E-books are rapidly penetrating the global community of book lovers. For context, American readers purchased more than 190 million e-books in 2020 alone. There is no denying that Amazon’s Kindle is the most globally adopted e-book reader. But have you wondered why Kindle books are so expensive?
Kindle books are pricey compared to paperbacks because the former are more durable, convenient, and flexible to read. Kindle books don’t wear and tear and are easy to download, saving readers the rigors of physically visiting a book store. Also, Kindle books cost more because these books are taxed in more than 160 countries globally. All these raise the cost of Kindle books.
To better understand why Kindle books are costly, let us fundamentally establish the difference between Kindle e-books and physical books.
What distinguishes physical books from Kindle books?
Paperbacks differ from Kindle books as the latter is an electronic book, while the former are printed books that you can physically touch and feel.
While you would have to scroll through your Kindle book, say on your computer or mobile device, it remains the old-school paper flipping for print books, as you physically turn from page to page.
Being electronic, Kindle books are stored digitally on your device. This means you don’t need to physically carry them with you as you would with a print book.
Procuring a Kindle book is way easier than getting a physical book. While you would have to visit a bookstore or library to get a paperback, you can remotely access Amazon and download your Kindle book with a click of a button (after making online payments).
Do note that the quality of pictorial demonstrations on paperbacks – say illustrations – is superior with paperbacks than Kindle books. Also, constantly reading Kindle books come with the risk of digital eye strain.
Having laid down these differences, let us now explore why the cost of Kindle books often supersedes that of print books.
Kindle books last longer than print books
Book enthusiasts can relate to the pain of seeing your beloved book tearing. And yes, printed books will inevitably wear and tear from constant usage.
In some cases, a paperback could get so old that you may need to replace it by repurchasing it. You don’t experience this with Kindle books.
As you would expect from an electronic book, Kindle books don’t wear and tear. All you need is a one-time purchase, back your data up, and you can eternally access it.
Given that you will not pay for a Kindle book more than once, Amazon – in collaboration with the writer – will charge you significantly.
Kindle books are far more convenient
Let us imagine you are changing homes and have to travel a reasonably long distance. Imagine the horrors of moving your hefty library across if you were a fanatic reader.
You would be inevitably paying a premium.
It is way different from a kindle book. In this situation, everything is resident online. You don’t have to move any book with you physically, provided you have a device through which you can access your Kindle books in your new location.
It is also easier to buy a kindle book than a traditional print book where you would have to frequent a physical book store.
You agree in some cases, you would have to painfully part with a shipping fee to get your print book delivered to you. With e-books, there is zero delivery fee.
So when next you see a pricey Kindle book, know that you are not just paying for the book’s content, but the added convenience it presents.
Kindle books are more flexible to read
With print books, the publisher exclusively determines the layout of the book. Most worrisomely, the fonts are predetermined.
This rigid layout leaves people with reading challenges disadvantaged. It is more flexible with Kindle books.
You can adapt the font size and type to a comfortable reading experience. You can use reading aids to enhance your reading experience.
Also, with Kindle, you can choose the Dark Mode when reading to reduce the blue light your device’s typically white screen emits.
Finally, you get to enjoy a wider spectrum of media formats with Kindle books. Paperbacks can’t integrate video and audio media, but Kindle books can.
This enriches your reading experience, making you better soaked in the book.
Publishers don’t want Kindle books to replace paperbacks fully
As typical of all e-books, Kindle books were generally hailed as disruptors that would trigger the death of paperbacks.
Many don’t know that some of the biggest publishers of print books have rapidly migrated to online stores like Amazon, where they become stakeholders in the e-book industry.
These big publishers know that they risk driving down (if not eliminating) the appeal of their print books if they make their Kindle books significantly cheaper than their print versions.
To prevent physical books from becoming obsolete, these publishers raised the price of Kindle books so that e-books are not far more financially attractive than paperbacks.
With Kindle books no much cheaper than print, many bookers would instead go with the old-school approach of getting their books physically.
Kindle books get taxed in some countries
There are jurisdictions where physical books are exempted from taxes. But most Kindle books don’t enjoy such tax relief.
Over 160 countries globally tax e-books. Commonly, a 20% tax is slapped on Kindle retailers for every book sold. You will agree this is sizable.
Think about this. The cost of producing an e-book tends to run into 10% of the e-book cost. Add the 20% tax, and you see the average Kindle retailer paying 30% of the price of their books as operational cost.
This leaves them with significantly reduced profit margins if they don’t raise their prices.
Therefore, you would not blame the retailer that much for transferring part of that expenditure to the buyer in the form of increased Kindle book prices.
But are kindle books worth the high prices?
Unfortunately, the answer to this is largely subjective.
Kindle books bring added convenience and flexibility to your reading experience. But you alone can determine how much your comfort is worth to you.
If you don’t fancy the rigors of physically visiting a book store and wouldn’t mind exchanging some dollars to save you that hassle, then you can go for kindle books.
With Kindle books, you can buy and download as many as you want. Provided your device has sufficient storage, you wouldn’t need to bother about physically expanding (or renovating) your physical library as you would with print books.
Lastly, when examined in the long term, Kindle books are more economically efficient as you buy them only once, unlike paperbacks that you would have to replace regularly.