elf: Quote: "I found a special snowflake;" 5-point snowflake (Special Snowflake)
elf ([personal profile] elf) wrote in [community profile] ebooks2011-10-31 08:19 pm

Because it's not nice to rant at strangers

I read a lot of publishing & ebook related blogs. (Including Teleread.) That means I see a lot of links to other blogs, that I don't regularly read, and forum discussions in places I don't normally hang out. And *that* means I see a lot of posts that express opinions I sharply disagree with, and after over a decade of getting into screaming flamewars experience with online debate, I've realized that very few bloggers (or anyone else, really) love to have a total stranger show up after they post something controversial just to say "dude, you are so damned wrong about that."

In this particular case, I don't think she's "horribly wrong" as much as "has a skewed perspective."

She's comparing the price of ebooks to the price of songs, by word count, and pointing out how hard authors work, and how they deserve to be paid for that, and how buying a car doesn't entitle you to free tires, and therefore buying a Kindle doesn't entitle you to free or even cheap ebooks.

I didn't get an e-reader because I thought that would make free books happen for me. I bought an e-reader because I wanted to read the free books I was already finding, all over the place, and wanted to read them away from the computer, on the train, in the car (I don't drive), and waiting at the doctor's office. I got it to read Baen library ebooks. I got it to read those author-promo-freebies. (This was three years ago; Smashwords was almost nonexistent.) I got it to throw fanfic into a portable format.

PAYING for ebooks is what I do when I'm feeling generous towards the industry that taught me to love reading. I'm grateful. Really. But I don't think I'm morally obligated to pay more for pixels than I would for paper... and if I were buying paper, I'd mostly be buying used paperbacks.

Am I to believe I was immoral, all those years when I shopped in the remainder bin at the bookstore? When I bought half-cover-price books at the used bookstore? When I bought the $5 bag-o-books at the White Elephant sale? In those cases, I got cheap books to read, and the author got no royalties.

Oh, they say, but those wear out. They don't last. Not like ebooks; you can't re-read them hundreds of times and make a zillion instant copies without damaging the original. (To which my reply is: SO WHAT? Yes, that's true; what's that got to do with whether or not the author's getting paid for my reading habits? I'm going to be reading, a lot, regardless of whether an author gets paid for it.)

The comments in the post get downright nasty: "the reader who wont’ pay more than 3.99 for a book was never a book buyer/lover/supporter in the first place." Because, of course, poor people aren't real book lovers.

I had a realization yesterday: I can *comfortably* read 100,000 words during a busy day. Non-busy day I get to devote entirely to reading? Quarter-million words, easily. Swamped-and-exhausted day? 15-25,000 words. While I am *thrilled* to be alive in culture that allows me easy access to, from my perspective, endless literature, I am not going to be convinced I'm morally obligated to pay $10 a day for reading material. Nor am I going to be convinced that I should only read one book a week, or one a month when times are hard. I developed this reading speed *because* I had access to near-infinite content, and I want to wallow in it.

And I'm willing to pay for that privilege. I *like* supporting the people who bring me such pleasure.

Only, when they're engaged in conversations that assume that people on a budget are illiterate cretins or casually support artificial scarcity ("A publisher I know explained that Kindle prices will be set to match paperback prices so more readers will buy the paperback"), I'm not so interested in supporting them.

And, heh, more fish in the sea, and all that. Because I am not running out of reading material. I am not, like many people who only read books based on what's on the bestseller lists, limited to a specific genre range or publication date for my reading material. I can read anything that catches my fancy--and I have an active imagination with plenty of fancy to spare.

Authors have *never* been paid for every reader. Have never been paid by word count, either, except for one-shot payments in the short-story market.

I'm in favor of authors getting paid. I'd like them to be aware of the marketplace... which has changed drastically in the last few years. My book-budget is pretty much fixed--it's not going to double in size if ebooks double in price. Authors who want a slice of it, need to convince me I should be paying them instead of someone else.

Anyone who tells readers, her potential customers, "Well, get over it, ya whiny little bitches," is not acting like someone I want to financially support.

"But if you don't support authors, THEY WILL ALL GO AWAY!!!" sometimes comes the answer.

My take on that? If all the authors in the world who called readers "whiny bitches" in public* stopped writing, I think I could survive. Authors who think maximizing the value of a book budget is selfish and immoral are welcome to find a new career.


