E-book Discounts and Hope For The Future
Due to a recent court ruling, retailers now have the ability to set the price for e-book sales through their stores. Obviously, one of the greatest beneficiaries of this ruling is Amazon, whose Kindle products make up a large portion of its substantial empire. It also highlights a transition away from the backward-thinking belief that digital sales should reflect the same sales structure as the physical product. While it is apparent why publishers have tried to maintain this structure (they fear for their physical book sales if e-book prices are substantially lower), this ruling means that digital book prices will have the ability to realistically reflect supply on demand as reflected in the digital space.
This is important because even in cases where e-books are sold at the same price as physical copies, the price could be described as arbitrary. Without the physical and logistic limitations that a paper-based book incurs, the e-book pricing structure should differ substantially. Even worse are cases where the e-book price is inflated purely to “encourage” physical sales. This not only annoys customers, but is a clear misunderstanding of the relative benefits that paper and digital mediums provide.
The truth is, while the benefits of digital media are significant, price is not the major factor. Indeed, I believe the determinant for e-book sales has been, up to this point anyway, convenience. People like the idea of carrying a library in their pocket, or on the same tablet as all of their other work and entertainment applications. The increasing number of digital book sales is a testament to this fact. On the other hand, people who are inclined to purchase physical media, either for security (you can’t corrupt the data for a physical book), portability, or simply nostalgia, will continue to buy them even if the price differs from the digital version.Continued on the next page