Friday, October 25, 2019

Discussion: The Inequities of Ebooks


This Week’s Topic: The Inequities of Ebooks

I am a hardcore ebook reader, and I love so many things about them. I can make the font big enough for my old eyes to read without glasses. I can increase the white space in an effort to reduce fatigue. I can carry 2000+ books with me at all times. I really appreciate all the benefits of ebooks. 

However, when my daughter and I were talking the other day, we found there was some things that just seemed unfair, when it came to ebooks. 
  1. It baffles us, that an ebook can cost more than a physical book. I have seen this many times, when I am browsing on Amazon, and I find it difficult to understand. Both formats require some sort of file, but one is delivered to you electronically, while the other must be printed on paper and bound into a book. How could it cost more to send me a file? 


  2. More and more publishers are not allowing an owner to loan an ebook. Once upon a time, almost all ebooks could be lent to another reader. Now? Almost none. It doesn't seem fair, when if I owned the physical book, I could loan to an unlimited number of readers, or better yet, I could resell it or trade it once I had read it. 


  3. Then, there is the whole drama with the eLibraries. Publishers are punishing them by only allowing them to purchase a single copy of a new title, because the publishers believe it will drive readers to go and buy the book for themselves. Seems elitist and unfair to me. (see this article for more information)

Despite any inequities, I still remain a steadfast ebook reader, because they work better for me, but it doesn't mean I don't sometimes ponder these things. 


Now it's your turn!

Are you an ebook reader? 
Let us know in the comments!

50 comments:

  1. I used to love physical books more but lately, I've been loving ebooks a whole lot more. I still do love having the physical copy in my hands and I love looking at them on my shelve. Ebooks much convenient for me since I'm a student and I already got loads of things in my bag so a physical book is just an added weight while for the ebook, if I don't have my Kindle, I read through my phone so yeah very convenient. I also agree about the font thing plus I appreciate the fact that I can set it to any mode to make it easier for me to read depending on the time of day.

    However, I do agree that they do really cost more. It baffles me too because it seems... unfair. The labor put into publishing a physical book is so much more compared to that of an electronic one. It's why sometimes I wait for a sale or when there's a day that it's free. And that ban on loaning an ebook made me sad. It's what me and my friends used to do. As for number three, I'm not familiar with that yet but I'm gonna be checking that article out. These restrictions are quite questionable.

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    1. I always find it hard to understand an electronic file costing more than a physical book, that had to be printed and bound and perhaps, shipped to a seller. It baffles me.

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  2. I'm not really an e-book reader, but I totally get this post. I've always wondered why e-books can be so expensive! I thought a big part of going digital was to reduce costs. And my library sent around an email about that publisher-one copy thing - how ridiculous! I think most people will still just wait for the library copy instead of paying for their own copy. Plus there will probably still be a lot of physical copies they can get.

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    1. I used the library (and blog), because I have very little disposable income. I am not going to run out and buy a book, just because the pub is playing unfairly with the eLibrary. I will wait, or even not read it. I am both happy and sad my eLibrary is joining the boycott, because I think it's fundamentally wrong, but I do love so many Macmillan titles.

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  3. You make excellent points. I too have seen ebooks priced higher than print and immediately turned off from buying the digital version. I prefer hardcovers, but have a kindle for those ARCs that are sent to me. I really don't like the library ban either.

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    1. I have actually bought/borrowed election versions of books I have, because I struggle with physical books. It is my #1 format choice, but I don't understand the pricing at all.

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  4. i agree with all your points. i have been reading more and more ebooks for their convenience and ease of use, though i do like to feel the physical books in my hands, my hands don't like it so well any more. i would never pay ten bucks for an ebook, no matter what!
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. I have carpel tunnel and arthritis in my hands, even when I read a kindle, I prop it up because of the pain. I have rarely paid full price for an ebook. Since most of the big press ones are available via the eLibrary, I usually only buy the self-pub/indie titles or deeply discounted books I really, really want that are NOT available at the library.

