Elgan: What’s wrong with eBooks?

Elgan: What’s wrong with eBooks?

You stayed up late last night reading your hardcover print edition of “The Enchantress of Florence” by Salman Rushdie. It’s just too good to put down.

During breakfast, when you normally read The New York Times on your Kindle eBook reader, you felt compelled to read the Kindle version of your book instead.

The second you get into your car, you punch up the audio version, and let Rushdie himself read to you on the way to work.

During your lunch break, you visit the DMV to renew your driver’s license. The wait is 15 minutes, so you whip out your iPhone and keep on reading. You’re loving the fact that you bought all versions of the book in the $34.99 bundled edition.

Unfortunately, this whole scenario is pure fiction. Sure, “reading” a book on multiple formats is easy. The fairy tale is the price. It could actually cost you $76.34 to buy all copies. (The hardcover print copy costs $29.98 at Barnes & Noble; the Kindle version costs $9.99 at Amazon.com; and the audio version costs $36.37 at Audible.com.)

Can someone explain this to me? Since 99% of the value of a book is created before it’s spun off into multiple formats, why does that additional 1% of value cost between 30% and 300%?

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