020509 Ebook Hate
I've been an avid ebook purchaser since March of 2003. Back then, I had a Palm m500, a 32mb mmc card and a dream. A dream where I could carry dozens of books in the palm of my hand, and never have to guess at the beginning of the day what I would be in the mood to read between classes during lunch or hours later on the bus. I've always been a reader, and I liked, even before ebooks, to have at least one book with me. But what happens if you grab Stonewall in the Valley at 8am as you're walking out the door and after lunch you realize Civil War History doesn't isn't doing it for you and you'd rather be reading about covert intelligence during the Cold War? In my case, a trip home to grab what I really wanted was rarely practical, so I was stuck dreaming of a day when technology would come riding to the rescue.

Of course, ebooks didn't immediately solve that problem, since as other early ebook readers might recall, selection was pretty thin 6 years ago. At my favored store, eReader.com (now owned by fictionwise.com), there were basically two options: Star Trek and romance novels. It didn't give me quite the variety I longed for at the time—the ability to carry a dozen different genres as at time in my pocket, but I am a Trekkie, so it wasn't so bad.

Anyway, Star Trek is what brings us to the point of today's bargain watch on fortunz.com. Just this week while cruising ereader for markdowns I came across something unexpected: markups. Specifically markups on the publisher-set list prices of Star Trek books. Not all of them, but a rather significant number, including books several years old. I shot off an email to fictionwise technical support since I suspected a glitch must be to blame, but alas, it was an actual price increase. One mirrored at other etailers like ebook.com, as well as Simon and Schuster's (owners of Pocket Books, the website—that is specifically, the ebook version's have been marked up to as high as $2 higher than the regular print version.

For a company that was ahead of the pack in catering to ereaders like myselfand let's face it, who's more likely to be an early adopter on technology like ebooks than Star Trek fans?pricing their Star Trek ebooks 25% higher than the same paperbacks seems like an odd move. Assuming they might be trying to offset the cost of piracy, does anyone really think charging PAYING CUSTOMERS more is going to bring down the percentage of pirated books? To me, it just looks like a way to drive paying customers to bittorrent. To wit, ebooks come without printing (production), inventory and shipping costs that paperbacks are subject to. So after years of selling Star Trek ebooks at the same cost as their paperback counterparts, what could possibly lead to the price jacking? I can only imagine that they assume Trekkies will be willing to pay.

Maybe they're right. There are some pretty hard core fans out there. This fan, however, isn't going for it. Nor will I be buying paperbacks again. I'll just shift my Trek purchasing towards other worthy SciFi alternatives. Just as ebooks were delivering on the promises I dreamed of so many years ago (although selection is still not perfect, all genres are well-represented and the non-fiction sections especially have improved dramatically) and becoming more and more mainstream, Simon and Schuster have made an extremely puzzling step backwards. I've reached out to Simon and Schuster for comment, and I'll post an update should they respond.

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For more information and links to books on Schuster's site with different list prices for ebooks and paperbacks, click through to the full post.

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