Ticking-off readers is an expensive proposition. Readers vote with their wallets, but they can also vote with stars. Fair or not, readers wield the one-star review like a mace against book prices they deemed excessive.
Some notable writers carry this stigma on their work because of perceived over-charging by traditional publishers. The authors are under contract and don’t get a vote on pricing. As a writer, I want to be evaluated on the merit of my book alone, but life ain’t fair.
Released on Monday, potential readers whipped Michael Connelly’s latest release, The Fifth Witness, with one-star reviews at both the Kindle and Nook sites.
These reviews aren’t because of Connelly’s writing, nor because of a high price, but because the digital version costs more than the hard cover edition. The hardback sells for $14.28 at Amazon and $14.73 at Barnes & Noble, while the Kindle and Nook versions sell for $14.99, for a low-end difference of twenty-six cents.
Does anyone at Little, Brown and Company have any sense? Who approved this? Seriously.
Connelly’s novel is currently at # 4 at Nook and # 12 at Amazon, so it’s not exactly the death knell. But readers are angry.
Book buyers understand the difference in costs and delivery between the two media. In this model, the expense of the hardback is shifted toward the digital reader. Sure, the ebook is available sooner, but it’s a matter of principle to readers. Here’s an example from a Kindle reviewer:
“I notice that some people have a problem with reviewers commenting on the Kindle price for this book and others. Turns out that this is the only real forum for readers and fans to let the author and his publisher to know how much we despise this practice. There is no legitimate justification for charging prices for e-books that are higher than physical book prices. None.”
The publisher isn’t fooling anyone. We all know this move was designed to maximize profits, and readers resent it. I wonder if the decision-makers at Little, Brown and Company have any regrets. What’s a reputation worth?
I think this kind of Machiavellian pricing bodes well for the indie writer. I’d love your two cents on this topic. Sorry, but you had to know it was coming . . .
p.s. Photo by VisualPanic