No wait, hear me out…
Largely out of jealousy that my wife’s been getting more parcels in the post than me recently, I decided to go and buy yet more CDs from Amazon, and it reminded me that I’ve got one opinion on books pricing and an entirely other one on music, but looking at Amazon right now I’m wondering if it’s actually just that I’m behind the times.
While I certainly don’t complain if people buy my books on Amazon because I use the company too and sometimes (sic) a small independent bookshop isn’t convenient for folk, I’m certainly not keen on their (and the consumer public in general’s) opinions on how much books should cost. I see that CDs don’t seem to have discounts listed any more so I’m wondering if they’re now being sold on the agency model because Apple have forced that through everywhere – selling gets 30%, producer sets the price – or whether there’s something else at work. Fundamentally though, I don’t think I’m being a dick buying from them, even if the money they’re getting is reduced. I’ve long held the opinion that £15 was far too much to set as an RRP for CDs, but I am happy to pay nine or ten quid for one – a bit more than i prefer to spend on books because I reuse them more. So the discounting on Amazon for a long time worked for me, but I don’t know enough about the model they’re using to know if I’m actually hurting the artist. I never download illegally and rarely even rip music from friends so i suspect I’m an ideal customer, but you never know I guess.
Checking my books, the trade edition price I know is high because we’re expecting 50% discounts and have to build that into the model, but fundamentally, the paperbacks are being sold for £6.40, £5.25 and £5.11 – so a book’s going for what? 30/40% less than a CD? And the units shifted won’t be as high if I was an equivalent mid-list musician.
Why is this? Are we hurting ourselves by selling in a larger format at all that is of an equivalent price, but won’t shift the same number of copies? WOuld we be better served by doing a HB collectors edition then straight into mass market for £9 with no discount? Would prefer it as a reader since I’m not a fan of a) waiting 12 months for the smaller edition, and b) reading a larger edition, but I wonder how the economics would work out. It’s a big risk for any publisher to take, but I’m mainly curious as to why in this country we’ve different opinions on what these two different products are worth? There might well be a good reason like reuse, but for me they have the same inherent value. Am I alone in this?