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Monday, February 17, 2014

Should There Be A Minimum Wage For eBooks?


There’s much discussion in the media, and on Capitol Hill, about raising the federal minimum wage. While those well-intentioned debates are being waged, should there also be one about book prices?

There doesn’t seem to be a minimum price that books can be sold for. And the way eBooks are priced, the average price of a digital book will continue to fall in 2014 to its lowest point ever. When will the bleeding stop?

Conversely, there’s no maximum price either, though eBooks don’t seem to present themselves in a way to command more value. However, print books, despite competitive pricing from eBooks, can command $30-$35 for a hardcover book – and in cases of gift or special editions, especially art and photography books, they can sell for $75-$100 apiece. EBooks go for not much more than a cup of Starbucks coffee.

It seems eBooks could position themselves to earn higher prices. How?

1.      Add content to the eversion that’s not in the printed one, especially videos, photos, and documents.
2.      Release the eBook a week prior to the print on-sale date.
3.      Stop pricing eBooks based on costs to the publisher (for printing) and instead present the content as exclusive and valued on its merits – not because paper costs rose.
4.      Package an author’s backlist title with his/her new book (it’s easy to do digitally).
5.      Use music and audio to support the digital text – market a true multi-media experience.

It may not come by Congressional legislation or presidential decree, but eBooks need to raise their pricing standards and elevate their perceived value. Once eBooks stop their price erosion, all books – print and digital – will be able to rise in price. 

Consumers may enjoy low prices right now, but like low interest rates, the cycle has to trend upward again. Publishers and authors deserve higher prices for their creative work, risks taken, and marketing efforts. If we don’t move to firm up a minimum cover price on eBooks, authors and publishers will struggle to reach the minimum wage. 


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.

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