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Innocent in Death by JD Robb, No. 28 in the Series,...

Today, JD Robb’s 28th installment of the Eve Dallas and Roarke (no first name) saga is released with the title of Innocent in Death (In Death). Penguin has also allowed the release of Innocent in Death in the ebook version which can be purchased only at ereader.com, for now. I suspect in a week or two, the usual suspects such as Fictionwise and Powells will be offering the book as well.

I still can’t get a handle on ebook released by Penguin. It doesn’t even list Innocent in Death as an ebook on its website, nor does it have Jayne Ann Krentz’s White Lies identified as available in ebook format even though it, too, is for purchase at ereader.com.

In any event, if you are sitting at your desk and can’t wait till this evening to find JD Robb’s latest book in the store, you can have immediate gratification at ereader.com. Currently I am fighting with myself to keep from buying it until it shows up somewhere else cheaper. I’ll report tomorrow how well that fight worked out.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

20 Comments

  1. Angie
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 16:01:44

    My boyfriend, the UPS man, delivered my copy today, courtesy of Amazon Prime. I told my husband that the UPS man really knows what I like ;)

  2. Robin
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 16:56:46

    Ah yes, a mere 25.95 for the EBOOK of IID. I guess it’s only okay if the publisher exploits eager readers. It’s stuff like this that drives me to buy some books used.

  3. jmc
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 19:31:18

    I like the In Death books. And I like ebooks. But I’m not willing to pay $25.95 for the ebook version. There are some books that I want in hard copy. And I refuse to pay hardback price for an ebook.

  4. Azure
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 22:45:05

    I’m a huge fan of both ebooks and J.D. Robb, but there’s no way I’m buying this one until (or unless) the price drops. I’ll make do with swiping my mother’s HB copy for now.

  5. Nora Roberts
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 05:55:56

    I don’t read e-books. Just sit at my screen too much to want to sit there for pleasure reading. So, could you give me some idea of what you feel is a fair price for a new hardcover release in e-format? This is a sincere request. I can suggest it to my publisher for my books. Can’t promise they’ll jump on my suggestion, but at least I can make it to them.

    I have a hard time with the term exploit. The book is offered in these two formats–and in paper, at least, format will be discounted in many venues. The book went on sale yesterday, and in a commercial market, publishers are free to set their price for a product. And, as always, readers are free to buy my books used with no beef from me.

  6. jmc
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 08:13:19

    I don’t know that I would characterize the same price point for ebooks as for hardbacks as exploitive of fans (supply, demand, etc.), but I do wonder about the business decision behind it. Especially since even the hardback doesn’t cost that much in most places — I saw it at B.Dalton yesterday with a 30% off sticker; Borders the same; at Amazon 40% off. Why pay $26 when I can pay $19 or even $16?

    I can understand a premium for convenience and the satisfaction of a reader’s desire for instant gratification, but 30-40%? A bit much, IMO. Plus, running around in the back of my head is a comparison of upfront vs. backloaded overhead costs of ebooks and hard copies, which I think Jane blogged about in one of her e-posts.

    I don’t have a particular price to suggest, other than to say that I like the Fictionwise and eBookwise tendency to give a 10-15% discount on the cover price of paperbacks. For example, Montana Sky (my personal favorite) retails for $7.99 in mass market paperback, but is $6.79 at Fictionwise. I’m not sure exactly what their pricing policy is for hardbacks, but it looks to be comparable (Angels Fall for ~$22 instead of ~$26).

  7. Jane
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 08:47:05

    I felt like deleting Ms. Roberts’ comment this morning because I don’t want to appear like her “yes” girl which I hope I am not, but I, too, thought Robin’s use of “exploit” was curious. During the recent debate on the sale of ARCs, Robin, you and I both agreed that it was not exploitative of the reader to offer the ARCs for sale at exorbinant prices. You even offered up an example of a friend who paid lots of dollars to see a concert. I don’t think it’s exploitative to charge $25.00 for an ebook. I see it as price discrimination at its best. Want it now and in eform? You have to pay for it. Don’t want to pay for it? Get it from the library after a 3 month wait. WIlling to pay for it, but not enough that you want the eform? Wait till it shows up at Costco or Sam’s for $14.59. The latter is the mantra I am repeating to myself at a regular basis.

