30.09.09 Catherine Neilan in The Bookseller
Just under 80% of those who responded to the FBF's poll concluded that e-books should be cheaper than the printed equivalent, with just 15% suggesting parity pricing (as is currently prevalent in the UK), while 4% of respondents said e-books should be more expensive. Some 840 people took part in the survey from around the world.
The most popular view, by one percentage point, was charging 20% less than the print edition for a digital version. More than 30% cheaper was the next most popular option, while the suggestion of a standard charge, such as Amazon.com's $9.99 rate, picked up 15%
FBF organisers said the "tremendous range of opinions" revealed just how disparate the industry was over the question of e-books. "It is still completely unclear whether or not e-books will be used merely as a 'second book' for a quick glimpse, or whether portions will, in fact, ultimately be sold as mobile content for a price many times higher than the printed work," the fair said.
The survey also looked at another pricing model, with a quarter of publishers believing that a flat rate subscription model would be the most prevalent format for future digital purchases, .
The model, which would allow access to all of a provider's online content for a subscription fee, was particularly popular among continental European publishers, and supported by 25% of all respondents, FBF said.
Among UK and US publishers, micropayments, or payments for "individual snippets of content" was the most favourable route, with 23% of the total saying this would be most prevalent. A premium model, with a special subscription for selected online content, trailed behind these two options, with just 16% of publishers anticipating it as the prevailing option.
The price for an e-book should be:
More expensive than the printed book: 4%