eBook publisher insanity!

Tags: — Allan @ 10:46 pm

I just got myself an eBook reader – the new Sony PRS-300. Sony PRS-300

It’s a new device, and while it doesn’t have many gizmos and features it does have a great little screen that is pleasant for reading books. I read a lot of books, and my first thought when I got it in the post was to – you guessed it – buy a bunch of books for it 🙂

Waterstones has an online bookshop that sells eBooks, and while the selection is fairly small I was sure I could find something. Specifically, I was interested in Peter Hamilton’s Void Trilogy, where I had listened to the first book as an audio book. And yes, they have it – here is what it looks like in the shop, first the special edition hardback version for £12.50:
Void - Hardback special edition
To my surprise, the eBook version of the same book – which has no cost of shipping, printing, etc – is £15.90, or £3.40 MORE than the special edition hardback:
eBook listing
What is WRONG with these people? I was hoping and expecting to find the eBook version a bit cheaper than the paperback version. For £5, I would have bought it and thought it was a bit expensive, and for £2.50 I would have bought a whole bunch of them. But for £15.90, they can keep their eBooks!

It’s astonishing. If I buy a physical book, I can scribble in it, read it, lend it to someone, and sell it when I don’t want it any more. The Ebook is protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management), I am not allowed to copy it or resell it, and I can’t lend it to anyone. Yet it’s more expensive than the hardback!

Unless publishers wake up to this and start pricing eBooks at a reasonable level, the market will never pick up. Instead, people will buy what they want in hardback, and use pirated copies for their eBook needs – whether from a single sold copy or from a scanned and OCR’ed physical book. Clearly, the publishing industry learned nothing from what happened in the music world and to CDs.