Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Will You Pay for "Enhanced"?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

"Enhanced ebooks" has been a hot topic for some months now. It generally means the text of the book plus various bells and whistles added to the digital file. Things like an interview (text or video) with the author, embedded links to websites of places or things mentioned in the book, more graphics besides just the cover, possibly embedded audio (they sing a song in the story--click here to listen).

But this is not new with ebooks, it's been around forever in print books, especially hardcovers. Limited editions, special editions, collector editions. Take the basic print book and "enhance" it by adding extra material, print it on high-quality paper with a special cover. Maybe include a CD or poster or fancy bookmark or other trinket.

And it seems like most DVD movies we buy have extra material added on.

Of course, all those enhancements, whether for digital or print, take time and money. Which means a higher price for the book. It's worked for some print books where there is a following for that author, enough people who will pay to get the special version. But that is only a very tiny percentage of printed books. And we have yet to see if consumers will pay a higher price for an enhanced ebook. Are all those little extras added onto the story worth a couple extra bucks?

So my questions to you: Would you be willing to pay extra for an enhanced ebook? How much extra--25% more, double the price, what? So if the normal ebook is 9.99, what would you pay for the enhanced version? What factors go into your decision--author, genre, subject matter, what?

Edited to add:
Is there anything that could be added to an ebook that would make you willing to pay more?


Gehayi said...

Would you be willing to pay extra for an enhanced ebook? How much extra--25% more, double the price, what? So if the normal ebook is 9.99, what would you pay for the enhanced version? What factors go into your decision--author, genre, subject matter, what?

No, I wouldn't be willing to pay more. Books cost quite enough as it is. Author, genre and subject matter are irrelevant.

And honestly, I don't CARE about the bells and whistles--they're a waste of space. I can find links to websites on my own, don't care much about graphics, and don't want embedded audio as the last thing I need is an e-book that I'm reading at night when everyone is asleep playing a song that I can't turn off fast enough. I'd rather rely on imagination, thanks.

Just give me a book--preferably with well-crafted and well-edited text--and I'll be happy. I don't need the rest of it.

ECPI Editors said...

Oh, Gehayi, a reader after my own heart! I just want a great story, told well. I don't care about graphics or audio, and like you, if I want to know more about something mentioned, I'll look it up on my own. So, personally, I'm not willing to pay for extras I won't use.


f.c.hyland said...

I wouldn't pay more either. If I want more information or background to something in a novel then I'll google it when I'm ready, I don't want to jump out of the narrative to look up some details. That would spoil the 'magic' of the fiction and ruin the escapism!

Lara Kairos said...

For me it depends. Sometimes I appreciate graphics in a print book and can pay a premium price for it. In fact, I sought certain print editions because of the artists who illustrated the books.

I have read some stories online where an author included photos of a castle, town or village used as the setting for the story. That was a nice addition to the story, as well.

I believe it would make sense to do 'enhanced' versions of some best-selling e-books. However, the 'plain' versions should be available, as well.

Debra Glass said...

Perhaps, if the cover models actually were photographed depicting a scene from each chapter...especially since male readers are visual.

Mel Teshco said...

When I read I want to be taken on a journey, I want to get lost in the words. Otherwise I'll go watch a DVD =)

Helen W said...

I quite like to look at maps of the places where the story takes place if geography is integral to the plot. But some authors have maps up on their websites anyway.

Lyla Sinclair www.lylasinclair.com said...

No, I wouldn't want to pay more for these things. I'm not even particularly interested in the photos in the middle of the autobiographies I've been reading lately.

However, I'm not a visual person at all. I'm interested in feelings and dialogue.

Honestly, most of the things mentioned would just throw me out of the story.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I think it would be nice to have both versions available for a popular book or series. It might even enhance sales for newer authors if added to an anthology.

My hubby has Army of Darkness in a special leather case that looks exactly like the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead.) My daughter bought it for him as a gift. It wasn't cheap, but she knew how much he loved the movie, so she splurged.

I don't expect my books to be the ones with the bells and whistles...yet! But just you wait until I get famous! (grin)


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't pay more, usually. I've made exceptions for "enhanced" print books when I was buying them for special gifts to people I knew would appreciate the "extras".

I just want the story when I'm buying, especially online.

Wynter Daniels said...

I would pay a little more - say 25% of it was an author or a subject I was really interested in.

Anny Cook said...

No. If the material or series merits extra info (such as maps or an encyclopedia of the author's work) then issue that separately. I have two books that cover the Valdemar works of Mercedes Lackey and the Sackett family books of Louis L'Amour. And I was willing to pay for them separately.

But I don't care for that type of material in a book OR a movie. And I never look at it. Why would I pay extra?

