New Site Tries To Explain To Book Authors & Publishers Why People Choose Not To Buy

from the reasons-not-to-buy dept

Eric Goldman points us to a new site,, that lets people publicly explain why they either chose not to buy or simply could not buy an ebook they had originally intended to buy. That could be that the price is too high, DRM, geographical restrictions, etc. The idea, obviously, is to collect enough examples of this and to let publishers know that they're making mistakes in how they pitch and sell ebooks. Of course, it's not clear how much of the information and examples is actually accurate, so I'd take it with a pretty big grain of salt. That said, we frequently do hear stories of people being stymied from giving money they want to give due to ridiculous pricing and/or restrictions.
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Filed Under: buying, ebooks

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  1. icon
    David Sanger (profile), 15 Nov 2010 @ 5:22pm

    Such anecdotal comments are interesting but it would be more compelling to gather and graph statistics by location, author, publisher and format, and to have such a significant volume of complaints that they could be presented to the publishers to make the case for more flexible publishing practices.

    Everyone is frustrated when a book is not available in the desired format, but a more organized advocacy campaign by readers would be more effective.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Lyle, 15 Nov 2010 @ 6:53pm

    Then there are folks like me that prefer real physical books, which are a well proven technology. The real question to ask is would you buy the book physically or electronically. All be it the physical book will cost more but no electronic glitch can destroy it, just a fire which will do your reader in as well (and more easily).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2010 @ 7:13pm

    just another sucks site

    Sounds like any other sucks site. To be taken with a grain of salt for sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    byteme, 15 Nov 2010 @ 7:54pm


    Ah, but you see, one of the complaints about eBooks is that some publishers are pricing the digital version higher than the physical format.

    On the plus side, most eBook retailers store your list of purchases and let you re-download them if they or your eReader go "poof."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2010 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Re:

    That and it's a lot harder to get 30k+ books for free.

    eBooks rock for piracy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    byteme, 15 Nov 2010 @ 8:02pm

    I've wanted an eBook reader for awhile now. They only make sense. Plus, all of my bookshelves are already full and I've got nowhere else to store new ones.

    Now that the Kindle is so cheap, it seems like the right time. Too bad the following makes the leap so hard to take:

    1 - DRM would lock me to a particular brand...I hate that

    2 - The price is too high for a non-physical product...especially when the physical one costs less in many cases

    3 - By purchasing books from my local libraries, I can hopefully help to keep a few open -- plus I get the books for less!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    David Sanger (profile), 15 Nov 2010 @ 9:07pm


    Actually Lyle, I see it the opposite way to some extent. I can lose my physical book, but with Amazon I can always redownload a copy (as long as they stay in business.)

    Also I can go on a trip and take 10 or 100 books with me, or 500 pdfs, which I can't do with paper.

    Agreed though that paper is nice for reading at home and marking up. It is frustrating not to be able to easily note, cut and paste, share and lend with ebooks. The functionality is tightly constrained.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2010 @ 10:37pm

    I have no problems with ebooks, mostly because I don't go to places where there is restrictions so I get most of it for free without DRM, I buy too but there are so little places to buy things without DRM and free to use that I don't do it that frequently.

    By the way the state of the art in voice synthesis is Ivona right now is just impressive although it is a paid one I first heard about it at the Festvox Challenge(or was it Festival Challenge) that gather everyone interested on the subject and rate them, great read(for free).

    Curiosity: I read recently a study suggesting that the poor eyesight of people who read a lot have to do with the quantity of light they are exposed to. The study looked at people who expend a lot of time outside in the natural light and people who expend a lot of time inside and found out that the people outside have better eyesight than the people that expend a lot of time inside and the most probable cause was the quantity of light outdoors is far greater then the quantity of light of the indoors.

    If you think about it, that just may be true, that is why animals in caves loose their eyes and that may explain why people who are not exposed to higher levels of light have the eyes degenerate faster because they are not using it to capture light.

    Direct sunlight__________________32,000~130,000 lux
    Full daylight (not direct sun)___10,000~ 25,000 lux
    Office lighting__________________320~500 lux

    I can see why people who expend a lot of time reading indoors could develop problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2010 @ 3:44am

    Preaching to the choir

    I'm not sure such sites really accomplish much.
    The "facts" offered, such as they are, are in the "obvious" category. So trying to point them out to an industry that must already know them and has either chosen to ignore then or has reasons of it's own to disbelieve them seems a bitof a waste of time.

    IMO the "obviousness" includes:
    Price is always going to be a factor - the fact is online book distribution will end up "competing with free" whether it wants to or not and while you can do that there's no way you can charge masses for it. But I don't think that's the major price problem. I think that's:
    Perceived profit. A physical book as far as I know has a profit margin of about 10%. Most people are fairly comfy with that I think. But take it online and the profit margin jumps massively - even a massively distributed online server farm is peanuts compared to a physical distribution network and everyone knows it and the publishers also get to take away a whole bunch of overhead - logistics of paper and ink supply chain, storage for large physical media, the overhead cost for books that aren't bought.
    Whatever number that actually amounts to, the public perception is "too much you greedy ba****ds"

