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Murdoch Says E-Book Prices Will Kill Paper Books

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the moving-companies-are-probably-unhappy-too dept.

Books 538

hrimhari writes "The settlement between Amazon and Macmillian got the attention of a known dinosaur. Consistent to his views, Mr. Murdoch wants to defend his book editors by killing the cheaper solution. '"We don't like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99," Murdoch said. "They pay us the wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge," he said. "But I think it really devalues books, and it hurts all the retailers of the hardcover books.'"

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This just in... (5, Insightful)

Jorgandar (450573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030776)

another old wrinkly dinosaur doesn't like change! news at 11.

Re:This just in... (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030900)

another old wrinkly dinosaur doesn't like change! news at 11 on FOX!.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:This just in... (3, Interesting)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031030)

To make it worse, he has no excuse. The music industry does, they were the first to miss the boat on digital content. The movie industry should have caught on, but somehow didn't. The publishers should really have been able to figure it out; they had fair warning and opportunity and, seemingly, just couldn't connect the dots.

Big Content screwed up and is on the way out no matter how much they complain. Books are absolutely here to stay, but the profit model is shifting. Hopefully the huge economies of scale afforded by e-Books will allow the authors to profit more than under the current model. In any case, Amazon is sure to come out on top for the near future.

Re:This just in... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031214)

His assertion that Amazon was losing 4 bucks on every ebook sold is utter nonsense. You can't sell that many kindles to make up for that kind of losses.

He has a problem with loss leaders. Too bad. What he seeks to do is nothing more than to forcibly repeal the First Sale Doctrine [wikipedia.org] and Bobbs-Merrill vs Straus [wikipedia.org] .

I say fine. The sooner all the publishers band together and collude with Steve Jobs to raise book prices and dictate the Retail price the sooner the DOJ can step in and smack them down for price fixing.

If the publishers want more money they could have just started rising price (regardless of the fact we are in the midst of a rather major depression). But to attempt to dictate retail prices by banding together is nothing but an assault on copyright law.

I notice no crocodile tears are shed by Murdoch for the authors, who are still stuck at 5 to 10% of revenue.
 

"Murdoch Wants" (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030784)

Well hell, there's reason enough for me to oppose whatever else is in the paragraph below, never mind TFA.

However, upon reading TFA I learned that he owns HarperCollins. So there's another publisher I don't need to feel bad about ignoring.

Re:"Murdoch Wants" (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030898)

To those who modded this Flamebait: Ten media conglomerates control over 75% of the media in the U.S.A., and over 50% of the media in the world. But Fox "News" viewers are some of the worst-informed Americans. [people-press.org] Who do we blame but the CEO? And why would we believe different standards would apply to any other media under his control?

As an aside, I was asked to download comment.pl the first time I clicked reply. Then I got a reset connection. Finally, I got a reply form. Coincidence? :)

More context for that study. (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031172)

The Fox News claim is commonly repeated and is misleading in a broader context. The same study showed that by its measure people who get their news from blogs are statistically indistinguishable from Fox News viewers at how informed they are. Indeed, both Fox viewers and blog readers are very close to the average level for people in the US. If you look at the data what is actually really bringing the average down seems to be the people who either have no regular news source or who are getting their news primarily from local TV news. There are other details about that study that make the claim about Fox News not nearly as bad when you look at in context. And now the plug:For a more detailed analysis see my blog entry on this subject: http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/2009/06/bloggers-fox-news-and-informed-audience.html [blogspot.com] . Fox News is wretched and is damaging America in many ways. But it is very hard to see this study as evidence for that fact.

Re:"Murdoch Wants" (1)

shovas (1605685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031204)

As an aside, I was asked to download comment.pl the first time I clicked reply. Then I got a reset connection. Finally, I got a reply form. Coincidence? :)

Welcome to Slashdot! You must be new here!

Re:"Murdoch Wants" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031208)

Whiney little twit liar. Grow up.

So what he's saying is... (4, Funny)

fake_name (245088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030786)

If a new product comes along that is cheaper and more desired by consumers the old product becomes a dead market? What fascinating insight! How can I pay money to see more news from this "Murdoch" guy?

Re:So what he's saying is... (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030826)

Given that Murdoch is a conservative, you would have to believe the "consistent with his views" is a sarcasm. Why would he think his products are exempt from market demand? Live by the free market, die by the free market. Or at least adapt to the market.

Re:So what he's saying is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030848)

He's a new conservative. You know, the ones that think laws (natural and legal) are there to serve him, and hamper others.

Re:So what he's saying is... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030870)

I think he's a conservative in the older, pre-Reagan/Thatcher sense, which is more about maintaining the business status quo than promoting the "creative destruction" of free markets.

Silly Rupert (3, Funny)

Dracos (107777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030790)

He thinks everything exists for the sole purpose of carrying a price tag.

Re:Silly Rupert (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030958)

.... But.. if it didn't carry a price tag, who would want to buy it, and how could there be any profit in selling it?

