2 E-Books Cost More Than Amazon Hardcovers

E-book readers are used to paying less, but new titles from Ken Follett and James Patterson have bucked that trend.

Full article in the NYT

Excerpt: Customers, unaccustomed to seeing a digital edition more expensive than the hardcover, howled at the price discrepancy, and promptly voiced their outrage with negative comments and one-star reviews on Amazon.

“Really, James Patterson?” wrote one reader from Elgin, Ill. “Why would it possibly cost more for a digital download than printed and bound ink on paper?”


Don't Blink is the 84th bestselling book on Amazon. The book has 42 reviews and 27 of them are one star. There are two 2 star reviews. Most all are commenting on the price of the ebook version. For "Don't Blink" people are also upset that a free copy of the book was offered and then turned out to be only the first chapter. All kinds of books offer the first chapter. What seems to have made people upset was the language of the free download that would seem to indicate that Patterson was offering a free book and not a chapter.

Some examples of user ratings:

Silly me, I didn't realize the "special free preview" was only a portion of the book. Very disappointing, $14.99 is more than I want to pay to finish reading it. I do wish Amazon would make it clear when you will only be getting a sample. A consistent footnote for such things would be nice.


This is the second time Patterson has had a misleading "free book" on Kindle. While I would not expect such a well estblished author to give out free books, it would make sense to do so by e-book for a very limited time to quickly build up interest in the book. Unfortunately, this is not whtat Patterson and Amazon are doing, instead they are creating the appearance this is a "special" deal when if fact its just a sample. while it may be a larger sample than you get by hitting the sample button, it is still a sample. Given the recent release of Kindle for the Web, all we are getting is the same material that would appear as a sample on the kindle for web if this book is avaialable on that service.

This is the last time I will look at any Patterson Book on Amazon. Not only are your "free" book listing for Patterson books misleading, Patterson's books are overpriced for an ebook. At his asking prices I would prefer to wait for the paperback rather than spend 15 dollars on a book I cannot give to my friends when I am done. While Amazon's lawyers may claim the listing is not misleading, in my opinion, as an attorney with 30 years of litigation experience it is misleading.

For Kindle books that are being sold under the agency model Amazon is putting this disclaimer with their record of the book:

Sold by: Penguin Publishing
This price was set by the publisher

Here is one book that has the language on the page so that you can see it in context: Fall of Giants

I've browsed through the Apple bookstore a couple of times and was shocked at how high the prices were.

I thought some might even be in error, like the $30 they were charging for the second Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich. I've decided to stop even looking through the store to make sure I don't accidently buy something if my account is logged in.

I can buy a hard copy, which I then own and can pretty much do with as I please, short of reproduction. The electronic copy that I would pay more for is only licensed and could potentially be edited without my knowledge or disappear completely.

But why would I waste good money on a Patterson book?

Only if you're using a Kindle. I do whatever I want with my ebooks and I don't bother buying books I don't want to keep. All of my books are on my computer so no, they can't be deleted or edited without my permission.

It is not just Kindle. Those ebooks on your computer that you claim to own. Can you legally resell them? Most likely you cannot. Most ebooks are legally setup around a license model and the users do not own the content and this is for way more than the Kindle.

Good grief - who would be stupid enough to buy a "used" electronic book? I see that argument all the time and I just don't think it's that big a deal. I don't buy books so I can resell them. I'm sorry, but it's a new medium and people are insisting on treating them exactly like paper books. I'm already paying a lower price for ebooks (yes, some are more but if you're gullible enough to pay more for an ebook than a paper one without shopping around you deserve to be cheated) so I think that about covers the $2 I'd get for selling it, it's not taking up space (which is why I normally get rid of books) and I buy formats that I can read on multiple devices.

I don't hear the same things about music files. I'm not complaining because I'm not allowed to resell my iTunes song for $.50. Why would books be any different? But really. If you found someone who was actually willing to give you money for an ebook, what's stopping you? If it's an epub or pdf file it's not like they aren't going to be able to open it. Who's going to know?

And I have no problem lending ebooks. I've never had anyone say they couldn't open a file I sent them. If it's a person I would trust enough to take care of a paper book and return it, then I trust them to delete the file when they're done reading it and not upload it to the internet. Do I care if technically I'm not allowed to do it? No. Technically, I'm not allowed to do a lot of things that people do anyway. There was recently discussion of a new copyright bill in Canada that politicians were trying to spin as a good idea. One of the new allowances was that it would be legal to format shift your tv programs. Goody. We would be allowed to record tv. Thank God they finally wanted to make it legal because we were all just *waiting* for the government to say it was okay.

And as for the Kindle argument - that was in regard to the going into your device and pulling and changing things. Amazon has been the only company that has done that. So far, I'll give you that. As more and more ereaders get wireless capabilities who knows? Maybe there is a company out there who isn't interested in learning from Amazon's mistakes.

>>If you found someone who was actually willing to give you money for an ebook, what's stopping you?

A little minor point called THE LAW.

Sure I can sell you the ebook that I have in a back alley but if I want to openly sell it on eBay or Amazon I am going to be shut down.

You talk about selling a book for $2. I have books that cost between $50 and $100 and the resell value is way more than $2.

Also I can hand someone my paper copy of a book. My Kindle books and the ebooks you have on your computer do not have the licenses to allow sharing. Sure you can covertly share your books and have the attitude that "who is going to know" but I would like to be able to operate in the open* with what I do.

*Except of course for my anonymous comments on LISNEWS ;)

I'm going to start off by saying I'm not trying to be rude here, but straightforward. I feel like that can come off as being rude when I'm writing but it's not really my intention.

If your primary concern when buying books is the resale value, then definitely stick with paper. It's not an issue for many other people. I don't pay as much for my books so I don't care about getting money back for them when I don't want them anymore. Giving away bags of books *did* make me a lot more aware of what I was buying and I'm far more selective about what I spend my money on than I used to be.

I don't think people should resell ebooks, and like I said, I really don't see how anyone would *want* to give random person X money for an electronic file. I think if publishers were to start allowing something like that it would lead to files being heavily locked down and I'd rather trade open formats for the ability to sell.

Please don't take this personally as I am not particularly focusing on you, but I run up against the same kind of attitudes over and over again and I'm getting kind of frustrated. X doesn't work for me 100% of the time in the way that I want it to, therefore it is useless. **

I can't sell an ebook, they're no good.
I can't sniff and rub an ebook, they're no good.

And they get so damn *smug* about it.

I'm very much middle of the road. You want the convenience of an ebook? Buy the ebook! You want something you can sell to someone else? Buy the paper! Why do people feel like it's an either or? I just bought books in paperback that I owned in hardcover because I wanted to reduce the amount of space they took up but still wanted a physical copy. (Which backfired as the paperbacks have very tight binding and I have to really work to read text waaay down in the margins without damaging the book. Not a problem with the hardcover OR the ebook version.)

I ran into the same kind of attitude a LOT when vhs was transitioning to dvd. People were bitching like someone was going to make them toss out their tapes and vcrs and rebuy their entire collection.

Times are changing, media is changing and I believe it's important to keep an open mind and figure out what works and what doesn't. *And* to remember that not everyone has the same needs or wants.

The only thing I'm pretty emphatic about is being negative about the Kindle. Whenever I talk to someone who is interested in getting an ereader I do my best to talk them out of buying a Kindle.

**(Netflix just started streaming subscriptions in Canada. People were checking out the selection on day 1, not finding the specific movie they were looking for and deciding the whole thing was crap. I'm increasingly annoyed with people being so easily dismissive and black and white about things. The internet increases my exposure to such people. Damn internet!) :)

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