Last week I took a break from posting reviews to ask how the ebook revolution had changed your reading habits. I want to follow up on that.
The one response I got involved price, specifically that there were enough good books available from indie authors priced $2.99 or less that the prices on books from most Big Publishing Houses were simply too high. (Thank you, Felicity, for replying.)
I’m inclined to agree with that statement, although my price ceiling is a little higher. Financial concerns affect me as much as they do the next person. I’m literally out of space, with stacks of books about to topple over in more than one room (which doesn’t go over well with my wife), so I don’t buy many print books anymore. I’ve converted almost all my genre magazines subscription to electronic copies.
Except for sales items, limited editions, or review copies, most of my new acquisitions are in electronic format. And price is a major factor.
If the electronic version of a book is the same price as the print edition, I won’t buy either edition. I’ll wait until I can find a used copy or I get a coupon from Barnes and Noble.
I can hear some of you now, taking me to task for buying used, saying the author doesn’t get a dime of that sale. And you’re correct. That author won’t see any money for that particular sale. And frankly, I’ve got to travel a few hundred miles to find a decent used book store that would have many recent releases. There are several used bookstores in my city, but none of them have what you could call an impressive selection. Mostly they’re good for finding out of print stuff that’s five or six years old or more, not recent titles. At least not recent science fiction, fantasy, or detective titles. Most of the inventory at the local used bookstores is romance, regional interest, or nonfiction.
So the money I spend on used books isn’t very much. Usually I buy used to obtain older items that aren’t readily available elsewhere.
Where the author is actually losing money is when I don’t buy the book at all. Because if I don’t pick up the print version with a B&N coupon, I’m highly unlikely to buy that particular book.
Let’s take a hypothetical example, shall we? Suppose a new mass market paperback has just been released by an author named U. P. N Coming. The electronic version is released simultaneously. The price for both is $8.99.
Suppose also that three new titles have been indie published by three authors I’ve either previously read or have heard about and want to try. Electronic editions exist for all three, and furthermore, they’re all priced at $2.99.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going with the three indie published titles. The chances of my ever buying and reading the new work by U. P. N. Coming are nearly nonexistent. (The exception is if U. P. N. Coming is someone I know. In that case, I’ll buy it to support my friend.)
Some people are probably offended by my attitude. I’m fine with that; we don’t have to agree on everything. The way I look at it, I just helped support three authors rather than one. And each of those authors will probably get a bigger portion of the royalty than U. P. N. Coming got, assuming his/her book earned out its advance and started generating royalties.
I know the arguments. BPH’s have overhead, they’ve got editorial staffs, they have to show profit to please their corporate overlords, etc.
I don’t care. The quarterly profits of the international conglomerate which owns the publisher are not my problem. My concern is where I can get the best value for my money. And Felicity is absolutely correct. There are so many good books being published by indie authors that I don’t have to pay the higher prices. I’ve been looking at indie titles here for most of the past year.
Wanna know something? By and large, with very few exceptions, those titles are as good as what I’ve seen from the BPH’s in terms of story structure, quality of writing, copy editing, and overall production values. In some cases, the indie titles are better.
So price has become a major factor for me.
What about you? I’m not asking what you think the prices should be. Creators deserve to earn a living from their work, so please don’t say free. I’m asking what your current buying habits are given the present market conditions. Not ideal conditions, but as things stand right now. How much does price affect your buying decisions?