Murdoch's profits, the sustainability of his investments, and perhaps the very survival of his companies as they exist currently hinge on there being a price-tag.

Price??!? (4, Insightful)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030794)

First they have to be cheaper then paper books.

Re:Price??!? (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031016)

Amazon's pricing is kind of weird. If I were the kind of person that HAD to have books when they first came out I might be tempted to buy a $9.99-$14.99 ebook rather than a $25.00-$30.00 hardcover. On the other hand, I'm quite likely to pick up the hardcover anyway - those things only sell because they're basically collectors editions.

The older books priced at around $2.50 look great. Those seem to be priced just right, although the public domain classics really should be $0.99.

Then there's the weird class of Kindle books that Amazon seems to be pricing around $8.39 (CAN). In most cases they seemed to be more expensive than the equivalent paperback, as Amazon's helpful price comparison pointed out.

There's no way I'm paying more than 50% of the price of a paperback for an e-book, and that fraction goes down the older that book gets.

Re:Price??!? (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031080)

Most things in the Public Domain are free, in fact.

Re:Price??!? (1, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031126)

The words are free. The book is not. If you want to go find it, scan it, OCR it and format it, good on you. Great if you can find someone who's willing to do all that for you. But it's not free.

It's not unreasonable to pay a small fee for someone to put together an e-book, catalog it, put together a web page so you can choose which ones you want, and, in Amazon's case, pay for the cell bandwidth to send it to you. If you want to make some beer money in the public domain publishing business I'd pay you a buck for a good, easy to acquire and use electronic version of a PD book I was interested in.

Re:Price??!? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031132)

Not the paper they're printed on. The process and machinery to bind said paper onto a hardcover isn't free, either.

Re:Price??!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031032)

This. I can get most anything I want, which includes some pretty niche history books, for about $5-8 used on Amazon, shipping included. I can't figure out why I'd want to pay $10, much less $15 for a DRM'd ebook that I'm only allowed to read on certain devices, I can't sell or donate, etc.

The only advantage I see is search. I can't instantly search a dead-tree book. Though again, that depends on if the supported software even allows that. And it's entirely irrelevant for fiction.

The price is right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031074)

I download eBooks for free from various sites, then print and bind them using my employer's resources.

The people who produce paper, toner and comb binding equipment can't lose. Not to mention that my employer pays someone good money for the bandwidth I consume.

Sounds like much ado about nothing.

9.99 isn't CHEAP for an ebook you don't own (5, Insightful)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030800)

You don't own the book, you can't sell it, you can't loan it and you can't donate it to a library. The paperback edition will eventually cost less than the 9.99 to 14.99 that Macmillan wants to charge. They need to enter the real world where you can go to a used bookstore a couple of months after a book is published and get it for less than their ebook prices.

Re:9.99 isn't CHEAP for an ebook you don't own (2, Insightful)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031028)

Their new 'real world' is the one they seek to promote. One where there is no second sale, because there's nothing physical to sell.

Book publishers really dislike second sales of their work. They'd rather consumers threw them away.

The e-book market is tailor made for their strategy.

Re:9.99 isn't CHEAP for an ebook you don't own (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031100)

They're not going to accomplish this by forcing people to lock into certain stores for everything based on device, and charging more than the equivalent paperback.
I guess the wal-mart model is needed, undercut everything until everything else has packed up and moved on and then jack prices.

Re:9.99 isn't CHEAP for an ebook you don't own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031056)

If you bought it from Barnes and Noble, you *can* loan it. The loanee gets a copy that "expires" after two weeks. I'm not sure if you are allowed to read your own copy during this time, though. I haven't got a Nook, nor any friends with one to try it with.

Re:9.99 isn't CHEAP for an ebook you don't own (2, Interesting)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031068)

You can loan it to one friend, once, for two weeks. You both need to own a Nook to do it.

    Not exactly the same as loaning it around to all your friends, or family.

Re:9.99 isn't CHEAP for an ebook you don't own (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031202)

tru dat... there needs to be
1) removal of DRM - I want to read my books on whatever device I need to in 15 years
2) some way of buying selling used copies.

yes, I realize that 1 doesn't jive with 2.

Devalues books... (3, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030802)

Yes, eBooks DO devalue books - as they should. Books are just a very (very!) old medium.

What eBooks don't devalue is content, or at least they shouldn't. Up until now, the content has been tied to the medium in the publishing world. We've seen what happened when the two became decoupled with music and movies (and even video games, to some extent - at least for PC gaming), and it's about damn time that the same thing happens with the written word.

As for companies that sell hardcovers... well, sucks to be them. That's what happens when your business model is tied to a single medium.

Re:Devalues books... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031022)

The part about hardcovers really confuses me.

Aren't they already hurting? Doesn't everyone just buy the paperback because they're so much cheaper? Does anyone actually buy a hardcover who doesn't specifically value a durable physical copy of a book for collection purposes? If I'm going to buy a hardcover over a paperback, I'm going to buy a hardcover over an eBook for my Kindle.

