Friday, August 5, 2011

Something to Think About

initial scan of draft page to be cleaned up yet....

Publisher's Weekly had an interesting article about the 'value' of books - hard copy/paperback vs digital.

At a conference a number of years ago, a participant was complaining vociferously about the fact that the instructor of a seminar charged a whopping $10 for two sheets of paper (which happened to be double sided and crammed full of information).  Her complaint?  The cost of running off those 4 pages/2 sheets was approximately 50 cents and she'd been royally ripped off.

Obviously she was putting no value whatsoever on the information contained in those pages.  The conference refunded her the $10 and took back the sheets, which was apparently of no value to her.

As I prepare to convert Magic into digital format I am faced with a similar conundrum - will people value the digital version?  Obviously I have spent a great deal of time and money publishing Magic in the first place, and should have recouped my costs by now, so why should I put anything other than a low value on the digital format?  OTOH, I will have spent hours more converting the files to digital, including paying someone else for their time and technological skills. 

I know that not everyone is enamoured of the digital format.  Personally I also prefer to have pages between my hands rather than reading on a screen.   But at this point in time it's either nothing or digital.  So I will continue to work on the conversion and hope that enough people will be receptive to having a digital format, burned onto a cd, to make it worthwhile for everyone concerned.  Ultimately people will be able to print out which pages they want in hard copy, and they will still have the entire file on the cd should they experience a computer crash or lose the printed out pages.  Or, as some people have mentioned, they like to print out pages and make their own notations on the sheets without feeling like they are 'wrecking' the book by so doing. 

If anyone is interested in a cd/digital copy of Magic when it is ready later in the fall please email me and I'll give you a head's up when it is ready.  I'm ballparking the retail price including shipping at $20 to $25 Cdn.  Final price will depend on the shipping charge at the time, currently running around $7.50 postage for a small packet.

Currently reading Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (which takes place mostly in Quebec City, which having recently visited there is very vivid in my memory - thanks to Anne Marie for the driving tour - wish my ankle hadn't been so sore so we could have walked the cobblestone streets and visited some of the shops, etc!)


Tien Chiu said...

Pricing according to material cost is an incorrect approach for digital goods. The cost of producing a CD is essentially zero, but that doesn't mean that the value of that CD is zero! I'd price it considerably higher than $20, if it were me - say around $50, which is still a huge price break from the book (to compensate for the fact that the samples are not in the book). Or $30-35 if you want to make it more on par with other recently published weaving books.

Authors of runaway bestsellers don't drop the price of a second or third printing just because "their development costs have already been paid by the first printing"; neither should you. I think it's reasonable to price based on the cost of other books in the marketplace, and on the value it offers to readers, not on your time.

Just my $0.02 - Tien

Benita said...

I am definitely interested in the digital version of the book. I own several digital versions of books and reading them on the computer is convenient for me.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the digital version will be readable in both Mac and non-Mac formats. I have Magic in the Water with samples (I love it!) but it came with a CD that I've never been able to open because my Apple computer doesn't recognize the files.

I agree with Tien Chiu when she says that prices of bestseller don't drop on second or third printings because their costs have been paid for!

Determining "fair" prices in the craft world seems to be so complicated. Good luck with this new project!

Sandra Rude said...

Gotta feel sorry for anybody who doesn't think that information is worth a heck of a lot more than the paper it's printed on... That person wasted whatever education they were given...

Peg Cherre said...

I, too, work on a mac, and if the CD Magic works in mac format, I'm definitely in at the price you're suggesting.

Laura said...

All you needed for the original disc that came with Magic was a weaving software program. The files are the drafts for the project pages in .dtx and .wif format if I remember correctly.

Anonymous said...

Well that just shows you how little I know about the way computers work. I feel really silly....

I just checked and I can easily see the files in my mac demo version of Fiberworks.

Learn something new every day!!


Laura said...

Great - glad you got it to work!

ruthmacgregor said...

I agree with Tien -- your pricing needs to reflect the (excellent) content, not the cost of the support. Her suggestion of a price in the $30s seems more appropriate to me than $20.

It's also worth remembering that your book is pretty widely known. Because of that, I'm guessing a digital version will sell quickly. A price of $30 or $35 is easier to fit into the normal "cash flow" of most pocketbooks than the full price of the original book with samples -- so weavers who found it difficult to gather the price of the original book may be jumping at the chance for a more modestly priced version.

I'm not a great fan of digital books, either, but I would love to have this CD version of yours!


A textile a day said...

As already stated paper does not = knowledge and I would also say her ( conference participant ) loss. I would defiantly be in for a digital copy unfortunately I don't own a hard copy so cd will have to do.

suzibee said...

I too think you have undervalued your work. I would spend $30-$35 for the CD version, but at the same time I would miss having the hardcopy in my hands.
Have you thought of digital downloads at slightly less cost so the consumer can save a little on shipping?
I also use a Mac.
Good luck with your project.
Suzi, who reads your blog everyday & finds you inspirational.

Laura said...

I decided to go with the cd because some people were concerned about losing the files if they had a computer crash. They can also load it to various computers and not have to worry about losing their 'hard' copy. Lastly it means I don't have to rely on a 3rd party to host the files. :)

Anonymous said...

I worked in publishing for over 20 years and retired just before the big digital epublishing took root. That said, I see no significant difference between the two formats as far as pricing is concerned, except for physical samples in this case. In paper publishing, the cost of the printing and paper and covers was only one factor, and a small one at that. Each new title was costed out, including marketing, overhead (about 150% of all the other costs), author payments, etc. And that was posted against what the market price of the book would/should bear, i.e., similar books. Second and third printings are where the money is made. I agree with Tien that you are definitely undervaluing the CD price, but that is your choice, especially since this would be considered a "reprint," and perhaps you simply want the information out there in the weaving world. Peter Collingwood did much the same. --Sue in MA