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  5. I prefer ebooks. I have been known to download a copy of an ebook from the library to read even if I already own the paperback.

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    1. I am guilty of that as well. Just this week, I won a copy of a book, which I downloaded today from Hoopla. In all fairness, when I entered the giveaway, the book was not yet released, and I wasn't sure it would be available at my library.

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  6. I've come across a few books lately that I wanted to get and it was less money for the paperback than ebook version. Why are they more?! You'd think a physical book would cost more. Ugh.

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    1. That's what I wonder! You would think it would cost more to produce the physical book, than just the electronic file. Things that make me go hmmmmmmm

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  7. I love both paperback and ebooks, but I agree it's ridiculous when an electronic copy of a book costs more than a paperback. I usually like to hold out until an ebook I've been wanting to read is either on sale for .99 or free, anything more than a couple of dollars for an ebook is too much.

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    1. I hold out as well, because I am on a tight budget. I am thankful I have so many books available to me via the eLibrary, and I am lucky enough to be able to blog for books, because I would not be able to afford my reading habit. I will one-click those self-pub/indie authors I love if the price is right, because they seldom get purchased by my library.

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  8. Very interesting discussion Sam! But we European never were able to lend our ebooks so it does not change much! Now about the price ...I don't understand it either! An audiobook being expensive I can understand as the making of the audiobook asks for a narrator to be paid, a studio to rent etc but an ebook? In most cases these outrageous prices are for YA books not indie romance authors though. But indeed their biggest assets is that we can carry many in our purse! One last argument (because I wrote a similar post ebook vs physical book months ago): I think the ebooks allowed authors to get published! Think about all the indie authors that would not be published otherwise!

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    1. I own that book. I should be able to lend it just like an other thing I own. I wonder why Europeans were never able to do this? I get the pricing for audiobooks too. They probably cost quite a bit to create, having to pay actors and whatnot, but an ebook? It's an electronic file. I don't get it. I know that eBooks have changed the publishing game allowing more people to get their work out there. Those books are usually fairly priced too, and are the ones I am more likely to purchase, because my library doesn't get them.

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  9. I do understand that there are still costs to publishing an ebook (still have to pay the author to write/edit and all that & there's special formatting) but I'm with you and feel like it should cost less.

    I do remember reading an article last year that said it's actually cheaper to print a book though. I can't seem to find it right now.

    There's just NO WAY I'm spending $10+ for a book when the HC/PB is cheaper. My limit is around 4.99 but I usually spend .99-2.99.

    That whole library thing makes me so mad.

    Karen @ For What It's worth

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    1. How could it be cheaper to print and bind a book, than distribute an electronic file? Don't they need a formatted file in order to print the book? I am not convinced.

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  10. I used to be a massive ebook reader! When I lived in a non-English speaking country I relied on them more heavily. Now I get sent review copies and have access to a lot of secondhand and new English books so I am almost always reading physical copies unless I am traveling. I still love my ebooks but I find it ridiculous that publishers are banning, limiting and making it harder for us to access ebooks. I feel like they should either be cheaper or equivalent in price.

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    1. That ban is way too elitist for me. It makes an assumption that everyone can afford to buy all the books they would like to read, which I cannot.

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  11. I find it crazy how expensive publishers insist on making ebooks. I get that ebooks cost money to create and everything and obviously and the author want to make their money, don't begrudge anyone earning a living, but an ebook being £10 is insanity to me. I mean, when they're £5.99 it can be frustrating but that tends to be cheaper than a physical copy so I'm cool with that. I do hate how I can't lend my ebook copy to anyone, though. The number of times I've enthused about a book to a friend and when they ask to borrow it I have to say no because it's an ebook is crazy. It's kind of why I end up owning two copies of some books, so I have a copy to lend out. I did think it crazy when I saw publishers limiting the number of copies libraries could buy though. How dare they punish libraries for trying to cater to their users needs and try and force folks to buy a copy of a book when many can't afford to! Would they limit the number of physical copies a library could buy? I don't think so. Why make it harder for folks to access the books they want, surely that only encourages pirating? And libraries are struggling enough to stay open as it is don't make it harder to encourage people to use them.

