Ebook pricing…

. . . leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve complained before about the cost of some ebooks, most recently here and further research impresses me not at all. This, for example, is Waterstone’s take on the subject:-

All prices of eBooks are set by the publishers, but as a general guideline they should be around the same price as a hardback or cheaper. At Waterstones.com we are making every effort to offer our customers good value on all eBooks, therefore you will often find reductions from the RRP on our site.

I know I’ve said this, but it bears repeating  – ebooks have no physical existence. There are no printing, distribution, storage, or any other of the costs associated with a physical book (and in the case of older publications converted to ebooks, the advertising costs have been covered by sales of the original print version). There is, therefore, no possible justification for linking ebook prices to the prices of the most expensive paper versions – hardbacks.

For a random price comparison, take Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man: the hardback list price is £25.00. Amazon have it for £12.50,  and the Kindle price is £11.25. Waterstone’s want £15.00 for the book,  and an absurd £16.45 for the ebook (so, not reduction there, then). I don’t see any way to justify that.

Waterstone’s describe their ebook format as eBook – that’s wrong. The format is EPUB, just one of several formats available for ebooks.

Normally, the older the book the cheaper the ebook, so unless you really must have new books as soon as they appear, I suggest waiting a while. Otherwise you’ll have to bite the bullet, and stump up. I’ll be buying the hardback version of the new John Sandford next month, for the sake of completeness, as I already have all those that came before it.

Oh, and for those bitching about Amazon’s proprietary format, AZW, Waterstone’s locks you just as tightly into the DRM-protected EPUB format, so you’re pretty much limited to Sony’s ereader (upwards of £136 compared to £109 for the wi-fi Kindle), or a couple of others that accept DRM EPUB. Just a thought…