Ms Snarky Pants said...

If it was an author I am very fond of then I'd be willing to pay 25% more or so. If it was a new author to me, I'd be willing to pay less.

The extras have incredibly exciting possibilities. Actually it almost makes me giddy at the simple idea of it, but then I'm a mega tech geek. Click here to see the website of the hotel where the hero and heroine are staying. Want to know about the trail they're hiking, click here. Want to see an artistic rendition of the coat of arms of this vampire family? Here you go. Guess what there is even a link to the cafepress store where you can buy a t shirt with it.

Yes, I like this idea very much!

Angelia Sparrow said...

WHY would extras cost more? It's not like they're taking paper to print.

Seriously, is there any reason an author can't supply maps, photos and suchlike herself, should she choose to do so?

I like the idea of some of the extras. I'm thinking things like an interview (maybe recycle the one from Lady Jaided's blog), maps or photos (author provided), the first chapter of the author's next book (if contracted).

Links intrigue me since I often use real places and items in my work. (again, these would be author supplied)

Music could be useful, but extremely problematic copyright-wise.

So, while I would like extras, I'm not willing to pay more for them, since there need be no actual cost to add them.

ECPI Editors said...

Actually, adding extras to an ebook does have a cost - because people and time cost money.

Adding an author-supplied map? Okay, send release form to author, and get it back and scan and file it. Ensure that this is either a public domain image or the author has the right to use it. (Add in all the time that will be spent explaining this to authors who don't realize it's a copyright violation to use this map they just pulled from an online atlas.)

If this is a map of a real place, make sure it is accurate for the setting and time period of the story. Images need to be edited and proofed just like text.

Then - size and format the image and check for quality. Will it look decent on whatever device the customer reads on? And what about file size? Do these images make the ebook file excessively large? Believe it or not, there are still customers using low-bandwidth dial-up modems who can't get large files.

Lots of little steps like that add up to noticeable time spent, staff resources needed.


Beth said...

I don't need all those extras in the books I read. If I want to know about the author I'll go to their website/blog or try to meet them at a convention or book signing. I already 'know' several of my favorite authors through newsletters, or better yet, their Yahoo groups. That's better than you'll get in a little interview tacked onto a book.
The only reason I buy a book is for the story. A well written story is what I want.

Jen said...

No, I wouldn't pay more for those types of extras. I think they would be distracting and pull me out of the story. Also, why would I want to stop reading to do some research on the places the hero/heroine visit?

I would pay extra for additional story/background information though. Often an author will know more about the characters life or background information then is in the story. Having extras would be fun. Maybe a journal entry about her first crush, or the background story on getting her job or moving into her apartment etc. There could even be a short story or something. I would definintely pay extra for that.

But, for links to websites I could look up myself, I wouldn't pay anything.

Carol A. Strickland said...

I would hate for a similar situation to "Video Killed the Radio Star," where our attention becomes focused on the extras instead of the book.

So I'd vote against any extras except a preview of an upcoming book and a (print) interview with the author that concerns the book or what's coming next.

But then I don't even own a cell, and if I did it'd be something like a Jitterbug, with no bells or weird ringtones. (Do you already guess I have my AARP card?)

I've actually seen an excerpt of an ebook with extras and they were VERY disconcerting! Someone had included short video clips—dramatizations of various scenes—that threw me completely out of the story.

Links to the author and publisher's website—fine. Links to extras that might be on the Web somewhere—fine. But not included in the book itself.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to be careful as writers and business people to research the needs of the "always on" generation and not let our own preferences get in the way of making sound business decisions.

In all probability, the generation now coming of age will flock to and expect a more dynamic "reading" package than many of us are content with. Many of us did not grow up with the internet at our disposal; or if we did, it was not as dynamic of an experience as it is currently.

Growing up on the web develops different reading skills, expectations, and mindsets. Today's generation is comfortable with texting, carrying on a telephone conversation, and checking their email at the same time. What do you think that means for their expectations regarding the "written" word?

As a librarian, I think it was foolish for libraries not to be early adopters of technology. Listen to all of the talk about libraries being obsolete and you will know what I mean. Now, libraries are scrambling to change their image with the younger set.

E-books have so much to offer in terms of entertainment and content that go beyond the text of the story itself. That content could be sold as a separate add-on package to the book so that those of us who are disinterested in the extras can still purchase the book and, if intrigued after reading it, can go on to explore the story further with another purchase. Authors like Karen Marie Moning have made this providing this extra content into a marketing art form.

Just because we wouldn't buy it doesn't mean that those coming after us won't. I would hate to see a dynamic publisher like EC miss the boat on this one.