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Kindle vs. Hardcover, and resisting temptation

Posted by Lissa on September 24, 2009

One of the reasons I’m madly in love with my Kindle is the quick delivery-instant gratification it provides.  I mean, you can pre-order a book and it shows up at midnight.  Pull the trigger (heh) on a purchase and start reading sixty seconds later.  Heaven!

So it’s currently killing me by inches that I haven’t ordered the latest Diana Gabaldon, Echo in the Bone.  It’s been available for TWO WHOLE DAYS!  And I could have it in SIXTY SECONDS!  If I’d pre-ordered I’d have had it Tuesday morning at 12:01 AM!  But then I’d have paid thirty cents MORE than the hardcover price, which wrecks one of the two major premises for buying a Kindle, i.e., cheaper prices than hardcovers.

What’s interesting to me is watching a publisher try to figure out the proper price and delivery for the Kindle version of a book that will most certainly show up on the NY Times Bestsellers.  Do they release it on the same day, or hold off for a week in the hopes that more people suck it up and buy the hardcover?  If they publish the Kindle book on the same day, should they charge the same amount as the hardcover, or $9.99 (as they will once it makes the actual NY Times list)?

My feeling is that Amazon.com screwed the pooch on this one.  If you check the Kindle discussion here, you find rather a lot of unhappy customers.  To sum up — they had a Kindle edition available for pre-order, but for the same price as the hardcover.  Then the link disappeared.  Then, in the week before release, they added back a Kindle version, but for thirty cents more than the hardcover AND releasing two days later.  Then, less than 24 hours after release, they dropped the Kindle price by three bucks.  And apparently those who pre-ordered before Amazon disappeared the link didn’t get the book.

I was quite impressed with Amazon’s handling of the 1984 Charlie-Fox; the apology was a real apology (i.e. “hot damn we screwed up and we’re sorry” rather than the “sorry if you were offended” crap you hear so much nowadays) and the $30 was much appreciated.  I’ll be interested to see how they manage this latest glitch.

In the meantime, it’s an exercise in self-control that this big, juicy, delicious book could be at my fingertips in sixty seconds.  My plan is to wait until Saturday morning — well, okay, probably Friday night — as that will allow me to read through until I finish the book without having to take a work vacation day.  PATIENCE, Lissa.  Patience.

. . .  WANT!!!

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2 Responses to “Kindle vs. Hardcover, and resisting temptation”

  1. Mike said

    It’s a new distribution channel for books, so it’ll take some time for them to figure it out. It does seem strange to price the Kindle version higher than the hardcover, but there is the chance that the publisher actually makes more on the hardcover because Amazon takes a huge portion of the Kindle price (I’ve read it’s 70% of the revenue goes to them, so $7 on a $9.99 book). It’s tough to pay all the people they need to on $3/book and still make a good return on capital.

    That said, a long-term orientation suggests that publishers should want to support the growth of electronic books because this model has much lower fixed costs than traditional books. Is $9.99 the best way to grow this fledgling market? Maybe charging more the first few weeks will offer the chance to price discriminate and collect more from people who value having it RIGHT NOW. I promise that, if something doesn’t sell at all in the $17 range, they’ll cut the price to move some units.

  2. [...] by Lissa on October 6, 2009 You may remember a post I did about the Kindle release issues Amazon had for Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon.  Well, I [...]

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