NYT on the eBook Price Hike

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Motoko Rich and Brad Stone of The New York Times, who are ever on the publishing beat, posted a story last night about various reactions to the coming rise in eBook prices (which we covered yesterday in reference to iPad, Google Editions, and the Amazon Macmillan standoff). The fallout from the last three weeks is that bestsellers and new releases are likely to go from $9.99 to more like $14.99–on Amazon, iBooks, and everywhere.

The thrust of the NYT story is that customers are pissed about the price increase–surprise! They’ve even got a quote from Wilma Sanders (that’s Wilma above), a 70-year-old retiree and Kindle user who says, “As far as I’m concerned, Amazon has committed to the $9.99 price…I’m still a library-goer. There are enough good books out there that I don’t need to pay more than I want to. I already can’t keep up with what I have.”

What will perhaps be most offensive to anyone reading this blog–meaning people who are familiar with eBooks and most likely read them–is this:

In the case of e-books, publishers are hoping that a vast majority of people who have not yet tried e-reading devices will not have any expectation of the low pricing now available from Amazon and others, including Barnes & Noble and Sony. They argue that new e-book shoppers will welcome the chance to buy digital editions at a level significantly lower than the typical price tag on a hardcover book.

“With the iPad, the whole notion of e-book reading is probably going to become way more mainstream than it ever has,” said Harvey Chute, who runs KindleBoards, a popular discussion forum for readers of electronic books. “And a majority of people may be coming to it new, and may only see that they are getting $7 off the price they would see at a bookstore.”

Yeah publishers, keep your fingers crossed that next month’s eBook readers won’t have heard that last month’s eBooks cost five bucks less. If you read the article in full, there are a few reasonable defenses from publishers about the economics behind these decisions, but they’re unlikely to convince many consumers.