Amazon and MacMillan, A Readers Point of View

(Yes I realize this is a few months late, but but it seems I hit “Save” and not “Publish” )

You are overcharging for eBooks!”

“You are hurting authors!”

Amazon and MacMillan publishing has started an elevated, sometimes angry, discussion on the internet about the price and value of ebooks. First I am going to throw out this idea of value immediately. An ebook has value if people want to buy it. It has no value of they don’t. So in this case, we’ll talk about the ones that have value.
Here is a diagram showing how books get from the writer to the reader.

So the reader is saying the $ is too high and the writer is saying that lowering it is hurting his bottom line. Fight!!

But here is the thing, they are both right. Prices of ebooks ARE too high (and $15 is absurd) and lowering prices of the ebooks WILL hurt the royalties for writers. The problem is that writers don’t get $ for the book. They get some smaller percentage, usually 5% – 15% of $.

Here is your problem, that black mass in the diagram. That black mass is consuming 80% of the money coming in. So why isn’t that the point of discussion? Easy: the black mass has convinced us, both writers and readers that we are fighting each other.

When readers say “$ is too much for an ebook!!” and writers say “lowering prices will hurt writers!” we are both screaming at the black mass. But the black mass is making it look like we are screaming at each other.

The black mass exists only to feed the black mass. Writers, your publisher doesn’t care about you or your readers. When MacMillan published its open letter explaining what was going on they said: “Amazon has been a valuable customer for a long time, and it is my great hope that they will continue to be in the very near future.”

Amazon is a valuable customer. Amazon. What am I? a grotesque necessity?

I am the reader. I am the elephant in the room and you will listen to me. Don’t think I’ll just go somewhere else? There are hundreds of thousands of free words on the internet from blogs to news to stories and public domain works. I can read for the rest of my life and never pay for a book again.

The thing is I don’t want to. Readers want to buy books from writers. But just like writers are worried about $, so are readers. If readers won’t pay $ for the book, that will hurt the writer’s bottom line too.

I am making a call to the writers: don’t just sign whatever the publishing house puts in front of you. Those are your rights. That book deal is how the money gets from the reader through that black mass to you.
Your rights are yours until you sign that contract. Keep them, hold onto them, this is YOUR work that MacMillan and Amazon are fighting over. Your work, and I want to pay for it. I want to give writers money. And I am not the only one.

Ebooks are not going away. They are the future. Writers need to make their stand against the black mass NOW, while ebooks are a small part of their sales. Because once they become a significant portion, it will be too late.

This fight isn’t between writers and readers. This fight is about the black mass trying to keep us apart. The black mass is trying to prove it is still needed. And while parts of it are needed, they are not needed to the tune of 80% of revenue.

Author: jake

poet, editor, kilt wearing heathen. he/him