overpriced but strongly feel ebooks should be much cheaper due to the fact that you do not own any physical property that can be passed around, sold, etc.  Also, I don’t think ebooks should never be more than $9.99, but I feel it is a good pricepoint for everyday novels.
  • If regular print books are worth $25….then electronic books are truly only worth NO MORE than $9.99.
  • Publishers should be careful or they may find themselves suffering as the record industry has suffered. Access to indie books/small publishers has been one of the things I have enjoyed most about my Kindle.
  • I will not pay more than $9.99 a book! The free books gets me to read other author which then I may buy a book from that author I would have never bought.
  • publishers and authors should realize that lower prices will mean more sales and more readers. More readers will mean more knowledge of the talents of the author and more popularity will mean more sales. Before Amazon and kindle, I got  a large portion of my reading material at the library and free books off the net. Now I spend more and get more. Love it–plus I don’t have to find space to store or place to donate to. Love the kindle. My budget limits my purchases so more expensive is no no.
  • I will not claim that having a wide range of electronic books available at $10 has not been attractive, but books will be priced at what the market will carry. If no one is buying them, the prices will come down. I don’t mind paying $12-$15 for an electronic title. What I do mind is when publishers demand the same profit formula for electronic books as they do for print. Electronic versions cut their margins significantly and their margin (not the author’s) should benefit the customer.
  • I am not paying over the 9.99 for books I read for fun.  I do pay more for technical books however they do not display the best on my K1.  If Kindle book prices creep up I’ll either go back to yard sale paperbacks or wait until the price goes down.  I purchased the kindle partly for convenience of having lots of books some technical some fun with me in my purse and also to buy best sellers at a more affordable price.  I currently buy many more books than before the Kindle.
  • With the prices so reasonable, I am able to buy 4x the amount of books!  So far, in 8 months I purchased aver 100 books for about $250.00.  And I haven’t even started to replace all my favorite paper books that are in my library. If prices go up, then I don’t think the Kindle was worth the investment.  Especially if they come out with new versions that you will need to upgrade every few years as the others become obsolete.
  • I feel that the publishers are wrong to pressure Amazon to accept the new agent structure, under the threat of withholding ebook releases for several months. I believe Steve Job’s comment proved that they are in collusion, and I hope there will be an investigation. (Although the publishers would probably pass on the legal reps cost to us through even higher ebook prices.
  • The economics of ebooks can only logically dictate a lower price than paper.  There is no warehouseing, shipping, handling, etc…  Why should I pay more for an item with far less actual cost than a paper book???
  • I think that we as readers show authors and publishers our interests and opinions by our dollars.  We support the ones that we enjoy by buying them.  I find it interesting that there is much less of a product in an ebook yet the publishers that are arguing with Amazon want the same price for something that is a lot more intangible.  Amazon is taking the hit for delivery of the books to the Kindle so what is the publisher expecting to be paid for, exactly?
  • I honestly haven’t been keeping up with all the flap, although I’ve heard that there IS a flap!  I don’t know enough about it to give an informed opinion, but I tried where I could.
  • power to the people
  • The big publisher are not serving their customers.  Most companies that do not serve their customers eventually go out of business.
  • I think as long as Amazon is giving the publishers their cut it doesn’t matter the price of the ebook.  I also believe that the lower the cost of the books the more people will buy.  We have to be more selective with the $9.99 titles but the under $5 we can buy more.
  • I simply do not understand why e-books have to be expensive.  They are saving a fortune.  They make an electronic file to sell over and over again. They do not have to make or ship anything. What am I missing here?
  • I don’t have to be consistent.
  • You can’t have it both ways: Amazon shouldn’t be colluding with the publishers for price-fixing any more than Apple should. I think it is probably going to be up to the readers to refuse to buy books at the higher prices. There are thousands of classics that can be read in e-book form for free. I have never been much inclined to buy full-price hardbacks, and I will not now start paying hardback-prices for e-books.
  • Regarding the last question, authors and readers should be equal.  Publishers, including Amazon, Apple, MacMillan should be as important as the typewriter.
  • There has got to be a happy medium.  I don’t have a solution and I don’t pretend too, but someone is getting rich and I assume it is neither the author nor Amazon.
  • I’m a huge library user and love my Kindle for convience while traveling.  I buy books from Amazon and also get the free books, but if prices go too high I will revert back to more library use.
  • Lumping publishers and authors together in the last question is a mistake; publishers and authors have completely opposite interests.
  • Don’t combine two questions that need different answers. I do not think that hardcovers are overpriced, at least not when followed later by paperbacks. I do think that many e-books should be much cheaper than hardcover prices, at some point after release.
  • I think authors need to make more money but I feel that when publishers do not have to pay for the manufacture of physical books they can and should keep them cheaper.
  • I’m going to do my best to buy ebooks only from indies and other reasonably priced sources from now on.  I can get the expensive bestsellers from the library for free.
  • Like any commodity, luxury items sell well when the economy is good and not so much when the economy is poor.  That aside, books should be available at whatever price the market will bear.  This is capitalism.  If the price is too high, that will reflect in sales.  Publishers will reduce prices accordingly.  Let the public decide the price by either buying or not.
  • “perhaps i am being over-simplistic but i think:
