Never thought I’d admit this in public, but I agree with Amazon in this Amazon vs Hachette debate. EBOOKS ARE WAY TOO OVER-PRICED. Considering that there are no printing and distribution costs, and considering that you can’t just loan your ebook to friends, can’t read them for extended periods without having power nearby, can’t sell them to a second hand store once you’re done with them, you can’t use them for toilet paper, you can’t burn them to keep yourself warm, and you lose access to your entire bookshelf if you lose your device or it gets damaged until you can afford another. And even then, there have historically been issues with migrating some books between devices depending on the whim of the publishers. Or what if you’re sick of that type of device and move to something else? Or what if you’re sick of Amazon, and want to start buying from someone else? What happens to your old library?
Is there a difference between electronic and physical books? Does that change their value for you? It sure as shit does for me.
Whenever I buy an ebook I feel bad because should I ever want to lend it to someone, I can’t. My parents always taught me to share, but modern media publishers are doing their best to make that illegal. And all the while they’re crying poverty, they are fucking creaming it. With extra thick whipped cream topped with the ripest, most delicious cherries, and a side of Cadbury’s Flake (the crumbliest, flakiest milk chocolate in the woooorld).
With ebooks, you don’t own a product—you’re just licensing a reading copy. Seriously, if you don’t understand that last sentence, re-read it and let it sink in. This is only a little better than borrowing a copy from the library.
This makes their value to me very low. Anyone selling an ebook for almost the cost of a physical book can go jump on a cactus. Anyone selling an ebook for over $10 can go ahead and take off their pants before jumping on aforementioned cactus.
Basically, I’m of the opinion that Fuck Publishers. Fuck them in the eyehole. Traditional publishers are fucking dinosaurs (hence why I tend to call them Publishaurs), whether they be print, music, or movie publishers. In a modern world, they don’t add as much value as their percentage would otherwise indicate.
I feel bad about writers who are stuck in the middle, but my sympathy only goes so far. Many are stuck in the mindset that the publisher is necessary for distribution of content and marketing. They’re not. This is the 21st century, and anybody can self publish to a number of different sites with the click of a couple of buttons. You can even use Print On Demand and get people physical copies without any publisher involvement. And between social media sites like Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and blogs, marketing is easy. Sure, it resembles work, but if you’re not prepared to work for a living, then stop bitching about how hard life is.
I support self-published authors, cartoonists, bands, artists, and movie makers 110%, 150% if they go to the effort of producing a physical product. I’ve bought music from many bands, local and international, and I’m prepared to pay a little bit more if it’s self-published. Physical books are fewer and fewer these days, as I just don’t have the room for more of them in my house. So for them I’m shifting to digital. And I’m finding the majority overpriced. Even $7-8 I find too high in most cases, especially for books that are decades old, that the publishers have made more money from each format shift. And now with digital, these are just cream for the publishers. Yes, the authors will get their share too (hopefully), but the publishers have not done anything significant to warrant this extra income. For the shift to digital—especially for older work—the publishers should be reducing the prices and giving the bulk of the revenue to the writers. What’s even better for the publishers is that they will have dozens or hundreds of titles listed, and will be making a good percentage off all of them, while the authors may only have a handful each at best.
If you want to publish something—anything—then go ask Google how to do it. You can sell it for cheaper, and you get to keep all the money, not give it out to people who are rich at your expense.
Or ask me, and I’ll exploit you for a far smaller percentage.