Otherwise, if ebooks are the more convenient and cheaper format, then yeah, they win. What's the big surprise? Oh noes, the same content on cassette is no longer popular and everyone buys from iTunes.

Re:Devalues books... (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031128)

If hardcovers and paperbacks were released simultaneously, I expect many more people would flock to paperbacks. Take Harry Potter for example - if both versions had been available at one of those midnight releases, don't you think many people would have taken the cheaper route? They wanted it that night, and hardcover was the only option, so that's what they paid for.

I agree - if I'm going to buy a hardcover over a paperback, then I'd probably also get a hardcover over an ebook. But usually if I'm buying a hardcover, I'm doing that over stealing a copy, since that's my only other option (I don't own an ebook reader so buying an ebook isn't a practical option... I'll read long documents on a computer screen, but not a novel) since a paperback version isn't available at the time.

At least music stores were lucky enough to get several format switches for the same content. Bookstores have always had just books (and to a much lesser extent, audiobooks; unlike with music format switching though, you're probably going to get one or the other and not both), and I'm sure they've been biting their nails since the first e-ink/e-paper prototypes came out. FWIW, I meant bookstores in general when I said companies that sell hardcovers. To me, paper is paper.

Re:Devalues books... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031166)

Hardcover is also usually the first edition brought out. They can charge more for it and have higher margins.

Paperbacks come later, for people who want to read it but don't want to pay the full price. Sometimes the hardcovers continue, for more durable copies, sometimes selling both versions at once.

Most books never come out in hardcover; they go straight to paperback, because the publisher doesn't expect that same kind of dropoff. Either you want it or you don't.

Publishers could try pulling the same belated releases with e-books, but I think that a lot of e-book customers will tend to buy a different e-book rather than buying the hardcover. Once you've spent all that money on an e-book reader, you're going to want to get maximum benefit out of it.

Re:Devalues books... (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031212)

eBooks devalue resale. In fact, they devalue it to zero. Why buy something you can't own after you pay for it?

Competition (5, Insightful)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030806)

"But I think it really devalues books, and it hurts all the retailers of the hardcover books.'"

No kidding. Competition is funny that way.

Ok by me... (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030820)

I buy most books that I own, used, discounted or remaindered. I was thinking about kindle, but you have to be a better overall solution than the one that I am used to.

Re:Ok by me... (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031254)

Although there is a variety of discounted titles from various ebook publishers, the kindle is not for you.

Kindles and ebooks in general are for
1) pirates - some people can find a lot of free (free as in stolen) shit on thepiratebay.org
2) the "gotta have the book as soon as it hits the stores crowd" - Its cheaper to buy a book at $9.99 from kindle than $30 from chapters.ca
3) tech geeks - they just want the newest shit

I fall into the last two categories and plead the 5th on the first. the Kindle (rather a sony ereader) is for me.

What is his problem? (4, Insightful)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030834)

If they're getting paid $14 and the retailer is selling it at a loss, well, he already got $14 for it!

Re:What is his problem? (1)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031228)

The problem is that the publishers don't want to end up with another wallmart. Amazon and WallMart - because of the quantities that they buy, basically get to set the price. That eventually puts a squeeze on the producer.

It has nothing to the other sellers, more about protecting the margins that the publishers are enjoying.

Now, if the indie booksellers got together and formed a buying cartel they would start to see the same benefits, and Amazon would be complaining about them too.

What about the power part? book don't need them! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030838)

What about the power part? real books don't need them!

Re:What about the power part? book don't need them (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030918)

What about the power part? real books don't need them!

Convenience and portability beat out smaller options like that when things like a ebook reader with eInk can stay charged for days. Goes with the idea of a smart phone, needs to be charged daily which is a major downfall from the older landline phones but the convenience of having it always with you and what it can do beats out (this goes more so with an office cell phone when your at a desk all day anyways with a phone on your desk). 10 books = full bag, 10 ebooks = the reader's base size. 10000 ebooks = still the readers base size.

Re:What about the power part? book don't need them (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031190)

What about the power part? real books don't need them!

You have to ask yourself how much energy it takes to produce a book. Certainly they contain quite a bit of energy [metro.co.uk] ...

Books (3, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030840)

Paper books will always live. One the one hand, there are still a billion people in the world without access to regular electricity. On the other, we might have limited resources in the future to make new electronic devices, due to peak oil and climate change. Yet, we can always make paper on a small, local scale if necessary. But electronic devices require a large industrial infrastructure.

After all, we have thousands of years of written human history, but only a tiny moment of digital history. It would be presumptuous of us to assume the latter will last longer than the former.

http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/10/ebooks-versus-paper.html [selfdestru...stards.com]

Re:Books (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030894)

Uh we have thousands of years of bits and pieces of history -translated and adulterated as the editors saw fit. Thera nothing wrong with the written word but I would say we've recorded a million more times the history in the last decade than was recorded in all of history due to the digital revolution.

