CyberRead.com

I visited CyberRead.com to do a bit of pricing. Is it just me or is whole “cyber” thing getting old. When’s the last time you told someone you’d look for them in cyberspace. If you ever did.

Anyway, not to get picky (I just don’t want to imagine cyberbooks!) but I strolled through the cyberstore looking for cyberprices (Couldn’t resist) and ran my now familiar test products first and found them pricier than I expected.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer $12.99
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman $17.99

Their “Best Sellers” run from

1491 by Charles C. Mann at $9.99

To Stephen King’s Duma Key at $16.99

to $20.95 for the gag inducing A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity by Bill O’Reilly
and Bob Woodward’s Thriller, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 for just $24.99. (Ambien’s cheaper…)

CyberRead offers eBooks in four formats: Mobipocket Reader, a universal eBook Reader for Windows computers, SmartPhones and most PDA’s; Microsoft Reader, for Windows-based desktop and laptop; Adobe Reader, the global standard for electronic document sharing; and Office Word 2007.


What do you want in an eBook reader?

1. I want an eBook reader that is smart enough to crack any eBook, digital magazine or document format they’ve got going. Oh, and open the file in a way that doesn’t result in a page of text that looks like sloppy html coding. That way I can purchase and download any eBook or document I want to read, anywhere I find it.

Any suggestions?


Diesel eBooks Visit

Diesel eBooks – Sounds like they’re selling truck manuals, but not so. They’ve got quite a collection over there: how-to, literature, mainstream and new releases. Google around a bit and you’ll see that the number of online eBook retailers is growing daily. Diesel’s just one of them.

I did a price check. Now you’ll notice I keep going back to Stephen King, and there’s a reason. He’s familiar to everybody on the planet, and he’s got books that range from almost ancient to new releases. The thought is, we can work out some decent prices there by comparing old to new, yah?

Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is available in all formats. They’ve got that listed from $16.48 in Mobi format up to $26.75 as an M-soft document.

Okay, let’s do the math. 30 year old book… very good book, but those prices are just crazy for an eBook of that antiquity.

It’s in the same list with his Dreamcatcher (okay, not as good a book…) which sells for $7.33. Come on. We’re not stupid. We know how digital books work. Once the file is created, it’s clear sailing. There’s no storage or shipping required at that point. And with these old books, lord they’re still cruising on decades-old press and advertising. TOO MUCH!

Let’s have a look at our test eBooks at diesel-ebooks.com:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
They’ve got it for sale from $9.11 to $10.10 depending on the format.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is selling at $15.33 to $16.53 also depending on the format.

And of course, we’ll check in on Ken Follet’s work:
World Without End by Follett, Ken  is on ‘sale’ as an eBook for $21.23.

The Pillars of the Earth by Follett, Ken  is going for $7.71.

Shopping visits like this have brought me to the conclusion that these guys either have no idea how intelligent their consumers are, or they actually believe that people do not shop around, or ‘google’ for the best or better prices.

It’s madness. Digital files priced the same as actual paperback or hardcover books when married to expensive eBook Readers completely negates any sensible reason for going digital. The hell with that. And to have comparable prices for older titles that would otherwise be sitting on a publisher’s backlist makes even less sense.

Do they not know how many of us are out here or how gigantic this bookshop is?

Of course, having said that Diesel eBooks also offers some of the cheapest eBooks I’ve seen yet. For example:  Darkness Calls by Caridad Pineiro for $3.57, Touch of the Wolf by Karen Whiddon for $3.63 and The Blue Nowhere by Jeffrey Deaver for $5.51. Granted, some of these are old pulps or romance, but these at least reflect the reality of eBook publishing. It costs nothing to store them or ship them… and other than new releases the majority have not been advertised in years… there’s no justification for high prices.


A Word or Two about eBook Rumors…

As in the case of most relatively new technologies, I’ve found those people who’ve made the leap and purchased an eReader now either love or hate the device.

And like most new tech, the companies developing them are trying to corner their part of the marketplace with dreams of capturing the entire world. And from that avarice comes the detestable fact that eBooks and eBook Readers are too expensive and they do not operate very smoothly cross platform.

Yet.

From my research I’ve found that people are generally ready for eBooks. Even died-in-the-wool, cardigan-wrapped readers and writers are starting to think they might use such a device. (Can you imagine?) But one thing is clear: the eBook revolution is underway.

No stranger to revolutions, horror master Stephen King describes some of the finer points of his Kindle in a recent article. To paraphrase he acknowledged it was all about the story. The rest is just a delivery system.

