Economics of E-books? ( was re: Dr. Dobbs Ruby Article)

Re: USD $5 for a single Dr. Dobbs article

It does seem a lot. I think I would fork out 1USD for the article without
thinking about it. That is not indicitive of the value of that article
itself, just my perceived value within the space of a $6USD magazine.

The problem arises though in that DDJ generally has a whole bunch of
articles using different languages centered around a single theme. Most
people would only be interested in a single article. If they
started making
it reasonable for purchasing only what you wanted, they might start losing
money. Its much like getting 100 channels of cable vs. just the programs
you watch. Also remember that they get a lot of money from advertising.

You may also consider that in 6 months the magazine will be hard to get.
For something you really need, 5USD may then seem reasonable.

I don’t necessarily agree with it, although I do like the
magazine. I would
prefer a model like the IEEE where you pay for a digital subscription and
get every article ever written while you pay for it.

John.

Recently I was shopping online, looking on bn.com for a particular book. I
found three versions: paperback, hardcover, and Adobe e-book. Both the
hardcover and the electronic version cost the same, USD $18.50. The
paperback was half that. I was stunned, and decided that, a year from now,
publishers will decry the failure of E-books to take off, and claim the
public just isn’t ready for them.

I’m curious, though, what people would consider a reasonable price for
electronic articles/books, and how the availability of the free, electronic
version of Andy & Dave’s book effected sales of the hardcopy version.

James Britt

" JamesBritt" james@jamesbritt.com wrote in message
news:CIELJOOMCFBDNHLICOEFKEJNCEAA.james@jamesbritt.com

Re: USD $5 for a single Dr. Dobbs article

It does seem a lot. I think I would fork out 1USD for the article
without

thinking about it. That is not indicitive of the value of that article
itself, just my perceived value within the space of a $6USD magazine.

The problem arises though in that DDJ generally has a whole bunch of
articles using different languages centered around a single theme. Most
people would only be interested in a single article. If they
started making
it reasonable for purchasing only what you wanted, they might start
losing

money. Its much like getting 100 channels of cable vs. just the
programs

you watch. Also remember that they get a lot of money from advertising.

You may also consider that in 6 months the magazine will be hard to get.
For something you really need, 5USD may then seem reasonable.

I don’t necessarily agree with it, although I do like the
magazine. I would
prefer a model like the IEEE where you pay for a digital subscription
and

get every article ever written while you pay for it.

John.

Recently I was shopping online, looking on bn.com for a particular book.
I
found three versions: paperback, hardcover, and Adobe e-book. Both the
hardcover and the electronic version cost the same, USD $18.50. The
paperback was half that. I was stunned, and decided that, a year from
now,
publishers will decry the failure of E-books to take off, and claim the
public just isn’t ready for them.

I’m curious, though, what people would consider a reasonable price for
electronic articles/books, and how the availability of the free,
electronic
version of Andy & Dave’s book effected sales of the hardcopy version.

James Britt

I already bought the pickaxe book before I knew of it being available
electronically. I bought it purely on the strength of the Pragmatic
Programmer book.

I think magazine articles are a difficult topic, due to the inherent
advertising. Magazines could not survive it seems without ads.

I too have been dissapointed with the ebook selling prices. I think that
the whole market for ebook readers has been hampered by short-sightedness.
Pricing the readers at over 200USD is not going to work. Pricing them at
50USD and having a contract length is the way to go IMHO. Just like cell
phones.

Personally I subscribe to safari, which is the O’Reilly online books site.
I think I pay 10USD per month for viewing up to 5 books. You can then
change your subscription each month. I like this as it cuts down on the
room required on my book shelf and books I read generally don’t last much
more than a few months.

Bruce Eckel doesn’t seem to be hurting from giving away the Thinking in
series.

John.

Charging the same price for an e-book as a hardcover seems ludicrous to me.
Determining a reasonable price would require finely analysing the expenses,
profits etc inherent in paper books, but I imagine the e-book should cost about
half the paperback!

Bruce Eckel seems to have struck a winner with Thinking In Java (and probably
others). People read it online, and then decide its worth having. I didn’t
know it was online before I bought it, but when I found out I was still glad I
bought it.

