The most terrifying thing about horror master Stephen King's upcoming new book Under the Dome? The e-book version will supposedly cost $35.
Not the hardcover version. Not a physical version at all. An e-book! That's just nuts. Even worse, the e-book version will come out a month later than the print edition, so timeliness isn't even a factor.
I'd think a $35 price tag for an e-book would include something special. Maybe a scratch n' stiff card of ghoulish odors? A 30-day supply of sleeping pills, so the book doesn't cause night terrors? A random postcard from Mr. King himself? From what I can tell, all it seems to include is 1,000 digital pages. Granted, they're lighter than 1,000 hardcover book pages, but that's one hefty price tag all the same -- especially for a version that's one month delayed.
Plenty of people out there are willing to wait for a book to come out on paperback, rather than buy the hardcover version right away, just to save a few bucks. So what exactly is King's publisher, Scribner (owned by CBS's
Lots of companies are trying to get into the e-book craze. Amazon.com's
It's not hard to see why this nascent market is important. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales in August posted an 189.1% increase for the month, with year-to-date sales up 177.3%. (Book sales overall increased a mere 0.9% in August.)
You've got to wonder whether publishers are following the music industry's misguided lead, kvetching about the "unfair" prices charged by legitimate services like Amazon and ignoring the demands and desires of their customers. As we all know, the music industry's heavy-handed efforts to quash piracy only ended up stoking consumers' resentment. Then again, unlike the digital music business, it's generally understood that Amazon takes a loss on each e-book it sells -- most are priced at $9.99 -- in hopes of driving sales of its Kindle readers, and stimulating the market for e-books in general.
Meanwhile, Amazon, Target
The publishing industry seems poised to be just as short-sighted as the music industry was when digital distribution started taking hold. But its stubborn stinginess could leave the industry ripe for disaster and disruption.
What do you think? Would you pay $35 for an e-book that's already been on shelves for a month? Leave your comments in the boxes below.