*I don't care what they say in private. To their spouses. To their friends. To their publishers. Everyone in a service industry is allowed to grumble about the nuisance customers, and occasionally lump the good ones & bad ones all together. Blowing off steam is fine. Insulting your potential customers on your career blog is a different matter.
boundbooks: Zhang Ziyi (bird: owls look at you)

[personal profile] boundbooks 2011-11-01 03:31 am (UTC)(link)
Blowing off steam is fine. Insulting your potential customers on your career blog is a different matter.

So hear ya. This is akin to my feelings about authors who rant about The Evils of Fanfiction. Since they so clearly dislike people thinking about their worlds - people who are likely hardcore fans - it's pretty easy for me to mentally decide not to give them my reading time.
sarken: leaves of mint against a worn wall (Default)

[personal profile] sarken 2011-11-01 03:57 am (UTC)(link)
The comments in the post get downright nasty: "the reader who wont’ pay more than 3.99 for a book was never a book buyer/lover/supporter in the first place." Because, of course, poor people aren't real book lovers.

I always find that rather telling, the way it puts emphasis on the physical object of book rather than the activity of reading.
ilthit: (Default)

[personal profile] ilthit 2011-11-01 04:12 am (UTC)(link)
I actually do think that pirating music and ebooks is wrong because of the damage it does to the creative industry. I still do it myself, more with music than ebooks, though. I like ebooks, because they're easy to get and carry and don't take any space, so I've bought a lot of them both from Kindle and smaller web stores (but if I don't buy from Kindle, I only buy non-DRM versions).

Does it make the person reading pirated versions a bad person? I don't really think so. Pirating is fairly safe and a lot more painless than any other kind of thievery, not to mention socially acceptable, so of course it happens. The power of social acceptability is so strong that even though logically I think it's wrong, I still do it (same with eating meat). It's also a question of means. If you don't have money to spend on entertainment, it's not that the entertainment industry loses: you get it for free or you don't get it at all, either way they can't have your money. So there are always circumstances that change the effective value of each action.

I hope to offer my original books to publishers if I ever finish and polish them enough. I wouldn't expect big sales, but it would kind of bug me if 30 people pirate them and 5 pay for them. I'd be bugged for myself if I get a percentage, and for my publisher if they paid me a lump sum. I know writing for me is mainly a hobby, but well, there comes a point where it would be nice to be paid for your work, too - such as when one is otherwise unemployed, like I am now. Authors and publishers never made a lot of money, but it's not entirely justified, in all situations, to diminish what little they do make by pirating a book you could afford to buy, even if the production of a copy didn't cost the publisher anything after the first one.
ilthit: (Default)

[personal profile] ilthit 2011-11-01 04:45 am (UTC)(link)
Well, yeah. It's not classy attacking the people who want to buy your books, or demand even more when you're already getting a nice return. It's also pointless to complain about completely different sellers' selling strategies as if they were damaging your business - I don't think it works that way.

I got off on a tangent about pirated books because, well, I guess I read too quickly, and I've read posts with a similar tone that were defending e-book piracy. Sorry.

An author is not entitled to any kind of a return for their work and most don't get any. It's always a gamble making something and then putting it up for sale, because nobody has a duty to buy it. E-books, which can be copied endlessly, can only be priced cheap because the author expects to be paid more than once (because $5 for a year's work is ridiculous, but 3,500 times $5 is not), and setting that cap is a question of sales strategy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, it's no use attacking people who want to pay less. Readers may not be entitled to low priced books, but neither are authors entitled to their money (unless they do acquire and read it... which is where piracy comes in). And there's certainly no point in complaining about other sellers' strategies. The one providing the service should be the side showing more class, and not attacking your readers would be a good start.
epershand: An ampersand (Default)

[personal profile] epershand 2011-11-01 05:15 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, I absolutely agree with this.

(I like the part where he starts ranting about the hourly rate PER READER that a book pays. Um. It is not my job to pay the entire salary of every author whose books I read. That's why an author... builds a reader base. Hopefully by some method other than telling them that they're cheap bastards.)
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2011-11-01 08:47 am (UTC)(link)
Am I to believe I was immoral, all those years when I shopped in the remainder bin at the bookstore? When I bought half-cover-price books at the used bookstore? When I bought the $5 bag-o-books at the White Elephant sale? In those cases, I got cheap books to read, and the author got no royalties.

The pro authors are starting to sound remarkably like the big music companies about used CD stores. GUYS, THAT IS NOT WHO YOU WANT TO SOUND LIKE. And yeah, it's absolutely true that writers don't get paid for every reader, or every copy. Hell, in the Victorian age when the novel exploded, a big reason for that was lending libraries. Even before the box chains stopped stocking midlist books and indie bookstores were dying off, I found about a lot of authors from used bookstores, thrift stores and libraries.

