So, I got a Kindle for Christmas. It's been a little over a month now, so I've had plenty of time to form an opinion. Mind you, this is the opinion of one consumer.
Not a hopeful writer. A consumer.
I feel the need to clarify that up front.
Although I am confident that there will always be room in my life - if not on my bookshelves - for paperback novels, I must admit I am a fan of the e-book. Oh, I was resistant at first. As much as I love technology, I am a little bit in love with the feel of a book in my hand. The glossy cover, the smell of the pages - old or new - and the weight of the words on my fingers and palms will always hold a little bit of magic for me.
Yet, as some of my friends began venturing out into the e-publishing world, I found myself frustrated by the limitations of their chosen venue. Sure, I could read the stories on my computer, but sometimes that's just not convenient or comfy. Reading in bed at night, it's easy enough to lay aside the novel on the little bedside table and turn off my reading light. With the computer, I've got to get out of bed, unplug the cord, wrap it up, put the computer in its case, and then, and only then, was I able to crawl back under my warm blankets.
What a pain.
This didn't stop me from purchasing a few e-books, though. The problem was that I didn't read very many of them. Or, if I did, it wasn't in a very timely manner. I'd start. Stop. Start again. Stop. Start. Stop. Start.
You get the idea.
It was frustrating. And I wanted to read those stories, really I did.
Thus, I began dropping (not-so-subtle) hints to my hubby. I wanted an e-book reader. Since I'm an Amazon regular, I figured their product was the most logical for me to covet.
Hubby got the picture and I got a Kindle.
I also got a $25 gift card to go with it.
Now, here's the interesting part. Or, at least, I think it's the interesting part. Even though I had "free money" to spend on my e-book library, I had a hard time using it. Not because the selection on Amazon is any way insufficient. Please. There are so many options! So many books available that it's almost impossible not to find something that looks intriguing, promising, or compelling.
No, the problem was the cost. How in the world could they - they being the publisher - expect me to drop that much money on an electronic file? While I fully respect that people need to get paid for their hard work and I want my favorite authors to continue publishing their stories, I'm not an idiot. Paying $8-15 for a paperback book was hard enough, but I understood that it cost money to produce the product. Paper, ink, glue, etc. Throw in a little bit for the publisher and the author (their agent's cut is in there somewhere as well), and I could reconcile the cost.
Now they're trying to tell me the paper, ink, and glue costs nothing in the production process? That the same book I can buy in paperback for $7.99 is also available as an e-book for $7.99? That the electronic version that is easy and oh-so-cost-affordable to reproduce is just as expensive to produce as its printed self?
Um. Hello. Not buying it.
I work in the world of technology. I create electronic documents on a regular basis. Once the document is prepared, reproduction is not an issue. It's also not costly.
Sure, they need to make a profit. I get that. So, cut the e-book costs in half, because then I'd be able to justify the price.
Instead, I'm looking for bargains. I'm trying self-pubs or promotional freebies. I'm downloading classics. When I do pay, I refuse to pay more than $5. If that $5 goes to a struggling self-pubbed author instead of to a major publishing house and a big name author, I'm okay with that.
Because the truth is, as a consumer, I know I can wait and pick up that book that's selling right now for $7-15 at a discounted price in a few months. Whether I pick it up at a garage sale, a library book sale, or in the bargain bins at the local bookstore, I'm still getting the same product.
So, publishers, if you want the sale and the profit that comes with it, wouldn't it be wiser to reduce the e-book price to something more palatable? Wouldn't you rather collect those few dollars than none at all?