July 23, 2024

Digital pricing can impact everyone – including travelers.  Smart travelers tend to travel light.  The arrival of e-books and various digital “readers” was a blessing to the traveler who wanted to take various magazines, books, novels, trip guides etc. on the journey  but didn’t want all the added bulk and weight of “hard copy” literature.  I know that whenever I travel I tend to load up my iPhone and iPad with lots of reading material – just in case.  You never know when you might want to read up on a new locations, kill a few hours of airport time during an unexpected delay, read a novel to help move you toward sleep as your body adjusts to a multiple time-zone shift.  You get the idea.

I have to say that I love digital books and literature in many ways. But there are two problems I have with digital books. And they really slow me down and make me very reluctant and selective in regard to purchasing digital books.   Problem Number One – you can’t share digital books or loan them or gift them as you can with hard copy books.  Problem Number Two – digital book pricing really irritates me.  Digital books cost far more than they need to cost.   

When I purchase a “real” hard cover book I own it. I can read it – see it on my bookshelf – loan it to a friend – gift it to a friend or the library or charity.  I can do what I please with it. These are things that book publishers don’t want me to do with my digital books (heck, I suspect they would probably like to find a way to keep me from doing them with my hard cover books). And, I might add,  they are creating all the same types of headaches for libraries – refusing to sell tem digital books or limiting the number of times that a digital book can be “loaned out”.   Good Grief!

I feel that the price I pay for the hard cover books is reasonable for what I get.   Have you looked at the price of digital books?   The cost is way out of proportion to any reality / cost basis.    Some costs are the same for hard cover and digital editions of books – but many are not. Who out there believes that the true direct cost of a digital copy of a book is anywhere near that of a hard back copy ?  No way that makes any sense..  I have nothing against a company making a profit.  But there is a differential in costs between hard cover and digital books which is not nearly reflected in the price.  Charging these high prices for a digital copy of a book makes absolutely no sense. 

Well, let me correct that – these prices and policies make no sense to anyone other than those who stand to make a profit from the sale of these high-priced digital books.  (And again let me say that I have nothing against a company making a reasonable profit.) But now, it turns out (and as many have suspected) that quit possibly book producers have colluded and conspired to collectively agree to charge these inflated prices. (Just goes to show you that just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t plotting against you!)

This week the Wall Street Journal did an article this reporting that the U.S. Justice Department is about to sue various publishers for practices such as these (related Journal article).  They report that Apple and Steve Job’s ideas and policies are at the center of the case.  It appears that Apple initiated moves to change the way that publishers charge for e-books.  You can find information related to this in Walter Isaacson’s recent biography on Apple’s  “Steve Jobs.”  Check out Chapter 38 “The iPad”, subheading “Publishing And Journalism” which is on page 503 ( This of course in the hard back edition – I didn’t purchase the e-book so I have no idea about that page number.) The Wall Street Journal reports that  the suit is related to allegations involving various publishers “colluding to raise the prices of electronic books.” 

I have no idea how this will all turn out.  Believe me, I will be following this issue.  My hope is that the result will involve a move toward more realistic and appropriate pricing and policy structures for digital books.  But then, of course with Big Business and Big Government involved – just about anything can happen!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. But meanwhile I continue to enjoy reading and loaning my hard back books – except of course when I load up my iPad for a long journey.

Read Right – Travel Light!….Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker