Why are ebooks so expensive?

Why invest in eBooks?

Devices such as the Nook and Kindle have been around for a very long time.  They offer convenience but have many limitations over paper backs.

Benefits

  1. No paper used to produce the book. (Environment Benefit)
  2. Can carry many normally heavy books in the palm of your hand.
  3. No recurring production costs. Once made into an ebook, which I don’t think costs much or takes much time when computers are used to type books in this modern age.

Limitations

  1. You cannot lend them.  Sure you can lend some to others with the same book reader, but just for a limited time.
  2. You cannot donate / sell them when done.
  3. You cannot fill your library with them.  Okay…so unless you are rich and have a library you need to fill with first editions of rare books, you may not see a real need for a physical book.

Why?

Back to the original question…..I don’t know.  Perhaps it is because we are paying for the convenience?  or more likely, the middle men are greedy. I hear that authors make very little on a paperback and likely don’t make any more on eBooks.

To make matters even worse, often times the paperback costs the same price as the eBook.  For me, I want to go Green for the sake of the environment.  This is the reason I bought my Kindle.  Not to mention that the entire 7 book Harry Potter collection takes up virtually no space on a shelf or my Kindle.

The biggest hesitation I have is that I cannot lend the books to friends and family, or donate them when I am done reading.  Resale value of eBooks is not very high. LOL.  Now I did buy my mother a Nook for Mother’s Day which would have allowed me to share, but she promptly sold it and bought yarn with the proceeds.  She also does not pay for any books and found the Nook worthless.

eBooks should be $2

I heard that an author gets only a small portion of a book sale. Since there is virtually no cost to make an eBook, why not get rid of the middle men and make eBooks economical as well as convenient!

Doesn’t Pay to Go Green

Saving Green != More $ Green

Going “green” to save the planet does not always put more “green” in your wallet.

Now there are some cases when you can actually save money such as rechargeable AA batteries, but for the majority of recycled products you buy, you actually pay more.

Why is that?

You would think that if products were made from existing products the cost would be cheaper.  For example there is no cost for raw materials and in many cases the recycled material is already in the form needed for the recycled product.

Companies are slow to embrace, charging consumers more for the “new” thing.

Not sure it does cost more to produce a recycled product, but I would not doubt it is because companies have not invested in the necessary equipment.  This is the reason Hybrid cars are so expensive and take so long to deliver to the customer.  There is a bottleneck in some part of the manufacturing process.  Hopefully is not on purpose.  Did I tell you I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist? 🙂

A local Honda dealership was handing out information sheets showing why is was “not worth going green.”  They based it on the cost of the vehicle and available units on the lot, using the current price of fuel and longevity of the rechargeable battery to show that it would not be any cheaper to by a Hybrid Civic over the conventional Civic.  This was such a disappointment.  How many prospective buyers of a Hybrid were convinced it was not worth it?  It comes down to the failure of Honda to meet the demand for the Hybrid Civic and mass produce it at a reasonable cost.

Successful Product Launches?

Here are a few that have made media attention…

  • Reynolds Wrap introduced a 100% recycled option for aluminum foil.  Why did they not replace the existing product?  Are people concerned that recycled products are dirty?
  • Glad recently announced to have reduced the amount of plastic used in ALL of their garbage bags without compromising the product.  Great work Glad!
  • Deer Park announced several years ago now I think, that they reduced the amount of plastic used in their disposable water bottles.  Much better, but why not install water dispensers using the trucked in spring water and stop making disposable bottles?
  • Recycled Batteries have been around for a very very long time.  I remember the “yellow” ones, NiCad, from years ago.  They were weak and took a very long time to charge.  Batteries today home much more power and some even can hold a charge for months unlike the traditional ones which start discharging as soon as you remove them from the battery charger.  I would have to say that recycled  batteries have personally saved me lots of money over the years, especially now since they are widely produced and the novelty of them has past. Much like the Compact Florescent bulb.  At one time very expensive and now very cheap to produce and purchase.  True that we have moved on to LED bulbs because they don’t contain mercury, are even more energy efficient, and produce less heat.

Getting Local

So I am from NY, not the city, but upstate.  Over the years the number of products that can be recycled had improved.  I remember as a child on a few plastics, I think only #2, were recyclable.  This may have been due to the rural area I grew up in, or the limited demand for recycled products of the other plastics to not make the collection profitable, but one thing was always great……

5 cent bottle redemption!

Why cannot something so simple be implemented everywhere?

Not only would more people recycle to get back the nickel they spent when they bought the product, but it also reduced the number of recyclables in the trash cans.  If you did not want the nickel, there were many others going through recycle bins and trash cans eager to redeem them.  Not to say this is idea, but it was a win for the environment and a win for the person struggling to eat on the street.  Not to mention countless schools paid for trips with can and bottle drives.

