Ask Bethany House: Why Are Ebooks So Expensive?

When I was a little girl and someone asked me, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I never would have said, “I want to work at a publishing company.” Not because I didn’t love books and stories—”librarian” and “writer” always made my list of top potential future careers—but because I didn’t really think about the fact that someone somewhere had to get those books into my chubby elementary-school hands. I had no idea what that process would look like.

The publishing world can be a bit of a mystery to anyone not living in it on a daily basis. What actually goes on in there? You can see the authors’ perspective from their Facebook posts about pitches and galleys and ARCs. And maybe you have a vague idea of what goes on in the editing process. But chances are, you have questions about what we do here at Bethany House.

Last month, on Facebook, we asked readers to submit some of those questions, and we’ll be addressing some of them over the next year in these “Ask Bethany House” posts. Here’s our first one.

I will say, ereader lovers, that I'm a print girl, myself. But I totally understand the appeal of ebooks!

I will say, ereader lovers, that I’m a print girl, myself. But I totally understand the appeal of ebooks!

Q: Since it doesn’t cost money to “print” an ebook, why are ebooks the same price as regular paperback books when the book releases?

A: This is a great question. Let me first clear something up that you might not realize: when you buy a book, not much of the cost is for the actual paper-and-ink-and-binding, physical part of the book.

The very first covers of The Secret of Pembrooke Park! I'm excited for you readers to find it on shelves soon!

Although the printing process is really cool—visit this post for more on that!

So what are you really paying for when you buy a book? Lots of things. You’re paying the author who wrote the story within those pages. You’re paying the designer who did the artwork on the cover (and rented the costumes and hired models and ran a photoshoot). You’re paying the editor who spent hours making sure the novel is as perfect as it could possibly be. You’re paying for the entire system that typesets the interior pages, distributes books to stores, and does a million other little things that you probably didn’t even realize needed to happen.

Essentially, when you buy a book, you’re not paying for a product, you’re paying for a service—from all of the people who worked together to get the book to you in its final form. Yes, you’re paying for a great story, but you’re also paying for all of the steps it took to get that story to you. And that cost is exactly the same whether you read the book in paperback form or in ebook form. That’s why the prices are the same at release.

Do you have any questions about the world of publishing? (This can include design, editing, marketing, whether we secretly have favorite books from other CBA publishing companies, or anything else you’ve always wondered about but weren’t sure who to ask.) Submit them to our Ask Bethany House survey, and we might answer them in a future blog post!

Guest Post: How to Pick Up Can’t-Put-Down Books That You Put Down

Today we have a guest post from Nichole Parks, who did an internship with the marketing department here at Bethany House. Enjoy her advice from one reader to another!

College hates me. Life doesn’t want me to read.

Right now, on my desk dwells a novel. I am averaging three chapters a week. Regardless of how I sped through books one and two or how curious I am as to why Celia won’t let Ty kiss her, my textbook keeps winning out.

Dear person reading this, a textbook should never win. I mean, okay, if you are playing Rock Paper Scissors, paper has a good chance of flattening rock. But I am not playing Rock Paper Scissors. I am playing life and, in order to life well, Taylor University assigns me textbooks.

But I haven’t given up reading. In fact, I’ve come up with a game plan that I hope to perfect by the time Dani Pettrey’s Sabotaged releases in February.

I call this game plan How To Pick Up Can’t-Put-Down Books That You Put Down. I know. I know. The title needs work.


I think many of us are perpetually in “All is Lost” territory.


Read out loud

When I’m having trouble reacquainting myself with a novel, I read the first paragraph-page out loud. It channels my focus and helps me better retain what I’ve read. Maybe that’s why audio is one of the three ways we learn. Put audio with visual, and, presto, you’re in Holley, Texas eating goodies with Ty and Celia Porter in Meant to Be Mine.

Here’s the catch: Time.

Reading out loud takes longer than a cow cudding Double Bubble Gum. Also, it’s not the most comfortable thing to host story hour at your OB-GYN’s waiting room. Continue reading

Would You Rather: Reader Edition

***Update: Our winners of Beyond All Dreams are Summer H. and Christy Slayton! Summer and Christy, if you could email me, Amy, at with your mailing address, I’ll send you the book! Thanks to everyone who commented…I had a good time reading your answers (and some of them changed my own answers!).***
Time for some fun, readers! Here are some difficult choices (at least, they were difficult for me)–think carefully about what you might choose!


Would You Rather…

Be able to enter any book’s world for a day OR have lunch with four of your favorite fictional characters?

Never be able to re-read a book OR never be able to check a book out from the library?

Be able to read only books that have released in the last 6 months OR only books written by an author who is no longer alive? (This includes fiction and non-fiction, but the Bible can be an exception.)

See your favorite book turned into a movie OR see the author write a sequel to your favorite book/extra book in the series?

Give up reading fiction books for a year OR give up reading the last two chapters of any book for a year?

Pay a 50 cent fee for every book you check out of the library OR not be able to keep/own any books (ebooks included)?

