"E-books are cheaper to produce, by about twenty per cent per book, because they do away with the cost of paper, printing, shipping, and warehousing. They also eliminate returns of unsold books—a significant expense, since thirty to fifty per cent of books are returned. But they create additional costs: maintaining computer servers, monitoring piracy, digitizing old books. And publishers have to pay authors and editors, as well as rent and administrative overhead, not to mention the costs of printing, distributing, and warehousing bound books, which continue to account for the large majority of their sales.”
So there you have it. E-books, although cheaper to produce, do not cost much less than print books because they end up generating “additional” costs for publishers. But what are these “additional cost?” They can’t be to “pay authors and editors, as well as rent and administrative overhead.” These costs are not unique to e-books. What about “maintaining computer servers, monitoring piracy, and digitizing old books?” What servers is this guy writing about? Traditional publishers are not paying to maintain the servers of outlets like Amazon or B & B. The cost of monitoring piracy again is not unique to e-books. It is also incurred with print books. And digitizing old books is not as costly as it is made out to be here, but this is a particular case.
I believe the real reason is in the last sentence: “not to mention the costs of printing, distributing, and warehousing bound books, which continue to account for the large majority of their sales.”
This in effect suggests that part of the cost of print books is transferred to e-books, and this is why e-books are not cheap. In other words “our e-books are not cheap because we are also publishing print books.” The thing is that this has nothing to do with the cost of e-books, which is the issue that we are dealing with! I am amazed how this article intended to debunk a myth, ends up debunking itself in just this paragraph.
Let’s stop this silliness and repeat what is known as a fact by the writing community: traditional publishers are charging more for e-books to protect their paper sales. Making an average e-book is much less costly than making an average print book. This is not a myth. Traditional publishers are in effect saying “we are charging more for e-books because we are still selling print books, and we don’t want the lower costs of e-books to undercut print book profits.” In doing this traditional publishers are making a lot of money, and by the way, they also pay e-book authors less than they pay print authors.
If you want to dig more into the numbers you can check for example the posts by greengeekgirl at Insatiable Booksluts. She lays out her case that traditional publishers could charge much less for e-books and still make a handsome profit. She also makes the important observation that, unlike print books, e-books can generate income for years without the added costs of additional print runs.