Andy & Dave lost at least one sale (to me) by giving the book away, because
there are other Ruby books to buy, so it seems sensible to have (access to) two
books for the same price as one. However, reading that book online influenced
me to buy The Pragmatic Programmer, so you could think of it as a loss leader.
Anyway, I keep getting this niggling feeling that I should buy it (not for
moral satisfaction, but because it’s a good book), and if I had been inside a
bookstore these last two weeks I probably would have bought it!

Cheers,
Gavin

···

----- Original Message -----
From: " JamesBritt" james@jamesbritt.com

Recently I was shopping online, looking on bn.com for a particular book. I
found three versions: paperback, hardcover, and Adobe e-book. Both the
hardcover and the electronic version cost the same, USD $18.50. The
paperback was half that. I was stunned, and decided that, a year from now,
publishers will decry the failure of E-books to take off, and claim the
public just isn’t ready for them.

I’m curious, though, what people would consider a reasonable price for
electronic articles/books, and how the availability of the free, electronic
version of Andy & Dave’s book effected sales of the hardcopy version.

James Britt

“Gavin Sinclair” gsinclair@soyabean.com.au writes:

Andy & Dave lost at least one sale (to me) by giving the book away,
because there are other Ruby books to buy, so it seems sensible to
have (access to) two books for the same price as one.

The reality is that no technical book author writes with the
expectation of making real money on the project. Some books become big
sellers, but for the average, in terms of return on hours invested,
book writing is about equivalent to flipping burgers. So why do it? I
suspect there are as many reasons as there are authors, but in the
case of Programming Ruby, we did it because we wanted to share with
others this great language we’d discovered (and as groundwork for
another book which we haven’t got around to starting yet, but that’s
another story).

Because of this, releasing the book under an open license just made
good sense: we hoped it would help spread the word more. Having a free
version out there clearly impacts sales: the graph of Amazon ranking
before and after we released it is pretty conclusive. But we’re not
really driven by sales, and so I’m personally just happy that people
are downloading it and enjoying the language it describes. It is
incredibly rewarding to see more and more people using Ruby, and to
see Ruby mentioned more and more in mainstream articles, and to know
that the PickAxe helped catalyze that.

Cheers

Dave

Bruce Eckel seems to have struck a winner with Thinking In Java
(and probably
others). People read it online, and then decide its worth
having. I didn’t
know it was online before I bought it, but when I found out I was
still glad I
bought it.

Had I gone on using Java I likely would have bought Thinking in Java. I had
browsed through the online version, and decided it was a good book. I can’t
actually read a book online; aside from quality of light and resolution,
half my reading occurs places that computers, even laptops, just tend not to
go. Besides, I like paper. I like ruffling through pages, bending corners,
writing in the margins.

Andy & Dave lost at least one sale (to me) by giving the book
away, because
there are other Ruby books to buy, so it seems sensible to have
(access to) two
books for the same price as one. However, reading that book
online influenced
me to buy The Pragmatic Programmer, so you could think of it as a
loss leader.
Anyway, I keep getting this niggling feeling that I should buy it (not for
moral satisfaction, but because it’s a good book), and if I had
been inside a
bookstore these last two weeks I probably would have bought it!

I use the Windows help version of the book all the time, but it would not be
so useful had I not already read the paper version. I tend to see the
availability of “free” books as simialr to P2P music sharing. If I find
somehting I truly like, I tend to buy the “official” version, both to
support the creators, and because the product is more durable. I can no
longer afford to buy books or CDs simply on the basis of a few favorable
comments, so an extended preview period is more likely to get me to buy
something.

James

···

Cheers,
Gavin

Well, if it’s any consolation Dave, I knew your book was available
online and still bought it.
It’s a great book, and I’m now a huge Ruby fan. I already have 3 Ruby
books on my shelf. Not bad after only learning the language 2 weeks
ago! See what you did to me? :slight_smile:
For me, the fact that the book is available in HTML-Help format has been
the single-biggest (for me at least) benefit of your making the book
available online.
Being able to do searches/index lookups at will, and have it bring up
’real’ help has been >extremely< beneficial to my learning of Ruby.

So…
THANK YOU! :>

Patrick Bennett