Traditional publishers, e-book pricing and the Titanic

A friend of mine recently told me he had wanted to give me an e-book as a birthday gift. But he was outraged to see that the print version of the book he had selected was substantially cheaper than the e-book – in spite of the e-book being far less expensive to produce. Throwing up his hands at the ridiculousness of it, he decided not to give me either an electronic or print book.

I told my friend I would have made the same choice if I was in his shoes! (Although he wears a size 13 so it’s ¬†unlikely I would ever be in his shoes.)

Publishers are playing silly games by jacking up the price of e-books to try to preserve the print market. It’s not going to work. E-books are here to stay – they’re the way of the future. Why don’t the trads just get over their short-sightedness and get with the program? Haven’t they ever heard of the expression, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

The thing is, traditional publishers are shooting themselves in the foot with their tactics. They are losing money by angering the e-book reading community. Their approach is already hurting them. It reminds me of a sinking ship, like the Titanic, and the hubris of its owners calling it “unsinkable” – only to have it strike an iceberg on its maiden voyage and end up on the bottom of the Atlantic. There were many innocent victims, as there will be in the print publishing industry as readers turn more and more to e-books.

I’m not saying there’s no room for print. I have loved books since earliest childhood and read print books at every opportunity before the e-book revolution; I enjoyed the smell and feel of a print book as an almost sensual thing and would never deride someone’s choice to read print. But when I got my first tablet (an iPad), I was like a cat with catnip. The joy of it! I looked up words in the online dictionary, I checked out issues that sparked my curiosity as I read by surfing the net and I visited YouTube to watch videos related to the book. And now, to my everlasting joy, I can even take books out of the library at 2 a.m. (which is always when I want one)!

Not to mention that I’m no longer killing trees when I read books, magazines and newspapers – and don’t have to recycle bushels of newspapers each week.

But perhaps I shouldn’t complain. The higher prices of e-books set by traditional publishers to try and preserve the print market are a boon to indie publishers like me. Our cheaper prices will attract readers to our books instead! Yes, perhaps best if I just clam up…

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