Re:Books (1)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030962)

Well, of course. No one was storing music or video back in ancient Greece. :) We have much more *information* now, obviously. But if our civilization were to collapse, what would archaeologists of the future find? Only dust. Books (especially older books) can last hundreds of years. Stone tablets can last thousands. We have much more useful and efficient ways of using information, but that has nothing to do with how long it might last in physical form.

The information market was like the housing market (2, Interesting)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030850)

Information has artificially inflated in value. The prices coming down are a natural result of people realizing this.

We have been paying too much for books, films, and music for years. Party's over. They still get to make profit, just not obscene profit.

Re:The information market was like the housing mar (1)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030944)

It really depends though. Some information has a large cost associated with its creation.

Re:The information market was like the housing mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031198)

Some information has a large cost associated with its creation.

Not much though. e.g. Most film production is horrendously inefficient. ~$100M to put a single story on screen? Really?

It's about time they had the chill winds of some real competition. The only reason they're able to get away with it is that with mass marketing they can spread the huge cost over a huge number of people.

Re:The information market was like the housing mar (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031222)

The people creating the book are likely getting the same royalties they would regardless as to the medium. Since they're the ones actually producing the creative content, they shouldn't really care how it gets sold, as long as it sells.

If you're talking about movies, then you really need to examine how many people actually create them get screwed over by production companies and get left with little to no monetary gain for their time and effort. In fact, what artist or technical person involved in creating a movie isn't subject, at some point in their career, to bend over for the people producing it, because they didn't understand the idea of "gross" vs "net", or because the movie had one scene that was "too racy" for the company?

The production houses have been abusing the people who work for them, distorting their visions and screwing them out of money for decades. There's no reason to give them the money, when we can buy it in a medium where the money given to the people actually doing the work and creating the product, and absolutely not giving it to the companies that have mostly been screwing them over for such a long time.

Re:The information market was like the housing mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031274)

Some information has a large cost associated with its creation.

Just because something cost a lot to make doesn't mean it has a high value. The Phantom Menace was made on a budget about ten times higher than that of the original Star Wars.

Re:The information market was like the housing mar (4, Insightful)

bschorr (1316501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031268)

Except the reality is that only a very few actually make an "obscene profit". The vast majority of books, films and music wither and die with very little revenue. For every Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling there are a thousand other writers who will never make even a part-time wage for their works.

Book publishing is an expensive business and e-books level the playing field considerably. The three biggest costs in book production are (not necessarily in this order):

1. Printing
2. Marketing
3. Distribution

A publisher needs to have confidence that a book will sell X copies at Y price in order to know that they will at least break even on publishing it. And I guarantee you that every publisher has a warehouse full of books they guessed wrong on and nobody bought. But those costs are sunk. They pay get pennies on the dollar at the paper recycler but otherwise they've blown a lot of cash printing books they never sold.

As on-demand, and now e-book, publishing has become more and more viable the break-even point has come WAY down and books that would never have seen the light of day are getting their chance.

And publishers should LOVE eBooks - it takes printing and distribution largely out of the equation and means far greater profits off a much lower price. I wouldn't mind if my publisher did Kindle versions of my books, that's just one more medium and a much higher net profit from the books.

iPad (1)

goss (136281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030864)

When the iPad was announced, I thought to myself - there isn't really a use for that.

Later, it occurred to me - if you subscribe to magazines and newspapers, and read them at home a lot - it is actually quite attractive, in an expensive apple solution way... maybe not for me, but for some people, who enjoy those types of publications at home - sure. Could actually be the saviour of magazine and news bulletin styles of things, now I think about it, if enough cool people start subscribing, rather than just reading the articles (that are made available online). Interactive and updated content, plus web usage to help it along... sure, could be good for that.

Of course, Mr Murdoch has the opposite view - it's a destroyer, not an enabler. Oh well... it surely won't be too long before he has to hand over control of News Ltd to someone with at least a tiny bit of forward thinking inside the skull.

Re:iPad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030964)

When the iPad was announced, I thought to myself - there isn't really a use for that.

Later, it occurred to me - if you subscribe to magazines and newspapers, and read them at home a lot - it is actually quite attractive, in an expensive apple solution way... maybe not for me, but for some people, who enjoy those types of publications at home - sure.

I agree, except that the iPad is DRMed up the wazoo.

Hopefully Acer or Asus will come up with a similar Linux or even Windows tablet.

Re:iPad (1)

smash (1351) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031210)

Hopefully Acer or Asus will come up with a similar Linux or even Windows tablet.

That the general public will duly ignore because it isn't as shiny, isn't as stylish, doesn't support the app store, and needs a lot more rooting around with to actually use (oh, this book is only available in FOO format, and my current machine only supports BAR).

The other market for the ipad (in future) is to control anything your mac does via remote control software. The apple remote on iphone already does this for itunes, give it a few years and expect the airport/airport express to have a video port on it, and the list if supported applications/devices to grow.

