Wednesday, October 27, 2010

James Patterson Hits Million Mark in Amazon Ebook Sales, Offers Cross Fire 30 Chapter Freebie Leading to Pricey Full Book announced today that James Patterson, the ultra-prolific author of over 65 books crossing many genres, is the second member of the Kindle Million Club.

He joins Stieg Larsson in the distinction of selling over 1 million ebooks in the Kindle Store.

Patterson's books cover the bookstore with titles in these categories: Suspense, fantasy, romance, historical fiction, and children's.

Patterson critics like horror meister Stephen King snipe that Patterson couldn't be carried in the "Literary" aisle.  Patterson responds by describing himself as a story teller, and points to millions of book sales as proof positive he's got something good going on.

What he has going on right now is a new book featuring his popular character Alex Cross. Cross Fire the full ebook novel is available for pre-order at Amazon for delivery on November 15.

Another pre-order, acting as herald to the pricey Cross Fire, is Cross Fire-Free Preview: The First 30 Chapters. It's free, will electronically appear on Nov. 1, and is published by Hachette Book Group.  Hachette is listed as setting the $ 0.00 preview price and mandating the “agency model” price tag of $14.99 for the ebook. Compare that to the hardcover price on the Amazon page for the book, now showing at $15.12.

On the hardcover book page—only--on Amazon (as of today), Patterson speaks to the online shopper from a posted video. He sits in a comfy looking study, books lining the walls.  Questions appear on a black screen in white letters, then the video cuts to Patterson answering. Don't rush off when the author finishes the answer, because more questions and responses follow.

Once more stepping into the free-fire between authors, publishers and ebook readers infuriated by a price anywhere over $9.99, the book is sure to intensify the “what's an ebook worth?” battle.

According the sticker prices currently on the ebook and the hardcover, listed on Amazon at $15.11 for the hardcover and $14.99 for the ebook, apparently Hachette and potentially the author think an ebook is worth 12 cents less than a printed book sandwiched between fancy covers, run through printing presses, stacked and warehoused and trucked and carried to bookshelves or delivered by human hands to readers' doors.

Over his 33 year writing career, Patterson has published more than 65 books, an average of 2 a year. Recent years have seen the pace of his output soar. It's not uncommon to see a Patterson book and soon after a different “Patterson And” book where he's teamed up with writes like Andrew Gross or Maxine Paetro.

Despite the furor over the comparative price of the ebook and the print book, if they remain the same, Cross Fire makes for an interesting field test of book pricing.  At virtually the same price--what can 12 cents get you?--it comes down to which a reader prefers because of varied issues:  the environment (save a tree), weight (just under a pound at 14.4 ounces), landed cost (add $3 for minimum cost of delivery in the US), sensual (a hardcover's distinctive feel and smell), wrap-ability (an ebook isn't amenable to shiny Christmas paper), share-ability (Amazon is changing that, see related post on Planet iPad), and myriad other issues close to the hearts of readers.

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