What happened was, this week’s Economist had a rave review of something called Dogs at the Perimeter, by a Madeleine Thien of whom I’d never heard but who turns out to be from Vancouver. And to have created a Dogs at the Perimeter Tumblr, which is full of severe formal beauty. So I thought I’d buy it, but the Kindle version was $18.03 and that bothered me.
[Update: Outstanding comment from Thad MacIlroy about the realities of digital-publishing screwups here.]
Which kind of rung a bell; a few days earlier I’d tweeted OK, I just hit my limit. I am *not* gonna pay $18.03 for a thriller on Kindle even when it’s by Elmore Leonard. Get real. (Actually, it turns out that in another browser, that Elmore Leonard is only $12.99. Which also bothers me.)
So what’s a book worth, anyhow? Over the decades I typically bought paperbacks not hardbacks, even after I wasn’t poor any more; they take less shelf space and are handier on the road.
My years in the business world taught me respect for the real-world measure of “value”: what someone’s willing to pay. And I’ve been buying a lot of Kindle books and sometimes paying more than I would’ve for the paperback. And bitching about it; but buying nonetheless.
But still, there’s something about $18.03 for a few million bits that is sticking in my throat. I’m not claiming that my feelings on this are rational. Only I’m really having trouble pulling the trigger.
You know what would help a lot? If I knew where the money was going. Ms Thien is a struggling young artist, a local, and builds a damn fine Tumblr. It’d really make a difference to me if I knew that most of the $18.03 was ending up in her bank account.
And, hey look, here’s
Starved for You, a new short story by Margaret Atwood, long one of my
favorites. Plus, advertised as being both speculative fiction and
Let’s see, $2.91, OK, but (now I’m laughing): “includes free international
wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.
Digital List Price:
$2.99. You Save: $0.08 (3%).” Well then, such a
bargain, who could say no? And I bet Ms Atwood, with like a hundred successful
novels, can command the kind of deal where
she gets most of the dough.
Late-Breaking News · The US government is going after e-publishers for e-book e-price e-collusion. Good on ’em, I suppose. But I bet they’re just as confused as I am.
Oh, and hey, Dogs at the Perimeter is only $15.99 over at Google Play Books. That clears things up.