I see a pretty huge potential there for a smart-wired home to use the ipad or something of its ilk as a universal remote for everything in the house.

Re:iPad (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031230)

The product that might be for you: Microsoft Courier [gizmodo.com]

Re:iPad (1, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031036)

I noticed that pictures advertising the iPad always have the New York Times front and center. I think a deal has already been done between Apple and News Corp.

Re:iPad (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031048)

Hmm a very good idea. And the portability i very attractive. It means I could take my GQ subscription to work instead of just reading it at home.

David K.

Books vs. E-books (3, Interesting)

xerio (1001881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030882)

I love books. I much prefer to read a dead-tree book than an e-book. There's just something I love about sitting on a couch with a book in my hands turning the pages as I read. It doesn't matter if it's a technical book, fiction, nonfiction, or a textbook of some sort. I prefer the actual thing. Looking at a screen trying to read an e-book just sucks in my opinion(admittedly I have yet to use the Nook or other such devices).

That said. I can't afford the dead-tree versions of alot of the books I want. So I have to resort to e-books. The people like Murdoch need to catch up with the times. Amazon makes it to where I can afford to read the books I love. As far as I'm concerned, they get my business because they tend to do things for the customers from what I've seen, not their wallets.

Re:Books vs. E-books (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030956)

I love to read. I can put HTML into text and save it into my computer to edit into whatever I chose to do. It is fun to recall information using a search function and not be limited to just one text. Blogging gives the average person the ability to give their version of stories and facts. Slash dot is a perfect example of how nerds shape their own perceptions. It may not be to Murdoch's liking but you must admit, he is a powerful person of the media.

Re:Books vs. E-books (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031004)

I have been in IT now for just on 20 years, I do everything electronically and my house is fully wired. But give me a paper based book over an e-book any day. I have tried a few of the e-book readers now and I can honestly say I hate them all utterly and completely. I read on average a novel every 2-3 weeks and I will happily pay more for dead-tree books simply for the better experience they provide.

Re:Books vs. E-books (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031020)

As much as I like having shelves and shelves of books, I'm really paying for the data, not the storage. If an ebook is the cheapest, I buy it unless it is on a very short list of authors I like in hardback.

If, for some idiotic reason, the ebook costs more than cutting down a tree, pulping it, and printing words on the dried remains, then I buy the paperback and warez the ebook(or drop it in the hopper of the industrial scanner at work).

And I imagine the publisher doesn't make as much the second way.

Re:Books vs. E-books (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031062)

Looking at a screen trying to read an e-book just sucks in my opinion(admittedly I have yet to use the Nook or other such devices).

I'm with you, and still generally prefer dead trees, but e-ink has really changed the experience of reading digital documents. You're not staring at a screen. You're staring at a print-out. You can sit on the couch and read it. It's still doesn't have the charm of a real book, but everything that sucks about e-books is gone and the nice things (like digital bookmarks and tables of contents and so on) can shine through.

Re:Books vs. E-books (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031096)

I have books at home which I have owned for 40 years and would love to own for another 40 but the fact is that they are falling to bits. An ebook (without DRM) would last a lot longer. And a good book reader would offset the loss of the physical media for me.

Tough Choice (3, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030914)

I sided with Macmillan in this little argument, because I think the way Amazon acted was really shitty and totally lacking in class. But when Rupert fucking Murdoch starts speaking out against Amazon, it almost makes me want to side with Amazon. Almost. I guess I can always just hate them both.

For what it's worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030930)

Hardcovers are for collectors and college textbook extortionists.

Softcovers are for the readers.

E-books are, I'm only guessing, for the new kids.

Who the fuck reads books anyways these days?!

Re:For what it's worth (1)

smash (1351) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031226)

If all you read is crap posted on the internet, you're missing out on a huge amount of (well written) entertainment.

Re:For what it's worth (2, Informative)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031278)

I read a lot. What I want is the hardback/paperback to come with a free download of the eBook. I like to read the paper book when I can but it's a lot easier to carry a Kindle or iPad with me when I'm out of town, or just at the office, than half a dozen books. Also I like being able to search a book - it's especially handy for textbooks and tech books. I have tens of thousands of books saved on my laptop. I tend to buy the paper edition of books I like but if the publishers make me feel like they are out to screw me I could easily just stick to the digital copies. Some of my textbooks didn't have electronic versions available so I had the bindings cut off and ran them through the scanner (it has a feeder) and ran OCR on them. It works quite well. Just refusing to offer electronic copies won't keep them off the Internet.

A "green" solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030936)

You are still paying for the book...minus the cost of all that paper.

