Friday, December 24, 2010

Paul Cornell on E-books

Thanks to Neil Mullins (Skar) for directing me to this. Paul Cornell has some quite apposite things to say about the e-books market and piracy etc. Here's the first two of his nineteen bullet-points:

1: Publishers have always thought that when you buy a hardback, what you're paying more for is the chance to own it on the day of publication. Paperbacks are cheaper because they come out a year later. The reading public, on the other hand, always thought what they were paying more for was the extra physical mass and quality. (Actually, a hardback costs, one publisher told me, only from 50p to a couple of pounds more to make.) So obviously publishers think an e-book, out on the day of publication, should cost the same as a hardback. And obviously the reading public think it should cost less than a paperback. From this difference in perception stem all subsequent horrors.

2: British publishers are faced with an additional cost for e-books in the form of V.A.T., Valued Added Tax, currently set at 17.5% of the sale price going to the government, set to rise to 20% next year. This tax doesn't apply to printed books. I asked Ed Vaizey MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, if this was going to change, and was told there were no plans to alter the V.A.T. rate at the moment.


Hitch said...

TBH that leaves me with the distinct impression that publishers have been ripping of, us, the readers, for many more years that I previously thought.

I have bought hardbacks, I buy them because of the first reason, being the first to read it. However, I also assumed it cost far more to make it than a paperback costs. If both reasons were true then I would still class it as a good deal, however if that guy is right then... well, I guess I am not that surprised :(

I would like to know what a ebook costs still. I know publishers have electronic versions and have had for years, this is what they end up printing from. I also know making the mobi or other e-format is very cost effective. Delivery is next to nothing, especialy using Amazons cloud system, add in the lack of rights or ownership with an ebook and you get a very very bad deal.

Now, it must be said that when any new fad comes along, the first buyers pay the price. This is the same with any media or product and I am all for it, sometimes I am a frontrunner, other times i let someone else pay for them to perfect a product. However with ebooks, if it follows the music industry, and I bet good money it will, the prices will nor drop nor will the practices change. This is not good.

And ya know what? I think I have said enough about ebooks for this year!

Merry Christmas everyone :D

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

what a scam.

anybody following Doctorow's story arc on the self published stuff? he was sick of the other publishers going bankrupt and screwing up the biz, so he did his own thru lulu.

Andy said...

Yes e-books are a rip off tbh, but what the technology will allow will be the same as what's happened to the music industry. I.e. Authors will be able to strike out on their own and publish stuff without having to sign a deal with large publishers.

Neal Asher said...

Trouble is, Andy, well-known writers will certainly be able to do that. But what about unknowns? If publishing a book becomes that easy, how will you know if a book is any good? Maybe the Internet grapevine will do this?

Anonymous said...

As I often say in the comments on this page. Things are never as simple/straight forward as they seem. Who pays for the editors, the artists etc. Who forces the writer to hone their craft, before forcing their crap on an unsuspecting market.

I'm sure Neal will have more of an idea on the role people have to play in getting one of his books to market place.

I would be happy to have the option with ebooks, to pay a little bit extra, when buying a physical book, to get the additional e book.

I know in the article, he talks about VAT coming into play. But in reverse you don't have a book seller/distributer to factor into the costs. Sure you'll have to pay a online supplier, but in a new market the costs should be lower. You don't have printing costs.

Ebooks should be cheaper.