    The other problem is functionality. You could consider it perhaps synonymous with the iPod. You might argue reason the iPod became popular was the ability to cram loads of albums/music/whatever onto 1 small device and that's the same as an e-book reader. Maybe so.
    Except that the iPod and other MP3 players were hugely popular before services like iTunes came along. Why? People started by ripping their CD collection to it that's why - it was even legal then (in the UK at least) and easy - 1-click functionality even in early software. File sharing networks largely grew up around people doing exactly what they'd always done with CD's and records - loan them to their mates, who might or might not have "taped" them. They then got out of hand due to the ease of it and the suddenly large circle of "friends" "borrowing" your music but the fact is that an iPod enhanced functionality you already had. E-books restrict functionality and until that stop happening a large chunk of people just aren't going to be interested.
    The ones that are are likely to be primarily ones tech savvy-enough to get the functionailty they want for themselves whatever is imposed from the publisher - if it's not offered legally, well... guess what? "Piracy" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Karl (profile), 16 Nov 2010 @ 4:04am

    Good beginning

    The site is new, so there is still a lot that could be done to better organize the information.

    The site owners are constrained by their lack of PHP and WordPress skills. But they know this. In fact, they're asking for PHP coders to help them out:

    If anyone wants to help them out (not just with this, but in general), I'm sure it would be appreciated. I'm actually considering it myself - it'd look good on my resume.

    If they keep at it, and actually implement user suggestions (e.g. sort by region, by reason, etc), then they'll really be on to something, I think.

    I also like that they have a "Found Sales" category, where users enter what publishers did to create a sale. Naturally, it's a lot smaller, since people like to complain more than compliment. Still, it shows that the site does not want to be merely another "sucks" site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Karl (profile), 16 Nov 2010 @ 4:09am

    Re: Good beginning

    users enter what publishers did to create a sale

    Actually, it looks like those are "converted" lost sales, where the reasons for the sale being lost are no longer an issue. E.g. the user wanted a version that is not available, and the publisher later made it available.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Richard (profile), 16 Nov 2010 @ 4:15am

    If only ...

    there was a site where the eBooks were cheap and available in any format (including plain text) with no DRM.

    The good news - there is..

    The bad news - it's all in Russian.
    How come they get it right and we don't?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    John Dalton (profile), 16 Nov 2010 @ 4:49am

    Ebook seller

    I was at a seminar in the writers centre here in Dublin recently. One of the speakers was from an Irish company that sells ebboks in most formats at reasonable prices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2010 @ 6:07am


    My optometrist told me a story of how several generations of native peoples of Alaska were studied. Each generation was more educated than the last, and each successive generation's eyesight was worse the more reading they did, basically. Less exercise of distance viewing or something to that effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    mischab1, 16 Nov 2010 @ 9:09am

    If you are interested in some of the reasons why the site was created, they can be found over at

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Bill, 16 Nov 2010 @ 9:33am

    I would love to get an E-Reader but I just can’t see paying the same price E-Book that is free to make versus the physical copy. I’d loose the right to loan books out to my fiends or to support the used book stores. Pay more money for a gimpy version of the physical book? Cant do it yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Colin, 16 Nov 2010 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Good beginning

    I think it would be a great idea to post where they can find easily obtainable/reasonably priced books to promote those who are doing it right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    bshock, 16 Nov 2010 @ 12:56pm

    another anecdote

    I read numerous ebooks, but I have never purchased one.

    To me, ebooks in general are not something to buy. Why should I waste money on something that can be obtained freely? That is, what's the difference between downloading a book and borrowing it from a library? Claiming there is some sort of emergent distinction in media type is just a way of rationalizing a rather feeble scheme to extract money from sheep in human form.

    At some point, somebody bought that library book, just as somebody bought that ebook. I'd return a library book, but with an ebook, I can just erase it or forget about it, because nothing physical was taken and I'm not depriving anyone of anything. (I'm certainly not depriving the author or publisher of any more money than I would in borrowing a library book.)

    Best of all, with both library books and ebooks, I can take a chance on authors I don't know. I'd have to be a fool to spend money on something I might hate, and I have certainly hated a lot of books I've started to read. When I find an author or series I like, though, I might actually start spending money. If I like the work enough, I might buy (and have bought) physical copies. If the author sells some sort of accompanying merchandise, I might buy (and have bought) some of that. If I really want to read the author's next work and think that it won't be available online for a week or two after Amazon could delivery a physical copy, then I'll order (and have ordered) the physical copy.

    You can spend all day trying to fool yourself into believing that "reasonably priced ebooks" would sell better. Maybe there are a few suckers who would buy them. But I either want a free ebook or a reasonably priced hard copy -- nothing in between. I'm not stealing from anyone and I'm not going to be stolen from; don't crap on my shoes and call it Shinola.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Sean (profile), 16 Nov 2010 @ 1:30pm

    Re: another anecdote

    You pretty much list all the reasons why some believe it's okay to download music, software, and films without paying.

    Not that you're wrong, or even that the concepts are wrong, but they're certainly nothing new.

    Personally, if I decide to purchase a book (and I buy a *lot* of fiction), I only purchase new when I'm very sure I'll enjoy the work. If I'm not sure, but the reviews make it seem like I will, I buy used from the cheapest seller on Amazon.

    Ebooks are basically a non-choice. I've bought one in my life, and I bought it assuming that since it was a technical book I'd be able to search it. I was wrong and I'll continue buying "real" books for the forseeable future.

    On the other hand, if publishers want to throw in a digital copy along with my bound book, I'd pay an extra dollar or two. No more, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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