'A Memory of Light' tops bestseller lists despite e-book furor

Fans angry over a delayed e-book release for the finale in Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series have given the book one-star ratings on Amazon.

'A Memory of Light' was released on Jan. 8.

“A Memory of Light,” the finale to Robert Jordan’s "Wheel of Time" series, remains at the top of bestseller lists even after fans, incensed that the book will not be released in electronic format until April, began giving the book low ratings on Amazon.

“A Memory of Light” was co-written by Jordan and Brandon Sanderson after Jordan died in 2007. Sanderson worked from Jordan’s notes to complete the last three books of the series.

The controversial decision to wait to release the e-book format of “Light” was announced by Tor, the book’s publisher, in March. Earlier this month, Sanderson explained that neither he nor Tor had wanted to wait to release the e-book but that Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s wife, who also served as his editor, had felt more comfortable delaying it.

“She is uncomfortable with ebooks,” Sanderson wrote on his website. “Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn't about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband's legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the 'Wheel of Time' from hitting number one on either list. (Many of the bestseller lists are still handling ebooks in somewhat awkward ways.)…. I personally feel her worries are unfounded, and have explained that to her, but it is not my choice and I respect her reasoning for the decision. She is just trying to safeguard Robert Jordan's legacy.… After talking about the issue, we were able to move the ebook up from the originally planned one-year delay to instead come out this spring.”

At this writing, “A Memory of Light” has almost as many one-star reviews on Amazon (272) as five-star reviews (349).

A commenter from Kentucky who named herself Sarah wrote on Amazon, “I'll buy the book when it comes out in a format I can enjoy on my digital devices. It's 2013, I'm not going to lug around a hardback to read on the bus, in line at the grocery, or even snuggled in bed.”

A commenter named Sutodak agreed, writing, “Pretty pathetic that they are trying to force hardback editions on everyone. It is the year 2013, ebook versions should always be available for such popular releases. Being a long time fan of this series, I had planned on buying both the ebook version for actually reading and the hardback version for the bookshelf. That won’t be happening now until I can buy it used.” 

But some Jordan fans had harsh words for the protests of others.

“I don't care if my false review, combined with all of the other false reviews of my comrades, deflate the rating of this book and influence someone's purchasing decisions,” wrote a commenter named Cat Overlord. “I don't care if it hurts the author's livelihood. I'm here to please myself and I don't believe that anyone's hard work should be rewarded. From now on, I'm going to read books like 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and anything I can find by Piers Anthony. Those books are worth buying and reading because they're available electronically. I don't care about merit, art, or value. I care about me and the satisfaction of my childish needs.” 

Despite the brouhaha, “A Memory of Light” is selling well on traditional bestseller lists, currently holding the number one spot on the IndieBound bestseller list for hardcover fiction the week of Jan. 17.

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