distractions: It's a pink rose. (Default)
Remember when the agency ebook pricing started, publishers like Macmillan said that prices would "be dynamic over time?"  Presumably, for anyone daring to apply logic to the situation, this meant that while prices for e-books might start out at $12.99 or even higher when the hardcovers were initially released, they would drop when the mass market paperback for that title came out.

Well, here were are, more than six months later.  Here are a few examples of books with in print mass-market or other paperbacks with substantially higher priced Kindle versions -- some of them are backlist titles, some of them are recent hardcovers with fairly new MMP releases, some are fiction, some nonfiction.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin) - Kindle edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99
Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey (Hachette) - Kindle edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99
The Lion's Game by Nelson Demille (Hachette) - Kindle edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99
The Lovers: A Thriller by John Connolly (Simon & Schuster) - Kindle edition, $17.99, MMP, $10.20
Failure is Not An Option by Gene Kranz (Simon & Schuster) - Kindle edition, $12.99, trade paperback, $10.88
Time and Chance by Sharon Penman (Penguin) - Kindle edition, $19.99, MMP, $10.88
Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb (Harper Collins) - Kindle edition, $14.99, MMP, $7.99
On Writing by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster) - Kindle Edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99
The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory (Simon & Schuster) - Kindle Edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer (Hachette) - Kindle Edition, $9.99, MMP, $8.99
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster) - Kindle Edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks (Hachette) - Kindle Edition, $9.99, MMP, $7.99
The Constant Gardener by John le Carre  (Simon & Schuster) - Kindle Edition, $12.99, MMP, $7.99 

In some of these cases the e-book price is 40% or more than the MMP price.  This list is hardly exhaustive, and I didn't include a large list of books which have a $7.99 MMP available for pre-order with a $9.99 or higher Kindle price.  I guess I'm hoping that when the MMP is actually released, the Kindle price will drop.  But as the above list shows, that is not always the case.

At the risk of repeating myself: e-books should never cost more than the least expensive paper version.  To keep the e-book at $12.99 while offering a $7 or $8 paperback is nothing but price-gouging and punishing those who choose to read e-books rather than paper.

Get on the ball and keep your promises, publishers.  Your problems will not be solved by trying to destroy e-books through ridiculous pricing policies.  Instead, you will find your readers turning more and more to independent authors and small press publishers who believe that e-books should be priced fairly.
distractions: It's a pink rose. (Default)

From the NYT report on this year's Book Expo:
 

At a panel of authors speaking mainly to independent booksellers, Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award-winning author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” said he refused to allow his novels to be made available in digital form. He called the expensive reading devices “elitist” and declared that when he saw a woman sitting on the plane with a Kindle on his flight to New York, “I wanted to hit her.”

Authors have every right to allow or withhold permission for their works to be offered in digital form. I may think the decision to withhold permission is deeply stupid and leads to a widespread market for illegal versions (I'm looking at you, J.K. Rowling) but I certainly acknowledge their right to make that stupid decision.

What I don't acknowledge, however, is the right to judge others for their choices about how they read. I don't see anyone lining up to "hit" the user of an expensive cell phone or laptop (both of which, incidentally, can be used to read ebooks) but a Kindle is somehow automatically "elitist."  (Tell that to the 80-year old woman with a vision problem,  or the 7-year-old girl who loves to read but has asthma, aggravated by book dust and mold).

While ebook readers are pricey now, it's the acceptance of the format by those "elitist" early adopters that will make cheaper devices available down the road.  Not to mention that many digital formats don't require a reader any more "elitist" than a phone or computer, but Mr. Alexie makes no distinction here at all.

Whether it is for health reasons or simple convenience, what's important about books isn't the format, it's the content.  There is nothing "elitist" about making that content available to as many people as possible in as many formats as possible.  But Mr. Alexie doesn't agree, and he certainly has the right not to permit any of his work to be offered in digital format.  Just as I have the choice not to read any of it. 

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