When you read the Amazon kindle boards, you’ll quickly figure out there are a couple of topics that seem to come up every week. Hell, sometimes they come up every day. It doesn’t matter that the topics have been discussed into the ground. It doesn’t matter that the kindle boards actually have a pretty good search engine. No, it’s the case of “gee, I have a question and I’m just going to ask it without checking to see if anyone else has asked it before.”
The latest is to ask why Amazon doesn’t give free digital versions of a title when the hard cover version is purchased. Now, I’ll admit this sounds like a great idea — from a reader’s point of view. There are a a couple of authors I still buy hard covers of. Dave Weber, Sarah Hoyt, Dave Freer, to name a couple of them. But I also like the convenience of having the e-book so I don’t have to tote that heavy hard cover around. So I tend to buy both the hard cover and the e-book versions of anything these authors put out.
Now, I do it for a couple of reasons. The first, as I said, is convenience. I choose to collect the hard covers but I want the convenience of being able to read the books on my kindle or on my tablet. The second reason is I sure don’t mind putting a bit more money in my favorite author’s pockets. It is my small way of showing how much I appreciate their work.
What folks who want the free e-book included with the hard cover version don’t realize is that this isn’t a decision Amazon or any other retailer can make. This is especially true for those publishers who have adopted the agency model of pricing. In other words, Amazon is only the conduit for e-books, making it easier for publishers (or authors) to reach the buying public. Amazon doesn’t first purchase the e-titles and then resell them.
But there’s something else that needs to be taken into account here. What these folks want takes money out of the authors’ pockets. Yes, I know you can buy a blue ray disc and get the regular dvd as well. But that’s apples to oranges. Authors, especially those who have contracts with legacy publishers, are paid based on net proceeds. So, giving away one format is cutting into their livelihood.
Maybe if legacy publishers would be fair in their contracts with authors and pay them a reasonable royalty, especially on e-books, this request might not be something that always leaves me shaking my head. C’mon, let’s face it. We’d be laughed out of the dealership if we went in and expected the Lincoln-Mercury dealer to throw in the Ford version of the car you just bought. After all, it’s basically the same car, just has a different name on it. An ebook is the same as the hard cover version, just has a different “wrapper” on it.
Instead of asking for freebies, how about finding ways to let the publishers know that you’d be glad to put more money into their pockets if they’d just start putting more into their authors’ pockets?