There’s drama brewing in the publishing world. Amazon, purveyor of cheap ebooks via its booming Kindle platform, has ruffled the feathers of traditional publishers, namely Hachette, a company I’d never even heard of until this latest brouhaha. Hachette’s pricing ebooks in the $14.99 to $19.99 range, which is kind of absurd when you realize brand new hardcovers go for a few bucks more and electronic files don’t incur the same costs in terms of physical production, storage, and transportation. Amazon, obviously, wants ebooks to be priced cheaper because it makes more money the more ebooks it sells.
Here’s the big thing we all need to remember: neither company is operating altruistically. When you hear Hachette claim it’s protecting its authors, that’s just a side-effect of its main goal: maintaining its own bottom line. The same thing goes for Amazon when it says it’s trying to help authors reach a wider audience. It’s Terd Sandwich vs. Giant Douche all over again, and buying into the rhetoric of either is silly. We authors need to remember one thing best put by the immortal Method Man: “Cash rules everything around me. Dollah dollah bills y’all.”
All that said, I’m going to side with Giant Douche. Amazon gave me a chance traditional publishers never would have: it let me put my work out there with no bullshit to see what the market would do with it. I’m under no illusions that what I write isn’t some weird shit most traditional publishers would toss in waste basket like the remains of yesterday’s power lunch. In the modern world of digital distribution, what I did is the way publishing should work. There’s no longer a need for the sort of monolithic gate keepers Hachette and their ilk have become. You can argue that an ebook published by a big name company has a certain seal of approval on it and as such is less likely to suck…but then you read something like Allegiant and realize they could give two shits about quality if they think something will sell.
And as a big consumer of ebooks, lower prices are obviously attractive to me. Isn’t that part of the point of owning a Kindle? No one has to make any paper, stamp any words on said paper, bind those pages together, store the thing, ship the thing, store it again, or destroy it if hangs around for too long. There is no loss due to unused inventory. It’s basic fucking math.
Am I coming down a little too strongly on Amazon’s side given my previous basic cable cartoon comparison? I don’t think so. I’m actually siding with the authors, who should have the freedom to write and publish whatever the fuck they want without some jackass behind a desk telling them it’s not good enough. And I’m siding with the consumer, because simple economics state that ebooks should cost significantly less than their physical counterparts.
So yeah. I’m with you, Giant Douche. Although I’m standing in the back, doing my own thing and watching out for my own interests as a consumer and a shitty author.