The Apple iBooks store is finally open for business in Canada. Technically, it opened with the iPad’s release five weeks ago, but until today, only the Project Gutenberg books were available. They’re all free, but Project Gutenberg only includes books that are old enough to no-longer fall under copyright protection. The price is right, but the selection of recent books is entirely non-existant. Today however, you can actually buy books. Recent ones. New ones!

So far, I’m not impressed.

I recently read James Patterson’s 1st to Die and 2nd Chance, the first two books in his Women’s Murder Club series. The first book I looked up on iBooks was 3rd Degree, the next novel in the series. They’ve got it, but it’s $11.99. Why would I buy the e-book when the mass-market paperback is only $9.99? If I don’t pay the 20% premium, I’m free to lend it out while I have it and sell it or give it away when I’m done with it. With a book that I’m not likely to ever read again, like those in this series, I might go so far as paying the same price as the paperback for the convenience and ease of storage, but I’m sure as hell not going to pay more!

I prefer Amazon’s Kindle version of the same book but they can’t even manage to merely charge me more, as Apple does. No, they won’t even sell me the e-book at all. Presumably, they don’t have the proper licensing agreements in place to sell it in Canada. It’s unfortunate, because Amazon.com will happily send me the paperback for US$10.07 and Amazon.ca will sell me the same paperback for C$9.99.

Regular paper book pricing is certainly a bit odd at times. In comparison, the e-book situation is ridiculous. Here’s hoping the price will go down as the selection grows.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

Postscript: Oh, wait a minute. My choices aren’t limited to $12.99 and $9.99. There’s a vast used-book market out there. The option I’ve decided on is entirely free. The Ottawa Public Library system has 16 copies of 3rd Degree and three are currently available. Come Friday morning, one will be on its way to me. It’s free, and I won’t have to worry about what to do with it afterwards. Perfect!

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