  • 1. figure the total cost to publish the hard cover book, including all printing and delivery costs.   2.deduct the cost of printing and delivery [including paper/ink/glue/etc].   3.give the percentage usually given to bookstores to the elecronic distributer.   4. give the rest to the publisher and author.
  • that way, everyone gets what they are used to getting; and the reader gets the savings.”
  • e-books need to cost less than physical books because they cannot be shared.  Inherent in the digital book concept is a cost-savings, and a less flexible product.
  • I paid more than $9.99 for one of my first Kindle boos when I first got it.  I never thought of $9.99 as a line in the sand, but rather as a goal.
  • pricing should be determined by market, not artificially held (by publishers). I truly can’t understand how publishers think it will work to charge $12-15 for an ebook, when the hardcover version will be discounted to $10. Let the market decide the price, regardless of cost.
  • the questions do not get to the real issues.  Some books do have greater value than others, but ebooks cannot be shared or resold, and there is less cost to distribute. they should be priced lower and Amazon should have the right to resell at whatever cost makes good sense to them.  They negotiated a price with publishers (50% of list) and then should have freedom to re-price.  If book is too much, I won’t buy it.
  • I don’t know any numbers but my guess is that publishers take to much of a cut. They are there only for distribution, how they distribute has to keep up with the times and technology. They should be operating on as small a margin as possible so the producer gets paid and the consumer gets the best deal available.
  • I think that authors should get paid more, and publishers should get paid less. They’re like pimps, seems to me. I think that ebooks are grotesquely overpriced.
  • I don’t recall hearing a price problem between Amazon and publishers until the ipad was announced.  It does sound like something went on between Apple and the publishers regarding raising the prices on e-books.
  • Ebooks save publishers the cost of ink, paper, binding, etc..  Even 9.99 is too high for all the publisher saves.  They are gouging like vultures.
  • It seems that publishers think that e-readers can’t figure out that there is almost 0 extra cost in offering e-book additions of their books. No paper cost, shipping etc.  So why do they think we should pay the same price that we could pay for the book at a discount bookstore.
  • The fact that I can’t loan an e-book (like a regular book) means to me that they should cost less.
  • If they raise the prices, I might as well buy hardbacks to have something to show for my money.
  • Jobs is thinking of his own selfish interests again.
  • When Amazon already discounts hard cover books to half the publisher’s price, then pricing Kindle version at $9.99 is not too low – it seems to me that if the publishers are going to complain, it should be that Amazon is discounting the hard cover books by too much.
  • i will not pay anyhing over 9.99 for an ebook. I can easily wait until the book is at Sam’s or Costco or go to the library or borrow it elsewhere.
  • Publishers weren’t standing up for authors. They were standing up for themselves.  If it is for the authors’ benefit, give them the money!  But if e-books continue to evolve, authors and readers will finally be able to tell publishers where to go.
  • The cost of ‘real’ books is too high. eBooks, especially as Amazon has implemented them, are a ‘lesser’ product (can’t give them away, can’t lend them, etc.) and should cost less.
  • I don’t know enough about the publishing business or the writing business to some of these matters.  Normally I do not buy hardbacks because, for the most part, I prefer reading and/or carrying paperbacks – especially when I travel.  When I do buy hardbacks I usually buy them when they are deeply discounted.  If I want to read one when it is first published, I will usually get it from the library.
  • Publishing is bloated andno longer a viable business model.  Authors should just make deals with Amazon directly and cut out the publishers.
  • I think that when a book goes into mass production paperback form the price of the ecopy should also go down.
  • “Oh of course almost everyone’s (e.g. Amazon, publisher and authors) goal is to make as much money as possible.
  • Paying current authors is one thing, but I dislike paying high prices for authors estates and famalies long after they have died.”
  • I only purchase kindle content that is 9.99 or less
  • I was so angry when I found out about this. I really don’t think that the Publisher even has the author in mind. I think they have their own bottom line in mind. Books are too expensive (and that includes paperbacks) so I don’t buy them unless I have a coupon or a discount. It only makes sense that an e-book should be a lot less because there is no physical item and it is very inexpensive to disseminate it. I think that this would be great news for publishers because we can afford to buy more.
  • The way Amazon ebooks work, you can’t share.  If you buy a hardcover book it can be shared with anyone, ebooks can’t unless you pass your ereader around.  This is a problem.  I live with my sister, we both have Kindles with our own accounts and can’t share a book other than sharing the actual Kindle.   We sometimes both buy the ebook when we would only buy the hardcover once.
  • hardcover and paperbacks are discounted at Walmart, Target, etc.
  • I will never, under any circumstance, pay more than 50% of the best physical book price for an ebook. For most new-release hardbacks, this is $9.99. For most paperbacks, this is $6. If the ebook is too expensive, it’s not hard to find it by other means.
  • Readers interests count (a lot) but profit must be made.  Also, we want to see items published and that won’t “sell” but should be brought to light.
  • Book publishing is big business and there is going to be a constant tug-of-war to set and re-set prices.  Ultimately, the consumers will decide who wins.  For a while.  Then it starts up again!
  • Let the free market work
  • The reader’s interests will ultimately be served by the free market. Author’s should be fairly paid for their work, and the price that reader’s are willing to pay will contribute the the determination of what is “fair”.
  • I find the agency model insulting. In a country that is the beacon of free enterprise, a cartel has been created. We have seen how OPEC fixes prices and cares nothing for countries and consumers, but only for its interests. This will happen in books with the need agency model. How dare a publisher mandate how a retailer will price? It used to be a recommended retail price! This is about the publishers protecting themselves, not authors or readers interests. It’s criminal.

