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The Price of Ebooks and JK Rowling

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian
The price of ebooks and JK RowlingJK Rowling's first non-Potter novel was published yesterday, and The Casual Vacancy now sits at the top of the ebook and hardback charts in the UK and the US. Amazon is obliged to charge the price set by the publisher for the ebook; in the UK, this is £11.99, and £9.00 including free delivery for the hardback. This means the hardback is 25% cheaper than the digital version, which cannot be lent or passed on or sold second hand (Amazon will buy the hardback from you once you have read it for £4.50). Although ebooks include VAT, Amazon charges the Luxembourg rate of 3%.

Unsurprisingly, some readers who prefer the convenience of reading on a Kindle are fed up about this. Go to the book's reviews and (at time of writing) half of them are one star, mostly because of the price. Almost none of the people posting reviews, favourable or not, have read the book.

My view is the price is extortionate; Hachette are milking JKR's fans in a shameless way just because they can. I am surprised JKR has let them do this. Though setting the price is the province of the publisher, I'd be astonished if a writer with her clout had no hand in deciding on it. There is nothing about JoRo to suggest she is not one shrewd cookie.

Joe Konrath says it will be good for indie authors when the US Department of Justice's ruling on the Price-Fix Six (the five publishers who colluded with Apple to keep ebook prices high) comes into effect, as readers will have cash to buy more books if they spend less on well-known authors. I hope he is right.

(Any of my readers read TCV yet? I wasn't enamoured of the sample or what I've read in the newspaper reviews; I prefer novels with some likeable characters.)

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