Ebook (un)availability, a case study of "popular" SF titles
The following is a post I made regarding a survey I conducted; I think
it's pretty self-explanatory. The only notes I'd add are (1) that I was
only looking for ebooks in commonly available multi-platform formats (thus
there may be a version for some other dedicated device, like a Kindle,
but that wouldn't do me or others any good; I don't recall actually seeing
any editions for other devices, but I didn't look in the Kindle store
since I don't have a Kindle); and (2) I didn't make note of whether the
available titles were DRM'd, but I wouldn't be surprised if they all were.
(DRM being a common complaint/problem for ebook readers.)
From: Andrew Burt
Date: Tue Dec 4 09:40:52 2007
Subject: Ebook (un)availability, a case study ("popular" titles)
Ebook readers often say they have trouble locating titles in ebook form
at reasonable prices (they either don't exist in ebook form at all,
don't exist in the form supported by the reading device they use or they
feel they are unreasonably priced). Many cite this as their rationale for
downloading free, unauthorized versions (aka "pirate" copies).
I wanted to investigate to what extent this is true. For this outing, I
decided to see what the story is for highly popular SF&F titles.
Here's what I did this morning, what I found.
Methodology: google on [ "title of book" ebook ], include author
last name for one word titles, e.g. [ Magician Feist ebook ]. Look
at first page of hit results. Prices are from looking at 2-3 sites
selling the title.
Source of list:
The New Internet Top 100 Science Fiction And Fantasy List
Last Updated: 20-September-2006
"This list was compiled using the votes sent in by more than
List and Search Results:
1 Lord of the Rings - no ebook
2 A Game of Thrones - fictionwise $8 - $6
3 Ender's Game - no ebook
4 Dune - no ebook
5 Mirror Dance - Baen $4
6 A Fire Upon the Deep - fictionwise $13 - $9
7 Hyperion - no ebook
8 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - no ebook
9 The Stars my Destination - no ebook
10 Lord of Light - no ebook
11 The Hobbit - no ebook
12 Snow Crash - ereader/various - $10-15
13 The Power That Preserves - no ebook
14 Magician - no ebook
15 Tigana - no ebook
16 Flowers for Algernon - no ebook
17 The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - powells - $7.64
18 Startide Rising - no ebook
19 Foundation - mobipocket - $5
20 A Clash of Kings - ebookmall $7 mobipocket.com $5 w/ game of thrones
All 20 exist in "pirate" editions.
35% (7 of 20) have ebook edition available. 100% have pirate editions.
Ease of Acquisition:
Of the available titles, within the top 10 google hits no one
web site carried them all. (Compare to Amazon.com and other
online bookstores which carry all 20 in print editions.)
The largest single destination online book store (Amazon.com;
and possibly the largest single bookstore in the world) is said
not to carry ebooks in a format other than for their specific
"Kindle" reading device.
All have pirate versions that are reasonably easy to obtain.
(Many of the top 10 google hits were pirate editions, sometimes
the #1 hit [Lord of Light's #1 hit was on Scribd]; and by
using searches specifically for pirate editions they are
Prices for legitimate copies are less than mmbp in a two cases,
roughly the same as mmbp in three cases, and more than mmbp
in a two cases. A common meme (thus a common consumer expectation)
is that ebooks should cost less than mmbp (e.g. 1/2 or less)
because there are no returns, no shipping costs, no printing
costs, no paper costs. Only two of seven available titles meet
this criteria (one of which requiring a two-book purchase).