According to the Wall Street Journal article, "Book Publishers Go Back to Basics" (linked below), "Now, e-book sales are on the decline, making up a fraction of publisher's revenue, and traditional book sales are rising."
Several reasons for this are claimed, however one very important and significant factor is quite interestingly ignored - the overpricing of e-books by major publishers.
Not coincidentally a couple years ago publishers won a battle with Amazon over pricing for e-books, wanting to price them higher than Amazon was allowing at the time. For a while now the big publishing houses have tended to price their e-books from $10 up to $20. Often as much, or strangely even more than, the pricing for a print copy. And now e-book sales have dropped.
Consumers do have preferences, and consider a variety of factors as well as price. But price cannot be ignored as a factor. Putting aside for a moment considerations such as convenience, immediate delivery, and functions assisting in issues with sight, and looking at the product itself - print vs. electronic and there is no real sensible reason for an electronic copy to be as much or more as a physical copy.
Consumers are not idiots. An e-book does not have the exact same cost involved in production as a physical copy. Furthermore an e-book cannot be shared, lended, given away or sold as used as a physical copy can. So the value of the product to the customer is less.
Yes, e-books have a cost in production, and yes, they have value. But both are less than that of physical books. Part of that cost savings should be shared with the consumer. In my opinion that is the smart business move.
So, it's no surprise to me when a consumer is given a choice between purchasing a paperback for $7.99 or an e-book version for $9.99, they're more often choosing the paperback.
I know I will not purchase an e-book for $10 or more. I also will not purchase an e-book that is not at least $2 less than the new paperback price. And I know I'm not alone. And I am one who doesn't even buy physical books anymore. So, how many sales are they losing with their lack of reasonable pricing I wonder, and they should wonder.
Big publishers may prefer selling physical copies, and may be happy e-book sales are down, and so they may not be taking an honest look in the reasons for the decline. However, as consumers do have various preferences and needs I think they'd be smart to serve their customers fairly in their pricing of either option, and not inflate their e-book pricing at the expense of their e-book customers.
Book Publishers Go Back to Basics