Why I can’t wait to pay $20+ for JK Rowling’s new ebook

Well, it’s out – The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling’s first book for adults. As if you didn’t already know!
Image courtesy of Amazon.com
I saw the hardback in Target last week for $20, or maybe $25, which is a pretty good price for a hardback, especially a new release. But I don’t need any more books on my shelf, so figured I would go home and buy the ebook.
Well, the thing is, the ebook is $20+ as well, so it doesn’t really matter which book I buy, it’s going to cost me pretty much the same. And you know what? Here’s the logic I am applying to tell me that it’s okay to spend that sort of money on an ebook:
  1. The publishers have, apparently, had two million copies (that’s 2,000,000) printed and distributed around the world. That’s a pretty big investment, so they’re going to need to get their money back quickly.
  2. It’s the same story in both the print version and the eversion, and it’s written by JK Rowling, so whether it’s on paper or on screen, it’s a story I’m buying, not paper or computer code.
  3. The editing cost has to happen, whether it’s a print book or an ebook, and so does the marketing cost, so the cost of these and other overheads (such as that really incredible cover – must have cost a fortune to have that designed!) should be split between both books. If there were no print books, the ebook would have to carry the cost of all that overhead by itself, right?
  4. To print two million books must cost a bit, and then they have to be shipped everywhere, so that’s probably going to cost the publisher at least a third, if not more, of the $20-25 they’re charging for the book. Then the retailers will take their commission (around 40%), which means there won’t be much left out of that $20-25 book once local taxes have been paid. So, they’re probably not planning to make much profit on the print book.
  5. The publishers won’t want the retailers to be left with stocks of the print book on hand, so if they have the ebook at a lower price, many people will opt for that instead of the print book. But if they’re the same price, then there’s a better chance that they’ll shift all those print books, then they won’t need to be destroyed and the retailers will be happy. 
  6. The publishers are in business and if they don’t make sensible business decisions like charging the same for both print and eversions, then they won’t be in business for long.

So yes, let’s all drop $20+ on the eversion so that we can subsidise the print version of what is, essentially, a gamble by Rowling’s new publishers. That seems a respectful way to treat your potential audience to me.
Opinionated blogging. It’s at the top of the page.

One Reply to “Why I can’t wait to pay $20+ for JK Rowling’s new ebook”

  1. But what if you don’t want to buy it? What if you don’t want to read the thing? I think that should be factored into your decision about buying the thing. Not so much the format, just the purchase. As I have no intention of reading it, I may wait a few years until the price goes down and buy it then. And I’ll definitely be getting the e-version.

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