It’s fair to say that J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, set for release on September 27th and already available for pre-order at Amazon, is one of the year’s most hotly-anticipated new books. But with the Kindle edition priced at $18.73 in the US (and £11.99 in the UK), there are already signs that the book is sparking another debate regarding ebook pricing.
In the US, the $18.73 Kindle price isn’t far behind the $20.93 price for the hardback. In the UK, the situation is rather strange: the £11.99 Kindle price is actually more expensive than the £9.86 hardback price. While many in the traditional publishing world argue that consumers underestimate the costs associated with producing an ebook edition, it would seem hard to justify an ebook that is more expensive than a hardback.
Scroll further down on the Amazon US page for the book and you’ll see that people are already registering subtle protests. The book has already been tagged with various critical tags, some of which include words such as ‘boycott’, ‘outrageous’ and ‘expensive’. The book isn’t eligible to be reviewed yet (because it isn’t out!) so this seems to be the most visible way for Amazon customers to register their opinions.
These prices might change. It’s worth noting that at Barnes & Noble, the hardback is $21 while the Nook edition is $17.99, so there might well be room for Amazon to go lower. The book is almost certainly going to be a huge hit, selling many millions of copies. But it’ll be interesting to see whether the ebook edition’s sales are hit by the high prices and by the fact that it’ll cost the almost the same (and for some people even less) to go for a physical copy.