August 12, 2011

Lawsuit Over eBook Pricing

And so it begins. With the vast new territory to explore in the eBook industry, it was just a matter of time before lawsuits came into play. According to GalleyCat's article HERE, a consumer rights firm called Hagen Bermans is suing Apple and six other big publishers saying that the agency model for eBook pricing is in violation of the Sherman Act (again, see GalleyCat's article for a little more about this).

Evidently, sometimes eBooks are being sold for a higher price than their hardback/softback counterparts. Granted, you would think that an eBook would be cheaper. No paper, no ink, to copy setting, to overhead, etc...

What do you think? Should eBooks be cheaper than paper copies? Should we have rules to enforce this kind of pricing?

9 comments:

  1. I definitely think ebooks should be cheaper than regular books. It doesn't make sense for it to be the other way around.

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  2. I agree they should be cheaper... although I'm not huge into government control of the free market (can you guess what political party I am??? HA!) so I say let consumers roll their eyes at costly ebooks and buy the real things, and ebook prices will come down accordingly soon enough.

    THing about movies: Let's say you could buy a DVD at Walmart for $19.99. But then you could go download it via netflix or whatever to your TV or computer and play it over as many times as you want, just like a DVD, forever, but that cost $23.99.

    I'd go buy the dad gum DVD. Although there would probably be some people who, for the convenience of not having to go to the store, would download it for an exorbitant price. I doubt enough that it would make it worth the while, so prices would come down soon enough.

    Right now, aren't most ebooks 9.99 anyway??? Or maybe they are talking "cost" not "sales price" and that is the issue.

    I dunno, just babbling now:-)

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  3. I believe books have a certain value, whether they are printed, electronic, or audio, as many expenses are the same no matter the form - the author's time and talent, editing, cover art, marketing, etc.

    The problem is that prior to the agency model, retailers set book prices and there was plenty of competition. The agency model is the result of an agreement between five of the six big publishing houses and Apple, which resulted in price fixing. The sixth publisher, Random House, has now joined the agency model. Publishers now set prices instead of retailers, and ebook pricing has to be the same no matter where a book is sold. As a result, competition is eliminated and, in most cases, prices are higher.

    I am thrilled at this lawsuit, but not sure it will win. Several years ago, Apple's CEO said the Kindle would fail because people didn't read any more, but he apparently changed his mind and wanted to market the iPad as an ereader. Publishers also wanted to keep selling printed copies of bestsellers, where most of their profit is made, and have tried to dampen the popularity of ebooks by controlling and raising prices. So the agency model meets all of their needs, but hurts the consumer.

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  4. Katie, I agree. I still think the author's time, effort, and expertise and worth money, but it seems like an ebook should be at least a little lower in price.

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  5. Krista, you bring up a good point about convenience. I bet there are many who would pay more to NOT have to go out to a store to get a book. I hadn't thought of that. I would never do that, but I'm sure people who have more money than I would!

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  6. Carole, you seem well informed about this topic. I really don't know a whole lot about it, other than I find it intriguing that we are already getting to the point of lawsuits when ebooks are relatively new.

    It seems to me that the kindle prices should reflect what the book is doing in in the market. If the book is going on sale at Amazon, then so should the Kindle price. That seems fair to me.

    But what do I know? :)

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  7. I just miss getting a discount on books. For example, if you have a coupon for Kobo, you can't use it on books from the big 6, and they're often priced at $8, which to me is kinda high considering you can't share them.

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  8. I'm with Krysta, free market principles. I think naturally, competition being what it is, e-books will be cheaper than other books if government doesn't interfere.

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  9. Absolutely ebooks should be much cheaper than paperbacks, I recently paid almost $10 for an ebook and the paperback was less than $5. This isn't right.

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