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Why do you want lower ebook prices?

As many of you know, I follow stories and read articles written about publishing (and writing). I pay special attention to the stories like, “James Patterson: If I were Amazon’s Jeff Bezos,” (which you can find at http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/07/opinion/patterson-if-i-were-jeff-bezos/index.html?iref=allsearch). After reading the article (any article) I find the comments are often more insightful about how people feel regarding the issue than the article.

So far I’ve discovered a reality about ebook readers who comment that seems sadly (at least to me) universal. They don’t value story. They don’t value quality. They don’t care about anything but price. Very few have bothered to educate themselves about the costs that go into producing a book, ebook or audiobook.

The arguments that I see over and over again in the comments are that, ‘data is nearly free’ and that, ‘…it costs less then $0.01 to make an ebook…’ or that, ‘all costs in book production have to do with printing, shipping and storage.’

According to the majority of ebook readers commenting it appears that they see no value in the author’s time, having a work curated (quality/writing level established), editing (any form of), layout & design, cover art, nor even in the storage of files. The only thing they appear to value is the cost to them. Basically an ebook is barely given the value of the weight it possesses in the physical world.

It’s actually taken me some time to accept this about the majority of ebook readers/writers commenting. I don’t believe they all feel this way. I don’t believe that book readers feel this way. But I am now accepting that the majority of people commenting do feel this way.

When I bring up the cost of editing, I’m called elitist. If I try to talk about curation (quality/level of writing coupled with suitability of subject) I’m called a snob and much worse. Just try and talk about punctuation, wow! The fact that all these factors are about the ability of the author to communicate effectively to their desired audience means nothing.

The fear that Amazon’s approach to books would devalue story has come to pass. After all, anyone can run a marathon and anyone can write a book (thanks to writing programs you can write several books a week). Anyone can upload anything and anyone can pay for 5 Star Reviews (I’ve got an offer in my inbox when I started writing this article). The writer of today doesn’t need to know grammar and punctuation, forget editing or even how to spell. And if you want to be a successful ebook author all you need are deep pockets…

Actually this is nothing new. Lets be honest, vanity presses have existed and do exist, but no one takes a vanity author seriously. Why? Quality. I’m not saying that all vanity published authors do not produce quality work, only the majority don’t. But currently the argument appears to be that when it comes to ebooks the reader should curate, edit and pay for the privilege of doing so.

Oh, and the biggest argument and the one that has me flummoxed is being made by people who have the most to gain by not having more competition, especially from people with edited, curated and polished works. If, over all, an author produces a superior product (sorry, the ability to communicate effectively counts as higher quality) why would you want such next to your (developing—I’m making the assumption that the majority who have read this far are working on improving their craft) work? If you’re priced lower, then according to your own arguments, you’ll get more sales. That is, unless the consumer can get a better product for the same amount.

The content creator (that’s the person writing) gets a benefit from higher prices from the curated works. Only the content provider gets a benefit from having better work available. So having lower ebook prices of higher quality work is not in the writers best interest but certainly is in the case of the distributor (and that isn’t just Amazon).

If people are reading your work and you’re working to improve your quality or you started with a high quality product, then you win again with having your product priced lower. So I’m confused, but I’m confused about a lot of things.

If I thought that way that most of the commenters appear to think and I were (and I am) one of the majority of ebook authors who don’t make enough on my ebook sales to buy a cup of coffee (tea in my case) then I definitely would want less competent competition (As far as I’m concerned, as long as people are reading in the genres I write, I gain market because people read more than one book a year and more people reading means a larger market, but that’s me).

Hey, keep writing, keep working on craft because a lot of readers really do care!

 

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