Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ebooks Education Session



Last Tuesday Porter Square Books held an ebooks education session. The session featured a general overview of ebooks at Porter Square Books, presentations about three ereading devices; the Nook, the Sony Reader, and the iPad, and a lively discussion that touched on pricing, technology, and other ebooks issues. Along with the presenters and other PSB staff on hand, one local publisher stopped by and shared a publisher’s perspective on ebooks, and a representative from Google ebooks was here answering questions about Google’s plans and getting feedback from the audience. For those of you who couldn’t make it, below is a blog post version of the overview, complete with links to more information. We've also updated our ebooks prices. Click here to learn more. And if you have any questions about ebooks and Porter Square Books, feel free to send an email to Josh at josh@portersquarebooks.com.

Ebooks at Porter Square Books

  • Buying ebooks from us supports us the same way buying regular books does
  • Our ebooks can be read on virtually any device, except the Kindle, including a regular computer
  • With Google ebooks and ebooks provided by Ingram Digital we offer hundreds of thousands of titles and that number is growing
  • Ebooks are available 24/7, 365, from the comfort of your home and just about anywhere else and are a great way to support your local bookstore even as you travel

Buying an Ebook from Porter Square Books

Buying an ebook from us is pretty much the same as buying anything else off the Internet, except that instead of getting something shipped to you, you download a file, or, with a Google ebook, you can read it right in your browser. Click here for a complete walkthrough of purchasing an ebook through our website.

The Price of Ebooks

There are two methods of pricing ebooks; traditional and agency. In traditional pricing the publisher sets the list price and then we pay a percentage of that list price to the publisher whenever someone downloads the ebook. Here is a traditionally priced ebook.

Hardcover: $34.95

Google Ebook List Price: $28.00

Retailer Pays: $14.56

Our Price: $21.00

Amazon Kindle: $9.79

In this case, Amazon loses about $4.77 every time someone buys The Autobiography of Mark Twain for the Kindle.


In agency pricing, the publisher sets the selling price and the retailer receives a commission, acting, in essence, as an "agent" for the publisher. Here is an agency model book.

Amazon: $12.99

Google: $12.99

Sony: $12.99

Barnes and Noble: $12.99

Porter Square Books: $12.99

Seven publishers now use the agency model: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Wile, and Random House. These are seven major publishers and together account for a substantial portion (if not the majority) of ebooks publishing. This means that very often our ebooks will be the same price as Amazon's.

Still in the Works

The world of ebooks is constantly changing and Porter Square Books and the American Booksellers Association are doing our best to keep up with it. Here are some aspects of ebooks we are working to improve.

  • Using Gift Cards to buy ebooks
  • Not all books are available as ebooks or in all ebook formats so, before you buy, make sure you've selected the right format
  • Penguin ebooks available on our website
  • Integrated check-out so you can buy ebooks and regular books online at the same time
  • Highlighting and annotating Google ebooks in their otherwise very convenient, browser based reading function

For more information please visit our ebooks resources page.

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