I’ve begun reading more fiction again, after a long hiatus. I used to devour books like crazy as a teenager, but they gradually got replaced by textbooks and technical manuals and games and web surfing and so on, and I just didn’t have time for plain old written stories anymore.
There is the occasional problem though, and it’s best illustrated here.
Why in the world is the e-book version over 40% more expensive than if you were to buy it brand new in paperback??? The physical book’s price includes a lot of overhead costs like distribution, storage, printing, etc. that would be next to nothing for the e-book version, yet they want even more for it. The only reason I can think of is that demand for it is expected to be so low that the production cost of putting it in e-book format has to be a large chunk of each sale (i.e., if it cost $10,000 to convert and you only expect to sell 1000 copies, each copy becomes $10 more expensive), but then the high price deters people from the e-book version anyway.
Another questionable tactic is that of selling off individual short stories. Not that there’s anything theoretically wrong with it, but here it seems like an attempt to squeeze more money out of them. Traditionally you would get a bunch of short stories in a collection, but if you were to add up enough of the stories you’d expect to get in one, the total cost is a lot higher when you have to buy them separately. I don’t want to have to look through the whole list, story-by-story, trying to figure out if it’s worth the 87 cents or not.
Fortunately most e-books *are* cheaper than the paper versions by a buck or two. It’s debatable whether an e-book is really a good replacement for a ‘real’, printed book, but the cheaper they are, the more you can get. I’ll probably just get printed versions of my favourites, which I might still want to reread twenty years down the road, but I don’t need printed versions of *every* so-so story I run across.