    My understanding of the economics of ebooks is that the pricing is treated the same as paper pricing. Ie., the books are sold at a discounted retail price to retailers which is generally 40% off. The problem is likely at the retail price set for ebooks.

    I read somewhere that publishers are concerned about devaluing a book by setting the price point lower. I.e., the ebook format is simply another alternative to the hardcover or mass market and thus are priced according to the going rate of the print edition. It will require, in my opinion, two things for pricing to change in the ebook market.

    First, the ebook market grows large enough to have an increased voice such that high prices, like these, will be viewed as unfair.

    Second, a publisher rethinking of what an ebook is.

    Further, ereader is a terrible place to buy ebooks. Its prices are very high compared to vendors like Powells and Fictionwise. I try never to buy from there if possible. If Ms. Roberts could do anything it would be to have the publisher ensure that the ebooks were made available in several formats at different vendors. This exclusivity for ereader makes no sense to me. It would be like having the print books available only at Barnes and Noble and not everywhere else.

    Retailers are partially responsible for the high prices. When I started buying ebooks in bulk was when Elibron was in business and all their ebooks were 40% off. I loved it when S&S offers it ebooks from their site at 40% (now 35% and still good). I think $17.99 which is the pricing that Random House does for its ebooks, is a good one. But I also think that if Penguin would host its own store (like it does for print books) and offer them at 40% off (which would probably generate the same profit as selling them through ereader), more readers would be buying them in “eform.”

    But maybe Penguin doesn’t want to encourage the sale of ebooks.

  8. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 10:59:41

    I dunno how publishers in NY set their prices for ebooks or what the deciding factors are, but the e publishers I write for, when they move a book from ebook to print, the ebook ends up being about 40% of the print price, give or take. Example, my ebook, Back from Hell, was $5.95. Print price for the same book is 10.99.

    Ebooks have a lot less overhead. I know they still have to go thru the editing process and all, but ebooks dont’ require the cost of being printed, bound, covered, etc. I love ebooks but I don’t love them enough to spend the $26 on it.

  9. Nora Roberts
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 13:09:08

    ~If Ms. Roberts could do anything it would be to have the publisher ensure that the ebooks were made available in several formats at different vendors.~

    I can certainly ask about the logistics, the whys and wherefores of this.

    Nora

  10. Robin
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 16:34:25

    I don’t want to appear like her “yes" girl which I hope I am not, but I, too, thought Robin’s use of “exploit" was curious. During the recent debate on the sale of ARCs, Robin, you and I both agreed that it was not exploitative of the reader to offer the ARCs for sale at exorbinant prices. You even offered up an example of a friend who paid lots of dollars to see a concert.

    Actually, what I said about my friend is this:

    That *I* might think the market exploits Stones fans doesn’t mean those fans feel that way.

    I think I characterized the great ARC debate in pretty much the same way, that exploitation is in the eye of the beholder, or buyer. And I believe that. Here, mostly I was being a smart-ass precisely because some of the arguments forwarded against ARC sales, especially the one about providing Arc/crack to In Death addicts. Personally, to me 26.00 for an ebook feels exploitive, but it’s obviously not for many readers, just as ARCs for sale at whatever ridiculous price feel worth that price to those who buy them. And I’ll readily admit my own bias regarding publishers — that is, my perception that they are primarily selling products to consumers rather than books to readers and count profitability above all else. And while I won’t draw and direct comparisons to people selling ARC’s on eBay (because I can discern the differences) sometimes I like to tease with the hint of a comparison. Because I DO think that publishers take advantage of readers in various ways. That isn’t a fair bias, I know, but I haven’t been persuaded from it yet (and I am open to persuasion — after all, I changed my mind about ARCs, didn’t I?:))

  11. Robin
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 17:29:48

    Oh, and let me also clarify that I don’t think that explotive = immoral. That I’m not forced to pay 26 bucks for an ebook means that I can buy another format or wait for that format at a lesser price, which is what I do in cases where I think 26 bucks is unreasonably high. 15 bucks, okay, 26 bucks, not okay.

  12. Taekduu
    Feb 21, 2007 @ 22:16:09

    I will not buy this book as an ebook for 25+ dollars. I don’t know if anyone who is reporting the book will be cheaper at an alternate vendor is really thinking this through. 22 is still not cheap. Think about it like this, the paperback is out in the next six months or so. Right now we are comparing the price to stores selling for 20-40% off. So, the book is now anywhere from 16-22, big whoop. What do you say to a difference of not just 7-8 dollars but 17 (ebook hardcover vs paperback)?

