eBook Pricing Goes Outright Insane!

This post, from Mike Cane, originally appeared on his Xblog on 10/16/10 and is reprinted here in its entirety with his permission.

I downloaded a free Kindle book this morning and happened to look at the list of other books The Kindle Store said were somehow connected to it.

One had an interesting title: The Information Officer.

So I went to look and had my first shock.


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There’s no “This price was set by the publisher” notice, so why isn’t this $9.99?

It made me wonder what other eBookstores were selling it for — and that’s when the eBook pricing insanity kept increasing in scale!

Here it is at Kobo:

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Here it is at the Sony Reader Store:

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At this point, I turned to a shortcut, Inkmesh, which will do the eBookstore dredging in one go.

It had Powell’s Books listing it for a whopping $26.58 — which is $1.58 over the “digital list price.”

So I went to Powell’s via the link but it apparently had some crossed wires, because I wasn’t seeing the listing for the eBook version. I had to search for that. And then I got this:

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Three things:

1) This is a book from Random House. This is not one of the five publishers that have formed a trust to fix prices. So why is this price so damned high, even at The Kindle Store?

2) This book was published in February! That makes it nearly ancient in Internet Time!

3) Does Random House really think someone with a $99.99 device is going to pay near one-fourth of its price to read one book?

Random House is creating its own Long Tail here.

Sensible people are going to look at that price and pass it up. That will mean lower sales. That will help kill the career of the writer. And since the book will probably never go away — because ain’t no way in hell will Random House ever revert those rights to the writer now that their paws are on them with an eternal eBook version — it will just sit there, receding into the distance, falling into the Long Tail.

And now here’s where the Big 6 of print publishing reveals its contempt for us, how they all just spit in our face:

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It’s cheaper as a paperback!

Update: I got sloppy and didn’t check. As someone points out in Comments, the paperback will not be available until March 2011! I should have gone instead with my original argument of used hardcovers and library loans.

And here’s the final kicker, the kick in the teeth, the spiteful insult.

I downloaded the Kindle sample and this is the eBook’s cover:

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You don’t even get the appealing cover the cheaper paperback has!

This is because Random House has had a policy of stripping the covers from its eBooks! (As do several other publishers.)

Pay more and get less!

Tell me how that isn’t having contempt for all of us eBook buyers!

Never in the history of American business has one industry done so much to guarantee its own failure.

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