Lippman eBook Price Finally Makes Sense

When I checked Amazon earlier this month to download the new book by one of my favorite mystery writers I was shocked to see the price of $15.99 on the eBook, which was higher than the $11.51 for the paperback and just 20 cents less than the $16.19 hardcover!

photo-25I posted a complaint on Laura Lippman’s Facebook page and vowed not to buy the new book. I also noted other complaints about the price of “After I’m Gone.”

I’ve bought nearly every book Lippman has written. If not in paperback, I have it on my Kindle. I decided I’d be borrowing this one from the local library. Thankfully, the price is now down to $11.19. I saw a note by another reader that it had dropped to $13.59 at one point since the February 11 release before coming down more than $2.

It’s still high for an eBook, but at least it’s now appropriately less than the paperback. And, of course, it’s Lippman and likely to be a fantastic read, so I’ll buy at this price.

I don’t know what drives the price of eBooks, so I asked the owner of a small publishing house. He uses the profit margin of a book to determine the eBook cost. Asked why a publisher might price an eBook at more than a paperback, he said, “Because they can.”

I’ve downloaded freebies and paid a little over $10 for eBooks, but it has to be a book I’m clamoring to read before I’ll pay that much. I recently bought John Grisham’s new “Sycamore Row” for a great price at $6.49, which was $3.50 less than the paperback on Amazon and a fantastic story!

Checking the New York Times top five bestselling books in fiction for the week of March 3, I found the following on Amazon:

  • “Private L.A.” by James Patterson sells for $11.99 on Kindle, $12.24 in paperback and $16.80 in hardcover
  • “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt sells for $7.50 on Kindle, $16.95 in hardcover with no paperback offer
  • “Killer, An Alex Delaware Novel” by Jonathan Kellerman sells for $11.48 on Kindle, $20.59 in paperback, and oddly $16.80 in hardcover
  • “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd sells for $10.91 on Kindle, $16.63 in paperback with the hardcover at just 14 cents more
  • “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” by Anna Quindlen sells for $10.65 on Kindle, $14 in paperback

I would encourage publishers and writers to realize the impact of price. Readers may be big fans, but cost will influence most of us when deciding whether to buy your book.

What’s your price limit on a book? If you’re a writer how do you decide pricing?

Photo by Lori Ericson

Before Downloading “Look Inside”

After this experience, I will always “Look Inside” before I download a book. I want to see if the author has a clue about ebook publishing and if I can bear to read the prospective purchase in the format provided. I also would love to have my money back for this Kindle book buy.

It was billed as a “mystery suspense thriller” and I couldn’t resist the title by an author I’d never read before. I downloaded the book, opened it in my Kindle and started reading.

The layout of paragraphs immediately alarmed me. I actually like that style for a blog, but not a novel. Each paragraph stands out in a blog but it’s too much for a lengthy read. I use it here. But in a novel I want the paragraphs indented and no space after each one.

KindleI thought maybe it would stop after the first chapter, just a forward for the novel. But no, it went on. I scanned ahead but stopped reading. If I chose to go on, I’d have to tap my Kindle to turn the page more often than I was willing to do to make it through this one.

I went back to Amazon, found the order and did the “Look Inside.” Sure enough, the Kindle edition shows it in that format. No indents and extra spacing.

I clicked the print edition and found it to be proper formatting. I won’t bother to order the book in print. This author has already wasted my money.

I love reading on my Kindle and have come across some minor errors in ebooks before, but nothing like a whole book full of bad formatting.

So, warning to all readers check out that “Look Inside” feature to see if you can handle the format before you download that next ebook. And authors, whether your self-publishing or have help getting that book out from an established publishing house, please format your precious words so that readers don’t have to struggle to digest them. They might just read past chapter one.

Anyone else have issues with ebooks?