The Cost of Reading
I have always read a lot of books, even when I was working full time at the Bar, but unless you have time to spend at a library and want to wait for that particular book you want to read to be available they do cost quite a lot of money. Amazon has done a lot to make my addiction to books affordable, but it looks to me as if there is a shift in the cost of reading.
I have been puzzled for some time as to why the Paula Hawkins’s novel was for sale as a hard back at £7.99 when it was first published. I thought about it again when I received and email from Amazon about a book by John Fairfax called Summary Justice. I was interested in reading the novel as it is set in England and within the Criminal Justice System. I looked at the price of the book and to my surprise, the hardback was £11.89, the paperback £8.99 and for Kindle £8.99 as well. That seemed high to me so I decided to do a bit of research using the Amazon charts for best sellers in crime. This is what I found.
War Cry by Wilbur Smith
Hardcover £13.00 Paperback £7.99 Kindle £12.99
The Fix by David Baldacci
Hardcover £11.89 Paperback £6.40 Kindle £9.44
The Black book by James Patterson
Hardcover £13.60 Paperback £7.99 Kindle £9.99
The Girl Before by J P Delaney
Hardcover £4.99 Paperback 7.99 Kindle 6.49
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Hardcover £10.00 Kindle £9.99
So what is going on? Well, that second Paula Hawkins novel is not available in paperback yet and the price difference between the hardcover and the ebook is 1p. Which is the reader going to buy? Is the publisher trying to push the reader into buying the hardcover because the number of sales to reach the bestseller list is fewer than for a paperback? Why are these popular authors books being priced at either the same or more for the ebook than for the paperback? Are traditional publishers trying to push sales of ebooks down? I assume as there is no printing cost, no paper to buy ebooks should be cheaper. Am I wrong? Or are publishers prepared to take the reading public for a ride and screw them for as much money as possible? Any thoughts?
PS I didn’t have time to look at literary fiction in the same way but Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan shows the same difference in pricing policy.