Monday, November 8, 2010

E-Books and the Big House Publishers

After being a holdout for a long time, relatively speaking, I decided to take the plunge.  I purchased an e-Book reader.  The Sony Pocket Reader 300, to be precise.  I also purchased the hard back cover with built in reading light because honestly, who only reads during daylight hours, or where there is adequate ambient light available?  Certainly not me.
It has proven to be a good move for me.  Mostly.  I currently have forty titles installed, if I include my own work.  The booklet says it will hold over 300.  Right now this pocket sized device contains the equivalent of  about three shelves of the bookcase in my living room.  Additionally, I have a handicap that makes it necessary for me to require both hands to read a book and turn the pages.  E-readers let me accomplish the task single-handedly.
I subsidize my income by writing book reviews, primarily focusing on self-published, little known, mostly local writers.  Many of them are willing to give me a copy of their book in exchange for the review.  I am not an easy reviewer.  In fact, I tend to be very critical, especially where editing is concerned, but that’s another topic already covered here.
A new trend I am seeing is that self published authors have already locked into the idea of multi-format e-Book publishing for their work, with mediums like PayPal® for remittance.  An increasing number of writers are sending me their books in e-Book format.
Pity that the big imprints and national chains don’t get this.
Last night I was browsing Fictionwise,  Barnes & Noble’s only outlet that does accept PayPal® for payment.  But there is a catch, and that’s point one of this commentary.  The lion’s share of the better known authors are only available in the locked B&N exclusive ‘free’ reader format.  The Lost Symbol, for example, by Dan Brown, was not available in multi format.  What that means is that while I could still purchase and download the book, if I wanted to read it, I was locked to my notebook computer.  That sort of defeats the purpose of getting an e-Book reader.  Oh, I could get the book from the Sony e-Book store, but Sony doesn’t accept PayPal®.
Part two of the rant is pricing.  It is mostly based on hardcover retail pricing.  In most cases e-Books sell for about half to two third of the hardcover price.  The absurdity here is two-fold.  First, once the original electronic copy from which the hard cover books are printed is coded for e-publishing,  any additional cost to the publisher to make it multiple formats is negligible.  Second, if you’re patient enough to wait for the mass market paperback edition, the book can be purchased for between 25% and 35% of hardcover.
I’m not arguing that e-Book should be a free medium, but personally I’m more inclined to pay $8.00 for a paperback than I am to pay $15.00 for the same book in electronic reader format.
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