E-books: the mess of where to get them and at what price?

Yes, this is going to be one of those ‘posts’, a post thatwill poke at a sore wound for some and is bound to get blood pressure up for some others. To be fair, this post is not intended as an in-depth post about the pricing of e-books and the big bad Amazon. Just a little post about the frustrations of a Dutch girl in getting her e-books.

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Way back when I started reading e-books, there was no such thing as a tax added up to the regular price if you lived outside of the US. So I went on my merry way and more often than not bought books directly from the publisher. And all was right in the world

Problem #1: Until some of those publishers went belly up (or decided to stop). With the notice that you had one month left to download all your e-books before you were unable to get them anymore (if you already didn’t have them safely stored). Since I had a back-up of my back-up, no worries, right?

Problem #2: Until my house got broken into and the back-up and the back-up of my back-up got stolen…. Fortunately for me, some authors were very sweet and gave me a new copy. But I didn’t have proof of purchase for all books anymore. So some were indefinitely lost. Not really a big problem since I didn’t like all of them anyways. See it as a clean-up.

Still, problems of a digital world and the keeping for digital files.

For a while after that, I bought my books through Amazon and Apple, with the thought that if my back-up was stolen again, I would still have all my books. At the time, you couldn’t get a Kindle in the Netherlands, so I read on my iPad, through the Kindle App.

And all was right in the world.

Nah, not really, because I read a lot outside and with an iPad, that sucks.

So I also started using websites such as Smashwords and AllRomance and publisher’s websites again.

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Problem #3: Until I realized that not only were my e-books once again spread all over, I don’t ‘own’ the books bought through Apple or Amazon. Ultimately the books bought through them are dependent on whatever happens to Amazon or Apple.

So I started searching for a central place to buy e-books and ‘safely’ store them in Dropbox.

Now as you might know – well fellow Dutch people – mainstream books by the big publishers are easily available at the regular e-books outlets. Reading sub-genres such as the m/m genre is a lot harder. It all depends on where the smaller publisher put their books.

Luckily in the Netherlands we have Bol.com. In a way a Dutch Amazon, but you ‘own’ the e-book.

Once again all was right in the world.

Nah, not really

Problem #4: Until I discovered that prices differ. A lot sometimes. Not just 50 cents, but several euro’s sometimes. There was, for instance, last month one book that cost:

(in euro)
2,99 at Amazon.de
5,99 at Amazon.com
5,49 at Bol.com
6,50 at the publisher itself

That is just one example as there are many more.

Now I’m one of those readers that reads quite a lot and therefore I buy a lot. I shudder to add-up what I spent per month and I really don’t want to know. At the same time, it also makes me price conscious. I don’t have one of those trees in the back yard that grows money. Plus I’m Dutch, we like a good bargain. I also have the patience (for some books) to wait until they go on sale. Not all books, but most of them. I’m also shark-like enough that I go where the price is cheapest.

That brings me right back to problems #1, #2 (sort of) and #3. You see where I’m going with this?

Now several years ago this wouldn’t have been as big of problem to me as it is now. Why you ask?

Problem #5: Until a tax law came into being a few years back. Because outside of Amazon and Apple and books I buy from Dutch e-book retailers, there is tax involved. Even if books are slightly cheaper somewhere else or there is a sale going at the publisher’s shop, there is a this nicky tax law that means the book often ends up more expensive and it’s straight back to Amazon(.nl) or Apple. Or in my case, the more expensive book from Bol.com.

I’m know that as authors and publishers it’s not easy to get a book out there. Nor do authors or publishers always have control over the price of a book. At the same time, look at this from a buyer’s perspective. It’s a bit of right hot mess isn’t it?

Is there a solution? Probably. Several. Are they easy? Not really. It just shows that the world of e-publishing really still is very much in the beginning stages.

And that was my point for this post, to show that it is still an ungoing project, e-publishing and authors and publishers should not just look at getting the books out there (though please please please do) but also at innovation.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

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