But people are holding back, waiting for that perfect mix of price and product. And we’re all much more tech savvy. We know that prices today will be lower tomorrow, just as a software obstacle on Monday becomes an asset by Sunday. We know that the driving force of technology is change. And something as revolutionary as changing the way we enjoy books, newspapers and magazines will draw vast sums of money while it changes cultural paradigms. But it will be adopted, and that will provoke competition. Competition will improve the devices, eBooks and selection while driving the prices lower.

And when people climb aboard, everyone’s going to develop a different relationship with the machines and software they buy, yah? (That will likely provoke a literary version of the PC/Mac or is it Mac/PC wars…god help us.)

That being the case, I’m hoping that eBook Rumors and contributors can focus on getting the features on these devices and software (product) straightened out, listed and compared. 

In the end these machines are going to change the way we do some very basic things, and will revolutionize one of the oldest and most approachable technologies–books. Such a process deserves our attention, yah?


Fictionwise eBooks: Free eBooks, eBooks for Palm, PocketPC, PC, & Mac

Fictionwise is on the money here offering various formats. Older titles at very affordable prices.

In an attempt to maintain some sense of order I priced New Moon at Fictionwise. Regular Price: $10.99  Your Price including Buywise Club and Micropay Rebate is $8.41.  The Kindle Store Beats that at $6.04, but both beat the Sony Store’s New Moon which sells for $9.89.

Of course the bulk of newish releases are still rather pricy, e.g. World Without End by Ken Follet released Oct./07 selling for $22.00 at regular price, that’s whittled down to $15.89 after club discount and Micropay Rebate. Still pricey, but at least you can see they’re trying to think their way through this stuff. At the same time it rather blatantly shows you how much inflated value can be added and subtracted from these products. WOW…

For older titles though, they’re getting into the ballpark as in Follet’s Pillars of the Earth offered at a regular price of $7.99 that’s sold at $6.45 with the membership discount and Micropay Rebate. So there’s a definite trend to bring these books down in price. Again, citing the price of the eReaders, we need affordable books to make it worth getting on board. And eBooks do not have all the same attendant costs as the ‘real world’ equivalent. But fictionwise is definitely aware of these realities, you can tell, offering some older titles like William Gibson’s Neuromancer for $5.64 after discount and rebates or Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for as little as $5.09 after discounts, etc.

(WORD TO THE WISE: Take your time looking around. I don’t know if their store is on the blink or whether they’re repricing things, but I found the listed prices changed overnight. Jumped a buck or two. I can’t imagine eBook pricing is that volatile, yah? It will be  headache to do posts about them if they keep changing prices.)

So we’re headed in the right direction. Even at $5.09 considering that these older titles have enjoyed years of press, from their first publication on, we can assume that most of the costs were paid out long ago. And with new books, there will be formatting and promotion to be taken into account, but considering the larger marketplace and actively searching consumers, these should not amount to numbers that drive eBook prices near their ‘real world’ equivalents.

Ironically, pricing is driven up by the size of a writer’s fanbase. Ironic, because the longer the history and bigger the fanbase, the more likely that a writer’s readers are actively looking for his/her work and the word of mouth factor would underwrite any promotional costs. I’m still waiting for Stephen King or John Grisham to offer a new eBook title for $3.99 as direct download from their own web sites. I think they’d set some record sales and record profits.

The fictionwise Buywise Club. 36% discounts. The memberships are offered of various lengths starting at $29.95 for a year and climbing to $124.95 for five years. You’ll see by clicking the link that the Buywise Club offers considerable savings.

Fictionwise offers their books in the following MULTIFORMATS

eReader [-er.PDB]   Adobe [.PDF]Microsoft [.LIT]Palm Doc [.PDB] PalmOS

Rocket/REB1100 [.RB] Franklin [.FUB] Hiebook [.KML] Sony Reader [.LRF] Isilo [-IS.PDB] Mobipocket [.PRC] Kindle [.MOBI] OEBFF Full VGA [.IMP] OEBFF Half VGA [.IMP]

You can read Fictionwise.com’s full format explanation here.

You can check out their eReader here.

Sony eBook Store Pricing Expedition

The Sony Book Store

I wanted to have a look around, price things, yah? I really liked their eReader so was very interested to know how much they were charging for eBooks. Guess what: still a little high.

New Moon: The Twilight Saga, Book 2 by Stephenie Meyer
eBook Publish Date: August 07, 2007 Filesize: 2.28 MB
List Price: $10.99 Save 10.0%
You Pay: $9.89

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
eBook Publish Date: September 29, 2008 Filesize: 1.51 MB
List Price: $17.99 Save 33.0%
You Pay: $11.99

ALSO: BESTSELLERS pricing ranged from numbers like $7.19 up to $11.99.
For example: Ken Follet’s World Without End they list at $22.00 and after a 46% discount sell it to you for $11.99.

