Monday, February 8, 2010

E-books, pricing, availability, frustration, redux

Lifehacker has a poll up asking How Much Would You Pay for an E-Book? I chose the answer, "Like dead-tree books, it completely depends on the book." Sure, I like paying less for books, but I'm not stuck on the $9.99 price. The way I think about it is if it's a book that I would be willing to pay hardback prices for in print, I'm willing to pay more for the e-book. If it's something I'd read as mass market in print, I want to pay less. Other things that matter to me are quality (I hate to see a badly formatted e-book, no matter what I paid for it) and I'd love to be able to lend e-books.

The availability thing really annoys me, though. Here's what happens if a book that I want as a e-book isn't available in that format: I find one that is. And who knows if I will remember to check again later to see if that book is now available? There are a lot of books out there, and I want most of them. So you're going to make it harder for me to get yours? Fine. There are plenty of others.

My frustration with availability isn't just about publishers holding e-book releases of new titles. It's also very frustrating when a couple of titles in a series are available as e-books and the rest aren't. Please, publishers, pay attention to this sort of thing. If I like an author, I'll happily blaze through an entire series. But so many ridiculous obstacles get in my path. My advice:
  • somewhere, somehow, on your site (and within the books, whether print or e-) make it so that I can see the books in a series listed in order (and make it clear that they are listed in order).
  • make all of the titles in the series available in the same formats. And when moving to a new format (such as e-book), consider starting with the first one. I guess I could see why you'd want to publicize the new format for the latest one, but when you do it would be great if the previous titles were also available.
What do you think? Is it $9.99 or nothing for you? Any book-buying (e-book or print) pet peeves you'd care to share?

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