ebook readers, can I get your feedback, please?

The controversy over ebook pricing is not going to resolve itself anytime soon, and here’s the reason why: publishers are confounded.

A hardcover novel is on the market for a year before they release a softcover edition, specifically because they count on recouping a big part of the investment through hardcover sales. The higher the hardcover sales, the longer it takes to put out the softcover. This approach has been set on its ear by ebooks, because people expect (quite reasonably) to pay less for a product that has so much less overhead (no paper, printing, transportation costs).

So if the publisher releases the hardcover ($25) and the ebook ($12) at the same time it’s pretty clear that the traditional sales strategy is no longer going to work. The are two obvious solutions to this: (1) charge as much for the ebook as the hardcover; (2) don’t release the ebook until the softcover version is released (thereby protecting hardcover sales).

Readers don’t like either of these options. So publishers came up with an alternate approach. For example:

Publishers seem to indulge in a lot of magical thinking.

Assume for a moment this is a book you really want to read, and your first choice is the Kindle ebook. What do you do?