Ebook Retailers Have it All Wrong – Part 1

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I used to frequently buy ebooks from Kobo. As a person who was a fairly early adopter to ebooks and ereaders, I didn’t have an issue with paying the cost of digital versions for physical books. Then I got to thinking about it and ebooks can be quite expensive. On average, most ebooks go for around $9.99 which isn’t a lot of money; however, if the physical copy is $14.95 (and most book retailers give you free shipping if you order $25 or more) then you feel like you’re getting ripped off.

One of the things that I used to love about Kobo was getting discount coupons ranging from 20%-35% off. It ended up saving me a few dollars here and there but it was a great incentive for me to purchase from Kobo instead of another digital book retailer.¬†As a price conscious consumer, I frequently check competitor’s websites to get the best price on books. If I can save even $.50 on a purchase, I’m a happy camper.

After while, I noticed that these coupons would work on fewer and fewer books until now none of the coupons I get can be applied to books I actually want to buy. Case in point, I just received an email yesterday with a subject line that read “Just For You – Get 50% Off”. (I’m sure i’m one of thousands of people on their mailing list that got this “special” coupon). Even though the coupon clearly states that the discount is for select titles, it’s disappointing because the selection of books is made up of harlequin romance, fantasy and cheap novels.

And then there is Amazon. I’m a big fan of Amazon because of the selection; however, the one drawback is that Kindle essentially sells licences which it can revoke at any time. Check out this article published on NBC titled “You Don’t Own Your Kindle Books“. So while you may have a library full of awesome ebooks, you don’t actually own them. Although this doesn’t effect your reading experience, it makes you think about what you’re actually buying which is convenience and access to content.

My point to all this is that I believe that the model for selling ebooks is flawed and can be improved in one of two ways:

1) Decrease the price of ebooks

2) Increase the value proposition of an ebook

I’ll be covering more ideas on this in part 2 of this post.

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2 comments

  1. I always feel that if you buy a hard copy of a book, you should be eligible for a digital version for your reader, or at least a heavily subsidized copy. What do you think?

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