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Kindle book pricing and how the big guys don’t get it.

July 10, 2014

I love to read. For some reason, as a young reader, I missed many of the classics. I’ve made up for lost time over the years by “catching up.” Books like The Catcher In The Rye, Of Mice And Men, White Fang and On The Road have been books that I’ve only read in the last twenty years or so. The same goes for movies, I’ve caught up on The African Queen, Casablanca, The Godfather and others in the last few years. How did I miss them? I don’t know, perhaps I just spent so much time outside when I was younger, I just missed them. That is a subject for another time.

Yesterday, I read a news piece on CNN about an author that was gored running with the bulls in Pamplona. Bill Hillmann, author of “Fiesta, How To Survive The Bulls Of  Pamplona.” How ironic. It occurred to me that I had not read anything much by Hemingway recently, so I decided to take a look online and see if I could find his book, “The Sun Also Rises.” I figured that, surely, by now, it must be on Kindle for an inexpensive price, or perhaps, even free. Surely.

The book was published in 1926 and is famous for its depiction of running with the bulls. I started hunting around the Internet for a copy. Much to my surprise, actually, I wasn’t that surprised, the cheapest “legal” copy I could find was $7.99, for the Kindle. I could also get a paperback copy for $8.48. The publisher is Simon and Schuster and they, as well as all of the other surviving publishers, don’t “get it.” I’m not going to pay that much for a book written in 1926, I’m just not.

There are illegal means to get a copy, the bit torrent servers have it out there, but I like to do my reading legally. Yes, there is some cost to putting the Kindle version online and I’d willingly pay, perhaps, $0.99-$1.99 for a copy, but $7.99…no way. This problem exists industry-wide. Any of the better known contemporary or classic authors that are still published by the larger publishing houses do this and they’re losing money.

Eventually, I found a print copy in our local library and rode my bike over and picked it up. It is a very old copy, but that’s okay, it is an old book. The publishers lost another sale of an e-book. I wonder how long it will be before they catch on?

Please do comment. Am I being weird or a curmudgeon? How much are you willing to pay for e-books?

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