"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dear Amazon and Hachette, please leave me alone

I got a message in my email this morning from "The Amazon Books Team." I won't bore you with the entire contents, except to say that it was a big-long-letter to all Kindle authors stating Amazon's position regarding their fight with Hachette and why they think ebooks should not be $14.99. They asked me (and all Kindle authors) to email Hachette's CEO and tell him why we also think ebooks should not be priced at $14.99.

I may indeed send them both an email. In the meantime, here's my very public reply:

* * * * *

Dear Mr. Pietsch of Hachette, Mr. Bezos of Amazon, and all interested parties,

I got no dog in this fight of yours.

I'm not a Hachette author. As a matter of fact, I'm not traditionally published. I'm an author-publisher. I can understand the fear of traditionally published authors in this fight. If their publishers can't sell ebooks for large amounts of money, then the authors' small amount of royalties will be even smaller. Of course, if the publishers paid a decent royalty rate, it wouldn't be so frightening, but what are you going to do when you are locked into a system that no one wants to change?

As it is, my books are selling fairly briskly at the moment for $3.99 apiece and I get to keep $2.79 of that. So as an author, I'm only concerned in the outcome of the fight if it affects my sales and my profits.

I do have something to say as a reader. Mr. Pietsch, I realize you think that Hachette is the Holy Grail of publishers and every book is perfection, but I refuse to pay $14.99 for an ebook. Much of the work to prepare an ebook is the same work you do for your hardcovers. The only difference is the formatting. Then you upload the book. No print runs, no warehouses, just upload the book - once.

How is that worth $14.99 OVER AND OVER?

In addition to the chafing feeling I have when I feel I'm being gouged, I have begun to hate buying traditionally published books because I think I'm feeding a system that keeps their authors at-heel. Authors, you created this wonderful world with these great characters! Why are you getting paid so little for your creation? Without you, the publisher wouldn't be publishing!

Here is where I divulge that I might have paid more than $9.99 for some books, but it was done for research that I needed (and under protest, I might add). But I'm not paying $14.99 for a book I want to read just for pleasure, especially when that book is so locked up with DRM that I can't even loan it out to my husband's Kindle.

So go ahead and have your fight. As a Kindle Select author-publisher, I admit, I am pro-Amazon, but at the end of the day, I want the authors to win.

Sincerely yours,

Gayle Carline

1 comment:

Tameri Etherton said...

Yes! Not my monkey, not my circus.

I feel bad for Amazon that they sunk to this level.

I kind of like Matt Wallace's take on it, that if the traditional publishers want to charge that much moola for an ebook, then it just makes my books (as of yet unpublished, but not for long), look better being priced lower. Same quality, lower price, equals great news for the reader! And me, if they choose my books over the higher priced traditionally published books.

I hope this war ends soon. It shouldn't be us vs them. It should be about books and readers.

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