Katherine by Anya Seton: A 64 year old novel illustrates the problem with ebook pricing

The ebook version of Katherine by Anya Seton is on sale today for $2.99. Based on historical events, the novel tells the love story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, the son of Edward III. (Katherine is a direct ancestress of all members of the British royal family since Edward IV.) The sweeping, epic literary romance is considered one of the best examples of historical fiction. The book has been continuously in print since its publication and, according to Wikipedia, “Katherine is considered Seton’s most well-known work as well as the best-known depiction of Katherine herself.”

While I own this book in hardcover, I have been waiting a long time for the Kindle version.  Even after ebooks became popular, for years, there was no ebook version available of this title. This was one that every few months, I would go to the book’s Amazon page and click the “Tell the publisher you’d like to read this book on Kindle” button. Since this book has been a steady seller for the publisher, the probable reason for that is the publisher was protecting the print sales.

The other reason I have waited so long for this book is price. When this book finally became available as an ebook (somewhere around 2012, if memory serves), it was priced at $9.99.

At the time Katherine was finally “Kindlized”, publishers talked a lot about how ebooks were undervalued, about how publishers still had to make back their upfront costs and costs of digitizing titles. Since Katherine was a bestseller in 1954, I am reasonably sure that the publisher has made its money back on this one. And since it is a perennial seller, I am pretty sure PR costs are not a problem. I am a little confused as to why a book this old is still priced at $9.99.

It is probably telling that the ebook of this popular title seldom goes on sale. I have actually seen it on sale in the UK more often than I have seen it in the US, even though Seton is an American author. The book has been on my wish list for years.

The pattern of pricing on this book is very familiar to early ebook adopters. Many popular titles had a long wait for a Kindle or ebook version to be made available, and when it could finally be purchased, the price was too high, especially when compared with print. For contrast, the paperback version is $10.43, only 44 cents more than the ebook. Given the limited rights in included with the digital copy (no lending, re-selling, DRM, etc.), the paper is obviously the better value.

Sadly, we are seeing the same pattern develop with other backlist books, especially those in series. It seems as publisher see that there is a bigger market for backlist books, the prices are going up, not down. For someone like me, who is still trying to collect e-versions of old favorites, the pricing strategy hurts.

So, thank goodness for ebook sales. If you like historical fiction (or like me, you did medieval studies in college), this fictionalized bit of 14th century history is a highly recommended read.

Now all I have to do is find Seton’s Green Darkness on sale….

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1953 Corvette, e-book style

iconic_carsClassic car lovers rejoice! RosettaBooks and Hearst have released e-book retrospective editions for iconic cars compiled from over 50 years worth of Car and Driver and Road & Track magazines. Featuring photographs, reviews, period advertisements and more, these sound absolutely amazing. Due to the nature of the content, these editions are optimized for a large screen device.

The  e-books are priced at $7.99 each and can be bought in Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo formats. Separate titles available are for  the Corvette, the Porsche, the BMW M Series, the Chevrolet Camaro, and the Ford Mustang.  And, if you want them all, you can get the Iconic Cars (5-Book Bundle). If classic cars are your thing, these would be a great addition to a library.

And now, I have that Prince song stuck in my head!

Daily Links : A new Harry Potter story

From Lifehacker, Spot a boring Kindle Book by looking at popular highlights.

JK Rowling post a new Harry Potter background story on Pottermore, from The Digital Reader

From Teleread, Almost a year with Scribd. Has anything changed with my reading?

Whispersync comes to the UK with 10 freebies, from The Ebook Reader.

From ReadWrite, In exposing followers, Medium fails readers.

As part of Amazon’s Daily Deals, there are 12 award winning Sci-fi deals,  including books by Octavia Butler, Harlan Ellison and John Brunner for only $1.99 each.

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.

 

Daily Links: 90% of Public Libraries now lend e-books

From Digital Book World, American Library Association announces 90% of Public Libraries now lend e-books.

From a story in Publishers Weekly, Comixolgy to offer  DRM-free backup copies.

And a couple of e-book finds of the day from my TBR list in the Daily Deals: one of John Brunner’s fascinating SF titles, The Shockwave Rider, and, Midsummer Moon, a humoruous romance by Laura Kinsale (one with a hedgehog, no less!).

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.

Daily Links: Public Domain in the Digital Age

From BoingBoing, an interesting piece on the public domain in the digital age and the concept of copyfraud.

Open Culture has an article on the Speech Accent Archive – The English accents of people who speak 341 different languages.

Amazon has 31 apps for free today (Saturday) via the Amazon App Store.

And on Making Use Of, you will find game, productivity and musical apps are on sale or free for the iPad. Note that I found that some of the pricing did not apply when purchased through a device other than an iPad.

My E-book finds of the day are The Golem and the Jinni (P.S.) and The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us from my to-be-read list. They are each on sale today for only $1.99.

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.