Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things that make no sense to me #1

There's an interesting review of Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin in The New York Times this morning. It made me want to read Chatwin's classic, In Patagonia. This was a pure impulse buy, the kind enabled by ebooks that I am painfully prone to. So I went to Amazon to see if the book was available for the Kindle. It is, for $12.99. I'm not adverse to paying more than $9.99 for an ebook, but I wonder why I should when it's a deep backlist title such as this. Then I noticed that I can get a paperback for $10.99, again from Amazon. So I checked Barnes & The ebook price is the same, $12.99, and the paperback price is $11.13. What makes no sense to me is why the publisher thinks—and the ebook price is set by the publisher under the agency pricing model—a consumer would spend more for the ebook version, which is really only a license to read the book, than a paperback. As it happens, this is not a book I want for my overfull bookcases; I wanted it on my ereader so that when I'm flying to Italy next month for the Bologna book fair, I'll be able to read it. I tend to read travel books when I'm traveling, but I'm not going to pay a premium for the experience. Anyway, my impulse to buy the book dissipated and Penguin lost an easy sale. How does this pricing serve anybody, be it the publisher, author, bookseller, or reader?

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