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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Book Wars

Kevin Drum worries about price wars when it comes to books:
Amazon has been waging a battle for years now to get consumers accustomed to low prices on both e-books and physical books. So far, this means only that Amazon doesn't make any money on books. So far.

But what happens when Amazon drives everyone else out of business and there's no one left but Amazon selling books?
Well, Kevin, first of all, that fear is a bit inflated.  I think it's more likely that the big New York publishers break-up or go out of business than there emerges one retailer to rule them all.

He goes on:
But there's not much question that Amazon really, really wants to train consumers to expect low prices for books. Unless you believe that Amazon is doing this out of a sense of public spiritedness and will continue losing money on books forever, eventually the piper is going to be paid. That's likely to be bad news for authors.
And I say, bring on the low prices.  Books should be cheap.   I can appreciate an author's desire to be paid, but we're not talking about being paid versus not being paid.   We're talking about discounting to increase sales.  We're talking about selling one item for $10 a piece versus selling five items at $2 a piece.

The truth is that publishers are trying to train the public to accept high prices, knowing full well that as long as the booknerds tolerate it, then it's okay if everyone else never buys their product.

It's this approach that gets us over-written crap that says in 500 pages what it could have said in 200.  (Gotta justify that sticker price, ya know.)  It's this approach that gets us thin, uninspired books from name authors who only wrote it because they have two more books on their contract.

Me, I'd like to see shorter books from better writers at lower prices.  People will read more and consequently buy more books.  Money will still be made, a lot of money in some cases, and everything will be just fine.

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