And they wonder why “Big Publishing” is crumbling…
So I was reading an article at io9.com, as you do, about important SF books that lots of people pretend to read and never actually finish. As it turns out I’ve already read a number of them, so there, nyah, but I thought I would download some of the ones I haven’t read and take a crack at them (because I still write SF and fantasy when I get the time).
Headed over to the Big River, plugged in a title, and holy mother of Cthulhu. I’m sorry, and this is me speaking as an author, but ain’t no way I’m paying $15.99 for an ebook. I don’t care who wrote it or how important they are in the field. IT’S A ELECTRONIC FILE. Publishers don’t have to print, store, ship, or remainder ebooks. An ebook isn’t made from unicorn farts and fairy dust. IT’S A FILE.
What flavor of crack are the Big Five smoking, anyway? No wonder New York publishing is going straight to hell. They have no idea how to price their product so that people will buy. One of the biggest selling points about ebooks is that they lend themselves very well to impulse purchases. You can read about a book online, think, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” pop over to your favorite online retailer and have it downloaded to your reader in milliseconds, usually for the price of a Starbucks. No one blinks at a $3.99 ebook. $4.99 and $5.99 are starting to get up there, but are perfectly reasonable for longer works. If it’s an author I really like and want to read, I’ll go up to $8.99. Any higher, however, and I have problems rationalizing paying that much money for, say it with me, AN ELECTRONIC FILE.
And the worst part is, I have author friends who have been caught up in this egregious fuckup and are being dropped by their publishers because their “sales are too low.” Yeah, well, maybe if their publishers weren’t charging $11.99 for AN ELECTRONIC FILE those sales might perk up, hey?
In related news, it looks like I won’t be reading Gravity’s Rainbow, Dhalgren, or Infinite Jest any time soon. But I’m increasingly happy that I decided to switch to romance and be a hybrid author with a house that knows how to price its ebooks affordably.