HarperCollins tells us what ebooks are really worth

When I published “Chasing the Runner’s High“, I had to decide what to charge for the book.  It wasn’t easy to choose the right price for the ebook.  Recently, publishing giant HarperCollins decided to help me out.

HarperCollins has announced that they are changing the license for their ebooks to cap the number of times a book can circulate.  From now on, libraries can only lend out a HarperCollins ebook 26 times before the library has to buy it again.

Josh Marwell, President, Sales for HarperCollins, told Library Journal “that the 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.”

If a library pays $30 (approximately) to buy an ebook, and they can lend it out 26 times, then what HarperCollins is telling us is that the right to read an ebook is worth about $1.15.

The library doesn’t really pay for books.  You and I do, through taxes and user fees.  I’m willing to pay more for the right to get the book when I want it and reread it if I feel like it.  $3 sounds fair to me.  That’s almost three times what I’d pay for a single read of a library book.  I read most books only once, so at $3 per book, HarperCollins should have nothing to complain about.

What’s wrong with this logic?  HarperCollins has highly paid executives, accountants, and marketing people.  I’m just an author.  Who am I to argue with them?  That does make me wonder though.  If I want to read the new Superfreakonomics ebook (published by HarperCollins, sold by Amazon), why should I have to pay $20?

Anyhow, starting today I’m taking HarperCollins’ advice.  You can now buy the ebook editions of “Chasing the Runner’s High” for the new, low price of $2.99.  Originally, I was charging $7.99 on Amazon (where most people buy ebooks).  On my own web site, I suggested readers pay $5.  Maybe I’ll make it up in volume.

Don’t worry, the book is still as DRM-free as possible.  If $2.99 is too much, you can still buy one copy and use it to make as many copies as you want.  But c’mon.  It’s only $2.99!

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