## How Much Should An Ebook Cost?

Abraham Lincoln's wise answer would doubtless be, "enough to
reach the floor." The market seems to be adopting $9.99 as a rough
standard (though that is currently a loss leader price for Amazon,
at least). As the *New York Times*
indicated the other day, mainstream publishers think the answer
is, "as close to what a printed book costs as we can get away
with." As Simon and Schuster chief Carolyn Reidy told the
*Times*, *"*“The concept that because a book is an
e-book it should automatically be priced significantly lower than a
paper book is one we don’t agree with...What a consumer is buying
is the content, not necessarily the format.”

Publisher Glenn Yeffeth, whose perspicaciousness in his business
is thoroughly proven by the fact that his BenBella Books published
both *
Choice: The Best of Reason* and the paperback edition of my
*
This is Burning Man,* runs the numbers and
shows that, surprise, that's some mighty self-serving reasoning by
the New York publishing barons:

Let’s look at an e-book:

Royalties (let’s assume these are 25% of net, as S&S and many publishers pay): $3.13

Printing and Distribution: $ 0

Marginal profit is $9.37/book.

What is the cover price on an ebook that yields the same marginal profit/book [as his calculations for a typical printed book]? It turns out to be $12.35.

There is lots of room to quibble with these numbers, but the idea that an e-book should be priced the same as the hardcover is transparently ridiculous.