The Book Market…. and why it’s chaotic…

Do not take my word for it. Just think about this observation and make your own conclusions. I have no real reason or even a clue why it is this way. Maybe there’s some industry secret that makes sense and the senior’d Editor or Publishers would get in my face and say, “yeah, duh dude!!” (I used two exclamation marks because that means it’s more exclamatory than just one, right?)

It’s been over a decade since I bought my first e-reader. When the Amazon Kindle entered the market, it basically dominated. It was a nice piece of engineering. It was CHEAP! And it with the power of Amazon books behind it, the sky was the limit. I remember when the big book sellers all had one: B&N had the Nook, Borders had the Kobo. I really struggled with which to buy. Because like everything in America, they were proprietary. I wanted something more universe. I really didn’t like how I had to buy my books from one business —all the time. In the end, my mother solved it by buying all Kindles one year for Christmas. Why? They were the cheapest and technically the largest source of books.

I was so excited. Don’t get me wrong. I love books. And when I say books, I mean real books. You know, paper, ink, the smell of a printing press. But, like the iPod, I was amazed and fascinated by the efficiency to carry around every song I owned and not have to worry about a back pack full of CDs and Cassette tapes. Now I had something for books too. Wow. No more rooms full of books. No more storage units filled with books. No more sleepless nights thinking where I put that one book that I now want to re-read. Yet, there was a problem. A very big one.

The cost! I would literally have to rebuy all my books. Or I could just simple move forward with digital only books. And that was a problem just as big. I love books. I want to hold them and smell them. So, okay, I’ll just buy most books digitally and then the favorites I would buy the real deal. Ok. That might work. Then it didn’t…. see, digital books should be cheaper. And when I say cheaper, I mean A LOT cheaper. And unfortunately they weren’t. Even a basic knowledge of commerce knows that a book you pay $26 for is really only getting about $6 to the publisher and $3 to a writer. (And cost of printing isn’t even factored here for ease of understanding). Because the universal rule of business is 50% as in everything is purchased at 50% to make the seller money. So the book is printed and sold to Wholesaler who buys book for around half the cost they’ll sell it to a Bookstore. Then that bookstore needs to double it so they can pay the rent, employees and make a profit. What if? The book never has to be printed. This cuts out a bunch of middle men and costs. The book never has to go to a printer. There’s no paper, no trees sacrificed to feed the machines. The books are not stacked on pallets and stored in warehouses (rent of warehouse costs money). Nor is the book put on trucks and trains and shipped to the Wholesalers warehouse. No gas used, no salary of a truck driver (or train driver…huh engineer?), no wholesale warehouse rent. Then those books would have to be back on a truck or train to ship to the bookseller. See where I’m going here?

There’s a ton of cost in printing a book and just getting it where it needs to be. But digital doesn’t have that. I mean its basically just electrons and photons right? How do you put a price on tiny particles of energy. I guess if you wanted to get picky you could say how much does it cost to transmit the file of about 1MB to a user. There’s the small cost of the user’s internet and electric bill. The publisher or writer has to store the book on a server or hard drive that costs money to buy or maintenance. But isn’t that literally pennies. I mean like 5 cents or a dime! So I’ve concluded that a book, with the original profit margin in place, should sale for about $4.99. Split that 50/50 with the writer / publisher…. huh? HUH? Sounds good. Maybe the publisher worries about lost sales buy sharing digital files?….

Now my RANT and gripe. Why in hell are digital books more than paper books? Clearly this is a big issue and why digital books will fail. Unlike digital songs which went to a very cost effective (cheap) model. .99cents a song…. So why can’t books do something similar and stay around the 4.99 price model? You know why I’m still buying tons of paper books to my regret. Because the books I’d most likely buy digitally are usually $14.99 and I can get the Hardcover for 12.99 (or a soft cover for 8.99). Sorry, I’m not JK Rowling and I don’t have $billions to burn. Is it me or is this just backasswards??

to be continued…..maybe….

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