I’ve posted a few times on how expensive everything has gotten, and that includes books.
Last week I wrote about the revolution in reading. But the changes don’t begin or end with reading. Every facet of publishing, bookselling and writing is being affected by consumers’ discovery of digital readers that they soon grow to love.
Just last night, I took advantage of one change myself. Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend who recommended a new author to me, someone I hadn’t read. This author is published by one of the major New York houses. So I came home from lunch with the idea that I would order one of her books to read on my new Vizio tablet.
I found all of her books on Amazon all right, but her publisher had priced all of her e-books at at least $7.99. ….. So what did I do? Cheapskate that I am, I searched through blurbs on Amazon’s $2.99 e-books until I found one that sounded like a good read. It was written by an indie author I had never read or even heard of. And that’s the one I bought. If I get into it and don’t like it, I haven’t lost a lot if I don’t finish it. I’ll just delete it from my reader. ….. I would still like to read the author recommended by my friend. But not at $7.99.
Traditional publishing doesn’t yet get it. Nor do e-publishers. Authors are empowered. They no longer need to be hamstrung by a publisher arbitrarily pricing their books at numbers that will inhibit sales. They no longer need a blessing bestowed on them from the ivory towers in New York. They no longer have to accept 8% royalty and hope the publisher is generous enough to buy them some space in a bookstore or do something else to help a reader find their work. On their own, authors can literally reach hundreds of millions of people in a global marketplace.
Amazon now lists well over a million e-books for sale. Cyberspace is full of pretty damn good books for under $5.00, a fact that is helping readers find many new authors whose books would have never seen the light of day without the Internet and digital reading. And what’s happening now is only the beginning. The debate still rages over the ideal price for an e-book, but it’s my own opinion that it must be less than $5.00 to compete.
There was a time when I was willing to pay $20, or more, for a book by an author I liked. Or $5.99 or $6.99 for a paperback. If I wanted to read fiction and couldn’t make it to a library, I had little other choice. That’s no longer true. I still might like the same author, but I don’t feel such an urgency to read him or her that I’m willing to pay $20 for entertainment that I could get for $2.99 or even 99-cents. And unless something changes, I’m definitely not willing to pay $7.99 for an e-book.
I suspect there are many readers like me out there in the ether. Are you one of them?
- The writer who made millions by self-publishing online (guardian.co.uk)
- Has Amazon turned ebooks into commodities? (teleread.com)
- E-book prices: The lower, the better? (natashamcneely.wordpress.com)