Monday, April 06, 2009

How Much Should an eBook Cost?

What is a fair price for an eBooK? Should Sony and Amazon charge more than the price of a paperback for an eBook considering that eBooks are delivered with numerous restrictions as to how they may be used? Are eBook customers being asked to over-subsidize the cost of physical copies? A group of Kindle2 owners thinks so - as noted by Gadget Lab (entire article):
"It just doesn't seem right," says Crystal O'Brien, a Connecticut librarian who bought a Kindle last year. For the last few days, O'Brien has spent a few minutes every day in the Kindle book store tagging the more expensive digital books with the '9 99 boycott' tag and removing it once the price drops below the threshold.

"You are not getting something you can lend out to other people, you are not getting a physical item," says O'Brien. "So you shouldn't have to pay so much for a digital copy."
But O'Brien says that the $10 price is just one part of the story. Looking back at her history of purchases on Amazon she has found prices of e-books steadily creeping up.

"Some of the Kindle books now cost more than their paperback version," she says. For instance, she points out that she purchased a digital copy of Small Favor, a book by Jim Butcher for $10 in June last year. The Kindle price then jumped to $13.94 and is now back to $8. A paperback version of the book costs $10.
O'Brien and other Kindle users who have joined the revolt have used the boycott tag more than 7,200 times so far. "It doesn't take that much time to do, and it sends out a message," she says.

Kindle books are limited in their use: They cannot be donated to a library, sold to a used-book store or even Amazon's used marketplace or traded elsewhere. In addition, some books are badly designed and offer little pictorial or other kind of visual relief, they say.

Personally, I do feel a bit ripped-off every time I purchase an eBook for much over ten bucks because I prefer a hard copy anyway, and I can often find one for pretty near what the electronic copy cost me. I understand that marketing costs, royalties, and the like, have to be prorated across all of a book's sales volume, but still something bothers me about paying near regular book cost for an electronic book that can so easily disappear or become corrupted. And I absolutely detest the DRM technology that keeps me from freely using something that I buy. I don't buy music that way and I likely won't be buying many more crippled books either. (I don't mean to sound grumpy tonight but Big Brother and my new Nanny State Federal government really tick me off.)
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