To wonder how on earth kindle books can be as much or more than printed books?

(38 Posts)
dollywashers Thu 22-Aug-13 21:41:15

Sorry for the long thread title. But how can some kindle books possibly cost so much. I just don't get it. Surely they should cost significantly less than books?

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 23-Aug-13 07:58:13

I tend to buy when there are sales. The primary reason I use a kindle is I simply can't store all the books I read and I like o read them over and over again.

LookingThroughTheFog Fri 23-Aug-13 08:04:13

Woohoo! Something I actually know about! I self-publish ebooks.

Indie books tend to be the ones you see published for about £1. Of this, the author gets 35% from Kindle (other publishers vary). Approximately 10p of it is for hosting and delivery costs - my books are 'lodged' on Amazon's servers. Amazon also run cusomer services, product support etc. You have to pay towards that. They claim a minimum of 75p of your revenue. If you want to claim 75% royalties, you have to sell at a minimum of £1.50.

If the indie-books are going to have a professional look and feel, you need to get them professionally edited and proofread. This will cost somewhere around £300-£600. Then you ideally want to have a cover designer work on it. Another £150+. So putting your book out there, assuming you do all these things (I don't, but I really use Amazon as a delivery mechanism to get my books to my friends). Then there's advertising. You want people to know your book is out there? That'll cost too.

Assuming your non-time costs are about £750 because you've managed to find all of the elements cheaply, you'll need to sell 2,143 copies at £1 to break even (not charging for your time).

That doesn't sound like much, but in book terms, that's a hell of a lot. That would easily put you into the top ten in the chart. The vast majority of published books out there don't sell more than 100 copies. If you get more than 1000, you're in the elite. Obviously certain books will sell millions, but they are by a long way in the minority. If you get lucky enough to have your book featured in national media, you can look at 100,000+. But even books from publishing houses don't often manage that.

You'll sell most if you're able to get your book on a 3 for 2 table in a major retailer. Publishing houses will make a loss on books they place there. They're aiming for increasing the ciculation footprint. That option doesn't exist for eBooks. There's some browsing, some downloading of sample chapters, but there isn't much impulse buying. Some, yes, but not masses.

And then there's your time. The books I write are short - 100,000-125,000 words. And they're fairly light-weight. It took about 18 months to get my last book ready for publication from typing the first word, to uploading it. All of the work I did myself, with the exception of getting someone else to do one of the proof readings. Hours wise, it's a lot of time.

I will not make money from my book. I don't mind; I do it for pleasure, but if writing is your only form of income, you can see how many copies you would have to sell to recoup that time!

So I can totally see why people sell at a rate that will make them, say £1 per copy rather than 35p.

The final point is that the publishing houses set the prices for their books - not the author. They will inevitably set the prices to be either the same as the print copy, or for just a pound or two less. It will also (usually) come out a couple of weeks later than the print copy. I honestly can't tell you why this is as I'm not involved in that part of the industry, but I assume there's an industry advantage for print sales.

Final comment on VAT - VAT on eBooks is set at 3% (I know, us writer's don't know we're born). I'm just mentioning this as it doesn't effect the price as much as you'd suspect. I try to absorb the VAT - so I set the price lower so that you'll still pay 99p for the book, rather than £1.03, and I take less royalties.

In short, like someone said upthread - the price isn't just the paper and ink - it's all the 'thinking' that goes into it, and not all of that is just the author's talent.

LookingThroughTheFog Fri 23-Aug-13 08:12:36

Oh, and a desperate plea - please review your books! Especially if you enjoy them! I get 35p per sale, but the value of a good, well thought out review, I'd put at at least £10 in marketing. (Obviously the reverse applies for bad reviews. They can sink your book before it's had a chance.) Though, of course, be honest.

fackinell Fri 23-Aug-13 11:13:27

Hey Fog, another SP here. Don't we get 34p per book? I'm sure we pay the VAT.

YY to the well thought out reviews too. Constructive criticism is fine but please don't do like one:
2* because I didn't have time to read it. Argh!! angry

TheDoctrineOfPositivityYes Fri 23-Aug-13 11:19:56

I didn't know that about 100 copies or about reviews.

Is a new release CD about the same as a new release album on iTunes? I guess a lot of the same arguments apply.

MrsOakenshield Fri 23-Aug-13 11:23:13

for a new title the pre-press costs are the same (author advance, copy editing, text design, typesetting, proofreading, indexing, permissions, cover design and permissions). Printing - well, it depends on the size of the print run, a short run for a hardback will be over £1 a book.

Don't forget that every retailer gets a discount from the publisher. For actual books Amazon will get something in the region of a 60% discount, probably higher. Same for the supermarkets.

Apart from the biggies, most publishers don't make much profit per title.

Viviennemary Fri 23-Aug-13 11:30:50

I have thought about getting a kindle. I'd rather have a proper book. But I might succumb eventually.

sparklingstars Fri 23-Aug-13 11:33:31

They also have VAT added to them sad

fackinell Fri 23-Aug-13 12:16:29

No idea about CDs, Doctrine. I'd imagine so. The indie labels in music did a lot for the SP world too. Really kickstarted doing things for ourselves. Shame Indie authors are still viewed as substandard. More of us need to take time to make it polished to present.

LookingThroughTheFog Fri 23-Aug-13 13:26:26

Hi Fackinell! I published yesterday, and set the book price at 96p, which then added 3p VAT. On the split thing - I get 35% of the 96p. So yeah, my maths skills aren't up to that maths!

ILetHimKeep20Quid Fri 23-Aug-13 13:34:20

What's your book called?

ILetHimKeep20Quid Fri 23-Aug-13 13:35:38

I don't mind that occasionally your book is the same as the print version. I love my kindle as it means I can slip 40 books into my hand luggage

fackinell Fri 23-Aug-13 13:58:43

Congratulations, Fog. My Maths is shocking, good to know its 35% though. It all helps. grin

YY we want to know the name if you're allowed to. PM us if you prefer. Not sure rules on what may be seen to be advertising on here.

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