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    1. I don't want to put a dollar amount on an ebook, but I do think they should cost less than a physical book, and I am sticking with that story. That embargo is so obnoxious. Trying to force people to buy books, when they may be using the library, because they cannot afford to buy books. I would never be able to finance my reading habit. I love that I can borrow from the library.

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  12. I am fed up with the whole ebook thing. I recently signed a petition at my library against the publishers who are only allowing the libraries to purchase one ebook at a time. It won’t drive me to buy the book, in fact it will discourage me. I am not about greed. There isn’t a book out there that I am drying to read that much that I have to have it immediately. I always have a huge reading list and I am more than happy to wait months if necessary. Libraries are the biggest purchasers of books out there, They purchase more books than even bookstores, so that means the publishers are punishing their best customers? Go figure that one out! I am mostly an ebook reader these days too, but if it comes down to it, I will go back to physical copies, especially if they cost less.

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    1. My eLibrary posted that they will not be buying any Macmillan books starting November 1st because of the embargo. I am so shocked by this stance the pub is taking, and I commend the libraries for fighting back.

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  13. Lots of good points here. I agree that the prices of some Kindle books are crazy. I set a £2 limit and won't buy anything above that for the most part, £2.50 being my maximum purchase if I really want the book. If the prices are the same I'd rather buy a paperback than pay that for an ebook!

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    1. I rarely buy ebooks, but when I do, they are usually on sale or self pub/Indies, which I cannot get at the library. If the prices were equal, I would still buy the ebook for many different reasons - my eyes, my wrists, my hands. Physical books are such a struggle for me to read.

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  14. All of those are things that bother me about ebooks, and issues I've discussed before on my blog at some point or other. But I find myself buying and reading a lot of them for the same reasons you do: adjustable font size, the fact that I can take hundreds of books on vacation with me, plus the ability to buy or borrow a book and read it immediately, and the ability to read in the dark without turning on the lights (a lifesaver for someone with insomnia.)

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    1. My daughter always reads in the dark, but I never do. If the lights are out, I usually fall asleep. I have missed part of every movie I have seen in the theatre, because I fall asleep, YET! I struggle to fall asleep in my beg. --sigh--

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  15. I definitely agree. Libraries should not be limited to one e-book per title. That's not fair, and it's not going to help publishers because most library users probably will NOT go out and buy a book. It's just too expensive for people! And I don't get why e-books are more than physical books sometimes - that makes no sense.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. That policy is unreal, and it's not driven by anything but greed. It makes me sad.

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  16. I read equal amounts of physical and ebooks and sway towards the side of ebooks, they're convenient and can carry around hundreds with you. I don't understand the pricing either. I know they have overheads with Amazon taking a cut and advertising and promotions but they're still so expensive. I went to buy an ebook the other day and it was $15.99. I hadn't heard about the issue with libraries and publishers, that's some elitist bullshit right there.

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    1. Wouldn't physical books sold by Amazon have some sort of overhead involved as well? I can stomach the two formats being equal in price, but the ebook costing more makes me scratch my head. I draw a hard line at $10 for an ebook, and I have seldom paid that, because I don't have money for extras like that. When I am lucky enough to get a gift card, I watch the prices, and really only buy books not available at my library.

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  17. I love ebooks but the whole price thing baffles me too. It seems like they should always be way cheaper than a printed copy. The library issue frustrates me too because the wait can be so long for a really popular book.

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    1. If not cheaper, definitely not more expensive, right? I am really disappointed in the publisher for taking that stance, and I understand why the libraries are boycotting them.

