On (e)Books

John Scalzi:

That said, these are gruesome times for publishing, and a lot of folks are not as well-positioned as I am. Imprints have vaporized, layoffs have begun, and it’s better-than-even odds that a number of authors and books are going to get shaved off of publishing lists. 2009 is also likely to be a singularly lousy time to be an aspiring debut author, as publishing houses consolidate their lists and focus their resources on established avenues (i.e., spend their money on people who are already bestsellers) rather than seeking out new folks. Basically, life’s gonna suck in publishing for the next year or possibly two.

I love my ebook reader (Stanza on the iPod as you can’t get the Kindle here in Germany yet), and I’d like to buy more ebooks. It’s a distribution channel which (I think) would be a pretty good way for the publishers to make additional money …if many of these files wouldn’t cost me as much or more than the dead-tree versions.

I mean, really: I like good novels as much as the next guy, and I am definitely willing to spend money on them. Also, I don’t like hardcovers for the price tags (yes, I think $25 is a lot of money). One would think that a digital version would cost substantially less than the hardcover, but it’s not always the case. Case in point: “Zoe’s Tale” by John Scalzi, currently on sale for $25 (ebook, FictionWise) and $17 (hardcover, Amazon).

I have no problems with paying $7 or $8 for an ebook, but anything over $10 is highway robbery.

Do not misunderstand me: yes, I am tempted to buy it, but I will fight the urge, because quite frankly, John’s a great writer, and I enjoy his novels very, very much. Also, I don’t think he’s the one dictating the price — so who’s responsible for these insane prices which seriously keep me from spending money?

(BTW: Yes, you might say “get the paperback”, but this is not my point. My point is: I want the digital edition, because it’s the version I prefer for various reasons.)

Anyways, I believe right now the publishing industry is facing the same problems as the music industry — they’re shooting themselves in the foot because they are either ignoring the possibilities of using a great distribution channel or actively sabotaging it by asking for completely disproportionate amounts of money.

Angry Carlo is angry.

(This is a slightly longer repost of a comment I’ve left on Whatever. After posting I wanted to make some clarifications, but couldn’t edit the comment, so here we go.)

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Carlo Zottmann @czottmann