Rubber_band_walletAt what price should an e-book sell for? This may seem like a straightforward question, but Kobo’s director of merchandising says publishers need to adapt to a more flexible pricing model.

“I don’t think agency publishers are changing prices as dynamically as they should,” says Nathan Maharaj in a Q&A with Digital Book World, “and I think many of them know that! I suspect that there’s been a fear that being too aggressive with e-book pricing would lead to rapid erosion of hardcover sales…”

Maharaj hopes that now that the market has stabilized some, we’ll see some more flexible pricing options.

Here’s my own thinking, which may or may not be at odds with his in terms of the nuances. Let’s not believe there is one True Price we can all agree on, and that’s what e-books should sell for.

The truth is, it’s a more relative thing. If the current paper version is a hardcover going for over $20, an e-book may be able to get away with a $12-14 price point. But once that paperback version comes out, the price on the e-book should drop accordingly. Paying $12 for an e-book when the new paperback costs $8.99 is simply absurd.

And of course, there is the argument that paper costs do not account for as much of a book’s production price as we might think. That may be true. But they do account for some of the price, so I think most readers do reasonably expect an e-book version to be cheaper, even if only a little bit.

So, will we see more adaptive, flexible pricing soon? I sure hope so.

Publisher’s note: Maharaj will participate in a pricing panel March 8 at the Digital Book World Conference held March 7-9. TeleRead is a Digital Book World partner. – D.R.

Photo credit: Here.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


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