Yesterday, I received an email from Amazon about their ongoing dispute with Hachette Publishing. I’ve been following the argument between the two large companies with some interest as it concerns e-book pricing. For those who follow me on Twitter, I’ve argued for better e-book pricing all along, so I suppose it’s no secret that I’m siding with Amazon here.
The following is from Amazon’s email:
Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.
I agree completely with Amazon’s statement. Pricing e-books at $19.99 is not only insanity, but also hurts the readers. You know, the READERS, those people who buy books and pay for Hachette’s salaries. And although Hachette would have you believe that all authors support them in this fight, I am standing up and saying, no we do not. Let me say that again:
Not all writers are siding with Hachette.
In fact, myself, along with many other independently published authors, as well as independent publishing agencies, want lower prices for e-books. Why? Because we don’t want to screw over readers. Because hey, most of us are readers, too.
I was equally disappointed with the ad that cost over $100,000 that a large group of authors took out in defense of Hachette that was decidedly anti-Amazon. Considering many of those authors are those I enjoy reading, I feel ashamed for them because they don’t seem to really get what this dispute is really is about. All they see is that Amazon is pulling titles from Hachette, because Hachette wants to overcharge for them.
For the record? Amazon has EVERY right to do that, just as any business has a right to pull a product from its shelves if it feels it’s not good for its consumers. It’s not like Amazon has a monopoly on selling books. Hachette’s books are everywhere, because they are a major publisher.
But I get off-point here. Those authors who took out that ad get paid the big bucks. And they are only a small minority of writers who make that kind of money to afford such an ad. They have NO idea what it’s like trying to get your books out there to an audience and they’ve probably never done the back-breaking work of getting a book to market. And from what I’ve read, some of these authors don’t even realize that this argument is about e-book pricing (which is really sad, because being uninformed even after taking a side is unacceptable).
Then there are authors like me. Authors that Amazon has helped. Without Amazon, I would have never found readers for my books. Don’t get me wrong, I support online marketplaces like Smashwords 100%, but Amazon has the volumes of shoppers and readers that no other website has.
Ironically enough, this is why Hachette is raising a fuss about Amazon. Do you see them fighting with other retailers about this issue? True, most other retailers aren’t ballsy enough to go head-to-head with a major publisher, but also, Hachette knows that Amazon has helped them sell books. Do you smell the hypocrisy here?
What really frustrates me is that this very issue arose not too long ago with the music industry. And, aparently, the big book publishers weren’t paying attention. Digital items like music and books are not going away. And they need to understand that consumers (in this case, readers) are going to decide with their pocketbooks who wins this war.
As it stands, I’m saying consumers are also siding with Amazon here. Keeping e-book prices low is important and will help both readers and authors because more virtual books are going to get sold. And that’s what is key here.
For those authors whose books are currently pulled from Amazon, I’m sorry. But you yourselves also need to step up to the plate and stand up for your readers, those people who helped pay for your big houses and fancy cars (not to mention line the pockets of publishing industry execs). This is about doing what’s right for anyone who’s ever picked up a book, read it and enjoyed it.