One way of saving money is – as with printed books – by waiting for the paperback. When it was first published, Margaret Attwood’s The Year of the Flood had an e-book RRP of £18.99, matching that of the hardback, and was discounted at Waterstones to £13.59. The Kindle edition now sells for a publisher-set £6.99, while the paperback is discounted from £7.99 to £5.16 by Amazon.
Good Gutenberg: your first port of call for free out-of-copyright material - and not just the familiar classics - in all the key formats
Complicating matters still further, WH Smith tells us that they’ve only signed up to agency pricing for Hachette and Penguin titles. However, Year of the Flood, despite being from a member of the Hachette group, is still selling on WH Smith for £4.59, compared to Amazon’s £6.99.
Want to shop around for e-books? Get a smartphone
Shopping around for e-books may be becoming less advantageous, thanks to the introduction of agency pricing, but it's nonetheless becoming easier to do.
The main barrier to seeking the cheapest supplier for a given e-book is DRM and file format. Amazon's Kindle has a format all of its own, with the .azw suffix, while other e-bookstores use the ePub format.
But while many protected ePub e-books use Adobe's Adept DRM, part of its Digital Editions system, Apple's iTunes bookstore uses the company's own Fairplay DRM.
Fortunately for smartphone owners, apps are appearing that allow you to hold multiple e-book libraries alongside each other.
On the iPhone, for example, in addition to Apple's iBooks, you can download a Kindle reader from Amazon, and there are a number of readers that support Adept, such as Bluefire Reader, Txtr and Stanza.
Sony is developing an e-book reader app for iOS and for Android. Hopefully it will bring Adept support to Android. While there are a fair few e-book reader apps in the Android Market - notably Kobo and Aldiko - none appear to support Adobe DRM.
All this is great news for smartphone and tablet owners, but the fixed nature of dedicated e-book reader devices means they're unlikely to gain support for formats and DRM schemes not favoured by the manufacturer.
This advice will annoy E Ink fans, but it's true nonetheless: if you want access to the broadest range of e-bookshops, you need a smartphone.
Next page: Finding the best price
You totally seem to gloss over the cost issue in 2 paragraphs on the first page.
The fact that ebooks involve no printing, shipping, wherehousing, they cannot be resold and there is no "lending" them to friends. Should affect the cost in real and meaningful ways. I understand the costs to create the content remains static but it is simply rediculous to argue there are no real costs savings over dead tree books!
When I buy a book I get to keep it forever. I can lend it, sell it or simply reread it 20 years later. I would bet a million dollars that 20 years from now my kindle will be long dead, and whatever device they are selling then, will use some new format and I will be asked to buy my books over again. The book companies are tricking us into a situation like we face with music and movies. We will have to keep paying to replace things we already bought (once, twice or more).
Unless we as consumers stand up and say NO and demand a more fair system we all will lose more than we planned!
Yep - that's my objection too.
"Rather than price per se, the chief objection seems to be that with many e-books, they’re paying more for a product that, thanks to DRM, they can do less with than the ‘old fashioned’ paper alternative."
As you say, AC, with a normal book, you can do what you like with it. You simply can not do that with a "book" contained in some strange non-standard file format that's all DRM'd. You wouldn't buy a paper book that had a padlock on the front (with one key that might rust and be useless at some time in the future) and that could only be read under the light of a special bulb that you could only buy from one shop, would you? But that's exactly what all these e-books are like.
I would love a Kindle-type device - I think they're a really nice idea. Convenient, very lights, etc etc. But I'm simply not prepared to lock myself into content arrangement that is in place. It's a similar thing to the whole iPod walled-garden thing, and I don't like it. And as the article points out, the prices are often way above what they should be. A shame.
For as long as I can buy a new physical copy for less than the digital copy then there is something inherently wrong with the pricing model. Publishers need to understand this.
Secondly in order for me to accept eBooks I need them to either fully work across readers or for each book store to have the same range of books that Amazon can supply me in physical format.
I think when any of these publishers start bleating that illegal distribution is a really big problem for their industry and they don't understand why. Whoever they are bleating to should be allowed to slap them and tell them to stop being so stupid....
So in the move to digital distribution all media industries have seen it solely as a way of increasing profits rather than sharing the savings with the consumer and trying to make a dent in illegal distribution. You can never stop all illegal distribution, but lower pricing will reduce it by making it less attractive.
I don't support illegal distribution and support reasonable efforts to curb it, but these idiots deserve what they get. Only a shame our governments don't feel the same and are quite happy to protect their price gouging archaic business model at the expense of proper rule of law.
In the efforts to clamp down on illegal distribution all we get is the stick, where's the carrot?
Have a Kindle ...
.. haven't bought a single eBook. While prices of physical products are cheaper why would I? Plus I resent paying VAT on them.
Buy the physical book, Google for a DRM free digital copy and use that. You could of course skip the first part, but that would be naughty.