One of the more heated discussions about ebook reviews these days is whether it’s appropriate to leave one-star reviews on sites like Amazon if what you’re really reviewing is the price. Although it’s easy to see why people unconcerned with pricing would be annoyed, there’s still no good, public alternative where you can voice your dissatisfaction.
On this matter, LostBookSales.com may not replace Amazon in visibility or reach, but it’s a welcome experiment. On the site, you can publicly list the last ebook purchase decision you made where you didn’t buy the title, whether it was from Amazon or another retailer. Better still, it lets you list what you did instead, such as borrowing it from the library or format-shifting an existing copy you already have access to.
The site was created by a group of volunteers familiar with the ebook and indie publishing scene, and the idea was sparked by a commenter at the Dear Author romance novel blog on a recent post, “How Do We Solve a Problem Like Geographic Restrictions?”
In fact, a lot of the current submissions (there are about 800 so far) deal with territorial issues that prevent customers in some countries from buying the ebook versions of their favorite authors. Mixed in with that are plenty of complaints about pricing, too.
My favorite feature: under “locate/sort,” you can navigate to a publisher tag cloud that shows which publishers are getting the bulk of the lost sales. To no one’s surprise, HarperCollins and Penguin seems to be losing the most sales based on the first wave of submissions.
My one complaint so far is that the design, while visually appealing, hides data so that you have to click through to see anything important for each entry; it’s really crying out for a way to display all the submissions flatly, so that you can skim them without so much clicking. (I think that will provide more value to publishers as well.)
Who knows whether this will accomplish anything, but it’s nice to see the beginning of a public record of lost sales, even if the data collected there is only anecdotal. You have to provide an email address if you submit a lost sale; the site’s submission page says they will never reveal this address if a publisher or author asks for it without your permission. (If I had an ebook listed on the site, I’d be trying to send free copies to those fans in countries where they can’t buy my book, but that’s just me.) However, if you’re truly concerned about privacy you might want to use a temporary address that you can abandon after confirming the submission.