JR Ward’s Lover Mine came out yesterday. I was all set to download it to my Kindle. Only, I couldn’t. Even though I’d had the ability to pre-order it a few months ago, the link to to buy it is now gone.
As is the one from the new Sookie Stackhouse book coming out next week.
Because Penguin and Amazon are in a pissing match about e-book prices. And there’s already been a ton of discussion about the whys and wherefores of what’s going on so I don’t really want to get into it here.
But what I want to say is that as a consumer, it really blows. Lover Mine is apparently available on the Nook right now, and my understanding is that people who have called into Penguin directly to complain were told to go and download it from Barnes & Noble.
What if I don’t want to? I don’t have a Nook. I don’t want to read the book on my computer or my blackberry. Yeah, there’s a converter or two out there that might work, but that’s a lot of hassle. On the other hand, there are already torrents of the book out there. And I’m not advocating piracy, but I could definitely see where some people might just say “Fuck it”, and download it – the thinking being that if I wasn’t going to buy the book anyway, then Penguin hasn’t actually lost any money. (And no, I haven’t done that. I actually went and bought the hard cover.)
It would be one thing if a book were *only* available at one place. But the paper version of this book is still available at Amazon. For only $9.99, btw. Same with the new Sookie novel. Which I’m guessing is Amazon’s way of petty revenge, but it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s damnably inconvenient to me.
I bought my Kindle because it’s small and I can usually download and read whatever I want, whenever I want. In fact, I could make the argument that since I bought it, I’ve read way more books in the last few months than I’ve read in the last *year*. I’ve taken chances on authors that I might not have tried if I’d just seen them in the bookstore** and found some I really like. Enough to continue buying all their books, even if they aren’t necessarily my all-time favorites. And now I’m being forced to purchase a book in a format that I don’t want just to have the opportunity to read it. As a reader, I resent this.
I also hate seeing people rant on the forums that somehow this is all the author’s fault. Like if JR Ward really *wanted* to, she could make her publisher do what she wants. Or suggest she just move to a new publisher altogether. It doesn’t work that way, guys. For the most part, authors have very little power (unless you’re JK Rowling) over what happens to their books. We certainly have no say in what a publisher does at the level of this particular battle.
In the end, though – I think these price wars are just going to hurt publishing as a whole. Just look at what happened with music and mp3s. Who the hell buys CDs anymore? Consumers *want* instant gratification for a reasonable price, and we will line up to buy it. Denying us this for the sake of making a point hurts everyone, reader and author alike. People will either stop buying the books or find other places to illegally get them.
** And yes, I realize it makes no sense that I would buy these books online vs paper. It’s like a switch gets turned on in my head – if it’s not physical, it’s not “real” and therefore the money I spend on it doesn’t really matter. Kind of how cookie crumbs don’t have calories, maybe.