But how did customers respond to this pricing decision? They were outraged! As you can see on the product page, the book has been overwhelmed with one-star reviews based not on the quality of the book itself but instead on the perception of greed and unfairness on behalf of the publisher. “junk,” writes Amazon reviewer Juan M. “It’s ridiculous that the E-BOOK is as much as the physical copy. Greed indeed.”
(Dan Ariety via LISNews)
What I was hoping for from this article was a discussion of Amazon’s ambiguous rating system and how it can affect potential readers’ perception of the content itself. Unfortunately, the author didn’t go that direction, but rather discussed why he feels perfectly comfortable paying more for an ebook than a hardcover. That’s fine for him, but clearly a lot of people don’t agree.
"From a utility point of view," .mp3s are a lot more convenient than CDs. You can get them whenever you want them. You can sample music with very little commitment. You can have the same music at home, in your car, on your phone, and with you at the gym. You can make playlists — and you don’t even need piles of cassette tapes and a boombox to do it! But if a record label tried to charge more than a CD for an .mp3 album, no one would buy it. Record labels are having enough trouble getting people to buy downloaded albums that cost less than CDs. This illustrates pretty clearly that consumers aren’t used to paying for convenience. They think they’re paying for plastic and laser encoding and album art. The more stuff they have in their hand, the more it should cost.
It’s obvious from situations like this with Michael Connelly’s latest book that Kindle users do not think they should be forced to pay more for convenience. Not everyone is as zen about it as the original poster. That’s a fact.
The question that I find more interesting is whether or not people should be leaving negative reviews in a situation like this. After all, what is being graded? Do those stars at the top of the page reflect the content of the book, as written by Connelly himself? Do they represent Amazon’s delivery of the product? What if some reviewers take off stars for poor cover design, or an unpleasant typeface?
Because of the poor reviews, someone might glance at the listing for the book and decide it’s not worth reading. Not everyone is going to read enough reviews to discover most people have a problem with the publishing model. I’m really curious how Amazon’s collaborative filtering handles such situations, too. Is this going to stop the book from appearing as a recommendation for people who liked other similar products? Even if the price gets lowered, which appears to have happened in this situation and could spark a whole other discussion, those reviews are still there. Not everyone is going to go back and change them, especially not the unhappy people who already paid more.
Ah, recommender systems.