Ebook craziness – How to hose your customer

I just have to comment on this, so <rant on>

While some books just *deserve* paper and wouldn’t be the same without it, I do like ebooks for most of my reading. Compared to hard cover books, they don’t take up a ton of room, they’re light and generally a little cheaper, and I suspect they are better for the environment too.

That said, I do have an issue with the way some publishers are pricing them.

This graphic is the pricing on 2 books I recently bought from Amazon. For both, Amazon notes that the ebook pricing is set by the publisher; $13.49 is by Penguin and $16.12 is by Random House Digital. Both ebook prices include taxes, where the price for the physical versions don’t.

What gets me is that they want the same price or more for an ebook as they do for a physical copy. An ebook is just electrons packaged in DRM, has no real reproduction or delivery costs, and is really just licensed to me. They can take it back in a heartbeat too, as we’ve seen back in 2009  when a publisher made Amazon pull purchased George Orwell books from thousands of Kindles.

A physical version has all of it’s associated costs for paper, shipping, storage, etc., and I can share it with friends or make some extra cash back by selling it used.

It makes no sense that the physical hard cover book costs the same as an ebook. None. And I understand that the US Dept of Justice has questions about that too.

I think that me and other folks that read ebooks are being used.

Publishers are not doing themselves or their authors any favours either. Sure, I bought the books this time, but you know what? My respect for these two publishers has disappeared. I feel like they are gouging their readers and that I’m helping prolong their misery in a dying industry. From now on, I’ll stick with independents publishers, or at least those publishers that respect their readers.

The authors in question supposedly represent a new, progressive version of online entrepreneur – but they’re stooping to using old media companies and hosing their fans at the same time. Interesting contrast between word and action, eh?

Author Joe Konrath discusses how these media companies treat their writers shabbily too. A different, but interesting viewpoint is here by Mark Coker of Smashwords.

I expect that if the old guard publishers keep treating their writers and readers they way they are, the push back will only increase, and publishers will end up like the dinosaurs. Er, well, more like dinosaurs than they already do.

<end rant>

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