PDFs are a common format that people use to send documents and other materials to each other.
Many times, you find yourself needing to edit the PDF, and there’s no question that editing it online is a lot more efficient than printing the PDF out, writing on it, then scanning it back into your computer.
Unfortunately, using PDF software can be quite expensive.
Why Is PDF Editing Software So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of PDF editing software is around $30 with professional software costing around $120.
PDF editing software is expensive because of the complex software required to edit PDFs, the costs of supporting that software, additional features the service might offer, and whether it’s a lifetime purchase or a subscription service.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Ability To Edit Existing Text
One of the primary functions of PDF editing software is to provide the ability to edit text.
Some basic or free PDF editing software will allow you to add text boxes and put your text in there.
It has limited functionality, however.
The more expensive PDF editing software often provides more text editing features like the ability to edit existing text.
For example, you may notice that a PDF you have has a typo.
Instead of having to re-create the entire PDF, PDF editing software allows you to get into the PDF and edit the existing text.
It requires some sophisticated software to recognize text boxes and pull them away from the rest of the PDF for editing.
Since it’s more sophisticated, the company is spending more to provide that feature to you.
With higher costs come higher prices.
PDF editing software is expensive because of its ability to edit existing text.
2. Ability To Submit Editable Text Boxes
As mentioned earlier, some free PDF editing software allows you to apply a text box in certain areas of the PDF.
You’ll quickly find that, in many cases, the text boxes don’t function well.
It can be difficult to resize them, and when you do, it can completely ruin the formatting of the rest of the PDF.
Expensive PDF editing software manages to offer editable text boxes that don’t interfere with anything else.
This makes submitting editable text boxes in a PDF a lot easier.
Since it isn’t the easiest thing to do, a good bit of cost goes into that feature.
To offset their costs, PDF editing software companies have to put higher prices on their services.
There’s also a bit of value in being able to submit your own editable text boxes in PDFs.
You might need to make a unique PDF for your business, for example.
You might already have a template that you like, but it needs a few more text boxes to suit your needs.
Being able to use PDF editing software to submit those text boxes easily is valuable to that particular individual.
They might be willing to pay more for it since it solves a problem they’re experiencing.
PDF editing software is expensive because of the costs of offering certain features like editable text boxes.
3. Software Support Costs
For subscription-based PDF editing software, there’s live software support available for the product.
There’s a group of software developers who have the task of ensuring that the software continues to function.
If a problem occurs, then they have to patch it.
As with any type of software, bugs happen.
Having an ongoing software team ready to take care of bugs improves customer satisfaction.
However, it also means that the company has to pay for those software developers.
In order to do so, it needs to charge high prices for its product.
The high prices ensure that the company can continue to offer software support and regular updates to the product.
For lifetime purchases or one-off purchases, the cost of software development is already built into the high price.
Instead of an ongoing cost that you pay with a subscription plan, which tends to make it a bit cheaper, you’re paying the full cost by paying for the product once.
PDF editing software is expensive because software development and updates increase business expenses.
4. Technical Support Costs
While PDF editing software companies have some costs with software developers, they also have costs with technical support representatives.
PDF editing software isn’t always easy to use.
The more features the software has, the more advanced your knowledge needs to be to get the most out of those features.
As such, customers often need a bit of help.
The instructions on how to use the software for certain functions may not be that clear.
A user might also run into a problem that isn’t exactly software related but is instead user related.
In these cases, they need the help of a technical support representative.
The representative can help the user fix mistakes they’ve made or explain how to use certain features.
Just like with software development, the PDF editing software company needs workers to fill those roles.
The workers need to be experts on the software to be able to provide the best help.
Users tend to have very specific questions, so a good technical support team is a must if the company wants to offer high-quality customer service.
Otherwise, the company runs the risk of losing those customers to a competing PDF editing software company that does provide excellent technical support.
The problem with technical support is that it also costs money.
Depending on how many representatives the company has, its labor costs could be quite high.
Since its expenses are higher, the company needs to offset those expenses with higher prices on its product.
PDF editing software is expensive because of the cost of providing high-quality technical support.