The nations capital

One wonders why DC does not have a bottle redemption, or at least place recycle bins near community trash cans along the streets.  Heck, just paint half of them blue, slap a recycle logo on it and just maybe, people would carry that can a block further to recycle it.  As it stands now, unless you are in a very limited area around the Mall or Golden Triangle, there are no recycle bins.  Even those were just installed within the last few years.

Recycling trucks come down the same streets, there would be little to no additional cost.

While we should not need to “pay” people to recycle, installing bottle redemption machines at local grocery stores would seem to help.  They could operate much like a change machine either dispensing cash or a redeemable coupon for money.  The crushed output from the machines could then be emptied into the stores recycle bin for recycling.

Why Not?

So my question is…why have the local environmental groups not made progress in this area.  It seems like such a basic “need” which would not take much to implement.

iPad Menus?

While it would be very cool if you could order from an iPad at a restaurant and pass it around the table separating checks if necessary, they were not iPads….

Lighted Menus

After a trip to the bookstore on Thursday night, we were looking for a new place to try.  Passing by all of the recognizable chains or restaurants apparently celebrating someones 10th birthday, we were intrigued by a strange glow coming from “The American Taproom.”  Okay, so the gas flames on the sign outside were a nice touch too.  I thought they were iPads at first, but then realized that would be quite a theft risk unless they were tethered to the tables.

The hostess seated us and gave us the menus and wine list which indeed lit up as soon as you opened them.  I was intrigued and needed to find out how they work.  I saw the small charging hole and figured that the menus were basically an LED version of a hospital room x-ray viewer.

After opening and closing the menu a few times, I was able to decide on dinner  🙂

The lighting continues

When the check arrived, you guessed it, it was back lit as well.  Not sure that was necessary, it was not that dark in the restaurant.

If I embark on a restaurant venture again….

I will definitely provide an Ipad at the bar for guests to order food and pay for drinks.  Instead of having one per spot at bar, I would have users swipe their credit / debit, or restaurant tab card to activate the menu.  This would make it easy to generate separate checks.

Okay..so maybe that would be a little impersonal and probably should just stick with the iPhone sized devices to give to wait staff to keep track of orders, but I think it would be cool if you could order from an iPad.  Perhaps this would work best at a busy sports bar to ensure that drink and food orders are correctly entered quickly and seem to just arrive at  your table.  One per table would be enough and could double as a multi user interactive game console to play along with those trivia games.  You could also use it to provide guests with a way to browse the web or checkup on their email.

With the price of the iPad dropping to $399, $349 refurbished, who knows where you will see iPads being used 🙂

Did you see Nightline last night?

Wow…am I lucky!

After watching the Nightline episode last night, one has to wonder, how much would it “really” cost for an iPhone if the workers were paid more than $2 an hour!  Average wage earned is $427 a month or $14 a day.   The Nightline report mentioned that for $17 a month you can live close by in a 8 person bunk-bed room.  While not looking very nice, they apparently are much nicer than the homes those workers came from.  Workers also have the opportunity to take education classes and have a soccer field nearby.

More than 1 million workers

MacRumors in a discussion reports that Foxconn employs over 1 million workers of which about 10,000 are on the production lines for Apple.  Productivity is very high as the units produced each day are impressive to me, but if you were to increase wages to $8 an hour, a 75% increase, working 40 hours each week, that would be an increase in labor  cost of 12.5 Billion US dollars.  It probably would not drive “retail” prices up 75%, but I certainly would think it would cost us a few more pennies.

Should we be paying 50% more?

According to The Atlantic it would cost more than $1100 to buy an iPad 2.  That is close to double the cost.

US Poverty??

It does make you think more about poverty level globally. In the US, if you are living alone making less than $10,890 you are below poverty level.  It is good we have assistance programs in place to provide food since a box of healthy cereal costs you $5 these days!  Granted we are quite materialistic in this country, so maybe you can live on a very little amount in other countries, but for the wages paid, it would be impossible for any worker to actually own the product they are making!

Miss the report?

Watch the episode online here:  ABC Nightline Video Archives

Wrap-up

So most consumers would probably not like paying twice as much for our imports, but seriously, after seeing that report it makes me wonder any way if I really need everything I buy. Sure I single handedly cannot help those workers in other countries, but together I would think we could all make a difference.

There really is a dilemma here…should we push to have all manufacturing and assembly happen in the US and only buy American?  Do we lobby for better wages in foreign nations?  Either way, people will lose jobs.  Sure more will be created elsewhere, but for those currently working for $2 an hour, a mandated wage increase for them could mean a factory relocation or layoffs if another supplier is able to produce products for even just a penny less.

This has probably been my most passionate and heartfelt post ever and I hope that it can help in some way.