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What's the "Right Price" for an eBook?

EbookIf you know the answer to that question, can you please give me a call?!  eBook pricing levels are an interesting topic of debate in this industry. Without the manufacturing, distribution/stocking and returns costs, it's easy to assume that an ebook should have a lower price than the equivalent print book.  Of course, there are processing, transaction and, unfortunately, DRM costs associated with ebooks; but still, they ought to roll up to a total that's less than the print costs.

So what is the right pricing level for an ebook?  Should it be 10% less than the print version?  20%?  I don't have the answer but I'm glad we're testing out some options.  The first test was just launched today: Our entire WROX ebook list (150+ titles) is currently available at 50% off the print book list price.  It's a limited time offer and you need to use the promotional code "EWRXN" to get the discount.  We'll see how this test goes and use the results to determine the parameters for future tests.

Btw, discount isn't the only factor to consider in this debate, of course.  There are plenty of ways to improve the value proposition and add value to the ebook experience; that's something we'll be tinkering with as well in the future...

P.S. -- If you're a WROX fan in search of the latest gear, be sure to check out our new WROX swag store.  As Jim Minatel says, skip the next show, save $3,000 on conference fees and travel expense and get what you really want for a lot less: WROX clothes!  Kudos to our wonderful marketing manager, Colleen H., for getting this site and promotion off the ground.


Brad V.

From what I've seen, many ebooks are way overpriced! For example, I use the Sony eReader and use their Connect store to buy ebooks from. Well, the "discount" is usually on a couple of dollars off the print edition price. Sony sells many ebooks that are priced above $15!

In my own humble opinion, the average price for an ebook should be well below $10. Maybe I'm just being cheap, but without printing costs, inventory, and all the other costs associated with print books, there's no reason ebooks should be priced anywhere close to their print counterparts.

But you're right, there are no "rules of thumb" for pricing ebooks and the prices are usually all over!

Michael A. Banks

I believe that 35% to 50% is reasonable for both publisher and reader. Give the reader what the middlemen usually get.

Give the author conventional royalties, if not higher percentages. I've seen contracts that seem to express the attitude, "Oh, the reader is paying less, so we'd better pay the author less," when in reality the publisher (at 60 percent or more of hardcopy price) is netting the saem as or more than the publisher would with a hardcopy book.

And always advertise the hardcopy price right next to the ebook price.

Sam Judson

Is it just me - why can I only see 2 books on the linked page (Beginning Python and Dreamweaver MX 2004, both quite old books).

Sam Judson

OK, it is me (or rather it appears my work firewall is blocking some content) - still seems strange.

Sam Judson

Sorry about this, but a further update: It appears the reason is actually because all but 2 of the ebooks are only available in the US, or rather aren't available in the UK. Why is this exactly?


You might want to check out Ellora's Cave. They're an erotica epublisher that's been in business for several years, profitably, too. Their prices vary depending on the length of the book, as I recall, anywhere from a couple of dollars to $4 or $5. Since mass market paperbacks sell for nearly $8 these days, that's at least a differential to consider. EC royalties are something like 30 and 40% on the ebooks. I'm not sure what they pay for their print copies.

A technology e-book had better be less than the print cost, buy 20 or 30% if not more. I doubt I'd bother with an e-reader. I'd want the book available on my work computer where it would be most useful.

For what it's worth.

Joe Wikert

Hi Sam. Thanks for flagging this issue. I've been asked to communicate the following workaround:

Special note for Wrox readers in Europe:
The link to the eBook sale is likely to take you to a web page that does not show any eBooks. This is an issue related to the shopping cart programming of our UK website. If this happens to you, choose Change Location at the top of the page and select United States. You should be directed to a new page that lists the eBooks that are included in the sale. Please note that all sales from this page will be in US dollars.


I just took advantage of the wrox sale on ebooks. I have several wrox titles in printed format, and always consider a wrox title first when shopping. Here is my one gripe - I'm trying to get everything over to my Sony ebook reader. its alot easier to carry than a stack of books.

Bad thing about the wrox titles I just bought - no way to get them over there. Any plans? Can I get mine converted if you do? If so, any chance I can mail back the print titles for an ecopy :) ?

Joe Wikert

Hi Paula. Great question. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Sony's ongoing proprietary solution to e-books (and other technologies, for that matter). You're right that we don't offer the WROX collection for the Sony Reader and I apologize for that. Unfortunately, we also have no plans to convert them to it anytime soon. We're trying to support the more widely accepted file formats like PDF, and while that's always subject to change in the future, it continues to be our plan for the time being.


Hey, it reads pdf, so that isn't the problem. I just can't get the pdfs I bought from you over to it because of drm, unless it's that I just don't know how.

Joe Wikert

Hi Paula. I'm not familiar with how Sony's reader handles DRM's PDFs from another provider. I thought they only supported their own files or unprotected PDFs. Have you ever been able to load a PDF onto it that was protected by someone other than Sony?


A small self publisher pays a small fortune to Google in advertising and this is why ebooks cost more than books in a shop. It is different for big titles that people are already looking for, but for new titles advertising is the big slice of the pie.

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