Will Publishers Obey iBooks Customers?

As part of last night’s iPad fondle, I also dipped into iBooks. This is one aspect of that fondle. Another aspect will be a separate post.

I searched for books about Apple. One came up (thanks to someone on Twitter who did this search earlier in the day for me):


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Two things about that screensnap.

First, in yellow highlight, the information presented by the iBookstore. Notice there is no ISBN listed.

Second, in red highlight, the price: $14.99.

Now see would-be customer reactions to that price, in red highlight:


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Right there are two people who are interested in actually paying for this book — despite it being slathered with a DRM scheme that will prevent it from being used on other devices (like a Sony Reader).

And yet they won’t do so at that price.

And which book is this, exactly?

Is it this edition, which is $25.95 in print? But that says Overlook Press, not Penguin.

But if someone goes to Penguin’s site and does a search for “Moritz,” there’s no result!

So, is it a Penguin book or not? Without an ISBN in that iBookstore listing, who can tell for sure?

If you go crazy (waves!) and keep digging, it shows up in a newsletter Penguin sends out [PDF link] as the last listing on page two.

But guess what the price is there?

$15.95!

So, someone doing a casual search on the Net would think the iBookstore price is a whopping $10.00 discount when, in fact, it’s a measly ninety-six cents discount — if you can call that a discount at all!

Those would-be customers are correct.

This eBook should be $9.99. Period.

Now it’s up to Penguin. Do they want to actually sell any? Or just whine about how no one is buying — ignoring the fact no one will buy due to their inflated price?

If you want some idea just how screwy the world of books is, see Powell’s listing for print at $27.95 (with two ISBNs!), the Sony Reader Store listing it as $14.99 too (with separate print and eBook ISBNs!), and the Kindle Store listing with a higher price of $15.37!

Buying an eBook should not be this kind of headache!

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2 responses to “Will Publishers Obey iBooks Customers?

  1. So what do you think about ISBNs and eBooks Mike? Do you agree their should be a separate one for eBook and one for print book? I’ve seen the same one used for both and that’s just down right crazy.

  2. This is a hard question. Since it’s my assertion that eBooks will supplant print, only one ISBN should be used. But then the people who run ISBN get into things like editions and publishers being added to ISBN considerations. And then there’s a code above ISBN — ISTC, I think it is — which identifies works, period, regardless of packaging. Until this is all sorted out, I think every eBook listing should carry a print ISBN as well as any ISBN for the specific eBook edition. With the print ISBN in there, people can do things like look up the original print-based eBook edition they’re being sold and also its print price for comparison.