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popmuze
12-20-2011, 04:01 AM
I've embarked on a program to bring anywhere from three to six of my out of print books back as ebooks. But I just noticed something very disquieting. Although out of print, all of these titles can still be found very readily on Amazon and Google, at a huge discount. For instance, my novel IT'S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL (which unaccountably has my agent at the time listed as a co-author; I wonder how he finagled that) can be bought for a penny (talk about a humbling experience). Now I know you have to factor in shipping. But in addition to all the other problems of self publishing, now I've got to compete with my own books.

hillaryjacques
12-20-2011, 04:20 AM
Are they listed by third party sellers, like used book stores?

popmuze
12-20-2011, 06:33 AM
Yes. Some go for a penny, some cost a hundred bucks. Go figure.

J. Tanner
12-20-2011, 06:52 AM
Seems kind of par for the course for midlisters which I'm searching for obscure books.

There's probably little incentive to do POD in that case but you should be fine with e-books as there isn't too much "cross" competition. People typically want one or the other rather than deciding between the two.

aruna
12-20-2011, 06:46 PM
Seems kind of par for the course for midlisters which I'm searching for obscure books.

There's probably little incentive to do POD in that case but you should be fine with e-books as there isn't too much "cross" competition. People typically want one or the other rather than deciding between the two.

Exactly. I have the same "problem", and in fact I buy my own books at that price! But remember, these are for print copies. The whole point of reisssuing the books as ebooks is that you open the market to people with ereaders.

I've always found it strange, though, that some of these books are offered at prices like $100. Do they seriously think they will get buyers at that price? I mean, what's the point? Either you want to sell or you don't.

brianjanuary
12-20-2011, 08:05 PM
Do you own the rights to these books? If you do, then you should be dictating where and for how much they are sold. If you don't, then you're going to run into problems with self-publishing.

Alessandra Kelley
12-20-2011, 08:26 PM
Exactly. I have the same "problem", and in fact I buy my own books at that price! But remember, these are for print copies. The whole point of reisssuing the books as ebooks is that you open the market to people with ereaders.

I've always found it strange, though, that some of these books are offered at prices like $100. Do they seriously think they will get buyers at that price? I mean, what's the point? Either you want to sell or you don't.

Hope springs eternal. Enough buyers confuse price with quality that some online booksellers will try to charge ridiculous prices, in the hope that someone, somewhere, eventually will bite.

(I have friends and acquaintances who run secondhand bookstores, and we chat about this sort of thing).

I think the penny prices are to suck buyers in, like grocery stores selling milk at a loss in the hopes people will buy other things. I've noticed the penny sellers always charge high shipping fees, so the customer pays about the same, or more, than if they'd bought from someone charging more for the book.

Some of the high prices are caused by cross-Atlantic programming weirdness. A book offered by an independent bookseller in the US for $X is offered in Europe for $2X. If the algorithms pick up that same copy from a European site, they will offer it in the US for $4X. This can produce bizarrenesses like the same bookseller offering the same copy of a book at radically different prices on the same list.

Book sales have always competed with their own secondhand market. Some people prefer secondhand books because they're cheap, some like vintage books and first editions. But many people also like shiny new books, or books unsullied by others' cigarette smoke and dirty fingers, or the latest cover art, or neat new formats.

I wouldn't fret about it.

Old Hack
12-20-2011, 09:47 PM
The books for sale might not actually exist: some book sellers work on the principle that they will be able to get hold of a copy if someone orders it, and list absolutely anything with an ISBN.

The high pricing happens because book sellers notice if a book is slightly overpriced and will sometimes match that price and then some, in the hope that they'll make a killing on the book that they have (or hope to get hold of).

Do you own the rights to these books? If you do, then you should be dictating where and for how much they are sold. If you don't, then you're going to run into problems with self-publishing.

That's not how it works. (I'm talking print books here, by the way, and referring to physical stock.)

You can't dictate how much someone else can sell their legally-obtained copies for, even if rights have reverted to you. You can dictate how much you'll charge for the books you own and sell; but so can anyone else. And once they buy a copy of your book from you or your publisher, they can sell it on for whatever price they choose.

A publisher can sell off its remaining stocks of your book even after your rights have been reverted. Much here depends on your contract. It's usual for the publisher to offer any remaining stocks to the author for a discounted price at the point of reversion; any copies the author doesn't buy will probably be sold at a very low cost to a remainder store, where they'll be sold on at high discount. So long as those copies continue to exist you'll find them being offered at lower-than-retail prices, even after the rights have been reverted to you.

MartinD
12-21-2011, 11:52 PM
In my pre-Kindle days, I purchased several books for a penny and $3.99 shipping. They each ended up costing four bucks but that's not so bad for a hardcover I wanted to read.

Buying for the Kindle is a different matter, though. I've paid more for a Kindle book than the printed version and I'm betting there are lots of other readers who have done the same.