So you may have read one of these stories going around about Amazon charging for free ebooks, all of which were sparked by a story in the Washington Post yesterday. Right now I’m sitting back and getting irritated by everyone (well, almost everyone) who has written one of those stories. That little piece of information is not news, and it is also out of context.
It is not news becuase there have been people charging for public domain ebooks forever. It did not start happening recently; it has happened since the first ebookstore opened.
It is also out of context becuase most of the stories fail to mention that most of the other ebookstores have this same problem.You can find people selling public domain ebooks in Fictionwise, B&N, Redgroup, and Sony, and that’s just the ones I bothered to check. Amazon are not alone in this, and they should not have been singled out. Furthermore, Amazon also maintain an extensive collection of free ebooks; you just have to go look for them.
Here’s the thing. What we’re looking at here is something called a convenience tax. In buying pd ebooks you’re paying to avoid the hassle of having to go out and look for a free copy. The convenience tax is why, for example, things cost more at a store near the interstate than at one far away. This is a normal part of economics.
BTW, I would never criticize anyone who has purchased a public domain ebook. I have. I’m irritated by the bloggers, not the customers.