Buying an e-book reader can be considered as an investment (that is if you buy a lot of books); however it needs quite substantial initial expense, the e-book reader device itself. My initial thought was, if I buy an e-book reader then I can buy the e-books with cheaper price than the printed books themselves, therefore it will pay off the cost of purchasing the e-book reader. But the more I look to it, some e-book markets sell their e-books with similar, little difference or sometimes even higher price than the printed books. I think it’s not fair. Why should the price of an electronic book, which doesn’t need any material to produce, have the similar price to the printed book?
Apparently I’m not the only one who complains about it. Recently, Apple along with five of the biggest publishing houses was sued by the US Department of Justice because of their e-book pricing policy. When Apple changed the way publishers charged the e-book pricing from the traditional model (charging the retailer about 50% of the RRP then the retailer can decide on the price they want to charge to the customers), which is the standard of the printed books, to the agency model (which the publishers set the price and the retailer take a certain fixed percentage) it changed the whole game for e-book pricing because in the agreement with Apple’s agency model, the publishers were not allowed to sell the same book to its rival retailer at lower price. Therefore a lot of publishers and Apple pressured Amazon to change its e-book pricing system to the agency model as well. Amazon uses the traditional model and sometimes even sells the e-books at loss to attract more customers to buy its Kindle products and tries to maintain the price of $9.99 for new best seller books.
As a customer and an avid reader, I feel very disadvantaged at the new e-book pricing system. All I want as an e-book reader is to enjoy the book without having to overpay for it, because owning an e-book is not the same as owning a printed book. E-book is bound to DRM so it’s not easily transferrable to anyone if I ever want to lend it to a friend. Therefore I think book publishers should consider this before they put higher price on e-books. Whether they agree to return to the traditional model or not, it is still left to be seen.
Update: On April 11, 2012 the US Department of Justice offered a proposed settlement for Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon& Schuster. Apple, Penguin and Macmillan however, have not accepted the settlement terms. The proposed settlement included the requirement to terminate current contract with Apple and other e-book retailers that restrict the retailer’s ability to set final prices.
The rest of the proposed settlement can be found via this link.