From The New York Times – in 2010:
In the battle over the pricing of electronic books, publishers appear to have won the first round. The price of many new releases and best sellers is about to go up, to as much as $14.99 from $9.99.
But there may be an insurgency waiting to pounce: e-book buyers.
Over the last year, the most voracious readers of e-books have shown a reflexive hostility to prices higher than the $9.99 set by Amazon.com and other online retailers for popular titles.
When digital editions have cost more, or have been delayed until after the release of hardcover versions, these raucous readers have organized impromptu boycotts and gone to the Web sites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble to leave one-star ratings and negative comments for those books and their authors.
“This book has been on the shelves for three weeks and is already in the remainder bins,” wrote Wayne Fogel of The Villages, Fla., when he left a one-star review of Catherine Coulter’s book “KnockOut” on Amazon. “$14.82 for the Kindle version is unbelievable. Some listings Amazon should refuse when the authors are trying to rip off Amazon’s customers.”
The angry commenters on Amazon and online message boards could just be a vocal minority. But now, with e-books scheduled to cost $12.99 to $14.99 under new deals that publishers negotiated with Apple and Amazon, a broader swath of customers may resist the new pricing. The higher prices will go into effect within the next few months.
. . . .
“I just don’t want to be extorted,” said Joshua Levitsky, a computer technician and Kindle owner in New York. “I want to pay what it’s worth. If it costs them nothing to print the paper book, which I can’t believe, then they should be the same price. But I just don’t see how it can be the same price.”
. . . .
Authors have been taken aback by some of the vehemence of the reader protests.
“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing,” said Douglas Preston, whose novel “Impact” reached as high as No. 4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction best-seller list earlier this month. “It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.”
Amazon commenters attacked Mr. Preston after his publisher delayed the e-book version of his novel by four months to protect hardcover sales. Mr. Preston said he was not sure whether the protests were denting his sales. But, he said, “It gives me pause when I get 50 e-mails saying ‘I’m never buying one of your books ever again. I’m moving on, you greedy, greedy author.”‘
. . . .
“Entertainment and media companies keep forgetting that consumers have a choice. They can decide not to buy the book at all,” said David Pakman, a venture capitalist and former chief executive of the digital music store eMusic. “They can play a video game, use an iPod Touch.” He added: “If you don’t get the price tag right and make it convenient, they just go elsewhere.”
Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Felix for the tip.
This 2010 pricing uproar was, of course, the result of an illegal conspiracy between Apple and every big publisher except Random House. Its purpose was to force Amazon to increase ebook prices.
PG doesn’t remember that a group of Big Publishing authors bought an ad in The New York Times to defend the high prices in 2010, however. But the Stockholm Syndrome relationship between Big Publishing and its authors was certainly much in evidence back then.