Is Cheap eBook Pricing Over?

Today, The New York Times is reporting that two Amazon Kindle Edition books were more expensive than their hardcover brethren as of last week. Specifically, Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants (Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Group) is $19.99 in eBook form and $19.39 in hardcover form. Don’t Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (Little, Brown & Company) will run you $14.99 for the Kindle version, but the hardcover is $14. Kindle owners accustomed to paying $9.99 for were quick to complain, which has the publishers and Amazon pointing fingers at each other. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is charging $21.06 for the hardcover of Follet’s bestseller, and $19.99 for the eBook, and $16.37 for the Patterson hardcover, but $14.99 for digital edition. Borders, however, has followed Amazon’s lead; charging the same prices for Follet’s, but going even lower for Patterson’s hardcover, which is selling for $13.99. It has yet to be seen if this digital book price gouging is a trend we can expect to see more of, but we suspect it’s just the first volley in a war where only customers are the losers.

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Anna Attkisson
Anna Attkisson
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson covers apps, social networking and accessories. She's proud to say she loves each and every one of her phablet, three tablets, three laptops and desktop. She joined the Laptop Mag staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.
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  1. James c Says:

    Ridiculous! I was all set to buy a Kindle until I read this. If it’s the publishers I think it’s all about greed. Come on, half the cost to publish is printing hardcovers and paper. Why go paperless if these greedy @#%$*& want it all.

  2. Don W Says:

    The discussion groups at Amazon’s Kindle website have been on fire over this issue. I’m making a list of publishers whose books (and authors) I will not buy as long as they continue this lunacy. It’s the same with paperbacks. Penguin publishing paperbacks, for example, that sell at Walmart for about seven bucks are as much as fifteen bucks for the Kindle edition.

  3. Tom Rees Says:

    Moral of the story: make sure you buy an e-reader that doesn’t lock you in to a single bookstore supplier. Amazon discounts the kindle, and makes the money back by charging extra for the books.

  4. Steve F Says:

    Content creators should get paid for their intellectual property. As the sole owners of said property, they should be free to set the price as they see fit, which is exactly what Amazon allows kindle authors to do. TomR, as I just noted Amazon.com is not responsible for “…..charging extra for the books.”. The price structure is set by the author, who prices the book based upon what they think the content is worth.

    While the Internet has indeed brought an unprecedented amount of content to people’s fingertips, by so doing it has corrupted the value proposition of intellectual property. People are accustomed to getting valuable content for free, and sometimes take offense when asked to pay for it. when people buy printed works, they are in large part paying for the content, not the physical media. In fact, modern technology has dramatically reduced the cost of printing, yet the value of the content is the same, whether it is a hard cover, soft cover, or e-published work.

    If people feel that authors and publishers are not offering e-content at a fair price, they are always free to ignore the convenience of the e-book, and purchase the physical media, or they can cut off their nose to spite their face, and miss out on some fantastic content because they feel some need to protest. Oh. well, there is always free Internet content to enjoy!

  5. James c Says:

    It’s not the price of the intelectual property that bother me. It’s paying more for an electronic edition that costs less to produce. Does the author make more because it’s cheaper to produce or does the publisher make a killing? Think the kindle will go by the wayside if it keeps going like this.

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