on e-books and pricing

Anyone with half an ear to the publishing/book world has probably heard that this Christmas season was and is going to be big for ebooks. I don’t doubt it, considering that a certain brick-and-mortar store is devoting less and less shelf space to books (It played twice so far in Peoria!) and more to their e-reader; and a certain online bookstore(s) unleashed a whole new line of e-readers right before Christmas.

Okay. So, like any avid reader could expect, a loved one–who clearly knows my heart–got me a gift card to support my addiction. I’m joining the throngs of people buying ebooks this week, some I’ve been waiting patiently to get and others that sound neat.

But when I went browsing to pick up some things that I’ve always kinda wanted but never searched for (I’m a bit obsessive on continuing series and authors in the format I start in; also, books I know I’ll share with other avid readers in my life).

There are a lot of great deals, but…

There are a lot of ebooks that are just ridiculously overpriced.

Thirteen dollars for a novel published more than a decade ago? Someone at some big publishing company is out of their mind. I really don’t mind paying mass market paperback prices for ebooks. That’s not bad. But trade and hardcover prices? Oh, hell no.

13 or 14 or even 15 dollars for a couple hundred pages of entertainment is absurd. This is not good for the reader. I see those prices and I think that whoever set that price is clearly out of touch with their customers and how/why people read.

On the plus side, I guess more of my gift card will go to self-published authors I’ve fallen in love with. As a cheap person (I have no shame!) why would I spend 13 dollars on one ebook when I could get three and maybe even four that I will enjoy just as much? If $13 is the best that publisher can do for that author, I can wait till I pick up a copy of her book at the used bookstore.

And I guess hidden in that paragraph is the real clincher. “Three and maybe even four [books] I will enjoy just as much?” Six months ago I had such author loyalty that I would have paid whatever price. For a paper book, yes. But not an e-book. No way. Check out this 100 Kindle books for under $4 list (and here’s a B&N list for the Nookers out there). I could spend my whole gift card there, no problems, and get four times more story than picking up a couple of $13 ebooks. And I’ll be happy, because I can lose myself for a couple of weeks in books, which is exactly what I want to do after surviving the holidays.

Have I mentioned lately that many of these overpriced ebooks were first published years and years ago? How much of a sucker do you think I am?

/rant off

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