Feudal corporatism in action (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030938)

this is what happens when you let a handful of individuals own huge economic resources. they become like feudal lords, asserting their own will to majority of the people. here, behold, technology has improved, there is a possibility of cheaper goods being available to public. but, the feudal corporate structure doesnt want to let it happen. so much for 'free market', so much for 'invisible hand'. this is just in line with another observation i posted in a similar thread before :

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1530508&cid=31026562 [slashdot.org]

Re:Feudal corporatism in action (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031072)

If it was just the corporations, then the other people would start making more sales when they tried to impose their will.

Individual authors, e.g. self-publishing eBook authors would probably want to charge the higher prices too.

The thing is... the fewer books you sell, the higher your average costs per book.

You sell 1 million books... thanks to bookstores, and major retailers pushing your product, the price you need to charge to make a certain profit is much less.

If you self-publish and you sell 1000 copies through word of mouth online print-on-demand, your costs per book (avg) are much higher, and you have to have charged a higher price to break even.

Oh yeah, and you can't predict how many copies of a certain title will sell in advance.

You can only guess and price your risk in.

In theory, you should charge less if you forecast a larger number of sales, because your bulk printing costs are less per book.

Publishers don't work that way though.... quite the opposite.. they'll charge more for books from popular authors they anticipate making more sales of.

The more popular they anticipate the title to be, the more copies the print, and the higher price they charge per book. The more relatively unknown authors, get fewer books printed, lower prices

Anyways, i'm sure this is more profitable -- more cash for the shareholders, even though it involves screwing the consumer. Pure greed.

Hence the reason $9.99 "Isn't enough" for a general-audiences eBook from a major publisher.

*Note: I can certainly understand technical non-fiction eBooks such as programming language books with small audiences being more expensive-- extensive research and expensive expertise required to author, limited audience.

Paper trumps electronic (2, Interesting)

crotherm (160925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030952)

e-readers have their place. I'd say it would be for viewing more dynamic docs or quick reference over a networked feed for tech docs. Paper books, for me, are not replaceable. You don't have to worry so much about a paperback. I can smack my son (allegedly) with it when he acts like a kook. I can throw it off a twenty story building and it still works. I can treat my book like the $6.00 price it cost.

I know this is an old argument. I am an old dude, (allegedly), but I see what my son reads. And how he reads, and he decidedly did not want an e-reader for his reading needs.

I just wish I could buy books printed on hemp like God intended.!

Re:Paper trumps electronic (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031084)

e-readers have their place. I'd say it would be for viewing more dynamic docs or quick reference over a networked feed for tech docs. Paper books, for me, are not replaceable. You don't have to worry so much about a paperback. I can smack my son (allegedly) with it when he acts like a kook. I can throw it off a twenty story building and it still works. I can treat my book like the $6.00 price it cost.

When an e-reader costs $10, what will prevent you from using them? Besides (allegedly) dying of old age first:)

Re:Paper trumps electronic (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031154)

You don't have to worry so much about a paperback. I can smack my son (allegedly) with it when he acts like a kook.

The new standard for child abuse: paperback vs. hardcover. Do large-format paperbacks count? Rolled-up copies of Tintin?

I can treat my book like the $6.00 price it cost.

...seven or eight years ago, maybe. I don't remember the last time I saw a paperback that cheap on the new shelf.

I know this is an old argument. I am an old dude, (allegedly), but I see what my son reads. And how he reads, and he decidedly did not want an e-reader for his reading needs.

Too bad, you could have got him onto project Gutenberg.

I just wish I could buy books printed on hemp like God intended.!

Pretty sure most trees are seed-bearing plants, as is cotton.

Doubt It! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030960)

Quite frankly, I enjoy paper. The smell makes me happy.
http://www.novoparatus.com

Just let Ebooks die already (1, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030978)

They wont take off. 10 years have passed and for some odd reason consumers are ditching DRM invested files for the real thing they can resell or lend to a friend and wont need a $300 device with a crummy screen.

I like technology. I really do, but the whole ebooks thing is bad. Just use pdfs that are not drmed.

Re:Just let Ebooks die already (2, Insightful)

shovas (1605685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031138)

At some point, ebooks will be on-par or better readability-wise than paper books. I'm no apple fan but the iPad's demonstration as an ereader got me interested for the first time.

When the convenience and ubiquitousness of downloading books on a reader reaches a certain critical mass, I guarantee you people will ditch paper books. Not completely. LPs are still popular but they're certainly not the dominant format. CDs are still the dominant format but we've all heard and can see the day coming when digital downloads for movies, music, tv will come. Books will come along with that.

Heck it's already a huge industry. Just google for ebooks. There are businesses laughing all the way to bank while naysayers like you and others say you don't understand the attraction. In truth, you do, you just haven't connected all the conveniences your computer gives you with digital goods with books.

In the end, the medium isn't what matters. It's the content. In 10 years the kids will be creating fond memories sitting at their cottage not with an old paper back but with an old ipad their dad got them for their previous birthday.

Re:Just let Ebooks die already (1)

smash (1351) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031236)

I reckon the idea has potential if its a subscription based service. I.e., pay $foo/month and get access to anything in the library on demand. Things like service manuals really have potential if they end up in an augmented reality format.... which would only probably be 10 years off being consumer-level stuff at a guess.

