Note to NY: You Can’t Muscle out Ebooks. Nice Try Though.
Over on Dear Author there was a post about how many of the larger trade publishers seem to want to make ebooks the same price as hardcover editions, even if they have a cheaper mass market edition.
No. Epic fail.
I’m not exactly sure what is going on here, but the economy is in the toilet, ebooks are the future (at least in the sense of becoming a much bigger piece of the reading pie), and NY publishers can’t stop it.
I know there is a fear of piracy. But really, you can’t “make” everybody charge outrageous prices for their ebooks. Sure, the big dogs can charge insane prices, but readers won’t buy them. You’re missing out on an entire new demographic of readers. And lest publishers think that somehow they will force readers to buy print books of what they’re releasing … not necessarily. I know the idea is: “If we have a $14 ebook, they’ll just go ahead and buy the $7.99 mass market book.” Not if they prefer ebooks they won’t. They just won’t buy your authors.
I personally hate ebooks. I loathe them with a firey passion that is hard to match. Because books to me are about getting away from technology and participating in magic. And in my opinion magic isn’t about bits and bytes. But what *I* personally like and dislike only matters when it comes to my personal buying decisions. And I’m not going to dictate to my reader how they should consume my books. There is an entire demographic out there that wants ebooks. And I will serve that demographic as well as those like me who are “pervy about paper.” (wish I could take credit for that line, but I can’t, and I can’t remember who said it. Maybe Cory Doctorow, but I’m not totally sure.)
A few people actually read very little but ebooks. And so when major publishers decide they want to charge out the whazoo for ebook copies, what they’re really doing is ensuring that at least a certain demographic won’t ever buy any book they release in any format. They may steal it, but you aren’t selling them the mass market version. Give up the dream. You’ve already pissed them off.
Also, lose the DRM. I know it’s comforting to believe DRM stops piracy, but it doesn’t. And it treats honest readers (the majority) like they are thieves. That’s a tad bit offensive.
Further, because you won’t lower your prices to something reasonable, indie authors and small presses will do it for you. Sure, they can’t change the price of your ebooks, but they can lower the price of their own, and readers will buy elsewhere. Big publishers: You’re losing an entire demographic of readers who might not come back to you when you finally get with the program with ebooks.
Large publishers have been going on and on about how poor ebook sales are and how they haven’t “taken off.” Well of course not, you’ve rigged the system. You’ve used crazy DRM, refused to move to one standardized format that everyone can agree upon, (much like mp3 with music), and you’ve overcharged for the few formats you have made available. It’s not shocking when ebooks don’t pan out after that.
We don’t live in the same Draconian system anymore. You can’t snap your fingers and expect the world to oooh and aaaah and follow your game plan. We have the internet now. We have POD, we have ebooks, we have Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com and that’s only the big things we have.
It’s ludicrous to act like charging $14 for an ebook and then crooking your finger is going to bring us running to you, grateful for the chance to gobble up your overpriced wares. But nice try. And thanks for making it easier for the indies to play this game. Keep believing you can stop the tide with ebooks, and we’ll all laugh on our way to the bank because we understand the concept of “impulse purchase.”