For months, there has been a staunch debate between Amazon.com and Hachette Book Group. As many of you may know, Amazon is one of the largest online distributors, offering their customers incredibly low prices for just about any product imaginable. Hachette Book Group is a major publishing house based in New York City. These two companies came to a clash when Hachette decided that they wanted to charge higher prices for their authors’ e-books. Amazon is not pleased with their attempts to increase the price from $9.99 to possibly $11.99 or $12.99 for an e-book and the two companies have come to a crossroads.
There have been countless articles written on this debate. Publishing houses, authors, agents, and readers all seem to be picking a side in the Amazon-Hachette debate and it wasn’t something that I was going to even think about writing about. That is, until I received an email from Amazon a few days ago.
I was checking my email the other day and saw that I had an email from Amazon.com. It was titled “Important Kindle Request” so I, of course, opened it at once. As I began to read the letter, I discovered that they had sent out this email to all of their independent authors and inside was an open letter. It was quite lengthy, so I won’t go into all of the details. At the end of the letter, Amazon asked their independent authors to email Hachette in opposition of the potential price increase. Amazon also implored their authors to mention these points while conducting an email to the CEO of Hachette, Michael Pietsch:
– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
– Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.
If you would like to read the entire letter, it has also been posted online here.
Although I have yet to conduct an email, this letter really intrigued me. This debate has gone beyond the corporations and Amazon is actually recruiting the help of independent authors and readers to support their cause. I then began to think of this debate as a reader and a writer and have concluded that I am on Team Amazon in this debacle.
As a reader, I certainly don’t like the prospect of paying $12.99 for a single e-book. If you look at other best selling e-books, especially in the YA category, they are almost half this price. I would much rather get two books for that price than just one. For those of us on a budget, it would seem difficult to spend $12.99 on a single e-book when we could go pick up a paperback in the store for less. The pricing almost seems elitist and as a reader, I would be turned off by e-books if it were to become a trend.
As a writer, I don’t think it’s fair to charge that much either. I have independently published my own novel and know that the production costs of an e-book are virtually zero. You don’t pay for binding, production, or distribution. All of the formatting, editing, and cover art would have been done for the paperback or hard cover book anyway so there’s no extra cost there. It just seems crazy to me to expect readers to spend as much money or more money on an e-book as they would a physical book.
There have some who have debated that lowering e-book prices would equate to lower quality books. I don’t think this is the case at all, it would just make the books more accessible to more people. Hachette claims that they don’t plan on raising every book’s price, but I can’t help but wonder if this would start a trend. Sure it could start with just a small percentage of books being over the $9.99 mark but who is to stop any more from increasing? If Hachette is able to charge those prices, who is to stop other big publishing houses from charging those kind of prices? And would this affect the pricing of paperback or hardcover books as well?
I don’t like that prospect one bit. So, as a reader and a writer, I am on Team Amazon on this one.
Until next week,