The price of reading an ebook

I have enjoyed reading books on my iPhone, using Stanza, but recently I decided an ereader would be a good thing to get.
Using Stanza I’ve browsed for books from US or UK sources, but as I considered the device itself I started to check the range of titles offered here in Sweden.

Now, one of the big things with ebooks is that you only need to work on the original – writing, editing, cover design, formatting, marketing – yes, for sure, but doing copies are painless. You don’t need to calculate print runs, or pay for printing, or for delivery to physical shops, or for handling of returns; nor is there a host of in-beweens who add to the final price you the reader pay for the actual book.

Despite this ebooks in Sweden cost me, the reader, just as much as an ordinary hardcover book.
In some cases perhaps a bit less but still considerably more than what buys me a paperback.

As an example, let’s use the book Svensk maffia, by Lasse Wierup. The online dealer Bokus.se wants me to pay

189 SEK or US$25.56 for the downloadable audiobook
41 SEK or US$5.55 for the paperback (mass market size)
154 SEK or US$20.85 for the ebook (epub, mobi or pdf)

Add to this that the device itself is between 1995 and 2995 SEK (US$270-405), as sold from Swedish retailers.

I have to ask myself – does this mean authors suddenly get paid better? Or do this only mean that the publisher OR the (online) retailer gets a bigger profit?

My bet is on the last.

My guess is also that present situation is due to the publishers being clueless about what to do with this e-ification. Maybe they just don’t understand the format and the media, and are afraid that ebook sales will eat away the sale of Dead Tree Books (DTB’s).
Of course they will. Of course!!! It’s like who needs steady deliveries of ice now when we have fridges? But if they play their cards right they will still be in the publishing business, so there’s nothing to fear.

The alternative is that the publishers really think we readers are idiots waiting to get ripped off, that we’ll silently pay hard back prices for something that costs monumentally less to produce than a paperback…

No wonder ereaders aren’t a big hit here.

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