Saturday, November 17, 2012

Paperbacks and e-books

I personally think that people really want to hold a print version of a book in their hands. It's what they're used to having, used to seeing from the time someone is little. There's a love affair with the printed page even for me. I personally have quite a collection of printed books myself. My 3rd edition Webster's collegiate dictionary (1945), my 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook, Poet's Gold (1933) and my Crowell Roget's Thesaurus (1946, printed in 1960) are highly treasured by me and I'll never get rid of them.

That being said I use my Kindle all of the time for regular reading, it's quite convenient. I think I now read around 60-80 books per year now. Some of those books are for the reviews I write. I also beta read a lot of author's work on top of the regular reading. If I printed out all of that it would be difficult to tote around on my bicycle and would probably become a fire hazard in the house.

Even though most people I think really want printed versions I think it's how much they have in their wallet that helps guide them in the decision what they buy. Adam Smith stated in Wealth of Nations that basic economics guides someone's behavior. "I have x amount of dollars and I need to maximize what I'm getting out of those dollars." You can substitute whatever currency you want to but its the same guiding principle. I remember seeing the headlines recently that trumpeted that printed versions brought in a higher amount of revenue for publishing as a whole. It wasn't all that much higher either. Knowing what I know about pricing books that means there are two to three e-copies being sold to every printed copy.

Being a self published author I can't help but look at all kinds of pricing issues. Just wander through the Kindle store some time and notice the difference in prices. Especially with Indie's like me the Kindle's price is about one half to one third of the paperbacks price. In Sea Witch the amount of price difference is even larger. I really don't think that hard covers and paperbacks will ever totally disappear because I think people really want them. They just won't ever sell like they used to and they're going to become more of collectors item more than anything like some of the volumes I have in my personal library.

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