Thursday, May 2, 2019

Real Books - #ebooks #prices #kobo

Books for sale

I came to a disturbing realization a few weeks ago. I still don’t quite think of ebooks as “real books”.

I was preparing for my mid-April vacation, and since I wanted to travel light, I decided I needed to augment the selection of reading on my tablet.

For the past six months or so, I’ve been buying most of my ebooks from Kobo. This is partly an anti-monopoly protest on my part, but also reflects the fact that I really like their website, their reading app, their policies and their customer service. In particular, I like the fact that I can download my books to both my phone and my tablet, and that I don’t need to be online to have full e-reading functionality.

Anyway, I went to Goodreads and brought up my (very long) list of “Want To Read” books, then starting searching for titles on Kobo. The prices varied quite a lot, I discovered. I didn’t hesitate to buy romance or erotica or fantasy which was usually less than five bucks, but prices in the seven to eight dollar range made me stop and think, “How much do I really want this book?” And I just couldn’t bring myself to spend over ten dollars on an ebook, even when I was fairly sure based on authors and reviews that I’d enjoy it.

It’s not that I’m poor. I can afford a few ten buck books a month. I certainly spend more than that on wine, for instance! And I doubt I’d hesitate to purchase a paperback I knew I wanted at that price. When I did some introspection, I came to the conclusion that, even though my own books are mostly available in electronic form, ebooks still seem ephemeral. It’s hard for me to feel comfortable forking over that much cash for a bucket of bits.

I’m a little shocked to find I still harbor this prejudice. At the same time, I’m also rather dismayed at the high prices on some ebooks, especially mainstream titles. Becoming, by Michelle Obama, is more than $15. Likewise Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century. What would the hard copy version cost? On Amazon, it’s discounted from $20 to around $16. That makes my dilemma worse. Should I save the planet as well as scarce space in my apartment by purchasing an ebook, when for the roughly the same investment I can get a book to hold in my hand?

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Or maybe I still haven’t outgrown my bargain-hunter upbringing. Whatever the source, I hope my readers aren’t like me (although in fact almost all my books cost five dollars or less).

My ebooks are real. Honest!


Larry Archer said...

I read mostly on my phone also and haven't bought a actual novel in years. The only thing I buy are engineering related books and they are always expensive. But I shop the used book section at Amazon or Alibris and can often find a previous edition where the shipping cost is more than the book.

Cathy Brockman said...

I've downloaded the Kobo app as well. also part that I am showing Amazon they didn't hurt me by kicking me out of reviewing but that there are other places to purchase. Don't get me wrong I still use my kindle app too, and purchase on Amazon but less.. I myself rarely spend more than 5 dollars on an e book. Thats my personal opinion. I have debated it on some of my favorite published authors in series I had been reading. their Ebooks are not much less than the paperbacks and at times more. So do I want to save on cluttering my house and save room and put it on my device or buy the book. I have not decided on that yet. great post!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Cathy - Every time I buy something from Kobo I feel like I'm striking a small blow against the empire!

Hey, Larry - I actually buy most of my print books second hand, too.

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