Re:Just let Ebooks die already (2, Insightful)

minorproblem (891991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031238)

I read about one novel a week, i have a large book library and a Sony PRS-300, and to tell you the truth i much prefer the E-book reader now as i don't have to worry about book storage or if i have a spare book with me. I tend to load up the next 4 or 5 books i plan to read so i am always ready to go. Plus its light so easy to carry in my briefcase, and i can just pop it out while i am waiting for an appointment.

Only thing i really like now in printed form is my Saturday newspaper and cooking books.

Duh! (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031024)

He forgets the golden rule of capitalism! I don't give a shit about the retailers. I want competitively priced goods. If I can get them from Amazon for cheap and in a format I'm happy with, well, bu-bye Murdock-with-your-head-up-your-ass. Good riddance. You are not entitled to a living, change.

Look! I'm Rupert Murdoch! (1)

shovas (1605685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031026)

"Bla bla bla. Bla bla bla bla, bla bla bla bla bla."

Honestly, even the mainstream media knows, from articles I've seen in newspapers, that this guy's acting out in something approaching infirmity.

I've got all kinds of sympathy for dying businesses, until they start bringing out absurd, unreasonable arguments to defend why their business should still be profitable in a changing market.

Capitalism, free market and socialist policies are all aided by the concept of survival of the fittest: Adapt or die, Murdoch.

They have to be cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031044)

At the moment E-Books are not cheaper then paper backs and some times hard covers are cheaper then E-Books.

And the cost to make an E-Book and sending it to the consumer is cheaper then printing, shipping and storing a book, and then shipping it to the consumer.
So E-Books should be cheaper.

Not for My Personal Library (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031052)

For a work environment - holding temporal information, datasheets, etc. - OK. For my library - my personal references and technical books - absolutely not. Amazon demonstrated all too clearly what can (and will) happen. Their deletion of "1984" and "Animal Farm" (how ironic) shows both a capability and willingness to prevent my ownership and ability to read books. Refund be damned.

What does one do when formats shift and/or become obsolete (DRM preventing migration to a newer device)? Or what if the eBook dies (much more likely than a paper library becoming unusable), taking my library with it. Do I get to replace all those "soft" books for free?

I consider eBooks flawed fatally. I won't be participating. Ministry of Truth indeed.

Re:Not for My Personal Library (3, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031150)

Exactly... Especially when the government decides to ban a book and all your copies of it mysteriously disappear... Maybe not in the USA, but I can see it happening in many other countries.

China decides to ban a book and everyones government provided ereader deletes it. Book burning of the 21st century.

Re:Not for My Personal Library (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031192)

Not just the govt, see Disney and Song of the South

Prices (5, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031060)

This is a preemptive reply to the ten million people who are about to post variations on the following theme
"e-books should only cost a few dollars because they don't have the cost of printing/shipping/storing a book"

This is wrong.

This is wrong because actually printing a book is the smallest cost involved in making one. When you look at the price of, say, a $35 hardcover book perhaps $4 is physical costs. Almost all of the cost of a book is the cost of paying the author/editor/proofreader plus the retail markup. These costs remain the same regardless of format.

And you will note that I have not mentioned publisher's profit. That's because there basically isn't one. Publishing is notorious for having no profit margin. Always has been. It was famous for not making money a century ago, famous for it fifty years ago and still a great way to get well known while losing money today. Publishing is not the music industry and it is not the movie industry. Almost all the profit is spent in up-front costs before the product even hits the streets.

Because of this, publishing has always had a very sane pricing policy. First they publish the hardcover for a high price point. Everyone who can't wait to read it buys it. Then if it is popular enough to pay off the costs six months or a year later they produce a softcover for $10 to pick up everyone who didn't want it enough to pay the hardcover costs.

Now, this doesn't mesh very well with the electronic music or video markets which is why Amazon tries to run with a fixed price point. But that's a nuts way of doing things when you are talking about books. Doesn't work because it doesn't pay off the fixed costs involved in paying the people who produce the books.

So, really, a fair e-book price is about $5 less than whatever it is selling for on the shelf. When a book first comes out that means $30-$40. A year or so later $6 is pretty likely. If you can't stand waiting don't bitch about the higher price.

For a real understanding, check out this post from John Scalzi (author) that is really fantastic
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/01/30/a-quick-note-on-ebook-pricing/ [scalzi.com]

Re:Prices (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031160)

MSRP may be $30-$40, but I've never seen an actual hardcover that was actually selling for that that wasn't giant book o' stunning pictures. Most of the time you get them for "40% off!!!" which brings new hardcovers into the 17-24 range.

Publishing is not the music industry and it is not the movie industry. Almost all the profit is spent in up-front costs before the product even hits the streets.

Got it, it's the movie industry. Unless those "up-front" costs are actually printing and storage costs. But that wouldn't jive well with your assertion that printing is a tiny fraction of the cost of bringing a book to market.

