So I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with e-book pricing lately. I don’t know if it’s because of the Hatchette versus Amazon shenanigans, or if someone’s being purposely obtuse (or, quite simply, doesn’t know because the people who DO know aren’t being heard), or an astounding combination of both. I have my suspicions, but without the facts at my fingertips I’m not going to go off the rails, killing dozens of innocent passengers in the process.
I was really excited for the new Darynda Jones/Charley Davidson book. This is a series I gobble up like a Deep Old One does unsuspecting, silly cultists, spitting out little fezzes along the way. So when the new book came out I squeed all the way to my favorite online book place.
It was $12.99. For the eBook, mind. The paperback? Only $7.99.
So, basically, even though there is no extra overhead on the eBook version other than formatting, I’m still expected to pay FIVE DOLLARS MORE than a hard copy that has to be printed and shipped?
And this wasn’t the only one. The Johannes Cabal series, another I really enjoy and would like to catch up on, ALSO $12.99. Kresley Cole’s Sweet Ruin? $13.99 on a PREORDER. And not just where I normally buy books. ON AMAZON, which is (or used to be) the world’s best flea market. Amazon has built their business model on being the best-priced and most user-friendly and, generally crack-like in all its fevered, market-share gobbling glory.
But publishers, it seems, has taken a page out of the credit card company’s handbook, and wants me to pay for the convenience of having an electronic copy. And it’s not like I get a free electronic copy with my paperback, mind. It’s like they’re saying “Okay, we kinda get the popularity of eBooks now, but we don’t like it, mainly because we don’t really understand it and we, ourselves, don’t consume books this way. So we’ll be in the corner, cutting off our noses to spite our faces, thank you so very much.”
Or, in summary, “We don’t want you to buy eBooks, because that would prove us wrong in some fashion. We want to force you to buy a hard copy, so that eBook purchases will go down and, maybe, go away.”
It’s the same annoyance I feel when I TV station like TNT or CBS gives you the first five episodes of a series to get you invested, and then goes, “Whup, no—that’s all you get. If you want to see more you’ll have to watch it on normal TV with all the commercials, which may require purchasing cable service, instead of this newfangled internet thingy, which we’re pretty sure is just a trend anyway.”
Which is, essentially, tantamount to plugging your fingers in your ears and going LALALALALALA!!!
I don’t appreciate being manipulated. In fact, it is one of my few buttons. It is a BIG, RED BUTTON which summons my inner Gollum in full sugar-high toddler mode. I fight being manipulated with every fiber of my being.
This is not a rant on Evil Publishing. Because, despite some evidence to the contrary, it’s not evil. I am traditionally published, and I adore my publisher and the people I work with there.
This is a rant on those in publishing with the power to control eBook pricing. And also the way these models are structured. Because when you have Shareholders as well as Customers, that can often be conflict of interest. Amazon puts their Customers first, and tends to win a lot of the time, including with their Shareholders.
When you put your Shareholders first, however…well, then we end up with $12.99 eBooks and a host of other shenanigans that makes us look foolish and behind the times. We end up losing our integrity. (This is especially prevalent in the insurance industry, by the way.)
And just for the record, as an author I don’t want my readers paying these prices, either. (Luckily, my publisher being a digital-first publisher, they are WAY ahead of the curve—and making plenty of money, and hitting plenty of bestseller lists in the bargain). I don’t want my readers feeling manipulated. I want my readers to buy my books on THEIR terms, in a way that works for THEM.
(Also, I highly doubt that royalty percentages for authors went up when those prices did. In fact, I’m will to bet their royalties will do DOWN, as disgusted customers refuse to buy these books at all.)
That’s where I am right now, by the way. I want to support my favorite authors. I’ve been salivating for the new Kresley Cole and Darynda Jones. But I’ll go book-hungry before I validate that kind of pricing. So until these books go on sale, I’ll find other, reasonably-priced books, discover new authors, and buy my book-crack elsewhere.