How much should you charge for an ebook?

The proper price for an ebook in relation to a printed book is an increasingly common debate.  It’s very difficult to put a price on something that you can give away as many times as you want without losing anything.

Publisher Walt Shiel offered these thoughts: “. . .We publish all our e-books with a coupon for a discount (equal to the e-book purchase price) applicable to the purchase price of the print edition.”

It’s nice to see publishers realizing that ebooks can be used as promotion for print editions.  But even this is not a sustainable business model.  The day will come when printed books are merely collectors items, something to keep behind glass.  What will ebooks be used to sell then?  Some authors might give away ebooks to promote speaking tours, seminars, or some other sort of access to the author. Some could use them to promote limited print editions, such as signed copies.

And for some, this will be enough.  But there’s a limit to the number of collector editions anyone can sell, and many authors aren’t interested in public speaking or teaching.  It’s different for musicians, in the same boat in terms of distributing digital content, but much more likely to do live performances, and therefore able to give away content to promote concerts.

The search for an effective business model for ebooks and the next generation of readers will continue.  The music industry may be a good guide, but the solution may come from an entirely unexpected source.

Article:  Ongoing Reader Debate: Why Are E-Books So Expensive? – GalleyCat.

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