Was this some sort of marketing gimmick that companies employed to familiarize and promote ebooks to people? Or are there other factors that result in this pricing?

  • I suspect this question was closed because it's really an economics question about digital distribution that would require a book-length answer. You might be able narrow the question down a bit by doing some background research to the bigger question and focusing in on what makes ebook publishing unique from other digital distribution. Dec 19 '13 at 6:59
  • Yes this is too ambiguous. Becuase then you will have to explain agency agreements, country price points etc. Also some ebooks are actually more expensive! Dec 19 '13 at 9:02
  • There's too many possible factors involved in a response to the question as it is. If the question can be made more specific, an accurate response may be possible. Dec 19 '13 at 20:49

There are three main factors why the price can be lower. One is transportation costs. The second is the 'cutting out the middleman'. The third is the cost of producing the physical book.

The physical transport costs and the need for human handling fall away if a book is transferred electronically. This is both the case when buying in a bookstore or from an online shop.

Physical books often go through distributors to stores and smaller online retailers. Ebooks cut out these distribution channels and their profits. Some publishers even have their own ebook sites, eliminating the profits of the ebook stores as well.

I hope the diminished cost of not having to kill and process a tree to make an ebook is clear.

I actually assume (but have no proof) that electronic books are artificially expensive compared to their physical counterparts, based on the percentages of physical book prices I have heard that authors receive.

  • For a while ebooks were priced the same or even more than physical volumes. Ultimately, the answer would require a fairly lengthy analysis of supply and demand. The marginal cost of ebooks after the first is essentially nil, so the real driver of ebook prices is demand. Online distributors of virtual goods such as Value's Steam, Apple's iTunes, and Amazon's Kindle stores take advantage of their pricing flexibility to experiment with various price in order to drive future demand. Dec 19 '13 at 6:14
  • I'm pretty sure that your last paragraph is correct. A proper publisher workflow should be able to churn out the ebook edition for almost zero additional cost when producing the print edition. Dec 19 '13 at 6:31
  • @Donald.McLean Another indication is what authors that (move to) self-publishing tend to ask. That is often much lower than via publishing houses (and I assume they set the price higher than what they would get through a publisher) BTW Thanks for the edit.
    – Anthon
    Dec 19 '13 at 6:33
  • Excellent point about self-published authors. Hugh Howey, whose works have entered the mainstream, still has exclusive rights to sell the ebooks himself - at very reasonable prices. Dec 19 '13 at 6:38

There are lots of factors that influence a company's decision to make a ebook price lower.

The main reason would most likely be is an ebook doesn't require as much funds to produce as it does to produce a print book, thus resulting in the price being lower.

You could also say that since the demand is high and the quantity is very high (unlimited), this then results in the price being lower.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.