So, okay. I know, they’re trying. They’re making the attempt. But it’s still a lot of money per book, don’t you think? You always have to figure in the $400 for the machine to read it.

How the Sony eBook Store Works

Click the above link for the complete “how to.” It looks pretty straightforward. You’ve got to set up your account at the Sony eBook Store. Then you buy the eBooks you want and download them to your PC. You upload them to your Reader from there.

There’s special eBook Library software (a.k.a. “EBL”) you have to use to create and access your account information and to purchase, download, and transfer eBooks to your Reader with the same software.

It’s all there at the link–definitely a nice set up, but I’m going to harp about the prices again. We need cheaper eBooks!

Readius – the first Pocket eReader

redius2Ok, this is coming from Readius.

I was doing some research and stumbled upon this thing. I have no idea how durable it would be with a rollable display, but man. Don’t you just want to up and marry a cool looking piece of tech like this? I mean, Spock would have one of these tucked into the back pocket of his cutoffs. Wouldn’t he?

Click the picture for the full animation. I don’t know when it’s available or what it costs, but I’m in love. I know, shallow.

Redius Demo

A Kindle Store Visit

I popped into Amazon.com knowing that industry leaders would be sharing the wealth right? We’ve been over the Kindle Wireless Reading Device here.

So here’s a brief overview of  Kindle Books:

I found some fairly sensible prices:

New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2) by Stephenie Meyer (Kindle Edition – Aug 8, 2007) – Kindle Book
Buy: $6.04 Auto-delivered wirelessly to Kindle
The paperback sells for the same Price $6.04, so the purchase of a Kindle wireless reading device doesn’t pay.

I found that their average price for a Kindle book new release was in the $9.99 to 11.99 range – still too high, if you ask me; but you can see that they are giving this some serious thought. Considering you’re paying roughly the same price to buy the paperback, there is little incentive to go eBook or lay out the green ($359) for a Kindle.

For example:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (Kindle Edition – Sep 30, 2008) – Kindle Book
Buy: $9.99 Auto-delivered wirelessly to Kindle

versus the book:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (Hardcover – Sep 30, 2008)
Buy new: LIST PRICE: $17.99 AMAZON PRICE: $12.23  Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.

So, buying the eBook (Kindle) saves you $2.24 but you still have to put out $359 to read it. Doesn’t make sense to me.

The pricing does suggest they’re beginning to think this stuff through. Especially when you think back to its origins and Stephen King’s Plant dollar a chapter buy…

It’s such a big audience and a new market to develop, you’d think they’d lower the price to promote lots of sales. If ever a business wanted to shout about VOLUME! VOLUME! VOLUME! It would be on the world wide web.


Amazon.com’s Kindle Store

A pricing expedition to Amazon.com’s Kindle Store yielded interesting results. More soon…


eBookwise – 1150 eBook Reading device

The eBookwise-1150 eBook Reading Device from eBookwise, (a fictionwise company) is certainly priced to sell. At $115.95 with free U.S. shipping, it looks like a nice starter unit at first pass.

It has a backlit screen, and from the image provided is reminiscent of those old handheld video games. So, it’s anybody’s guess how that would be for extended reading. (These companies really have to start leaving a few of these devices around for people to play with…)

small_ewreader

The 1150 eBook Reading Device boasts 4MB ram, 64MB internal Flash for program and content storage. Which, keeping today’s memory hungry designers in mind, must be a tight fit.  An indicator of this is the expanded content storage option on SmartMedia Memory Cards, up to 128MB. That looks like a cap on storage, but it still equates to a hundred books or so, which at today’s eBook prices represents a thousand dollar library, yah. Wow! Don’t want to lose track of these babies.

I say it ‘looks’ like an excellent starter unit, because they do not offer a currently supported method for transferring Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format files to the eBookwise-1150. I don’t know how anybody could market a device that does not offer this. You can’t swing a dead digital cat these days without hitting a PDF formatted file.

SUPPORTED CONTENT TYPES:
Rich Text Format (.rtf)
Microsoft Word (.doc)
Plain Text (.txt)
Rocket eBook Editions (.rb)
HTML (.htm or .html)
OEBFF Half-VGA (IMP)

Has anybody out there tried the 1150? The price is right so that has me worried.

I’m not cheap, just realistic. eBook readers will not take off without reasonable prices for books and readers. It’s early in the story, so we’re bound to see some wild price fluctuations. Considering the amount of R&D going into handheld devices these days, it’s amazing they haven’t broken the $99.95 line yet.

Oh, and we need an eBook reader that’s omnivorous–able to crack any eBook format. Anything else leaves too much power in the manfacturer’s hands. They’d get to call the shots on what we read, how much it costs and where we can get it. I like options. The digital age is all about options.