BeyondAllDreams_mck.inddComment with your answers! And if you want to explain why, I’d be interested in seeing that too. Just for fun, we’ll pick two random comments and send those readers a copy of Beyond All Dreams (a fitting choice because it takes place in the Library of Congress). Winners will be posted in an edit to this post on Friday morning, 9 AM Central. Check back to see if you won!

Four Reasons Winter is Made for Book Lovers

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” So the song goes, and so goes my life this January. The fact that Bethany House is headquartered in frozen Minnesota makes this especially relevant. (Negative 35 degree wind chill yesterday. If you ever need to feel just a little bit warmer, look up the weather in the Twin Cities and think of us!) For all I complain about the weather, though, I have to admit that I really do enjoy this season. Why? It’s simple: books.


Here are just a few reasons why this is wonderful time of year for those of us whose idea of a winter sport is flipping pages by the fire.

One: Hot beverages are the perfect complement to reading. This is, of course, why there are so many bookstores with coffee shops inside. (Now, when this trend spreads to libraries, I will truly be a happy person and will never again complain about how my tax dollars are being used.) I lean more toward hot chocolate myself, but I’m working on becoming a tea lover as well.

Two: Chances are, you got a book or two as a Christmas present (or five, or a dozen). And if your family and friends weren’t sure which books you had already read, you might have gotten gift cards, or, as I like to call them, plastic libraries-in-the-making. The month after you put away the holiday decorations is the best time to catch up on those new reads!

Three: Reading is the perfect stay-inside activity. If you live in a warm climate, you may not appreciate this as much, but there are few feelings in the world as wonderful as curling up in a warm blanket and reading a book. There may come a day when the world thaws again and we’ll be distracted by picnics and barbeques and soccer games and summer vacations…but for now, it’s time to stay inside and get cozy with a good story.

Four: Many bloggers just filled the Internet with lists of their favorite books of the year. (After all, New Year’s Day is a time for reflecting on our lives, and the books we read shape us in important ways!) It’s a great way to get some suggestions for your To Be Read pile, as well as meet some wonderful reviewers who do this sort of thing all year round.

In case you needed some bonus reasons (or suggestions for how to spend those plastic libraries-in-the-making), here are the four fiction books we have releasing this month. (For more information on each one, click on the cover.) Happy reading!

BeyondAllDreams_mck.inddWhen a librarian and a prominent congressman join forces to solve a mystery, they become entangled in secrets more perilous than they could have ever imagined.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

EstherWhen the king of Persia issues a call for beautiful women, a Jewish orphan named Hadassah wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown, then risks everything to honor her God and save her people.

Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt


LikeaFlowerinBloom_mck.inddCharlotte loves working for her botanist father, but he has other plans for her future. Will she find a way to follow her heart and fulfill society’s expectations?

Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

Steadfast HeartThe man Lenore’s father wants her to marry could never capture her heart, but she’s running out of time to find a man who can. . . .

Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson


In light of Reason Four, if you’re a blogger who did a Top Books of 2014 post, feel free to share a link below to recommend your favorite novels to fellow readers!

Prayer for Authors: January 2015

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Authors with Books Releasing in January:

Elizabeth Camden
Angela Hunt
Siri Mitchell
Tracie Peterson

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” — John 13:34, NLT

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For hearts that are open to new experiences and lessons that God might be teaching.
  • For the desire to encourage others, both readers and other writers.
  • For the message of these books to comfort, encourage, or challenge those who read them.

As always, I am so appreciative of the time you take to pray for our authors and their books. Thank you for being an encouragement to me (and to the authors)!

2015 Reading Challenge

For the new year, I don’t think any of us need to bother making statements like, “This year, I resolve to read!” since that’s pretty much a given. (Then again, everyone needs a resolution they can check off right away. It’s good for self-esteem. I always put “Eat chocolate” on my list for this very reason.)

12330-MULTI DIVISION NewYears memes_1-fiction

However, I noticed some fun Reading Challenges going around on social media, and I was inspired to create my own. For those of you up for a novel dare, here is the Unofficial 2015 Bethany House Reading Challenge! Print it out, keep it on your fridge, tuck it in your ereader, share it with your friends! I’m going to give it a try myself.

A few rules (since this is such a serious and official endeavor): You may re-read books for this (but try to make at least half new books). You don’t have to read just BHP books. And a book may only fulfill one category. So, for example, if you read Les Miserables, which made you cry and has been made into a movie and is way more than 500 pages, and you’re from France and don’t normally read in that genre…it still only counts once. Nice try.


And, finally, some helpful tips…here’s a list of BHP books by state (with a new list coming out this April!). If you need a book by a new-to-you author, I just loved these two debut novels: Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas and For Such a Time by Kate Breslin. Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg has a Christmas scene that had me laughing out loud. And for child characters, the 2014 new releases that come to mind are Meant to Be Mine (Becky Wade), Love Unexpected (Jody Hedlund), and Child of Mine (David and Beverly Lewis), all of which feature adorable children.

Now’s your turn, readers! Do you have a recommendation of a book that fits one of these categories?