Hey, Publishers! You’re doing it wrong.

Yes. It’s me. I am that pesky, no-named, unknown, little independent writer. I am that beligerant sonofabitch who believed myself too good for the system and got in bed with Amazon in order to sell my crappy books.

Yes. It’s me. I am here to tell you that you are doing it wrong.

Far be it from me to throw my feeble opinion around on how you should run your business, but given the fact that you guys have been falling apart, I am probably more qualified than you guys have proven yourselves to be. No matter though. I genuinely only have one gripe I wish to discuss here. One part of your business strategy has bothered me more than almost all others that you’ve demonstrated: ebook pricing. I believe that your pricing is too high. Prohibitively too high. And among the numerous issues you guys have been having, your stance on this topic has been one of the most catastrophic to your business. Don’t think so? Too bad. Let me clue you in on a few things.

Here’s a little flashback of my own to start you off. Every Thanksgiving my job hands out $25 gift cards to all the employees. I look forward to this because I like using mine to purchase some books for my Kindle. This year I intended to do that very thing. Ebooks are cheaper right? Right?

Nope. Not so much. You guys have seen to that.

I was pretty put off shopping for books on Amazon. I wasn’t looking for indie books. There were a few mainstream titles I was after. Then I saw the prices you guys are asking. $9.99? $14.99? For an ebook? Are you fucking kidding me? And in each of those cases the print copy was cheaper. Gee… I wonder why I constantly see reports from you guys that print books are outselling ebooks. You’ve priced your books out of the ebook market!

What did I do with my money? Indie ebooks and music.

Independently owned and operated… and with cheaper ebook versions…

How many more readers do what I did? How many passed your books to look at indie options? Or chose another thing altogether to spend their money on? This is where you’ve gone wrong, publishers.

In trying so desperately to keep print relevant, you keep doubling down on old ways of thinking and then pricing your products accordingly. You aren’t focusing on selling books of any kind to readers; you are only focused on turning a high product margin while sustaining decaying, obsolete infrastructure.

Ebooks should NEVER be more expensive than their printed counterparts. Never ever. Never. Why? There’s no physical components! There’s no paper stock! No binding! No ink! The cost is storing a digital file. Negligible. Or there’s the cost of reproducing that file. Or transferring that file over the internet… again, all negligible. Once a ebook file is made, it is infinitely reproducible without the need of huge machines, warehouses, or logistics networks. There’s not even any risk of return fees for those copies that didn’t sell!

Not the case with a printed book. They have paper. Ink. Binding. Printing machines. Binding Machines. Machine tac times to worry about. Operators for those machines. Maintenance. Warehousing costs. Inventory space. Weight. Shipping. All things that have costs, even in volume. But you know that.

So why do you keep insisting on pricing methods that aren’t in line with that?

It’s wrong. Dead wrong. And it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy creating the very environment where ebooks will continue to lag in sales when compared to print. Except for the number of us indie writers outselling our mainstream counterparts via our reliance on ebooks and their economy of pricing. But, by all means keep selling your books at those prices. Maybe it’ll keep pushing readers towards us indie writers. We certainly won’t mind.

 

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