The real truth about ebook purchasing

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That’s the title of an article by Christopher Harris in American Libraries magazine:

How many books are on your “to read” list right now? 10? 20? More? The real truth about ebook purchasing—really about any content acquisition these days—is that we are so overwhelmed by choices that our to-be-experienced list is already quite overwhelmed. That doesn’t even take into account the revisiting of older content! So when publishers threaten to withhold ebook versions of new releases for a few months, who is it really hurting?

Joe Wikert, currently publisher at O’Reilly Media (with former executive experience at Wiley and Macmillan) shared his thoughts on the issue in a blog post yesterday that asked if you can force a customer to buy print instead of ebooks. Short answer? Maybe for bestsellers, but not otherwise. And the real reason for this shows up in the first comment: “As an avid (over 100 books a year) reader: If a book I want isn’t available in ebook format, and for a reasonable price, then I’ll just leave it on my TBR list until it is, and go on to reading all the other books on my list.”

6 Comments on The real truth about ebook purchasing

  1. Common Sense // July 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm //

    Exactly right. Between all the free and low-cost ebooks at Amazon, I have far more books in my library than I can read in my lifetime. If an ebook is out of my price range, which is pretty low considering how many ebooks I have, and I can’t get it from the library, then it just sits in my wishlist at ereaderiq.com.

    I don’t even look at new release or bestseller lists anymore. I get my book suggestions from Books on the Knob, Daily Cheap Reads, Randomize Me, and other book blogs.

    Ironically, I didn’t discover all of this until the Big 6 implemented the agency model. It changed my book buying habits forever. Thanks Big 6!

  2. I march to a different drummer in many regards, but there are other people like me out there – buy a book, read it, buy another. I was like that with paper books and still am with ebooks. A trip to the library may result in 3-6 books, but then I read them (or don’t) and return them. My Kindle isn’t loaded with tens or hundreds of books waiting. I don’t download every freebie of questionable appeal. If a new book comes out by an author I follow, and it isn’t available for Kindle or isn’t available reasonably, I’m going to get it from the library – for free.

    As an author I also know I have readers who will buy my next book the second it is available on Amazon. If no ebook were available for months, only the more expensive paperback? I suspect I’d lose fans. They wouldn’t wait, wouldn’t buy the expensive book they didn’t want. They’d just find an author to enthuse about who has more sense.

  3. I seem to be getting pretty good at catching books during temporary price drops so a lot of times, a book on my wish list gets ignored and I never buy it unless its price drops and sometimes not even then. There are, of course, exceptions. If they were to start windowing a book’s release in digital format, I suspect I would either have read it from the library before its digital version appears or forgotten about it and moved on to something else. I hardly ever pick up freebies since I have plenty to read which I have chosen on the basis of (usually) professional reviews.

  4. I read about forty books a year, and it takes me about ten years (less as I get older) to forget a book so completely that I can read it again as new; so I can fill my entire reading requirements for the rest of my life with roughly four hundred books — about a third of what I already have the capacity for on my latest tablet device. Textbooks and gifts aside, I don’t see any bookseller getting a cent out of me between now and my dying day.

  5. Clytie Siddall // July 22, 2012 at 2:55 am //

    Like other commenters above, I have changed my ebook-purchasing habits in response to Agency price-fixing (and geolims). I buy a lot more self-pubbed ebooks, read more blogs, and look for special deals. I also have a price ceiling, and will simply wait for a title to come down in price. If it doesn’t, I won’t buy it.

    No customer likes being ripped off. Pricing the new paperback at $7.99 and the new ebook at over $20 is not going to win you friends. (This particular belch of price-fixing has been been targeted at Australian customers since just before Christmas 2011.)

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