The digital book will not be released until April 9th, generating a slew of angry one-star reviews on Amazon–most by people who had not read the book.
As of this writing, the book had 119 one-star reviews, most of them from readers upset about the lack of a digital book. Some of these readers threatened to seek out pirated digital editions of the book.
This is not my decision or Tor’s decision, but Harriet’s. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn’t about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband’s legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list. (Many of the bestseller lists are still handling ebooks in somewhat awkward ways.)
As the last books have all hit number one, she doesn’t want to risk one of these not hitting number one, and therefore ending the series on a down note. (Even though each Wheel of Time book has sold more than its predecessor, including the ones I have worked on.) I personally feel her worries are unfounded, and have explained that to her, but it is not my choice and I respect her reasoning for the decision. She is just trying to safeguard Robert Jordan’s legacy, and feels this is a very important way she needs to do so. After talking about the issue, we were able to move the ebook up from the originally planned one-year delay to instead come out this spring.
On Amazon, one reviewer wrote: “A good comparison of not publishing in ebook format is ‘withholding of newer drugs, by drug companies till patents of the older drugs run out.’ Definitely not buying the paper format. I waited till patiently till January despite knowing Sanderson had finished the book back in July 2012, I can wait till April.”
Another reader added: “Found a used copy of Eye of the World in 1990; it caught my attention as the book was almost size of hardback but softcover. Since then I have purchased each new book on the date it was released. I will not purchase this book though. I had planned on repurchasing all of the previous books for my Kindle as easier to store, but I will not do this as I would not be able to complete the series now. I instead will search internet when I get home and will be paying the first industrious individual that has scanned the book and offered for sale.”
Here is a screenshot from the Amazon reviews section for the book, taken at 2:30 p.m. ET: