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Old 06-23-2009, 07:21 AM   #1
DerbyBoy
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Price and Availability of Ebooks - UK

This is my first post and have been lurking here for a while and have picked up some great tips from the rest of you, thanks very much.

I've had my 505 since Christmas and I think it's really great. Apart from one thing.....the price and availability of books. I know that there is a lot of free content out there but I enjoy reading new "popular" books as well and I am finding that my choice is somewhat limited both by availability and price.

I recently did an exercise based on the Sunday Times bestseller list for June 14th. I compared the price of PBooks from Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smiths with the price of EBooks from Waterstones, WH Smith, BooksonBoard and Fictionwise.

Of the hardbacks 4 were unavailable as ebooks, 3 were cheaper as PBooks (an average of £6 cheaper) the other three were cheaper as EBooks (an average of £3.50 cheaper) these were from Fictionwise.

Of the paperbacks all were available but all of them were cheaper a PBooks! The price difference ranged from £1.63 (Gypsy by Lesley Pearse) to a frightening £12.69 (Deadly Intent by Linda La Plante) the rest showed a price difference of between £2.10 to £8.95)

Even taking the most expensive PBook and comparing it to the cheapest EBook there is still a difference that is not explained by VAT.

Why is this? To expect me to be willing to pay an extra £12 odd for something that only I can use. I can't lend it to a friend, sell it on after I've read it or even donate it to a charity shop.

Why haven't they learned from the piracy problems encountered with music and film. If they price a product properly there will be no need for people to buy pirate copies of ebooks just to ensure they are paying a fair price. I must admit I have been tempted by offers on e-bay where I can get 24 "bestsellers" for a fiver. I've not done it yet, but unless they (publishers and sellers) get their act together I will probably seriously consider it.

I don't want them to give me the book, I just want to pay a fair and reasonable price. If I can buy a newly released hardback book for £10 I'd probably be willing to pay the same for an e-version. Having said that I'd have thought that publishers and booksellers would be falling over themselves to promote something that costs very little to produce, stock and deliver compared to the traditional method.

When I've been asked about my reader I've been enthusiastic about it, however, I always finish with the word BUT and tell them that if they are expecting to be able to buy books for it then they should be prepared to pay a premium.

As regards availability I recently contacted Random House to enquire about the new Edward Rutherfurd "New York" due out in September. The reply was "There are no plans to release this title in digital format"

Sorry that my first post is a rant but I had to get it off my chest. I will send my comments to WH Smith and Waterstones but I do not expect any real, meaningful reply. I suspect that I will get a lot of platitudes blaming the publishers. But if 2 of the biggest booksellers in the U.K. can't influence their supliers what chance do we have of getting reasonable priced EBooks. Thanks for listening.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:43 AM   #2
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I've also thought about this one, and I think part of it is that the ebook market is small and therefore we are paying for set up costs. Although ebooks seem a cheaper format, initially the book sellers have to make changes to their website, train customer services, set up the system (whatever that involves, there must be something ...) etc. We are paying for that. And of course that means that if the publishers are investing in producing new formats there are fewer copies sold and they have to recover those costs.

I don't mind paying slightly more than for a paper book at the moment, particularly as it means I then don't have to pay for storage for my books, but what I object to is when I have to pay extra but the book is of an inferior quality and does not appear to have been properly checked etc. At that point I complain
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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Welcome to MobileRead DerbyBoy!

The high cost and limited selection of ebooks here in the UK is very frustrating. If there is a book that I want as ebook, but isn't available, I do try to let the publisher know. Hopefully the prices will start to come down over the next couple of years.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerbyBoy View Post
I recently did an exercise based on the Sunday Times bestseller list for June 14th. [...]

Of the hardbacks 4 were unavailable as ebooks, 3 were cheaper as PBooks (an average of £6 cheaper) the other three were cheaper as EBooks (an average of £3.50 cheaper) these were from Fictionwise.

Of the paperbacks all were available but all of them were cheaper a PBooks! The price difference ranged from £1.63 (Gypsy by Lesley Pearse) to a frightening £12.69 (Deadly Intent by Linda La Plante) the rest showed a price difference of between £2.10 to £8.95)
I just did a quick check on the fiction list:

1. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
2. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
3. The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun by JRR Tolkien
4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Alan Dean Foster
5. Brida by Paulo Coelho
6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
7. First Family by David Baldacci
8. The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho
9. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
10. 8th Confession by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

I only looked at Amazon UK and Fictionwise (non-member pricing) for the eight that were available at fictionwise. (3 & 4 weren't there).

UK retail price £91.92, Amazon price £45.65
Fictionwise price $100.68 with $38 in micropay rebates. Just under $35 of those rebates can be used in buying the other books, so net cost of $66 or £40.12 at today's exchange rate.
Of course, as a club member, I could get them for $85.59 but because of a flaw in their system only $23.54 in rebates, so still a net price of $66.

So - ebooks come out slightly cheaper. on this sample. But not by much. They should be coming out a lot cheaper, and for all titles. There are certainly titles on this list where the paperbook is cheaper, which is insane.

Hopefully publishers will come to their senses eventually. (& retailers
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Old 06-24-2009, 05:22 AM   #5
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It is pretty daft. Just keep writing to publishers and books stores.

What I found especially annoying recently was that books 4,5,6 and 8 of a series were available as ebooks; also books 1 and 3 of a different series.

WHY?

Why on earth would I want to buy half a series as ebooks? I cna understand that earlier books may not have been re-formatted yet, but to miss books out midway through is just crazy.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:48 AM   #6
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Yes, the UK is just not geared for ebooks. Both Borders and Waterstones websites are hopeless. WHSmith is better, but in each case the browsing and pricing leaves a lot to be desired cf the US sites such as BoB & Fictionwise etc.

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Old 06-24-2009, 01:32 PM   #7
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I am in complete agreement - with a paperback I can borrow it and if i like it add it to my collection. I have yet to find a friendly library that will do ebooks in any format which is a shame - I suspect that when and if the kindle ever comes out in the UK this will probably change. As Play.com are now selling the readers for £149.00 free delivery I would have though they could tie up with the Sony book store and get us access to that in the UK (another annoyance is we cannot use the thing that best supports the device in the UK)

I constantly get offered multiple deals on books by waterstones and yet the same offer is not avaialble on the elctronic version - why not. They know i have the device as i bought it from them. So they should be targeting their marketing but what they do send relates only to the physical version.

I wonder, and I don't condone this method but lets be honest MP3 became popular because of Napster and people sharing files. Which in turn allowed Apple to nick the idea and market the perfect music player (there are better ones out there but not to those stupid apple people )

Once the balance has been reached and the retailer have to fight what income they are losing - like HMV do now agaist Amazon and Play, then and only then will the prices start to drop.

I have to admit the one thing I don't understand regarding Sony is thay can give me free books but not sell me one - but then again it is Sony
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