For years we’ve discussed the ridiculousness of ebook pricing, where some publishers seem to think that sky high prices for ebooks (often higher than physical copies) make sense, despite the lack of printing, packaging, shipping and inventory costs. And, of course, we won’t even get into the question of the price fixing debacle. Art Brodsky recently wrote a fascinating piece over at Wired about how ebook pricing is an “abomination,” because it’s designed to price people out of reading. He points out that we should think more about ebooks like we think about apps, since that’s a much more direct comparison than “books.” And then he gets into a discussion of how publishers are going crazy with their library pricing:
Take the example of J.K. Rowling’s pseudonymous book, Cuckoo’s Calling. For the physical book, libraries would pay $14.40 from book distributor Baker & Taylor — close to the consumer price of $15.49 from Barnes & Noble and of $15.19 from Amazon. But even though the ebook will cost consumers $6.50 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, libraries would pay $78 (through library ebook distributors Overdrive and 3M) for the same thing.
Somehow the “e” in ebooks changes the pricing game, and drastically. How else does one explain libraries paying a $0.79 to $1.09 difference for a physical book to paying a difference of $71.50 just because it’s the electronic version? It’s not like being digital makes a difference for when and how they can lend it out.