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Old 09-28-2009, 09:28 AM   #1
Anonymouslemming
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Waterstone's justification for price differences

Hi all,

I've just joined this forum as an owner of a Sony PRS-505 who is suffering from serious buyer's remorse. Between the amount of space in my house taken up by books and the amount of travelling I do, an eBook reader seemed like a good idea at the time. Not so much now.

Last week I contacted Waterstones in the UK about the fact that a new eBook I was considering buying was twice the price of the hardback from Amazon (including next day delivery, as a Prime customer).

By paying twice as much, I would have a book that only I could read. I can't lend it to my wife when I'm done (we only have one reader). She can't then pass it to her mother. We can't donate it to a charity shop when we're done. And for this privilege, I am being asked to pay twice as much.

The response I received from Marjaneh Miller on the customer services team is reproduced below:

Quote:
Thank you for your email.

I am sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the price difference between
ebooks and other formats online.

There are a number of reasons why the prices are different online but as
this is an exclusive product prices may vary, I would like to inform you
that in the future there will be reductions and promotions as the item
becomes more popular.

I do apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
I'm now convinced that somewhere up the food chain, people want ebooks to fail. How are these items expected to become popular when people can read exactly the same text (minus the horrible OCR mess I've seen in a few 'professionally produced' ebooks lately) for half the price ?

I can see a very near future where the same war on the public is going to be fought by the book publishers as we are seeing from the music industry now, caused by the same lack of understanding that the media companies showed. I guess some people just have to widdle on the live rail for themselves

I'm honestly tempted to buy the hardback of the book at 50% of the ebook price, hand it straight to my wife and download a pirate copy of the ebook. I honestly can't justify paying twice as much to read as I was before, and that on top of the sunk cost of the reader.

Bah!
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:43 AM   #2
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That's a bad response. Basically they didn't give any reason at all. And I also have this feeling there's some kind of conspiracy against ebooks
And then people wonder why there is so much piracy.
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:46 AM   #3
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It would be interesting to follow the pricing on this title at Waterstones. Typically with Amazon, if a customer calls Customer Service and points out an outrageous pricing difference, the ebook price gets magically fixed in a day or so. Amazon, it would seem, wants to sell ebooks.
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seventh Son View Post
That's a bad response. Basically they didn't give any reason at all. And I also have this feeling there's some kind of conspiracy against ebooks
And then people wonder why there is so much piracy.
I agree...

Quote:
There are a number of reasons why the prices are different online but as this is an exclusive product prices may vary,
Wait, didn't he just ask for a reason? And what is the answer, that there are several reasons... Duh, as if I didn't know there are always several reasons why they want us to download a book from the darknet...
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetpea View Post
I agree...
Yeah, no kidding

Quote:
Wait, didn't he just ask for a reason? And what is the answer, that there are several reasons...
I think this response was basically...

"Thank you for your email. Blah Blah Blah Blah. Now go away and leave us alone."
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:19 AM   #6
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Of course the 'traditional' industry wants ebooks to fail. It's only seventy or eighty years since the same 'traditional' industry -- with all its grubby-fingered hangers-on from printers to shopkeepers -- wanted paperbacks to fail. As before Penguin made the sixpenny paperback book available (as opposed to hardbacks that cost fifteen times as much), we -- the readers -- must stick to our guns and drive the market in our direction. A publisher or retailer who isn't playing the ebook game by fair rules in five years' time will not be in the business. Neil
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:30 AM   #7
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Just as a matter of interest, what book had such a big price difference, the only one that springs to mind was the new dan brown one and if it was that then the price difference was easily explained by amazon competing with the mad pricing of the supermarkets.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:02 PM   #8
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I don't know the particular book, but it's easy to find similar examples.

e.g.: Genesis by Karin Slaughter.
ebook list: £21.84, sold at £17.47
print list: £18.99, sold at £9.49

The publisher sets the ebook price at the same as the hardback. And then there's VAT to add to the ebook price.

Add to that the difference in discount (20% off for ebook and 50% off for hardback), and that's why the ebook is being offered for about twice the cost of the hardback.

Ludicrous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowl View Post
Just as a matter of interest, what book had such a big price difference, the only one that springs to mind was the new dan brown one and if it was that then the price difference was easily explained by amazon competing with the mad pricing of the supermarkets.
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowl View Post
Just as a matter of interest, what book had such a big price difference, the only one that springs to mind was the new dan brown one and if it was that then the price difference was easily explained by amazon competing with the mad pricing of the supermarkets.
It was, hard as it is to admit, the new Dan Brown. But this isn't the only case
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:07 PM   #10
Mike L
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Anonymouslemming, like almost everyone here, I am just as annoyed as you are about the pricing of ebooks.

However, you started off this thread by saying: I've just joined this forum as an owner of a Sony PRS-505 who is suffering from serious buyer's remorse. Between the amount of space in my house taken up by books and the amount of travelling I do, an eBook reader seemed like a good idea at the time.

You've identified two very good reasons for buying a reader which have got nothing to do with price. Even though we're forced to pay more for (some) books, it's still a tremendous advantage to be able to take a selection of titles on a trip, or to buy a new book without worrying about how you're going to find space for it.

I agree completely with you about not being able to donate the book to a charity shop, or give it to someone else to read, or lend it to a friend. Ebooks have many pros and cons. But we've got to accept the fact that ebooks are not necessarily better or worse than paper books - they're simply different.

I'm not trying to justify the disproportionately high prices. I'm simply saying that you've got to look at the whole picture.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:20 PM   #11
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Anymouse, I had exactly the same reply a month ago. Surely even Waterworks can come up with a variation on the theme.

Nil illigitimus carborundum.

It almost appears that the major epublishers and distributors want us to use devious means to read their books. There isn't a sensible reason for their apparent intransigence, apart from profit, and I did say 'sensible'.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:26 PM   #12
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Personally, when I find an ebook that is dearer than the paperback version of the same book, then quite simply I won't buy it as pisstaking pricing combined with regional restrictions are a far bigger issue to me than even drm.

If a book is only out in hardback and the ebook is priced above paperback price then the decision there is no different than the one I have to make with a hardback book, am I willing to pay the premium to get the book early or not.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:02 PM   #13
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Another question that might be posed to Waterstone is why the prices for the same ebook titles are cheaper at W.H. Smith's -- their principal U.K. bookselling rival. I'd like to see their waffling explanation for that!
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:07 PM   #14
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OH; OH; OH! I know a reason!

They're greedy!
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ascherjim View Post
Another question that might be posed to Waterstone is why the prices for the same ebook titles are cheaper at W.H. Smith's -- their principal U.K. bookselling rival. I'd like to see their waffling explanation for that!
Thank you for your question. There are a number of reasons why prices may vary, but I would like to inform you that there may be reductions in the future. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
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