Click here to see complete, detailed results of the survey, and keep your dial tuned to Kindle Nation Dailyhere on the web or here to have posts pushed directly to your Kindle — for ongoing breakdowns of the significance of the survey results.

Additional Survey Results, coming soon:

MacMillan CEO Says "Time is Getting Near to Hand" for Return of Amazon’s Buy Buttons for MacMillan Titles

File this one, perhaps, under “If a tree falls in the forest….”

If “Buy” buttons are restored to MacMillan’s new-release ebook titles at prices of $12.99 to $14.99 in the Kindle Store, will anyone pay attention to the buy buttons?

In a paid advertisement that appeared on the Publisher’s Marketplace website today, MacMillan Publishing CEO says the following:

To: Macmillan Authors and Illustrators

cc: Literary Agents

From: John Sargent

I am sorry I have been silent since Saturday. We have been in constant discussions with Amazon since then. Things have moved far enough that hopefully this is the last time I will be writing to you on this subject.

Over the last few years we have been deeply concerned about the pricing of electronic books. That pricing, combined with the traditional business model we were using, was creating a market that we believe was fundamentally unbalanced. In the last three weeks, from a standing start we have moved to a new business model. We will make less money on the sale of e books, but we will have a stable and rational market. To repeat myself from last Sunday’s letter, we will now have a business model that will ensure our intellectual property will be available digitally through many channels, at a price that is both fair to the consumer and that allows those who create and publish it to be fairly compensated.

We have also started discussions with all our other partners in the digital book world. While there is still lots of work to be done, they have all agreed to move to the agency model.

And now on to royalties. Three or four weeks ago, we began discussions with the Author’s Guild on their concerns about our new royalty terms. We indicated then that we would be flexible and that we were prepared to move to a higher rate for digital books. In ongoing discussions with our major agents at the beginning of this week, we began informing them of our new terms. The change to an agency model will bring about yet another round of discussion on royalties, and we look forward to solving this next step in the puzzle with you.

A word about Amazon. This has been a very difficult time. Many of you are wondering what has taken so long for Amazon and Macmillan to reach a conclusion. I want to assure you that Amazon has been working very, very hard and always in good faith to find a way forward with us. Though we do not always agree, I remain full of admiration and respect for them. Both of us look forward to being back in business as usual.

And a salute to the bricks and mortar retailers who sell your books in their stores and on their related websites. Their support for you, and us, has been remarkable over the last week. From large chains to small independents, they committed to working harder than ever to help your books find your readers.

Lastly, my deepest thanks to you, our authors and illustrators. Macmillan and Amazon as corporations had our differences that needed to be resolved. You are the ones whose books lost their buy buttons. And yet you have continued to be terrifically supportive of us and of what we are trying to accomplish. It is a great joy to be your publisher.

I cannot tell you when we will resume business as usual with Amazon, and needless to say I can promise nothing on the buy buttons. You can tell by the tone of this letter though that I feel the time is getting near to hand.

All best,