5. Subscription-Based Payment Models
The type of payment model you use can also make PDF editing software expensive.
Two of the most common types of payment models for PDF editing software are a one-off purchase for a software package and a subscription.
The software package can sometimes come at a high price depending on whether you’re buying something for personal or commercial use.
In most cases, it tends to be cheaper than subscription models overall.
That’s because you’re only paying for it once, and you can continue to use it for as long as you want.
The downside is that it typically doesn’t include any updates.
Therefore, if the software introduces a new feature down the line, then you’ll need to re-purchase the package.
That said, most people are okay with buying a software package and using it for several years before upgrading.
Subscription software, on the other hand, is more expensive in the long run.
You may pay around $30 a month to use the software, and the fact that you have to keep paying that amount or lose access to it makes it quite expensive.
It may not even make sense to pay that much if you only need to edit PDFs a few times a year.
The advantage of subscription software models is that most companies tend to include upgrades and new features for free.
You don’t have to re-purchase the product since you’re paying for access to it instead.
Depending on your needs, a subscription payment model for PDF editing software might be more expensive than a one-off purchase.
6. Built-In Security For Signature Protection
A common use for PDFs is to send legal documentation to someone.
As with many legal documents, it’s common to require signatures to indicate acceptance or confirmation of whatever the document includes.
Since PDF editing can make it easy for people to fake signatures or to have the document placed in the wrong hands, some PDF editing software companies realized there was a problem that they could solve.
They started introducing signature protection features.
Essentially, the software ensures that the signature the user provides is authentic and protected.
The sort of software that goes into signature protection is different from the software that you use to add text to a box.
It has an extra layer of security.
The type of PDF editing software that provides this feature tends to be on the expensive side.
It costs the company more money to offer that feature.
Also, the company knows that businesses, in particular, are going to be willing to pay more for that feature.
That allows the company to put a higher price tag on it.
PDF editing software is expensive when it includes signature protection.
7. Ability To Protect PDF With A Password
Some businesses or legal entities may not want just anyone to be able to access certain PDFs.
They can control who has access to the PDF by requiring a password.
Only those who have the password can access the PDF.
This is another feature that PDF editing software companies provide with more expensive packages.
It costs the company a bit more money to provide that feature.
The company also understands that businesses are primarily going to want that feature.
Since businesses tend to have larger budgets than consumers, the software company can charge more for its product.
PDF editing software companies are expensive because the ability to protect one’s PDF with a password is more expensive to produce.
8. Adobe Acrobat Is The Industry Standard
From whom you buy the PDF editing software can also influence its price.
Adobe is the creator of the PDF.
It served as a valuable file format because it allowed the easy transfer of documents between one system and the next without the document becoming corrupted in the process.
Besides creating PDFs, Adobe also offers PDF editing software.
As with most Adobe services, you can expect to pay a subscription fee to use the software.
The subscription plan is also on the expensive side.
That’s primarily because Adobe is the industry standard for PDF editing software.
It invented the file format, so it makes sense that it would also have one of the most intuitive pieces of software to edit these files, too.
Being the industry standard allows Adobe to set whatever price it wants.
The company knows that if people want high-quality PDF editing capabilities, then they’re probably going to choose Adobe.
PDF editing software is expensive depending on the company you buy it from like Adobe.
9. Custom PDF Editing Services
Some companies also offer custom PDF editing services.
For example, if you take a PDF to them, they’ll provide you with the editing software, but they’ll also take care of some of the edits you want to make for you.
Others can bootstrap different features or services into one package to ensure you have everything you need.
These more bespoke services are bit a more expensive since the company is spending time on you alone.
PDF editing software is expensive because custom services are more expensive to provide.
10. Niche Market
A final reason PDF editing services are expensive is that the need to edit a PDF is a very niche activity.
Most people don’t need to edit a PDF.
It’s usually businesses that need to edit PDFs.
As such, most software companies tend to target businesses.
The price for the software is higher since businesses have larger budgets.
Software companies that target consumers know that their target audience isn’t very large.
To make the sort of profit it needs to survive, the price of its software is going to be on the higher side.
PDF editing software is expensive because it exists in a niche market.