Okay, first, the good news: a colleague of mine pointed out to me yesterday that Sex, Bombs and Burgers is officially available as an ebook in Canada. Kobo Books, the ebook division of Canadian chain Indigo/Chapters, has it available for download. It’s in ePub format, which means you can download it onto your computer, mobile phone or e-reader.
Kobo, like Amazon, is smartly not tying itself to just its own branded e-reader device. If you’ve got a smartphone or just about any e-reader that’s not the Amazon Kindle, you should be able to install the Kobo app and download books from its store (Amazon’s Kindle, so far, doesn’t read the ePub format).
I’m not actually sure how long Sex, Bombs and Burgers has been available over Kobo, but I’m pleased it’s there and available for people who want the e-book version. I’ve certainly heard numerous requests for it from people who prefer to get their goods digitally. I’ve also heard people say that they’d like to read Sex, Bombs and Burgers, but they’d be somewhat ashamed to whip out any book with the word “porn” on its cover on the subway. The discrete nature of ebooks and e-readers obviously negates that concern.
So what’s the Sex, Bombs and Burgers ebook look like? Well, after paying for it and browsing it on an iPad and iPhone – yup, I had to pay for my own book… how crazy is that? – I can say it’s not bad. Kobo doesn’t yet have all the fancy functionality that Amazon and Apple have, like cross-transferring your bookmarked spots from one device to the next (say, from your iPad to your iPhone), but its ebooks are functional and do the job. The formatting of my ebook could use some improvement and I’m hopeful that’ll be fixed soon. But if it’s simply an electronic version of the book you’re looking for, the Kobo ebook does the trick.
I’ve been told that an Amazon ebook for Canadians is also on the way, but sadly, if you’re in the U.S., you’ll have to wait till the fall of next year to (legally) get the ebook. Kobo is available to Americans, but as far as I can tell, the sale of my ebook is geoblocked. I’m looking into what the situation is in Australia, New Zealand the United Kingdom and will hopefully have something to report soon.
Now for the bad news: Kobo’s ebook is $22.09 (Canadian). That’s $9.91 cheaper than the hardcover, but I’ll be damned if I could find a more expensive ebook on Kobo. Seriously – I spent five minutes browsing and couldn’t find anything steeper (I’m sure there’s something, but nothing turned up in a peremptory look).
I obviously have no control over pricing on either printed or ebook editions, and truth be told, I have little knowledge of how publishers price their goods. Naturally, I think $22 is way too high a price for my ebook – my rule of thumb is the ebook should be at least half the cost of the printed version to encourage volume sales. The price should be even lower on new, largely unknown authors because buyers simply won’t take a chance on them otherwise.
Interestingly, the top-selling book on Kobo yesterday was Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger (from Random House’s Crown Publishing). Its price? 89 cents.
Hmmm. Hypothetical situation. I’ve just received a new e-reader for my birthday (which is coming up later this month, by the way, wink wink). Do I take a chance and spend 89 cents on a book by an author I’ve never heard of, or do I spend $22? Or do I split the difference and spend $7.99 on Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?
Yup, it’s a no brainer. Like I said – I’m happy there’s an ebook available, but I’ll be asking my publisher about the pricing.