    This smacks of bad business practice to me and has actually turned me off many authors and publishers. I think that the ebook market remains fledgling with primarily print publishers. Even beyond the reduced costs, your goal is really to sucker people in. You want them to buy a book from their favorite author, and maybe a couple of others while they are at it. I looked at the price of this book and in a knee jerk reaction closed the tab.

    Comparatively, I also buy books from Baen. Baen, which admittedly publishes in a different genre, puts out ARCs from popular authors, sometimes 3-6 months before the book is due. I buy it cheerfully for 15 and count myself lucky. They aren’t losing money, they are actually sucking me in because I will still purchase in print. They also offer the option of purchasing a full month’s worth of books for the same price. Before the ARCs were offered, I would buy the full month. I discovered several authors I would never have picked up otherwise. These days, I buy my ARC and at least one other book because, well, I am there, and it looked interesting.

    I can keep my wallet closed for six more months. I can buy more for the difference.

  13. Jenny
    Feb 25, 2007 @ 20:28:18

    Paying hardcover price for an ebook is not easy to stomach, especially when hardcovers often get discounted steeply at bookstores. Would it cannibalise hardcover sales if they were to lower the price of ebook? I suppose it does. After all, they release it first in hardcover for price discrimination reasons and ebook is just an alternative format.

    If you are not willing to pay hardcover price, my suggestion is to wait just like mmpb readers do because the ebook price will fall correspondingly. It can be a difficult wait if it’s a book you can’t wait to read. I’m glad it’s only going to be half a year in Ms Robert’s case.

  14. Jenny
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 09:55:26

    Well, what do you know, Fictionwise is offering 100% Micropay rebate on Innocent in Death (Payment by credit card)! Offer expires Mar 4. Ebook fans better hurry.

  15. Jane
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 10:10:45

    oh! I checked there this morning and they still had the old stuff. I am sooo glad I waited! Off to buy the book.

  16. LinM
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 13:09:04

    Fictionwise has been so unresponsive today that we must be seeing denial of service because of the “Nora Roberts” effect.

  17. Jane
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 13:15:10

    I was glad to see JAK’s White Lies there too (only a week late). I saw on the newswire that Penguin posted a record year in profits. I wonder how much of that is the “Nora Roberts” effect as well. I am convinced that the money she earns Penguin is why we are seeing such diversity from Berkley/Nal in terms of romance books. Although why they couldn’t hold onto Loretta Chase . . . .

  18. Nora Roberts
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:04:05

    Jane, I’m very flattered–and actually love the term ‘The Nora Roberts Effect’. Have to see how I can use that one. But I think Penguin has maybe a few other authors to bank on besides me.

    I was able to get an answer from the e-book contact at my publisher. My books aren’t supposed to be available from only one market or venue, so he asked for specifics. Since I don’t keep up with this, normally, I responded regarding this particular title’s process in the e-book market as I followed it here.

    It sounds as if it was only a bit of a delay, and possibly by the vender, for this title landing outside of ereader.

  19. Jane
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:10:55

    I’ll be anxious to hear what you find out. I confess that in reading the newswire more carefully last night that I might have overstated the “Nora Roberts Effect” although I am sure that it is there.

    As for the release of the ebook being delayed at other vendors, I am still tied to the idea that ereader must have an exclusive because Powells did not have the ebook for sale either and they are pretty good about getting it up right away. I.e., Bravas, Avons, Harlequins are usually purchasable on Tuesdays of their release at ereader and Powells. White Lies by JAK (obviously another Penguin author) did not appear at Powells until Saturday or Sunday.

    I have heard that whoever does the conversions (which I believe is outsourced) does the ereader ones faster although for the life of me I can’t figure out why the delay would occur so long.

    In any event, I read it last night and I found my eyes wet a couple of times. I think it must have been the late hour or my allergies or something.

  20. Jenny
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 10:58:18

    Stayed up the night reading until my eyes teared – if that’s not Nora Roberts effect, I don’t know what is. I posted some of my thoughts on my blog. I probably killed quite a few brain cells from lack of sleep so please excuse any incoherence or grammatical errors!

    I notice UK’s hardcover release was almost a month earlier than US. Could Ms Roberts perhaps shed light on why that is?

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