A vacancy… in the wallet

Over the weekend, the fabulous Stuart directed a tweet towards me.

The answer is quite simply that yes, I do think I’ll read it but no, I haven’t yet. I’m a big Harry Potter fan, but somehow this new book from JK Rowling doesn’t worry me in the way other “next projects” for beloved people do. It feels as though HP is such a phenomenon that she a) doesn’t have to write ever again and b) could write nonsense forever and it wouldn’t take away from that world. As long as it wasn’t in that world, of course.

So I’m not worried about reading it. A few reviews I’ve read have been mixed and they suggest that you really need to treat this as a new author, because it is so unlike the Harry Potter books we’ve known and loved. I’m willing to give it a go, if only to see what it’s like. I’m not convinced that if I was pretending it was a new author I would still be bothered about reading it – the blurb doesn’t really sell it to me. But we’ll see.

What’s holding me back is the price. I know that this is the “hardback” window, the time where the ridiculously overpriced and impossible to read comfortably editions are released. In my physical media days, I would always wait for the paperback. I can understand that the book is new and people are excited for it, and they want to cash in on the hype a bit. Totally understandable.

But this kind of pricing is mad.

  • Amazon Hardback – £9.00
  • Amazon Kindle – £11.99

What really baffles me is that as someone who keeps forgetting to cancel their Audible subscription, I can get the amazing Tom Hollander reading the audiobook to me for almost eighteen hours for less money than I can get some e-ink on a screen. All the arguments for ebooks stand out here – there’s no scarcity, there’s no production costs, distribution is easy as pie and yet it is somehow MORE expensive in its beautiful digital form!

Ultimately, I’m not passionate enough about the book to pay the exorbitant price, so I’ll add it to my Amazon wish list and wait for a sale.

4 thoughts on “A vacancy… in the wallet

  1. The price of eBooks has long confused me too. In my (limited) experience paperbacks and eBooks seem to be around the same price, while I’d expect the eBook to be a fair bit cheaper.

    I read that while books are VAT free, eBooks aren’t. So in effect, if the price is the same, the eBook is already 20% cheaper. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the selling price of the book, how much is royalties, publishing firm profit, printing, distribution, tax etc… . We could then see if companies make a bigger profit on eBooks or if the VAT really is the difference.

    (Apparently the law is very specific on what defines a book e.g. must be bound and the cover is thicker than the pages etc… This seems a bit ridiculous to me and hopefully the government will change the VAT rules someday soon, but with the economy the way it is I can’t see them doing anything that will reduce how much tax they collect at the moment.)

  2. People are being asked to pay for convenience, that’s how I see it.

    While e-books are a niche / luxury product (which is rapidly coming to an end, but still is true at the moment) people are being asked to pay more because that is what the market will bear.

    Here’s an interesting article from the Telegraph from the other week.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/9579021/A-third-of-bestsellers-cost-more-as-e-books-than-as-hardbacks.html

    I personally bought the audiobook, thinking I would start immediately, but then haven’t for some reason.

  3. To elaborate a little on what Richard said above ebooks are classified as software and as such attract VAT, whereas books do not.

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