I’ve come across a dark cloud in my digital world, I can’t loan ebooks. It’s no secret that I’ve fully embraced the digital world. I have an Android smart phone, an iPad, a Kindle, a netbook and a few dozen other devices I used to use. My Kindle account is attached to my Kindle, my computer, my phone, and my iPad. I can’t remember the last time I bought a physical book.

While I’m on the subject, I will admit that one of my pet peeves are the publishers selling ebooks for the same price as a paperback. To me this is simply greed. There are several very good authors that I’ve abandoned because of that greed, Robin Hobb and Ilona Andrews are two that come to mind. (As I wrote this, I checked Robin Hobb and bought her Dragon Series, volume 2 and 3 because of recent price drops.)

I’ve never heard a reasonable justification for this pricing. I did hear one of the publishers call it a convenience fee. Greed is greed, I find it hard to believe that it costs more to distribute an ebook than a paperback. I’ll agree that an ebook is easier to pirate resulting in possible lost revenue. Then again, a paperback will probably be loaned to several people and then sold or given away.

On one hand, the publishers look like greedy politicians. On the other, the publishers are charging me more because I might be a thief. I really don’t care, there are a lot of very good books without all this baggage.

That’s the way I used to think.

Three years ago, while I was reading volume five of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, I was loaning out volumes one through three to anyone that had any interest in fantasy. People were beginning to call me “The Pusher” because I got them hooked on the series and then expected them to buy their own books after volume three. As it usually happens, I loaned them out one too many times and they never came home. No more converts.

If you do math the way the MPAA does, I cheated Mr. Butcher and his publisher out of over 15 book sales. What did happen was that people who had never read The Dresden Files and probably never would, ended up hooked on the series and shared it with others. My simple act probably sold over 100 books that would not be sold otherwise.

This week I started reading another series that reminded me of The Dresden Files. Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia has a similar pace feel and character development. Of course I immediately thought of all the people I had hooked on the Dresden Files. Except, I can’t loan my books anymore.

I’ve converted to ebooks and right now there’s not a good way to loan ebooks, especially across platforms. I can tell them how good the book is but unless they actually have it in their possession, they’re probably not going to read it.

I appreciate it that Amazon will often give away or discount heavily the first book in a series but it’s not the same. My Kindle is cluttered with free books that I might read someday. A loan carries with it an obligation to read the book and return it. A loaned book is far more likely to be read than a free book.

Why do I care? Books should be shared.  Being able to discuss a book or series with a group of people you respect allows you to see aspects and specifics that you might have missed or misinterpreted. It’s also a great way to kept up to date on any upcoming releases from the author.

I haven’t changed my mind about the publishers greed but I am realizing that an ebook just doesn’t have the marketing power of a paperback. Maybe the publishers are justified in charging me the same as a paperback they just don’t know why. No, now they come across as greedy and clueless.

I hope that someone works out a way to loan ebooks soon but until then, trust me, if you like slightly off beat fantasy, grab a copy of Monster Hunter International. You’ll enjoy it. I’d also recommend Dresden Files but his publisher seems to have decided he doesn’t want my Kindle business.

Curse you Larry Correia, I will never see elves in the same light again.


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