I’ve owned a Kindle for a good while now and it’s become my preferred way to read most books. I’m reading more than at any time of my life, and buying more. Note to publishers: “buying more.”
What I don’t get are the crazy prices some publishers charge for e-books. Admittedly I got used to the introductory Kindle $9.95 price which many publishers claim make them sell books at a loss. I must admit I’m among those who are skeptical about this. It really takes very little work to prep a novel or nonfiction book that is mainly text for e-book publication. I’ve done it myself with Recreational Writing.
Nonetheless I’m willing to bend a little on this and will pay up to $11.99 for an e-book if I think it’s warranted. Bear in mind that I’m on a retirement budget and I’m not willing to pay more for an e-book than for a paperback version of a book. So I looked at the possible purchase of some books that interested me recently and what I found was some outlandish grasping by certain publishers.
A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates: Hardcover, $11.06, Ebook, $16.96. HarperCollins.
11/22/63 by Stephen King: Hardcover, $19.25, Ebook, $26.48. Simon & Schuster.
Under the Dome, by Stephen King: Hardcover, $22.39, Paperback, $11.43, Ebook, $16.12. Simon & Schuster.
Admittedly these are star authors and the publishers like to make their maximum profit from them, but this kind of pricing is short-sighted. Many of us who buy the e-book edition don’t buy it instead of the hardcover edition. In truth we wouldn’t buy the book at all in hardcover edition.
Publishers are having a hard time of it, and I have some compassion for them. But I think their approach to e-book pricing nothing short of hostile toward the format that may save them from extinction.
Flip this around and look at what else is happening.
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman: Paperback, $10.17, Ebook, $4.95. Ridan Publishing.
Playing for Keeps, by Mur Lafferty: Paperback (Swarm Press), $14.95, Ebook: $4.99.
These two titles are published by an Indie press in the case of Haldeman, and by the author (for the e-book) in the case of Lafferty. The Forever War is a Sci-Fi classic, and Playing for Keeps is a good SF novel by a popular up-and-coming author.
Then there are the authors who publish their works for free, for $0.99, or for $1.99-$2.99. Yes, some of them are first authors and not all these works are good, but publishers don’t kid yourselves. There’s some real talent coming through who are picking up a serious following among readers.
The issues may be complicated, but what I’m basically saying to the big publishing houses is this: “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.” Bring down those inflated prices of e-books. Because if you don’t, readers will take other options and they won’t be contributing to your bottom line at all.
Note: The prices quoted above are subject to change at any time.