Random (but not really)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why I Hate Paying the Same Price for eBooks as for Print

As you may have noticed, I read a LOT. And I’m too lazy to go to the library, which means I buy the books I read.

It used to be that my favorite format to read was mass market paperback, but over the past two years that has changed to eBook format. My kindle is lighter than even a mass market paperback. And since I don’t like to break the spines of my books, holding my kindle is easier than holding a paperback book open.

But beyond ergonomics, I like having a whole bunch of books with me, so I can read a bit of one book, decide that’s not what I’m in the mood for, and then switch to something else.

I’ve always been mildly irked that many eBooks list for the same price as the mass market paperback. They don’t have to print and ship, so it seems to me eBooks should be cheaper than paper books.

Various authors have argued otherwise–that the price of the book includes the work the published does, including editing, covers etc.

Well, considering some covers, it seems hard to believe publishers are putting THAT much money towards covers.

OK. That was snarky. But on a more serious note, if I read a book with an atrocious cover as an eBook, I don’t have to get a book cover so I don’t have to feel like people are judging me on what I’m reading.

But a recent court ruling has crystallized another issue I have with the price of eBooks.

As I said, I read a LOT. And I like to try new authors. HOWEVER, with a paper book, if I hate the book–or even just find it worth only a single read, I can then sell that book to a used book store, or even give it to a friend.

I can’t do that with an eBook. It’s mine, and even if I pay full hardback price for it, I can’t get anything back for it–I’ve essentially thrown my money away.

And then there’s the issue of loaning books. Michael and I have our kindles on the same account, so it’s not an issue for us to share books back and forth, but I love loaning books I love to friends to get them to love the book as well.

But it’s not so easy with an eBook. Some books can be loaned, but the last several conversations I’ve had with friends, I’ve checked only to find that I can’t loan them my copy of a book I love.

If I’ve paid for a book, then why am I not allowed to loan it to a friend?

Which is why I almost never buy an ebook unless the price is significantly below the price of the paper version of the book. If I can’t sell the book if I dislike it, if I can’t loan the book to my friends because I want to share how much I liked it, why should I pay the same price for a book that has major restrictions?

So I don’t.

Instead, I put books on my Wish List, and regularly check for price drops.

Sorry authors, but that’s just how it is. I don’t think fair to charge me the same price for an ebook that I can’t sell or share that I pay for a paper copy of the book, that I CAN share and sell.

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