I bought a Kindle right away when they came out. New hardcover novels by famous authors were $10. At the pace I read, that Kindle paid for itself in no time. Then a year or so later publishers (& Apple) decided they needed more money. According to the WSJ, they ganged up and threatened to boycott Amazon. This was just before the iPad and SJ said he’d put a $14 sticker on if JB agreed to do the same. Publishers are being sued for this now. Since the article I linked to, three have settled for many millions which in theory will go back to Kindle owners like me who paid those ridiculously high prices for something that costs very little.
E-pubbing is almost pure profit for the publishers. No paper, no distribution, no cover art. In some cases, like Just Kids by Patti Smith, the photos are not even included. In others, like Unbroken, there are less photos and the quality is not as good. Most of them don’t bother with the actual cover but just slap on the title. So really, why are we paying up to a third more?
This is the point at which I began searching out Kindle deals, Kindle indie authors, and even free classics. I bought less Kindle books because my monthly book bill went up steeply after the price hike. Not nice, New York!
Meanwhile, two (of the top five) publishers and Apple have decided to fight it out in court. The thing that ticks me off the most is that NY publishers want higher prices so they can keep their plush offices in Manhattan, maintain their lavish lifestyles in the big city and their vacation homes in the Hamptons. And also they want the power to be the gate-keepers of what people read.
I understand that there are lower level jobs in publishing houses, and it would be a damn shame if the secretaries and mail room folks got pink slips. But why not cut from the top down? Why not fix your broken system?
It is just wrong to charge so much money for something that essentially costs NOTHING. I know writers want their royalties, and publishing people want their jobs, and they deserve them. Continue with the hardcover, trade, and mass paperback books as you have been doing (which is also crazy, but another blog post). Maybe cut down on the wild bidding wars and huge advances for the few lucky JKR and SKs. Most writers have to take a day job to pay the bills. This has been true for a very long time.
So, the writers aren’t getting rich. This isn’t about writers. It’s about how middle class Americans continue to get ripped off by a dysfunctional system. Rant over.