For about the past week or so, I have passed by posters at Walmart of J.K. Rowling’s latest book The Vacancy. The posters are on those obstructions at the front entrance that do double duty, sensing merchandise with those little electronic cards that need be turned off after the purchase. Otherwise, they go whoop, whoop, whoop and everyone thinks you’re shop lifting.
Let me say the cover image on the poster struck me as a bit bland. In reality I may never have given it a second thought if not for J.K. Rowling’s name plastered across the top. Otherwise I may have missed the big orange rectangle with a black X on it. After passing the display a few times, I finally resolved to look it up at Amazon.
First thing that struck me was the price. An author’s published level determines the book's cost. For Kindle, self-published authors stay in the $0.99 to $2.99 range. Yeah, some may go a bit higher. Books from publishers usually run higher, although most cap around the $9.99 mark. Again, we’re talking Kindle. Well known authors run a bit higher. John Grisham at $12.99. Tom Wolfe at $14.99. Barbara Kingsolver at $14.99, too. Rowling’s book is set at $17.99. And that may have been lowered as one reviewer indicated she paid a whopping $21 for her Kindle edition. BTW, Amazon indicates the list price at $35. I guess with the name and fame comes a higher price to stay in the game.
What struck me right away was the disproportionate number of 1-star reviews. At the time of writing this blog, the count was at 32 1-star reviews to 24 5-star reviews. In fact the total count of 1 and 2 star reviews outnumbers the 3, 4 and 5 star reviews combined (42 to 38). I read through some of the reviews and people make good points about why they don't like the book. The forums on Amazon do not do much better, although perhaps one person said it best: “Were you honestly expecting this to be Harry Potter 8?”
Needless to say the book holds the #1 spot on the Kindle top 100.
So, does this convince me not to read it? Not at all. I’ll make up my own mind. Will I plunk down $17.99 for it? Nope. I’ll check out the local library and borrow a copy.