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  18. Great discussion! I like both print and ebooks. I rarely buy an ebook that isn't on sale. I like to spend less than $3 per book when buying a digital book. You may not be able to loan kindle books but you can definitely share them. I currently have myself, my mom, my sister, and my daughter on my kindle account. We have probably close to 20 devices between us and can all access the same books. Certain books have limits on how many devices it can be downloaded on but my sister and I have split the cost of a new release and both started reading it on the publication date. Of course, this only works with people you would trust with your credit card. My sister also listens to the books in my audible account. I am not understanding the limits being put on libraries.

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    1. You can share with people on your account, but you used to be able to lend ebooks via your Amazon library. My daughter and I share an Amazon account, since I bought her her first kindle, when she was really young (our school district did not have enough copies of books. She got extra credit for getting her own copy). I just don't think it's fair to not allow someone who owns a book to lend it.

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  19. I'm continuously baffled by ebook prices. Like when they charge you a hardback price for the ebook copy... WTF?
    I hadn't really given much thought to the library or loaning points but now that you mention them, that sucks too. I'll remain a hardcore ebooker though. I much prefer the format.

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    1. I have a hard time understanding how an ebook can cost more than a physical book, but what do I know. *high five* you're one of the few ebookers, and we have to band together.

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  20. I totally agree with you! I love ebooks, but I only buy them if they're cheaper than the physical book. I think it's bizarre that sometimes it costs as much as or more to buy an ebook than a physical book.

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    1. I would love to see the math on that. Maybe then I could buy into the idea.

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  21. I never understand how an ebook can be more than a physical book! I REFUSE to buy those. It just seems so silly!

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    1. I need some sort of explanation for how that is possible. Even if I consider something that is not getting a huge printing, that makes me think the physical book should cost more, not the electronic file. I don't get it. *shrugs*

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  22. I LOVE this post so much. I'm always astonished whenever an e-book is as, or even more expensive than a physical copy of the book... when it's like that, I'd rather wait or just get the physical copy. It's just so frustrating, haha.

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    1. If I read physical books, I would always get the cheaper option. So, I totally understand that. It is a baffling thing though

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  23. I genuinely love e-books, and think they are great to save money, because backlist titles can sometimes be bought at a huge discount. I've seen ebooks sold for around $2 meanwhile a non-used physical copy will never be that cheap. They're also super-useful for me, because I can get them immediately meanwhile I have to wait weeks for physical copies to arrive to Hungary, as Hungarian shops sell few English novels.

    Their normal price, though, I do not understand either - I've heard that formatting an ebook can be expensive for the publisher, but they only have to pay for that once? Surely, actually printing books and physically sending them out costs more than selling ebooks?

    Amazing post, Sam! :)

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    1. I check my wishlist on Amazon everyday, hoping for a price drop, but a lot of the older book don't seem to go on sale. I have heard the argument that an ebook must be formatted, but doesn't a physical book need formatting too?

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  24. And AND, doesn't it say in the fine print that you don't technically *own* the thing and that it can be recalled at any time!? Which is complete garbage for $13 or whatever! Look, I get that the author deserves to make money and such, but the thing that gets me is, you KNOW the author isn't getting the money for the ridiculous price, the publisher is. So... nope, never going to pay more than like, $6 MAX for an ebook.

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    1. What? I had no idea about that. What do you mean I don't own it? I bought it! It's not a library book that I borrow. That is actual, complete garbage. I have a $5 max, though, I have gone beyond that on very few occasions. I did for The Simple Wild, but the book was a good ROI, because it got 5-stars from me.

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  25. I LOVE ebooks! Being an international blogger/reader (I live in the Philippines), ebooks are my go-to since they're super accessible and mostly cheap. It is frustrating to not be able to lend the ebook you bought when you paid for it lol such a capitalist move!

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    1. It actually vexes me, that I cannot buy ebooks for works that have not be published in the US. There are some UK/Australian authors I love, and my only option is to get a physical book or wait, and in that case, I usually wait and hope they get published in the US. But, there are definitely more pros than cons, for me, when it comes to ebooks. Accessibility ranks really high for me.

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