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Publishers price their hardbacks at a premium, often at triple the price of the paperback edition. This price difference is partially justified by the higher quality and more durable cloth covering material and binding of a hardback book. In fact, the difference in manufacturing cost between the two editions is far less than the difference in their pricing. The other reason for the price difference is that hardbacks tend to sold to libraries for multiple use, paperbacks to individuals for their own use.

The emergence of electronic editions is disrupting this established pricing structure. Some publishers have been pricing their e-books at the hardback price in recognition that many e-book sales are to libraries (or perhaps out of paranoia about cannibalization of hardback sales). This is a controversial practice and not adopted by other publishers, however; parity with the paperback price is more common.

Pressure for an even lower price is asserted by Amazon and supported by many individuals, their argument being that the manufacturing cost of an e-book after editing and typesetting is almost zero. Publishers dispute this viewpoint, arguing that the development costs for e-books are subsidized by the printed editions; were sales of printed editions to collapse, publishers would not be able to afford to publish such a cheap electronic edition only.

The debate continues.

This topic is new, i.e. not extracted from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup.

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