publishers not getting it

E-book Prices: .99 or 12.99?

I’m taking off my writer’s hat for this post and putting on my reader/consumer hat. Late last night I was shopping for a new e-book to read. I just finished “The Help” and loved it. This means the next book I read will probably be disappointing at first. I always get into it eventually. But at first I’m still missing the previous book I finished and comparing it to the new one. And a book like “The Help” is a tough act to follow.

For the most part, I shop on Kobo for my e-books. I have two Kobo e-readers, the one with e-ink and the Look Book that’s back-lit. Both have wireless and I’m set up to just push a button and buy what I want.

But it’s not as easy as that. First, Kobo’s product descriptions suck. I don’t even like the way my own books are described. Unless I’m doing something wrong (which could be the case), I can’t find reviews while shopping, I can’t find out how long the books are, and the book descriptions are always cut off. And this pisses me off, because my office and main computer are in another part of the house. And when I’m not working…which I’m usually doing all the time…I want to be as far away from the computer and my office as possible. Reading is down time for me. This is also why I don’t want or need an iPad. I only want a dedicated e-reader, without e-mail or anything else so I don’t wind up writing and working instead of reading for pleasure.

And with the poor product descriptions on Kobo e-readers, I either have to decide to buy the book and hope for the best or wait until the next day and do some more research on it. I usually opt for waiting…unless I know the author and I’ve read her before.

The other thing that surprises me is the price of e-books. My own books are priced from .99 for back-listed books to, I think, around 6.00. As far as I know, unless we’re talking about my books being sold on e-bay (which I don’t get), I don’t have any e-books out for more than seven dollars.

Only that’s not the case with all e-books. If you check out what big publishers are charging for e-books you have to wonder what they are thinking. And then you have to decide do I really love and want this book enough to spend 12.99 (or more) when I can spend .99 – 7.00 for a book that’s just as good. I know I’m never disappointed with my 4.99 Debbie Macomber e-books. Most of them are better than the e-books I’ve spent 12.99 on. And nowadays there are plenty of .99 e-books that are, in fact, just as good.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m cheap, or that I’m against authors making money. I am an author and I know how hard it is to make a buck. I’d settle for 9.99 for an e-book. Even this is expensive when you think about how it all adds up. But I’d do it without complaining. But there’s no way I’m going to spend 12.99 or more unless I really have to have the book. I did pay 12.99 for “The Help.” I had to have it. But I didn’t have to have Fannie Flagg’s new novel, and I didn’t have to have Patterson’s new novel, and I didn’t have to have Anne Rivers Siddons new novel. I wanted them. I really did, large publishers. But I’ll live without them until they come down in price.

And that’s a shame. I think authors are going to suffer because large publishers either aren’t aware of what people who read e-books want or care about, or because large publishers just aren’t paying attention to what’s happening. All business people learn the importance of selling in volume; it’s basic. But you can’t sell in volume if something is too expensive.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Last night I passed on three good e-books that were 12.99. And a lot of this had to do with principle. If they’d been 9.99 or less, I would have ordered them. But until the large publishers realize that people who read e-books don’t screw around, I can live without them.