"Books cost too much" was a popular TV ad slogan used by the Haft family in the 1980s to promote the Crown Books discount hardcover and paperback bookstore chain.
Now it seems the slogan could be updated to say, "E-books cost too much," judging by the overwhelming customer irritation with e-books sold by Amazon.com Inc. to Kindle and Kindle 2 customers for more than US$9.99 apiece.
An informal boycott is under way, in fact.
On a popular Kindle online forum thread titled, "Boycott anything over $9.99," more than 1,200 posts on the subject of high-priced e-books have appeared since the beginning of the year, with many more comments posted since the Kindle 2 e-book reader began shipping on Sunday.
Some comments say that certain books are worth more than $9.99, even if they are read on an e-reader, but most complain that Amazon promotes the Kindle and Kindle 2 by saying it has many thousands of for that price or less.
The general sentiment of commenters is that if a customer pays $359 for a Kindle 2, the books should be substantially less than the hardcover or even the paperback cost.
Amazon.com officials did not respond to queries about this story.
Some commenters have even urged a boycott of e-books costing more than $9.99. "It's important that OLD and NEW Kindle folk DO NOT purchase anything over $9.99," wrote C.S. Stein in a post. "This was one of the big selling points for me and I will not be bait and switched. Keep together, all!"
Another person, using the handle "Bayou Banker," posted a comment Wednesday about his disappointment on pricing of e-books. "I just ordered a Kindle 2 and THEN discovered all [e-books] are not $9.99 as they would have you believe. I intend to complain and will not order anything over $9.99."
To be sure, the forum has links to free and discounted books, partly to urge boycotters to avoid paying high prices.
One commenter with the name of "Knipfty" has posted near-daily summaries of how many Kindle e-books are available for purchase, with the amount and percentage of those priced more than $9.99.
For Feb. 24, Knipfty said 33.3% of all Kindle e-books available were priced at more than $9.99, up steadily from 29.7% of the total sold on Jan. 20. However, the most recent percentage of books at more than $9.99 was slightly lower than the high of $33.8% on Feb. 13.
"The problem is that e-books are not going away," Knipfty wrote Wednesday. "So we just need to focus on the price. As for me right now, I'm reading The Night's Dawn Trilogy. What a bargain. All three books in one download for $8. And they're large books too!"
This story, "E-Books Cost Too Much, Kindle Forum Writers Complain" was originally published by Computerworld.