If you shop for ebooks on Kindle, you’ll only have a reference to the file size, not a word count. The file size can vary greatly depending on many factors other than just words, so this really tells you nothing at all about the value of your purchase. At least Smashwords are more open and honest and give an estimate of the word count in each listed book.
I find Kindle’s reluctance to give word count information rather interesting, as it is something that is very simple to calculate. Every word processor in existence can do it, so why not Kindle and Amazon with all their technical resources? My belief is that it is intentional. It makes all Kindle ebooks equal and supports my suspicion that Kindle are in fact promoting and are profiteering from the $0.99 ebook pricing model. Think about it. If you were Kindle, would you prefer to pay out 33% royalties or 70% ? Not to mention the famous ‘Free International Wireless Delivery’ charge of $0.33 they so rudely add to ebooks for many non US and UK ebook buyers.
Amazon Kindle’s ‘Price Matching Feature’ is another avenue by which they reduce ebook prices and thus royalty payouts to authors and is really a little technical mystery. A mystery in the sense that they have enough tools to discover you are having a little sale on your own website and quickly drop your Kindle price to match, but they are not technically equipped to be able to inform you by email that they have done it. If you haven’t had this happen to you, be warned.
Perhaps I’m getting neurotic in my old age, but I smell a rat. While ebook publishing has given many a wonderful opportunity to publish, I still have the sneaking suspicion I can smell exploitation in the Kindle 99c pricing model.
While it would never happen in a million years, I would much prefer that Smashwords were the ebook supplier of choice for ebook readers. At least they are open in their product description and are fair to authors in their royalty structures.