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Kindle owners stage e-book price protest

Upset that certain e-books cost more than $10, Kindle owners are marking price offenders with a scarlet "boycott" tag. Will publishers listen?

Wired's Gadget Lab blog has a story about how a group of about 250 Kindle owners are staging an online protest over Kindle e-books that cost more than $9.99. The weapon they're using is Amazon's own tagging system, as price offenders are getting hit with a special "9 99 boycott" tag.

The roving--and most likely growing--band of annoyed Kindle owners includes such folks as Connecticut librarian Crystal O'Brien, who spends "a few minutes every day in the Kindle book store tagging the more expensive digital books with the '9 99 boycott' tag and removing it once the price drops below the threshold."

Frame job: the Kindle version of "The Likeness" costs $4 more than the paperback. Amazon

I wish I'd known about the tag when I was searching for a new Kindle e-book the other day. I came across Tana French's "The Likeness" and was considering a purchase until I saw that the Kindle edition was priced at a shocking $14.27. What was so ridiculous was the $10.20 paperback version costs $4 less. However, I didn't notice the "9 99 boycott" tag until I read the Wired blog and went back to look to see whether it was tagged (it was).

Now, if you're new to the whole e-book pricing game, you might think Amazon's the villain here. But the unfortunate fact is that it's really the publishers who are behind the pricing.

Amazon isn't gouging the consumer, and according to my sources, may barely be breaking even on some best sellers that cost $10. You only need to look at the price of books in the eBook Store from Sony to get a pretty good idea that Amazon's trimmed its margins pretty close to the bone. (Typically, best sellers sell for a buck or two more in the Sony eBook Store--and Sony isn't turning big profits either).

Look, I understand publishers don't want to price the Kindle Edition too low for fear that it will hurt sales of the hardcover edition. But I still maintain Kindle best-sellers should cost a few bucks less than what the paperback version of the book would cost. Case in point: I'm not going to buy the paperback edition of "The Likeness" at $10.20. But I would have paid $7.99 for the Kindle version. Now, of course, no sale has been made.

To make my point, I'm slapping a 7 99 boycott tag on "The Likeness." An over $10 boycott is a start. But we really need to get to $7.99. Who's with me?