From Joe Konrath:
Porter’s nonsense in italics, my common-sense replies in bold.
“The biggest issue is one that will be difficult for us to recover from…the degradation of our worth as creatives.”
Joe sez: Our worth as creatives is dependent upon reaching readers. This meme is damned old I wrote about it back in 2010, The Value of Ebooks.
In that blog post I use real numbers to discuss author earnings, and came to this inescapable conclusion:
The value of an ebook is determined by the overall amount of money it earns, not the list price.
Obvious, right? But let’s forge ahead through this…
That line is from a piece here at Writer Unboxed a year ago, in May 2015. Our colleague Heather Webb, in As Writers, What Are We Worth?, was anticipating a groan heard ’round the world.
Last month, when I led a round-table discussion at Berlin’s Publishers’ Forum, our topic was “Re-Thinking Ebook Sales and Understanding the Consumers.” But what drew the biggest response was book pricing.
We’re in a world now that thinks it can write just as well as you can. It doesn’t need your book. It can write its own. It can publish it. And it can lowball it on Amazon.
Joe sez: This nefarious scheme is called “capitalism” and is evidence of something called a “free market”.
Once upon a time, publishing wasn’t a free market. Not everyone with a book had an equal chance to reach readers. Amazon, and other ebook retailers, have democratized the process. Which means consumers now have more choices than every before. And many of those choices are priced according to the market, rather than according to the publishing cartel that controlled pricing with their quasi-monopoly.
. . . .
In the UK in January, Penguin Random House CEO Tom Weldon told my Bookseller colleague Benedicte Page: “”One of the biggest challenges in 2016 will be e-book pricing: how do we maintain the value perception of our quality content and maximize revenues across all formats for both authors and publishers?”
Joe sez: Allow me to translate: “How do we get people to pay more for ebooks, because if we drop them too low then consumers will buy the ebook rather than the paper book, and paper books are where we have the distribution oligopoly.”
A year later, Webb can see clearly now. Here’s what’s happening on a daily basis to authors’ work in the marketplace:
Heather Webb @msheatherwebb – It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel for. NOT. They forget we make our living this way. AKA starvation diet
Joe sez: I’ll fix that quote so it makes sense. “It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel, because others will then seek it out and buy a copy. I wish every fan bragged about my cheap books.”
Perhaps, for some odd reason, Heather would rather sell a $14.99 ebook and earn $2.32 in royalties from her publisher (after her agent’s cut) than sell four books at $5.99 and earn $3.64.
Just saw a study done with Lemurs. Even Lemurs know $3.64 is more than $2.32.
. . . .
With both the trade and the self-publishing sectors in rampant over-production as they are today, you’re facing a sheer rock face of competition for every glance your book might get, let alone a read, let alone a sale. Your price is in free-fall.
Joe sez: Porter, have you ever been in a bookstore? Notice how it’s filled with thousands of books? Do you glance at every single one before making a selection?
There have ALWAYS been other books. But now, for the first time, the cost is coming down so it isn’t prohibitive. Rather than $30 hardcovers, which is a luxury price, readers can get new titles for $4.99. And the $4.99 book is just as good as the $30 book.
Or do you enjoy paying more for comparable products? If so, I’ve got some $40 per roll toilet paper I’ll sell you. It does the same thing as the $1 per roll toilet paper, but if you buy that cheap stuff my dignity will be in jeopardy. You don’t want me on a starvation diet, do you?
Link to the rest at Joe Konrath
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