Kindle Owners Get Back At Publisher For Holding Off On Digital Edition

by Greg on January 15, 2010

Amazon has been trying to get publishers to release the digital editions of their books at the same time as the hardcover versions. Unfortunately, some publishers have decided to hold off on publishing the digital versions by up to four months after the hardcover edition has been released. These publishers include Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group.

Some Kindle owners aren’t too happy about this (myself included) and have started to get back at the publishers (me not included). What they have done is go to Amazon and given certain books one star ratings. I certainly would not endorse doing this but it could definitely have an impact on the books sales as a lot of people rely on these ratings when they buy any product from Amazon. My suggestion would be to actually read the reviews, if it seems to have a low rating, to see if it’s actually the content of the book or the lack of a digital version that has caused the poor ratings.

Personally, I think the publishers are hurting themselves by doing this. Instead of fighting the ereaders they need to find out how to work with them or they might find themselves in the same position as the recording industry.

Here’s what I think about the situation. An example of a book that has been released in hardcover but not digital is Game Change. The hardcover price at Amazon is $15.39 and the pre-order price for the Kindle is $8.61. That’s a difference of $6.78 per book which is quite a bit when you multiply that amount by the number of books sold. Looking at it that way it seems the publishers would be losing a lot of money but if you look at the whole picture, maybe they aren’t. After all, the digital version doesn’t use nearly as many resources as the hardcover and there is also no shipping involved and there’s not all the supply chains for it to go through. When taking all of the extra costs to produce a hardcover book as opposed to the digital version, I would guess that the price difference is not so far apart – I can’t say for sure since I don’t work for a publisher.

The other thing to think about is the fact that if someone can’t buy the book on their Kindle does that mean that they’ll go and buy the hardcover version instead? Maybe some will, but personally I wouldn’t and I would think that there’s more Kindle owners that would not go out and get the hardcover version because they just couldn’t wait for the Kindle version. Plus, the fact that it’s just so easy to buy a book for your Kindle as opposed to going to the store or buying it online should make a difference in having more digital sales (I know I buy more Kindle books just because it’s so easy to do).

I know some of you may agree or disagree with me so let us know what you think.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura Metzger January 25, 2010 at 7:26 pm

There have been several books I wanted to read that were not available on Kindle in the beginning and I have actually decided not to buy them at all — including when they come out on Kindle; don’t know how to attach a message with that so the publisher knows — but I do feel a boycott of sorts is in order for those not choosing to provide digital editions. While there is a revenue issue for the publisher, they are also very concerned with number of sold copies to get onto the best seller lists, so adding the digital book sales volume is important in the early release stages.

2 Chris January 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I still feel a little burned by the free “Children of Chaos”. I read it and loved it and wanted the two sequels. But they weren’t in Kindle format yet. I didn’t want to wait. Now they are in Kindle format and I’ve not even had time to read the paperbacks I bought. Oh well.
As for buying hardcovers… I rarely do it for new books, usually only for books I cherish already – and then often used. Bookshelf space is a PITA, but I cannot bring myself to sell books I’ve not even opened in well over 15 years – even college text books. DTB are a disease. 😉

3 Greg January 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I agree that if there was an author that I really liked and they were having a book signing, I would probably get the hardcover. I also like to go to book stores once in a while too but I like the fact that if I’m not in the mood to go out I can order a book from my couch and be reading it within 1 minute.

4 Kristi January 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

If I was waiting for a book–really anticipating it–then I might not wait for it to come out on the Kindle. In October I bought Margaret Atwood’s new book in hardcover because it came with a ticket to her book signing in Denver. She never could have signed my Kindle edition of the book! I still like going in to bookstores, and I will buy *real* books if I get a big discount, or if I find a used copy. I have not (and don’t exactly plan to) converted completely to Kindle editions, so I guess I’m not as bothered by this.

5 Yvonne January 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I agree with your article. But, people only see the $, and don’t think of the potential of the Kindle. I too, have been getting rid of my books. Mostly because we are moving to a condo, but also, because on the kindle, I have instant access to them.
Thanks for the article

6 Robin January 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Personally I am selling off most of my books and ordering them for my Kindle. It is so much easier to ‘store’ books on my Kindle than on my multiple bookshelves. I don’t want anymore books so I will also wait for the Kindle version to come out for any new books I want.
It seems to me that the publishers should be glad to sell the books to us Kindle readers. After all think of all the costs involve in printing those books and packaging them and let’s not forget the shipping costs which go up by the day it seems. If you substract those costs from the cost of the book, you probably are at the cost of the Kindle version anyway. NOT TO MENTION ALL THOSE TREES WE ARE SAVING BY NOT HAVING TO PRINT ALL THOSE BOOKS!!!
To all the publishers out there, Wise up–This is the way of the future! I find myself buying more books for my Kindle because its so easy to get them whenever and WHEREVER I want. No trips to a store miles away!!

7 Tom January 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm

I agree with Tonya, I’ll just wait it out. By the way, it is the publisher not the author that makes us wait.

8 Tonya January 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm

It frustrated me when Stephen King (and/or his publisher) refused to release the Kindle version of “Under the Dome” when the hardcover was released. I waited it out until Christmas Eve when I finally received the download to my Kindle. I’ll continue to wait if need be!

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