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AIBU to think that ebooks should be cheaper than paper books?

(22 Posts)
Itscurtainsforyou Sun 27-Jul-14 22:56:16

I don't have a problem with paying for books (or music, films etc) as I know a lot of work has gone into creating them and people should be able to earn a living.

However, in this age where a lot of things are distributed electronically, with none of the outlays you'd find with physical books/cds/dvds etc, I do think that to charge the same amount for, e.g. ebooks as for paperbooks doesn't add up and they're ripping us off.


thecageisfull Sun 27-Jul-14 22:57:28

You don't pay VAT on paper books

MorphineDreams Sun 27-Jul-14 23:02:44

And the authors will get even less. In theory you're right it should be cheaper but I'm glad it isn't for the authors sake.

EduCated Sun 27-Jul-14 23:03:20

Still outlays - technology, development, software etc. and as Cage said, you pay VAT on ebooks, but not on paper books.

MamaLazarou Sun 27-Jul-14 23:15:40

I didn't know that about the VAT. Why is that?

I love my e-reader (arthritic hands) but am shocked at the price of some of the e-books available.

Still, you can get tons of free ones, too.

Fictionlady Sun 27-Jul-14 23:16:29

Many people think this way, because a physical copy is tangible and therefore seems that it has more intrinsic value than an eBook.

However the cost is really in the production and the content - the author has spent a significant chunk of time creating the words and that doesn't change, regardless of the mode of delivery. That's why an eBook should be around the same price as a hard copy (I know that's often not the case). It costs literally pennies to print a book if you do a print run of thousands.

Itscurtainsforyou Sun 27-Jul-14 23:18:56

Hmm I hadn't realised that the printing costs were so low.
I'm also interested to know why paper books are VAT-free and ebooks are not - does anyone know?

RainbowB7 Sun 27-Jul-14 23:20:11

I generally find that e-books actually are cheaper than normal books, for example I bought the Goldfinch on e-book for about £3 when it had only just come out. However, I don't buy many e books and do tend to just look at the Amazon deals so maybe they aren't always cheaper. I wouldn't buy them at full price as I would prefer to have the hard copy if I was paying that.

ICanSeeTheSun Sun 27-Jul-14 23:23:14

The bat on Ebook are because they are classed as supplies of services rather than physical goods.

I don't mind paying full price for an Ebook, but the VAT is annoying.

OnIlkleyMoorBahTwat Sun 27-Jul-14 23:24:30

You also have to store and post printed books in most cases.

OP have you signed up to

You paste in links to books you want and they check the price daily and email you if a price drops.

I've had dozens of books, including some high profile best sellers for 99p a book. As I have lots of unread books I now only buy them if they are 99p

The way I see it is that if a book is 99p they will sell many more copies than if it is 5,99 or whatever, so the author isn't losing out, especially as their book is reaching a wider audience.

ICanSeeTheSun Sun 27-Jul-14 23:24:59

I wish that when I buy a paper copy there was a code so I can get the Ebook.

The code could be printed on every page and if the code is used on another device then the book gets automatically deleted.

rollonthesummer Sun 27-Jul-14 23:26:26

It annoys me that you can't lend Kindle books either (well I haven't worked out how you can!). We'd often lend books round the family and then pass it on to a charity shop afterwards-you can't do that with a Kindle!

Mintyy Sun 27-Jul-14 23:26:56

A tiny percentage of writers earn enough to make a decent living, so I think yabu op.

wafflyversatile Sun 27-Jul-14 23:29:34

There are loads of convoluted rules on what printed documents attract VAT or not. leaflet designed and printed by one company, no VAT. printed by separate company, VAT. want perforations? VAT

I may have those all the wrong way round. It's confusing.

I think ebooks should be cheaper because they seem to have more errors in them. confused I definitely notice more since getting a kindle.

Churchillian Sun 27-Jul-14 23:30:56

Ebooks are counted as a service which is why they are VAT-able. They have the same production costs as print books - author costs, editing, proof reading, marketing and promotion. Unlike print books they also have additional production costs into the different ebook formats, storage and distribution costs, metadata, anti-piracy costs etc. Amazon and other ebook stores also take a considerable chunk of each sale - usually around a third. Basically the profit margin on a full- priced ebook is around the same as the print equivalent.

Itscurtainsforyou Sun 27-Jul-14 23:36:34

Thanks for the tip, I shall check out

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the costs for a paperbook and for an ebook, obviously there are a lot of things I've not thought of :-)

Do you think people read more now ebooks are available? I must admit I find it easier to dip into an ereader (which I also have things like recipe books on, so keep it with me when shopping etc) whereas I'd not necessarily have a book in my bag.

Churchillian Sun 27-Jul-14 23:37:04

You can't generally lend ebooks because it would make them too vulnerable to mass piracy. It's a trade off for me between the ease of purchase - get pretty much any book you want instantly and the benefits of actually owning a printed book.

wobblyweebles Sun 27-Jul-14 23:39:19

Ebooks are cheaper than paper books in the US. Paper books are more expensive here than they are in the UK though.

ICanSeeTheSun Sun 27-Jul-14 23:42:32

I like the fact that an Ebook is mine forever. I have the iBook app and I can download the same book on my pad and phone.

wafflyversatile Sun 27-Jul-14 23:45:49

Actually, yes, they are mostly cheaper, unless maybe new releases.

£3.99 seems to be a common price. considerably cheaper than £7.

ObfusKate Sun 27-Jul-14 23:47:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PhaedraIsMyName Sun 27-Jul-14 23:58:28

The VAT thing will be due to a strange combination of UK and EU tax rules and the classification of the goods. It's not that books have no VAT but they are zero rated (VAT exempt and zero rated aren't the same)

Printed matter is zero rated as are children's clothes, most food is zero rated but some like crisps and savoury snacks are standard rated.

e-books aren't printed matter and will fall into a category of goods and services which are standard rated.

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