A while back, I purchased a book by F. Paul Wilson, whose Repairman Jack series is one of my favorites. While the series is finished (at the end), Wilson decided to write three prequels detailing the early years of Jack in NYC. The first of these three is called COLD CITY and it was priced, at the time, at something like $3.99 as an ebook, I think. Maybe have been a dollar more or less, but I’m certain that it was below $5.00.
I read it, enjoyed it a lot, and went to check on what the next book, DARK CITY, costs as an ebook. I was surprised to see that it costs $8.54 on Amazon. More than my max for an ebook for my personal use (I sometimes go higher for books for my kids). But what surprised me even more was that the cost of the paperback is $8.99. In the dialect of Jack’s friend Abe, “I should care how the words get from Wilson’s imagination to my brain?”
Just so we’re clear. I have a B&N membership. I get it usually at Thanksgiving, and it costs me $25.00. Over the year, I believe it pays for itself, buying books for myself (mostly bargain books off the remaindered shelf where I only save about $0.70 or $0.80 per book, but I buy 10 or 15 of them a year, maybe more) and buying books for my kids (also usually around a dollar savings). With the card, however, you also get more coupons and better coupons. For example, toward the end of the year I was routinely getting 20% coupons every week, and I even got two 30% coupons (one of which I didn’t use). I’ll have to track it more carefully this year. But I’m sure it paid for itself last year, since we bought a bunch of Dr. Who stuff for the kiddies as well.
At $8.99 price point, with 10% off for certain (via the card I already have) and perhaps another 15% off via a coupon which will probably come soon via email, the final cost of the book will be $8.09 plus tax at the most, and $6.88 at best, if I wait for a 15% coupon (which I certainly can do). So let’s see. I get a physical copy of the book, which I can resell or give to my buddy down the road, for $6.88 plus tax, or I buy an ebook which I can’t do anything else with after I’ve read it (except read it a second time, perhaps), for $8.54 (without tax today, but as soon as Amazon opens their facility in Illinois, then with state sales tax as well).
I think I’m going for the physical copy. Not that I care. If the ebook was less, maybe in the $5.99 range, I wouldn’t hesitate. It would already be on my Kindle. I’d probably be reading it now.
Whose bright idea are those prices, anyway?
As you already know, this a pet peeve of mine. Pricing is often the publisher’s choice for trad pubbed books, but also indies, as was the case of my Infinity ebooks, where the pricing is no longer competitive. I’m with you on not paying more than $5 for an ebook novel now (for bundled novels, the price per novel has to be even lower, because there’s no guarantee I’ll like each book).
I’ve notice that even Big Five publishers are playing around with pricing. You might find a bestseller ebook for $5 or less one week, and almost as much as the hardcover the next. If we stick to our rule, though, we can read many more good ebooks in an economical way. For avid readers, that’s important.
I agree, in the end, if you’re one of those voracious readers that people blog about (I think I qualify, and I have a feeling you do as well), and you keep your price ceiling at around 5 dollars, there will continue to be plenty of good stories to read. And I also agree that the price of a bundle has to be reasonable in order for me to bother with it. Otherwise I may as well just buy the books in the bundle that are the ones I want in the first place…