eBooks and “Agency Pricing”

I own a Kindle. It’s probably the greatest thing that happened to my reading habit, specifically in that it restarted it.

Don’t get me wrong, physical books are great. For long-term ownership, for lending to friends, for quickly flipping through to double-check something. For all these things they are great. But for general reading, I find an e-ink reader just far superior.
They’re portable. You can bring a collection with you easier than a single book. you can lay it down ona  table and not have it lose your place, great for reading during mealtime. Just place it on the table, read it there, only touching it to hit the page-advance key.

Pricing-wise for the books themselves, they sort suck at times.

For one thing, I dislike paying full price for a digital copy of something, especially when it carries DRM restrictions. To me, that is a rental not a purchase. So I favour cheaper eBooks. I don’t see them as a long-term investment (that’s what I buy dead-tree versions for), I see them as a long-term loan.

This is not the only reason, though. I always favoured paperbacks over hardbacks. They’re more convenient to carry around and less bulky to read. So yeah, the same reason I favour my Kindle over a physical book. I like to read, I don’t like the hassle of a bulky form factor.
It has always bugged me having to wait the extra six months or more to get something in my preferred size-class. It’s not just the price of paperbacks I favour(ed), it’s the actual medium.

Enter the eReader and the problem just escalates, especially given Agency Pricing. This is what stops the various online stores (namely Amazon) from heavily discounting popular eBooks toa  point where other stores can’t compete and that people won’t buy the paper copies.

News Flash: Some of us have Kindles specifically to avoid paper copies.

Now, there are fair reasons behind this, but it then has the slight disadvantage that is especially noticeable in long-running series.
The latest hardback-only book will have an eBook price of £7 or more. Sounds reasonable, right? Maybe it is, but the rest of the series is available for under £5, which can make it hard to justify the price. Especially if you already own the book. Why pay almost twice the price of what it’ll be later this year when you already own it in one format?

Did that make no sense? I guess it wouldn’t to most people. And that’s the problem. Nobody really envisioned a case where you might want to get a cheap digital copy of a book you already own shortly after getting it.

Like maybe wanting to re-buy a convenient form-factor of something you were given as a gift?

I mean, hardback books are great to own. Hardback booked are a wonderful gift to receive. hardback book are also a bugger to read, and the opposite of portable. The idea situation is to have both. One to keep (if you like the book) one to read.
But not at these prices.

“The Publisher has set the price for this book”.
I guess the publisher wants me to read stories published by their competitors, then. Because for a DRM-encumbered platform-locked copy of a book, price is a deciding factor. It can make the difference between “impulse buy”, “maybe alter” and “not happening”.

One thought on “eBooks and “Agency Pricing”

  1. Couldn’t agree more! The way the publishers are behaving, forcing up Ebook prices with the ‘Agency Model’ just looks anti-competitive and may drive disgruntled customers to piracy.

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