Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why I Won’t Buy 61 Hours (Jack Reacher)

65194550[1] I love the Jack Reacher novels. I’ve read them all, quite a few more than once, and eagerly look forward to each new installment. I heard about 61 hours months ago, and even saw ads in the Underground in London, getting me excitement. I was ready to plunk down my money in late May when it released.

However I haven’t purchased it.

And for the time being, I won’t. It’s priced at $16.38 for the hardback and $14.74 for the Kindle version. Barnes and Noble has it slightly less at $13.49, but still that doesn’t seem fair, or right, to me. When I’ve looked up the costs associated with a hardback, I’ve found similar numbers in many places. About $2 for the physical book and about $2-4 for the author. Where’s the rest? Obviously some publisher profit and some costs like editing, etc. The distributor has a touch in some cases, but I’ve also seen between $3 and $5 for holdbacks and returns.

But those don’t exist for the ebook. There are no “returns”, no “inventory”, no “damaged or destroyed” books. So in my mind, if the publisher sells his book to the retailer for around $10, the ebook ought to be sold for less, perhaps $7.

The content matters, and that’s what ought to be priced, with the physical book costs being taken out for ebooks.

I do understand that companies want to sell the hardback for more, and make some extra profit for a few months before releasing the paperback. Some people want the latest book, and some want a hardback. That’s OK, and I suspect that when the paperback of this book comes out in September, at $9.99, the ebook will drop as well.  Again, it ought to be less than the paperback, though I can accept the desire on the completely convert so many people to ebooks that it becomes hard to publish in paper.

For now I’ll just wait. The content is worth the money to me, and $3 isn’t the end of the world, but I feel that publishers need to understand that they’re not the business. The authors and editors are. I’ll withhold my money until the price comes down, and maybe I can help influence Lee Child to go the JA Konrath route and self-publish his books instead. I’d rather see him get $4-5 a book and have his own editor.

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