Sep 9 2007
Penguin has recently been releasing more ebook versions of its products. Penguin has lagged behind the digital market compared to the other NY publishers such as Harper Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Harlequin. In April, it announced that Genevieve Shore would be the global digital director for Penguin worldwide. Penguin’s ebook website has been sorely outdated. It’s hard to navigate but more importantly it lacks up to date information. There are many Penguin books that are in ebook format that are not found on its ebook site. Since Shore’s arrival, there has been no improvement in the Penguin site, either in look or functionality.
This month, we readers have seen dozens of Berkley, NAL, Signet and ROC books being put out in ebook format. I was really excited and purchased “My Immortal” by Erin McCarthy in eform two weeks ago when it was offered by Fictionwise as one of the books with the 100% micropay rebate. The book was priced $9.99 and I figured that it was a trade paperback. But then I saw “Caressed by Ice” by Nalini Singh in ebook format and was all set to buy it when I saw that it, too, was $9.99.
Further searching brought up more and more ebooks from Penguin with the higher price tag. That’s right, Penguin is charging $2.00 higher for its ebook copy of a mass market paperback. An ebook is an item that is not returnable, cannot be sold, and is subject to draconian digital rights management (DRM) which prevents free portability of a book from device to device. And for this, I have to pay $9.99? I think not.
Miki, an ebook reader, researched several books:
- Tanner’s Scheme (7.99/9.99)
- On the Prowl (7.99/9.99)
- Fall of Knight (7.99/9.99)
- Simon Says (7.99/9.99)
- Here She Lies (7.99/9.99)
- Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light (6.99/9.99)
- Notorious (7.99/9.99)
I called Penguin customer service and no one had an answer for me. I spent 20 minutes on the phone and was transferred from department to department. Finally someone told me that they had no idea what I was talking about and that pricing was determined by the editorial team. I should make my complaints to them. I said I thought that was ridiculous and likely untrue. I related that I had more than a few readers email me about these increased prices and that it was deterring sales, not encouraging sales. I was told to email customer service: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t know if it will do any good to email customer service, but perhaps if enough voices make a stand regarding this outrageous pricing, we ebook readers won’t be treated like shoddy consumers. If anything, I think that this type of pricing not only deters purchases but encourages piracy. Please, Penguin, reconsider what you are doing. Making ebook readers pay a 25% premium on a book is simply wrong.
At this point, I refuse to buy another ebook from Penguin until its pricing is more in line with other ebooks (which is to say below the retail price of the paper version). The Penguin ebook pricing, I assume set up by Ms. Shore, leaves me with a very negative feeling toward Penguin.
I hope other ebook readers will join me in protesting the glutinous ebook pricing scheme by Penguin.
Special thanks to Miki for her ebook pricing research.