I promised a few weeks ago I’d give a more detailed response on ebook pricing in a separate post than I could in comments. It’s taken longer than I thought, and actually gone through many discussions and draft versions. So here’s the simplest honest answer I can give now:
- ebook pricing is more complicated than meets the casual eye. One of the commenters here pointed to this excellent New York Times article about the real cost of ebooks.
- It’s generated a ton of passionate discussion internally here
- The announcements of new ebook selling models between other publishers (mostly outside of computer book publishing) and ebook retailers recently has made the discussion even more complicated
That said, what’s the right price for an ebook? For you, the customer, it’s the price you are willing to pay. And actually, we’re very pleased with our sales so far with the current pricing
and temporary discount on the new DRM-free ebooks (discount code: NODRM for 20% off through April 30, 2010). While we’ve gotten some passionate and well argued points that ebook prices should be lower, we’ve sold a lot of ebooks to a lot of happy customers too.
I think we hire some of the best authors in the business. When Brian Knight can sell his 3 day online training for $750, $40-50 for his ebook seems fair to me. Where else for $40-50 can you get the results of months and hundreds of hours of labor from Jack Moffitt, who was on the standards board for XMPP or Michael Kay who was the XSLT editor for
W3Schools W3C. Next week at Microsoft Mix or SharePointPro you could pay more than a $1000 to see several 1 hour presentations by our authors including Scott Hanselman, Andrew Connell, Steve Fox, and many others. Are the books in ebook format they spent hundreds of hours on not worth $40-50?
Yes, I know there are competing publishers who have lower priced books. The difference in price usually comes down to $5-15 after the discount. If you’re looking at an apples to apples comparison of a similar level book by authors with similar coverage in the book and similar credentials, I say, buy the better book. If you need an ASP.NET book and you make part of your living writing ASP.NET code, don’t shortchange your career buying an inferior ebook to save $10. But when our competitors have better books, that’s when we want to hear about it from you and know what we can do to earn your business next time with the best book.
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