Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Overpriced Ebooks

Yesterday on FB, I saw someone I respect posting about how much they're enjoying a series of books I've been interested in reading.  Since I don't have anything new on my Kindle, I thought it would be a good time to pick up the first in that series.  Hopped on over to Amazon.  Looked up the first in the series...

$9.99 for the ebook.  $10.37 for the paperback.


And I am once again reminded of why I don't buy traditionally published books.  (Except for the occasional Harlequin by a certain author I know).   The total screwing of the American reader really pisses me off.  Especially since it's me they're screwing.  Without even a kiss on the cheek or a twenty on the nightstand. 

Right now, I am in the position to buy a $10 book here and there.  (Not too often, though.  I have an editor to pay.)  If I really want to.  It's the principle of the thing, though. 

Putting out an ebook costs way less than putting out a paperback.  And if you're putting out both, some of the costs are spread over both - cover art, editing, etc. - so the cost of the ebook is actually less than if you were only putting out an ebook. 

Traditional publishers are using their ebook sales to prop up their dwindling paperback sales.  But not everyone who wants to buy books can afford $10 a pop, so fewer people buy the books at all.  And then the publishers bitch that ebook sales are down.  They're cutting off their noses to spite their faces.  One person buys a $10 book, they get $10.  Three people buy a $5 book, they get $15.  Why can't they see this?

Paperback sales are down, regardless of how they spin the numbers.  Fewer and fewer people want to buy and hang onto all that mass.  Shelves are overflowing as it is.  Luggage is no longer filled with books for vacations because one ereader can carry hundreds of books for a fraction of the weight.  Headed for an appointment?  Slide the ereader into your purse instead of a hardcopy so you don't have to lug around a heavy purse. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love paperbacks.  Old paperbacks.  They're cheap and they're made better to boot.  New paperbacks?  Not so much.  And don't get me started on hardcovers.  I love them, too, but I can no longer handle holding something that big for as long as it takes me to read one.  (Craptastic wrists, doncha know.)  Hell, sometimes a big paperback is too much and I need Aspercreme to finish the book.

Most of my books are available in paperback.  I almost never sell one.  Mostly, I have paperbacks available so I can hand them out as promotional things or occasionally hand sell one.  I haven't created paperbacks for my last two books because I'm beginning to wonder what the point of them is.  And all of my paperbacks are priced as low as I can make them and still make a tiny profit.

My ebooks are all still priced at $2.99.  I've been playing with the idea of raising the prices.  Not a lot.  Certainly nowhere near $9.99.  Maybe a dollar hike for most of them, with a $2 hike for a couple.  I haven't done it yet.  I might not do it at all.  And every time I see a $9.99 ebook, it makes me not want to raise my prices at all.  Just to stand my ground against overpriced ebooks. 

Like the stand I make refusing to buy overpriced ebooks.  Not that anyone notices.  I don't spend enough to hit anyone in the pocketbook by refusing to purchase their stuff.  Maybe if we all put our foot down and said 'No way am I paying $10 for an ebook', the powers that be would notice.

Eh, probably not.  They'd just use it as further evidence that ebook sales are down so ebooks are just a fad.  Meh.

And so, my money will be spent on reasonably priced independent authors for the foreseeable future.  There are loads of them to choose from.  Or I'll buy used paperbacks for super cheap.  Either way, I'm reading and I'm winning.

What about you?


  1. And that's why I use the library. There are very few authors I'll spend that kind of money on. And that includes myself! Like you, I try to keep the prices low for the reader but where I can still pay my way. It's a vicious circle. :(

    And you know if you ever want a paperback of mine, all you gotta do is ask and one will be put in the mail to you!

  2. I sell most of my nonfiction in paperback, but 99% of my fiction goes through Kindle. I do sell a paperback on Etsy occasionally. Like, maybe three times. LOL!

    Almost all my reading comes from the used bookstore. And older books at that. $10 for a trad-pub paperback? No way!