Inappropriate price for small ebook?

Are you guys nuts? Code Simplicity: 90 pages, $6.49 = $0.072/pg; Beautiful Code: 624 pp, $17.99 = $0.029/pg; Code Complete: 960 pp, $19.99 = $0.021/pg. Granted, this is a crude way to discuss the value of a book. My real point is that $6.49 for 90 pages is ridiculous, unless Code Simplicity is really 3.6x as good as Code Complete (and Code Complete is a _really_ good book for a programmer).

Did I mis-read these values, or are you trying to see what you can get away with?
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  • I appreciate your input on our pricing model. I don't think it's possible to use a simple per page average to determine a work's value. You could take this to the other extreme and end up dramatically under-pricing higher page-count titles.

    As a consumer, if I have a choice between a longer work and a shorter one, but both convey roughly the same amount of information, I will always choose the shorter one. And I find I'm willing to pay more for the shorter work, especially if it saves me time.

    We are definitely not trying to see what we can get away with, as you suggest. Rather, we're experimenting with different models and looking to learn as much as we can from each of them. It's important to note that there are certain fixed costs associated with creating any work, regardless of length. This is one of the reasons why it's impossible to simply apply a flat, per-page pricing model.

    Your feedback is very important to us and is something we need to take into consideration when we look at pricing future short-form works. So again, thank you for stating your concerns. I'd rather hear someone like you speak up about this than wonder why certain customers aren't buying these products.

    Joe Wikert
    General Manager & Publisher,
    O'Reilly Media, Inc.
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  • Thanks for your reply. My comment about "see what you can get away with" was certainly meant tongue-in-cheek. I'm a big fan, with more O'Reilly books in print or digital than you can shake a stick at (ok, you can shake a stick at my iPad, but the print books are all over the house and office).

    I agree that you can't measure the value of a book by its page count, and I understand fixed and variable costs. I would also prefer a smaller book vs a larger book when the small book can communicate the same content as the large (as well or better). But this case really took me by surprise, and I still question the price.

    And all of that didn't stop me from adding two more O'Reilly ebooks to my library today :-)
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  • I'd also like to thank you for being such a loyal O'Reilly customer. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on where the publishing industry is in the print-to-e conversion, long vs. short-form content, etc. I'd also like to hear more about your experience as an O'Reilly book customer. If you're willing to have a more in-depth conversation about this let me know. Just send me a message at jwikert [at] oreilly [dot] com and we can talk further. Thanks again!

    Joe
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