Long time lurker, first time poster!
I wrote this to Amazon and e-book publishers, via email and twitter (with the letter being posted on my personal site
I wrote this out of complete frustration with the recent changes in e-book publishing. I don't know what else we can do to convince publishers that they're making the wrong decisions, other than voting with our wallets. I welcome your ideas!
First of all, let me preface this by saying that I know much of the Kindle pricing and e-book availability issues are out of Amazonís control. Perhaps this letter and others like it will serve to convince publishers that theyíre making the wrong long-term decisions.
When I first bought my original Kindle, I had been an avid library user. I only bought the books of a few cherished authors, and even then, rarely in hardcover. When I finished with the books, I kept some, but most were passed along to friends and family. After I bought my Kindle, I became a hardcore book buyer. The price point, convenience of reading the book upon release, and the ability to store my entire bookshelf in a small device meant that I went from reading free books at the library to purchasing several books a month from Amazon. This was money that the publishers never would have seen from me otherwise. When I was finished with the books, all I could do was recommend that friends and family buy the books for themselves, as there was no way to give them the books I had read. I accepted this as a perfectly reasonable compromise for the convenience and cost savings of my Amazon e-books.
The recent changes demanded by publishers, however, are not reasonable. My biggest issue is not the price, but the pushed back availability of the e-books. I feel like a fool for having spent hundreds of dollars on my Kindle and Kindle 2. Now, I have to choose between waiting for the book, sometimes months after the hardcover release, getting in line for it at the library, or spending money on a heavy hardcover that I donít want to lug around or have cluttering up my house. To add insult to injury, the price of the e-books is sometimes only a few dollars less than the hardcover retail price. If youíre going to make me pay almost full price, let me have the book immediately! If youíre going to make me wait, at least give me a more significant discount. You are punishing your customers, plan and simple.
I donít know what to do now. Iíve stopped recommending the Kindle, or any e-reader, to friends and family; itís just not a sound investment anymore. I now have a harder decision to make every time a book comes out that I want to read: pay too much and wait for the Kindle edition, wait at the library, or pay for a hardcover. When I wait for the Kindle book, I now press the ďbuy nowĒ button bitterly, remembering that it used to be a no-brainer! If the music industryís struggle against digital media taught us anything, itís that this is not going away! No matter how hard you try to push people towards the inflated profits of your hardcover books, they will find a way to read the content in the format of their choice. You can either make it easy for them to purchase it from you, or you can push them towards illegal means of obtaining it. Your choice.
Iíll once again be visiting the library and reading free books rather than giving you money. Although Iíll enjoy reading the e-books Iíve already purchased, public domain e-books, and reasonably priced e-books from Amazon and other retailers, Iíll no longer be rewarding you for punishing consumers. Publishers need to take a good, hard look at the market and realize that these pathetic, futile attempts to force their consumers to purchase hardcovers rather than e-books will only result in animosity towards publishers, authors who have no say in these matters, and e-reader manufacturers. Again, you are punishing your own customers. You donít have to have an MBA to know thatís just plain stupid.