I’m watching the buzz around the Amazon-Hachette dispute for a while. I don’t know who is right, I’m too small fish to see all the cards in play. However, I can see that it affects writers. Take the example of Michael Connelly’s new book The Burning Room. As of writing this post there are 53 reviews on Amazon, 24 of them gave one star. That’s almost the half of the opinions! The sad thing is that many reviewers didn’t even read the book, they didn’t buy it because of the price.
At the moment the Kindle version costs $15.02 while the hardcover is $16.94, but many people complains about the Kindle price being higher than the hardcover, so I suppose that was the case before. Some time ago I wrote a post about e-book prices, and I still hold on to my opinion: it’s not a rule carved in the stone that e-books have to be cheaper. It’s Amazon who planted this idea in the readers’ minds by making it possible for writers to set their own prices. When self-publishing became possible the number of published books skyrocketed, the competition went crazy, so the e-book prices dropped off like Newton’s apple.
At this point I have to make it clear that I’m not against low e-book prices. It is good for the readers, because they can buy more books. It can be good for writers, because they can have more sales. I’m totally love low e-book prices. But it doesn’t mean that they must be low. It’s the choice of the publisher / writer. If the publisher sets the price high, it’s a business decision. We could argue if it’s a good or bad one, but one thing is sure: they have to bear the consequences. In this case the one star reviews.
One could say that these people haven’t reviewed the book itself, their opinion doesn’t tell anything about the story or the quality of the writing. The question is, though, whether we can separate the price from the book. I don’t think so. They go together. Read my other post about the prices and reading value. As the publishers have the choice to set the prices, the readers also have their own choice: to buy or not to buy.
Michael Connelly’s The Burning Room is another book I just don’t buy yet. Right next to Lee Child’s Personal. I’m fine going through my one hundred item reading list and waiting until they reduce the prices of these ones.