Ebooks are starting to approach a tipping point of sorts. Well not in India, but internationally. US eBook sales last year crossed US$300 million. Dozens of established, and new, electronics firms are bring out all sorts of readers. Several US colleges are experimenting with proving students with readers on which to carry all their textbooks and reading materials.
The results from the college tests have been mixed. Students loved them for reading in advance of class, but during class, or even intensive study, the readers were too slow and unwieldy to be used for quickly jumping though books, taking notes, and following multiple books at once.
These issues are really just user-interface problems however, and will all be ironed out in time. I don’t know anyone who has owned and used an eBook reader, who says they would give up all the convenience and features to return to the feel of ‘real’ paper books.
Here’s the one thing that bugs me however. The pricing of ebooks. As an example, i was looking on Amazon for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest
The kindle ebook edition was for $11.99
The hardcover was $11.92
How does the ebook, come to cost more than the hardcover?
Think of everything that goes into the sale of a hardcover book: the paper, the printing costs, the binding costs, the transportation costs. Even the cost of damaged or otherwise unsold copies that end up as trash.
Then think of that ebook. none of those costs. (I’m ignoring retailer margins in all this)
Now i know, that pricing really has nothing to do with costs. And, that they can sell their ebook for as much or as little as they feel like. But to me, it somehow feels unfair. Especially given that you might not actually own the ebook, just have a licence to read it, that can always be revoked.
Buying a cd single used to cost, what? around $5. For a main track and a couple of remixes. Now on iTunes you can get the track for $0.99. I know the market conditions are completely different in everyway (ubiquity of mp3 players embedded in almost every bit of entertainment/communications technology, lack of proprietary formatting meaning that people will just copy it if it costs too much) but this sort of pricing still seems fair.
I think for now I’m happy to wait until both the readers, and the books, become cheaper 🙂