Pricing e-books

I don’t own an e-book reader currently, and have no plans to buy one in the near future.  Still, I’m assuming that just as I eventually bought an iPod, I’ll eventually do most of my reading with some e-book reader.

I do know, though, that if e-books cost nearly as much as regular books, I’ll stick with the good old binded paper versions until they’re pried out of my paper-cut hands.  Regardless of publishers’ profitability justifications, my gut says that it’s silly for solid objects and virtual objects to cost the same. 

Some might argue that the instantaneous service and portability aspects of e-books justify steeper prices, but I don’t find them particularly convenient.  I’d have to buy an expensive reader first, download fairly expensive books, and deal with digital rights management.  My book wouldn’t really belong to me; it would belong to Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or whoever else beamed it to my reader.  And I don’t like that.  I want to truly own books that I buy.  I want to know they’ll stay there on my shelf forever and that I can lend them to whomever I please.

Right now, I would only buy an e-reader if I were a constant traveler, irked by the burden of a backpack full of books.  The convenience advantage would offset the other issues.  Or, I might consider an e-book reader if e-books were priced cheaply.  The DRM would still be bothersome, but I could justify putting up with it for a lower priced book. 

Alas, prices don’t seem to be headed that way right now.  But that’s okay.  I enjoy sitting in Barnes and Noble with my steaming cup of coffee, running my hands over the glossy covers of newly printed books.  There are advantages to the current system, and I’ll enjoy them while I can.

Check out this article from the New York Times for more thoughts on e-books, and the latest in the pricing wars.

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