Where eBooks Fail with Consumers

Now, considering I publish my own work via electronic means, this post may come off as a bit contradictory at first. How can a writer who publishes on Kindle and Nook critique eBook purchasing? Simple. There are two types of books in the market for eReaders. No, I’m not talking about the devices on which they are read. The two types really come down to publisher-supported and self-published.
I have owned my Kindle since December of 2010, and I must admit that I still read books in print. A lot. Probably more than half the time.
I know, gasp. Shock. Oh, the horror. But there is something about a paper book that I cannot let go. I’m a strong enough reader and writer to admit that.
Also, I have only purchased about six eBook titles from traditional publishers, while I’ve purchased eBooks from self-published writers or received copyright-free eBooks for free in excess of at least three times the number of traditionally published titles.

I guess that part of the hard part of my transition into a completely eBook realm is that I am so used to buying second-hand novels. I love browsing a high-quality used book store. In fact, I usually have to avoid them so that I can still afford to feed my family.
But look at it from a consumer’s point of view. A typical used book will cost about 40-60% of the cover price of new. If you calculate using the higher percentage of cost, a paperback which usually retails for $9.99 would only cost me $5.99 used. I can then resell the book when finished and recoup a small percentage of my expense.

With an eBook, most books are protected from copying files and transferring to multiple users, a practice in which I am in agreement. Authors’ works should be protected, and writers should be justly compensated for their hard work.
I guess I have to assume that authors have always embraced the idea of used books. I don’t know if anyone has done a poll on Goodreads or asked publishers to quiz their clients about the issue, but it just makes marketing sense to allow sharing of books for a limited amount of use. After all, a paperback book usually only lasts through five reads at best.
But how can we apply the same principle of selling used books to eBooks?
Compound the inability to “pass-on” eBooks with the $9.99 sticker-price most publishers are placing on eBooks, and it simply doesn’t make sense to purchase the eBook over the used paperback.
Now, I understand that new release hardbacks are cheaper when purchased in eBook format and that some publishers are dropping below the $9.99 price, but the more I use my Kindle, the more I tend to agree with the English teacher, book lover, and consumer inside of me.
Nothing beats the smell of a good book

. . . or a 99 cent eBook.

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Filed under musing, On Writing

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