Cost of E-Book Publishing Not Always a Bargain

By Joyce

As e-books slowly gain more attention in the media, the popularity of this new product can create an economic issue for publishers.

According to The Association of American Publishers, paperbacks were the number one format in the trade market, while e-books ranked number two in 2011. However, things could change quickly. In 2011, adult paperbacks yielded a total of $473.1 million dollars in domestic net sales, which is a 17.9 percent decrease from the previous year, which yielded $576.4 million. On the other hand, sales of e-books have dramatically increased by a shocking 160.1 percent. Although e-books have not proven to be completely worthwhile, many publishers are  joining the bandwagon and producing more e-books.

Sean Lachlan, former archaeologist and writer, wrote an article saying publishers are now producing e-books because it is cheaper to produce and distribute e-books. Producing e-books eliminates most of the middlemen who print, warehouse, ship, and market paperback books. E-books have lower start-up costs, and literally everyone has the opportunity to write a book. Publishers can publish more unknown authors because there is much less money at stake when publishing their work.  E-books also have high sales in books not necessarily popular or easy to find in bookstores. Buying and selling e-books also allows buyers to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, so readers are less shy to buy books that they would be too shy to buy in person.

However, there are many problems associated with e-book production too.

Many people are still unfamiliar with e-books, and the competition to catch the attention of the limited number of e-book readers is intense. Piracy is another major issue.  There are many opportunities for people to hack into  files and sell them at a much cheaper price, but publishers are not that worried. A recent story may concern publishers more.

An article in f The Association of American Publishers stated two websites, and ,were indicted for providing illegal downloads of more than 400,000 e-books in February, 2012. The websites disguised themselves as legitimate websites that provided authorized library content. Operators earned a total of about US$10,602,400 annually. To protect themselves from piracy, publishers need to hire expensive programmers who can create safe, protected, and accessible websites where users can buy e-books.

Overall, the future of e-books looks bright, as it provides cheaper publication methods, easier access to hard-to-find books, and opportunities for up-and-coming writers.



Categories: Economics


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