Price-fixing is bad for both readers and authors, says Hoyt Hilsman
May 1, 2012 | 10:03 am
By Paul Biba
In an article in the Huffington Post with the above title, Hillsman, a journalist, screenriter and critic, says he is “bewildered” about the publishing community argument that setting artificially high prices is good for everyone. Here’s an excerpt:
In the face of these new realities, it is hard to make the argument (as the publishers and some authors are doing) that having lower prices for e-books is a bad thing, either for readers or for authors. The publishers have argued in the past that that high prices for books subsidize publication of authors who would not otherwise get published. That suggests that the publishers are in a charity business, which they are decidedly not. And it is hardly true anymore, when the bookshelves are crammed with celebrity biographies, vampire romances and flimsy self-help tomes. The reality is that authors who would not otherwise get published can now get published in a variety of forms — e-book, print-on-demand and other forms — and make three to four times the money per book.
Despite all the fuss about diversity, literature and the “unique” aspects of book publishing, it is a business like any other, and must operate within the realities of the marketplace and the law of the land. Artificially raising prices simply to preserve an outdated business model is not the way to preserve the critical importance of books and reading in our culture. Perhaps the major publishing houses will suffer – they may even wither and die (although I doubt it). But books will go on in many new and old forms. And readers – and authors – will be all the better for it.