Saturday, November 3, 2018

Pricing of Digital Books Compared to Reading Copies from High-Volume Sellers

High-volume booksellers are often criticized.  The criticism usually comes from format collectors, buyers who want a specific edition, and buyers who expect the book to meet certain condition expectations.  I caution buyers who have specific expectations never to purchase from the high-volume sellers.  You will usually be disappointed.

On the other hand, the high-volume sellers are perfect for buyers who just want cheap reading copies where condition does not matter.  For modern books, I prefer digital copies.  Unfortunately, digital copies are very expensive and cost a lot more than cheap used copies.  From around 2010 through 2014, I preferred to purchase digital copies of all modern books.  I now tend to go with cheap reading copies.  I will use my most recent purchase as an example.

I already owned a copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I decided that I wanted to purchase the remaining three titles in the set.  If I were to go with digital copies, the entire set of four purchased in one file would cost $32.96.  I could also just purchase the three titles needed at $7.99 each for a total of $23.97.  I didn't want to pay that much, especially since I sometimes do not enjoy books as much as I think I will.

I instead found paper copies of the three books I needed at $3.59, $3.59, and $3.60 from three different high-volume sellers.  All three books had the generic description about how the book might or might not have writing inside and might or might not be a library discard.  Whatever.  I have reasonable expectations and know that the books will probably be a bit rough around the edges.  Sometimes the books show up looking great, and sometimes they look pretty awful.  So long as the book can be read and is not missing pages, I will be satisfied.

Over the course of one week, I gradually received my three books.  Gathering Blue was used by a girl named Jailene for school, and she took a lot of notes.

Admittedly, I would prefer not to have Jailene's name written on the outside vertical edge and for the book not to contain a bunch of her notes.  However, the book can be read just fine.  The majority of the pages are unmarked.

Messenger arrived in average used condition.  Son turned out to be a first printing hardcover with dust jacket, and this was more than what the listing promised.

Sometimes the books arrive in pretty rough shape, and other times, the books arrive in nice condition.  The key is not to expect much and to view the purchase as if one were buying a commodity.  These books are just a commodity to me and nothing more.  They will all read just fine.

My buying habits have shifted solely due to how expensive the digital books are.  I now purchase fewer digital books than I once did.  The only digital books I still purchase are ones that I think my dad might enjoy, since we can both read the book from the same account.  That cuts the price in half since two people will read the book, and he much prefers reading the digital books.

I found it interesting to learn that as my own digital book buying habits shifted that the same was happening to other buyers for various reasons.

Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print

EBook Sales Figures in Decline? Not So!

The second article linked above mentions the price of the digital books.  The article states that sales of digital books by major publishing houses are falling.  The digital books priced at under $5 are doing much better, and those digital books tend to be offered by independent authors and small publishing companies.  The problem is that major publishing houses price their digital books too high.  If the Lois Lowry digital books been priced at no more than $4.99 each, I very likely would have purchased the digital books rather than have ordered paper copies.  

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