16-24s say ebooks are too expensive

Posted by Gerard Ward on 19 November 2013 in Entertainment

Results from Voxburner’s most recent Buying Digital Content Report found that 17% of 16-24s in the UK feel ebooks need to be 75% cheaper than current market prices.

When being asked if ebooks should be cheaper, only 8% of young people found ebooks to be reasonably priced. 28% thought the price of ebooks should be cut by 50%, and 17% said 25% would be enough.

Seeing as 92% of young people aren’t happy with the cost of digital books, we asked our Voxburner Academy what they thought about the current pricing, and if price was the main concern.

I don't buy ebooks, partially because it's ridiculous the price is near identical to the print version. It costs so much less to sell an ebook than a hard copy, why not price them appropriately? It's insulting.


Depends on the book. Self-published ebooks tend to be very cheap or free, but the quality of the writing may not necessarily be high. Books by popular authors tend to have higher prices, but I tend not to read popular fiction, so the high prices don't affect me. In the end I'm paying for the content – not the format – so I'll pay for whatever's cheapest.


I only caved and bought a Kindle for travelling – to feed my literary habit I need to take about 40 books to fuel the 6-month trip I'm doing at the moment. But I stocked up on classics and books in Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal, so I've never paid more than £1.99.


Some ebooks are really cheap, whereas some are almost the same price as paperback – which has risen from £6 to £9 over the last few years. The only reason I haven’t bought an e-reader is because I love the feeling of holding a book in hand and seeing the creases in the spine when I'm done. It’s like a little trophy.


Prices for physical books, which used to be high due to printing and delivery costs, do not apply to ebooks. Selling ebooks on places like Amazon is practically free for authors. Young people are aware of the costs involved in the past, and are holding back from adopting the digital way of reading books primarily on cost.

The same nostalgia that older generations had for newspapers becoming digital has carried on with younger generations and ebooks. The Buying Digital Content Report found that 62% of 16-24s preferred to buy books as physical products. Zoë talks of a book’s creased spine as a badge of honour – something that ebooks can’t deliver on. This could explain the attachment young people have with book collections. While e-readers are practical in saving space – and weight when travelling around – there is definitely a lack of emotional attachment to books in a digital format.

All is not lost, however. Our research has found that the adoption of digital content is on the rise. If the price is right, the crease in the spine may be outweighed by access to multiple, affordable book titles.

Things to take away

  • Old models of publishing have to make way for the new. While technology has allowed us to access books we may not have been able to afford because of delivery charges or cost of print, now any text-heavy book – or even magazines with the surge of tablets – can be conveniently downloaded on to various electronic devices. There are readers who seek out physical copies of books and are happy to pay for it, but those who are fans of the e-reader feel like they’re being overcharged.

  • Amazon has recently begun offering customers who have purchased physical copies of books the digital version at a reduced cost – or even free, if the author is generous enough. This may be seen as a waste of potential sales, but it’s worth considering whether you would be happy to re-purchase a season of a TV show in iTunes when you own the DVD set at home. If it were cheaper, why wouldn’t we pay a few extra pounds to have them conveniently on our devices?

  • Reading is such an integral part of a person’s development, both at a young and old age. Cost shouldn’t inhibit someone’s hunger to read. If more people are eager to read with their e-reader devices, but are put off by the price equalling a physical copy, that could cost a sale altogether.

Image credit: unten44 (Attribution)

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