why does the digital book cost as much as the physical one?


Like for real, it makes NO sense at all

In: Economics

The cost of physically printing a book is a small percentage of its price to begin with, and this is usually reflected in a small difference in price. Most of the costs are the same – paying the author and everyone involved in the publishing process.

Because publishers are trying to make money and some readers are willing to pay as much for a digital book as a physical book.

Wait a while and the price of an ebook will usually go below the price of a new physical copy.

Because it’s the same book. Books are “value priced”…they charge what they believe customers think the book it worth. Since it’s the same book, it’s the same(ish) price.

The marginal cost to print a physical book is tiny for virtually all books; the only ones where it even kind of matters are really big ones with lots of color and fancy stuff and, even then, the cost of production is a tiny fraction of the sale price.

Basically, the price you pay has nothing to do with what it costs to make the book…it’s all about what the company paid the author and what the reader will pay, which aren’t any different between a digital and physical book.

Side note: value price is more common than commodity pricing. *Anything* branded or unique in some way, like any art (books, music, TV, movies, etc.) is value priced, which means that the price isn’t directly connected to the production cost. Only true commondities that are interchangeable and highly competitive, like gas or bananas or paper, are going to be priced relative to their production cost.

When this is the case, (because frequently it’s not) the price is not about the cost of the paper, and production of the physical book, but the time and work put into said book by the author(s) and their team.
Sometimes their are higher marketing costs.
Sometimes the book covers a story or topic that isn’t widely discussed or availible.
Sometimes the book is just popular, and they’d like to recoup as much of their costs while they can.

Because the companies selling the books (digital or otherwise) want to make as much money as possible. They have probably determined that lowering prices on digital books wouldn’t help them sell more copies, or at least not enough more to increase profits.

People who buy digital books are probably doing it because they can’t wait to get the book or don’t want to carry it with them, and if they see these as benefits instead of no physical copy being a bad thing, they would be willing to pay the same amount for a digital copy.

The vast majority of the cost of the book is the cost of the author’s time in writing the book, the time of the publisher’s editors/fact checkers, etc., the cost to market the book. The physical paper costs are negligible vs. the cost of the book. A book might cost $20 and the paper, cover cost $1-$2.

What makes you think the price is determined by the cost to make it?

The price is determined by what people are willing to pay.

You think running servers 24/7 to distribute the book on an international service is free?

At least a book is a one-off print cost. A digital download might require decades of keeping a server up.

No one is buying new printing presses anymore – all the printing companies paid off their printing presses years ago so there’s no longer any capital cost / machinery depreciation factored into printing costs. Whereas with digital distribution everyone is busy upgrading to more energy efficient servers and SDDs so there is significant expenditure there currently.

It does. Very little of a books price is related to physically printing it, and transporting it, and selling it. I’d say maybe 2-3 dollars of the 20 dollar book. The rest is profit, advertising, keeping the big business afloat, etc.

Because you aren’t paying for the printed material — you’re paying for the perceived value of the content.

Usually after the initial release of a book, the digital copy drops a _few_ dollars to reflect the money not invested in printing. But printing is cheap, so sometimes it’s negligible.

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