Exploring the outer limits of e-book prices

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Scan of modern reproduction of The Birds of America (edited and color-corrected)Exploring the outer limits of e-book prices Imagine you could acquire advice to make money, save money, gain knowledge, enjoy happier relationships and be more healthy. If your interest in any one of these areas is high, you might be willing to stretch your budget to the max and buy the advice whether in a magazine, book or from a trusted and respected professional adviser.

Without the means to pay for such specialised knowledge, you would probably ask advice from someone you know or try to find it for free from the Internet or a free downloadable PDF. But would this information be of high enough quality to make a significant impact in your life?

What if you require more in-depth, well-researched information laid out in easily digestible chunks that rapidly add to your knowledge on the subject? What if the information could help produce ideas for new additional income or shape your life in ways you never dreamed possible?

What would you be willing to pay for such information? How high would you go?

The answers to these questions depend on how hungry or desperate you are to gain the information and what impact or difference you are seeking in your life. When, for instance, you need to pass a crucial exam that would make a meaningful difference to your life and livelihood, you may up the stakes. I once paid what I thought was an outrageous price for an international book on finance. It was a crucial primer on a subject that was new to me but I knew that it would help me to pass the subject for my degree in business administration.

Books rise in price depending on the value of their content and how rare they are.

I thought the book on finance was outrageous until I came across the e-book for “Comprehensive Structural Integrity” at $18,304. Value is in the eye of the beholder. This book must contain very specialised information to sell at this price. Perhaps the main buyers are professional firms.

Another e-book that has an astronomical (if that’s the correct word) price of $6400 for the Kindle edition. It’s titled “Selected Nuclear Materials and Engineering Systems”. One buyer was pleased with the purchase. “I had to sell my car and take out an equity loan on my house to buy this book, but it was worth every penny,” the buyer wrote on The Digital Reader.

Some books hold high intrinsic value because they are so rare. A copy of “Birds of America” recently fetched $11.5 million in an auction in London. This book – a 170-year-old collection of life-size bird paintings – is hardly expected to land up as an e-book. Comics have high value when they are rare and in mint condition. A copy of “Action Comics #1”, published in June 1938, which introduced Superman was bought by an anonymous buyer for $1,000,000 in February 2010. Another copy was sold for $1.5 million at an auction in the same year. Another comic book has joined the $1 million club. A copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug ‘62), the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold for $1.1 million on 7 March in a private sale.

The costs of publishing e-books may be lower than conventional publishing but the expenditure involved in researching and writing the book can be huge. An enormous investment in time is required. The specialisation and writer’s reputation (which also require enormous investment over time). It’s expensive and time-consuming to promote e-books, despite what pundits say.

Some consumers show price sensitivity to e-book’s higher than $9.99 but what is the real price of a specialised e-book? What if the book is written by a specialist in the field with proven success? We’re not talking about a textbook with generalised information but by an expert who has practised what they have written about and taught it successfully to others who have benefited significantly from it.

An e-book, whether it’s price (excluding the highly specialised exceptions such as the two mentioned above) is a fraction of the cost of a seminar hosted by an author. A day’s workshop with the author would be extremely rich and rewarding. Two authors recently held a three-hour morning talk at a cost of $370. The book on the subject cost $15. It’s hard to argue against the impact of seeing and experiencing the authors in-person but the book gives you valuable and actionable information that you can refer to repeatedly and at any time.

How much would you pay for an e-book that offers you proven techniques for producing ideas? How much would you be willing to pay for a book prepared after hundreds of hours of research and years of successful application? What if this book could lead you to produce streams of income, give you greater personal freedom and peace of mind? What if the book could shave off years of painstaking trial and error and heartbreak.

Whatever the price of such a book, the potential value from such a book is inestimably higher than the initial purchase price will ever be. Ultimately it’s for the customer to decide.

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