Monday, February 1, 2010

I guess I should have listened

Here’s the outsiders view, looking in. I’ve been buried in a story, so following all the little online dramas has been out of the question. Writing comes first with me. Always. But here’s my take on the latest in the Amazon.com saga.

A few days ago, Amazon pulled all of a particular [really big, big] publisher’s ebooks off their website. Why? Because the publisher apparently thought the ebooks were under priced (at somewhere around ten bucks a pop, say what?).

It seems Amazon, that hulking giant that makes a fortune every day by selling [fill in the blank] to the world, must not know its customer’s financial limitations. I find this curious since Amazon’s only business is selling product. If there is one thing those folks know, it’s the cyber marketplace.

Not that they haven’t stumbled - George Orwell, anyone? Have your Kindle hacked, anyone? Bury the glbt books in a back cyber-room, ya dumb shits? But I think the powers that be there are capable of learning by their most public foibles. Embarrassment is a great teacher.

Today I read where those ebooks removed a few days ago are coming back, and at the higher prices the publisher wanted. Well, maybe not all the way up there pricewise, but higher than they were, okay just go with me here. As a writer, this should make me happy, right? Not exactly.

For those authors whose ebooks have just been priced out of range for so many people who are part of the ebook buying public, hey, I feel bad. I might be in the minority, but I think it far better to move five hundred copies at two bucks a download than three hundred at three dollars a download. Do the math. That’s two hundred more READERS. Without the readers, you’re done, no matter how much money you do, or don’t, make.

When I first started writing, ebooks were in their infancy. Every ebook author I came up with spent a lot of time telling people what a good thing ebooks are for planet Earth. I happen to believe that, too. Yes, a few of my stories have been put into paperback compilations, and guess what? My ebooks sell better.

Why? I think it’s the pricing more than anything else, but going green has a bit to do with it. In our current ‘green’ culture, people want to do what they can to help. Buying an ebook is a small gesture with ultimately big results when combined with millions of other people doing the same thing. I’ve saved a lot of trees, and I’m damned happy about it! Trees are the greatest air cleaners we have.

And then there is the cost of producing those five hundred ebooks as compared to five hundred pulp books. Hmm. We’ve all thought about that. No pine forest to manage. No loggers cutting trees down on reality television. No god-awful stench from water polluting paper mills. Yes, it costs to produce an ebook, just not that much.

I don’t know what the ebook royalty rate is on those previously available in hardback only books, but I wonder who gets the biggest slice of the pie. I bet it’s not the author. And that’s a shame, because for once, I think Amazon had it right. I think ten bucks is too high for an ebook in our economy today, and someone over in their New York ivory tower is going to end up wishing they would have listened.

Yeah, burn me at the stake now.

KC Kendricks

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