In today’s Morning Links, we feature a story from Digital Book World where Jeremy Greenfield says:
One of the most confusing things to me about the Amazon-Hachette contract dispute saga is why do so many indie authors want so passionately for Hachette, a competitor, to lower its prices?
It’s only confusing if you make the mistake of looking at indie authors as defining themselves by only one characteristic: being an indie author. However, few people define themselves so narrowly. Many (likely even a majority) of indie authors are also readers. Readers are consumers, and we like lower prices.
So the answer is simple. Many indie authors want lower prices so they can buy more books and extend their reading budgets. I spend a fair amount of time on various indie author forums, and I’ve seen many authors make that point. It’s definitely my reason for wanting lower prices from traditionally published books. I still buy them, and I’d buy more of them if they were less expensive.
Update: Many apologies for getting Jeremy’s name wrong earlier. It’s fixed now. Thanks to the commenter who pointed it out.
Juli, it’s Jeremy Greenfield, not Collins at DBW!
@Mick, so many thanks for pointing that out. It’s fixed now, and I’m truly embarrassed to have made the mistake.
Everybody would love books – or any item – to cost less, my self included. I buy a lot of books on sale when they hit dirt cheap prices – but do I read them? or just buy them? Truth be told, I buy twice as many as I can read. Does the publisher and authors make more with this buying scheme? I don’t know the answer for sure, but I’ll guess not.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s price all ebook at a uniform $14.99; I read 100 books per year: that’s $1,499.00 per year and I can afford it. I probably wouldn’t buy many whim purchases and I’d read most of what I buy.
Now what if ebooks cost $2.99 to $4.99? For the same cost I could buy 500 to 300 books, but I’m still only be able to read 100. So who really wins? Would I even buy 500 per year at $2.99? Probably not. That would mean less money going out for books. My retirement savings would grow a little and revenue shrink at the publishers. If revenue shrinks enough, the publisher will cut costs with lay offs and other methods. Who wins then?
So what is the right price? I don’t know. But as much as I like my Kindle, I’m open to the idea that Amazon is wrong, and that cheap prices might not be to my ultimate benefit.
Is it really absolutely necessary to believe that every indie author has only a single motivation for desiring lower pricing, or that every indie author have the same single motivation as every other indie author?
I found Greenfield’s article and much of the discussion attached to it to be rather sad: so many people so absolutely convinced that no one ever does or says anything except out of selfish monetary self-interest.
Yes, I do believe that many authors would like to see cheaper books os that they can buy for less.
I also believe that some have the motivation, dismissed by Greenfield, that lower prices will result in overall market growth.
And I also believe that some really enjoy being part of a perceived revolution and, like all true belieivers, want to spread the word far and wide.
And I also believe there’s an element of “sticking it to the big guys” at play for some of them.
There’s probably lots of other motivating factors I haven’t thought of.
Low prices for readers are nice, but I defend Amazon whenever I can because, not to be hyperbolic, the Big Five are threatening my way of life.
As Big Publishes line up to negotiate, one at a time (because, after the DOJ found them and Apple guilty of collusion and price fixing), I have no doubt that each will try their own cocktail of stall tactics, misinformation, and celebrity author protest to try and bring Amazon to heel with higher prices.
If enough of them take a whack at the trunk of that tree, there’s a slim (I hope) chance that they’ll actually do some damage to Amazon. If it’s too much damage, thousands of indie authors like myself will feel the bite.
On the other hand, if Amazon gets its way and manages to get Big P all the way down to $9.99 (gasp) for an ebook, I’ll still be doing fine because I’m selling at half that and making a living. Big P’s price point will have as little effect on me as it does today…but the ecosystem I depend on will be preserved.