Re:Prices (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031182)

Comparing a physical book to an ebook is an apples to oranges comparison. You physical book is sellable, loanable, donatable and not DRMed.
The retail markup? That's what? 40%? hmmmm
So, "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett is a best seller right now, with an MSRP of 24.95. Amazon lists it for 9.50 physical book and 8.55 Kindle version.
Which do you think is more profitable?

Re:Prices (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031194)

But ebooks can be on the market for decades after they are written. Electronic book stores can hold millions of titles. The books never go out of stock and, while some will reduce in value, others will increase.

Re:Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031246)

All these go away:
1) Cost of printing
2) Cost of distribution
3) Cost of warehouses
4) Cost of B&M Store
5) Cost of markup

$35 hard cover book in B&M
50% B&M retail markup goes away though amazon

$17.5 book on amazon
$5 savings for no printing, no distribution, no warehouses.

$12.5 e-book

Tell me again why a brand new $35 hardcover book in B&M shouldn't be sold as a $12.5 ebook?

Getting books published...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031082)

I wouldn't have an issue with them making a bigger profit on items, if they actually took the time to look for new authors. Instead we have authors who talk about how hard it was to get someone to even read their work, who then go on to be best sellers multiple times over. Jim Butcher comes to mind, he has two series that I know of "Dresden Files" and "Codex of Alera", I enjoyed both series of books. But his story is that he had to go to multiple conventions, meeting personally with agents over many years to get noticed. And after all that, the only reason they considered him was because he had three books ready to go.

They are in the business of publishing books, and yes I understand that they need to filter out stuff. But when someone can be overlooked for years and then go on to be a best seller multiple times over......and they still complain about profits. Well that tells me they don't WANT to find new material to publish for profit, they WANT to sell what they already have access to and cut out the part where they have to actually find new material, edit, revise, advertise, and publish.

Im sure those existing authors they continue to draw on are realizing that they are worth a whole lot more to their publishers when the publishers never look for new material/authors, and probably cutting into their profits with shiny new contracts. I doubt it even made them consider changing their ways.

Change doesn't always destroy (2)

logback (1732354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031090)

Even though ebooks are definitely the future I think people will always buy hardback and paperback books because there's nothing like actually having it in your hands, unless of course we cut down all the trees.

Re:Change doesn't always destroy (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031114)

The other day I had an urge to buy a CD so I went out to the last place I bought CDs from and it wasn't there. In fact, none of the CD places I used to go to were there.

Re:Change doesn't always destroy (1)

shovas (1605685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031152)

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before,
But the man there said the music wouldn't play.

:)

Re:Change doesn't always destroy (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031218)

Same here!

Musicboulevard.com gives me a parking site
cdnow.com redirects to amazon.com

I hate books. period. (1)

dangil (167785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031112)

I hate dead tree books.. they are heavy, awkward to hold, no backlite, no search
I hate ebooks. expensive, you don't own them, needs power
I hate books. too long, full of pointless drivel. every chapter repeating the last.
text is too low a bitrate for me... I get bored easly.
also, I have an hypothesis. People with Myopia usually like to read , because upclose they see better, with less effort. I have hypermetropia, and for me to focus on near objects requires a lot of effort giving me huge asthenopia (even with the correct glasses). And because of that I hate to read long books.
audio-books are even worse... I can't concentrate on a guy reading a dumb text in a monotone voice. and when they have actors, they usually suck
I like reading wikipedia entries for books.. it sums it up pretty nice for me. really compressed bitrate (thou lossy)

Okay (4, Interesting)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031120)

How is this NOT price fixing? They use licensing semantics to do an end run around the idea, but in the end it's price fixing. Last I heard, anti competitive practices like that are illegal in the United States.

In other news... (1)

Rammed Earth (1732102) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031162)

According to sources, horse drawn carriage makers are complaining. "'"We don't like the Ford Model T selling at $850.00," they said. "But we think it really devalues transportation, and it hurts all the retailers of the horses and carriages.'" '"We don't like the Edison model of selling electric lights," Captain Ahab said. "I think it really devalues home lighting, and it hurts all the hunters of whales."

Cheaper to produce... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031170)

Hey guess what, it is cheaper to produce and distribute an electronic file than it is to cut down trees, chip trees up into pulp, soak pulp in chemicals, dry pulp into thin sheets, run thin sheets through monster machine that presses ink onto sheets, pile sheets in specific order on top of each other, cut sheets to uniform size, bind sheets together with glue with a thicker cover sheet/cardboard/particle board, put bound copy in contain with other bound copies, ship around world to store...

Articles like this... (1)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031184)

Make me want to detonate a global EMP.

One other thing (0)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031224)

STOP CALLING THEM DEAD TREE BOOKS, if you used hemp fiber you wouldn't be killing a tree, and no one seems to cry when a pot plant gets smoked....wake up.

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