Oh, they say, but those wear out. They don't last. Not like ebooks; you can't re-read them hundreds of times and make a zillion instant copies without damaging the original.

....WHAT? FFS, I have really cheap paperbacks that were published in the sixties that I bought for a buck ten years ago that I can still read. I have hardcovers published in the 1920s (not fancy first editions or anything, just regular old books) that are still in fine if not pristine shape. No, you can't make a zillion copies of a paper book, but I'm wagering paper books will last a lot longer than ebooks because for one thing you don't have to worry about formats and ereaders. (Just silverfish and water damage.)

Those low-priced paperbacks have been available on Amazon for a long time. They made Amazon

....I don't think Amazon started selling used books until at least 2000. I could be wrong. I know a lot of authors hated logging in to check on how their just-published book was doing and seeing the ARC offered for half the price, but I don't see them complaining about Powells.com, which has been selling used books for FOREVER. Hell, Powells even has ebooks now.

I actually buy more ebooks than I might because I feel so guilty pirating books, but at $10 a pop average, I'm not going to buy a lot of stuff I might, either. I really truly don't buy the "it takes just as much time/money to put out an ebook as it does a paper copy" song, especially when so few books I see nowadays even from Big Six publishers appear to have been proofread at all. And that's hard copies -- I think nearly every ebook I've ever bought, especially for the Kindle, has had at least several glaring formatting errors. If it costs exactly the same, why are the ebooks in shittier shape?
supermouse: Simple blue linedrawing of a stylised superhero mouse facing left (Default)

[personal profile] supermouse 2011-11-04 08:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I have a good collection of Victorian books and if I wanted, I could go out and buy several dozen more. I have a definite weakness for the hardback 'improving' novels with illustrated sleeveless covers beloved of Sunday Schools. Books last a long, long time with minimal care as long as you don't let them actually get damp.

I got the e-reader in the full expectation of lots of free books - there are manylots of out-of-copyright converted texts. I am also aware that there are many thousands of people who will write for nothing, and post their work online (and which I can then snag to the reader) hoping only for occasional kudos if the work is good enough. I read them eagerly. And, every month, I put down £15 or so on books I already know I like and new authors. However, I am stuffed if I am ever putting down £15 on *one* book. I am much more inclined to try a new author for £1 than for £5 and not really at all inclined to try for £8 unless there's a free sample and it turns out to be absolutely gripping.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2011-11-01 08:50 am (UTC)(link)
"But if you don't support authors, THEY WILL ALL GO AWAY!!!" sometimes comes the answer.

If I had a nickel for every time I've seen a blogging pro author threaten quitting writing full-time to look for a menial white-collar job "just for the health insurance," in the tone of Hedda Gabler saying she's going off to clean her pistols, I'd....have a lot of nickels.
jumpuphigh: Neal Caffrey with a ridiculously large smile. (Happy Neal)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2011-11-02 04:13 am (UTC)(link)
Menial white-collar jobs with health insurance aren't all that they are cracked up to be.
supermouse: Simple blue linedrawing of a stylised superhero mouse facing left (Default)

[personal profile] supermouse 2011-11-04 08:22 pm (UTC)(link)
The impression I am getting is that these days, increasingly, menial white-collar jobs with health insurance aren't.
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2011-11-04 08:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, well. There's that, too.
eva: an image from an old manuscript with a woman playing the organ and a small putto assisting (Default)

[personal profile] eva 2011-11-01 04:10 pm (UTC)(link)
As a musician, I don't really appreciate someone who insists that their own artistic work should be paid putting down another art form. I have never to my knowledge heard of the band she names or heard that particular song, but quite apart from the fact that making music isn't only words, but well, musical notes (plus the time one spends learning how to be good at making it), she utterly manages to disregard the artistic element of music making. As someone who doesn't even create much of her own music except for some improvisation, and who makes lots of instrumental music, by that logic I shouldn't even be paid at all.

If she values music according to the number of words it contains, by the same logic a printer or typographer might start valuing her own words by the amount of paper/ink consumed, or by the number of fonts used.

Really not much impressed.

fiddke dee dee

(Anonymous) 2011-11-01 08:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I say in the post that the song is used as a comparison for perspective, so assigning so much weight to it is to misunderstand the perspective. (By the way, I love the song.) I'm sorry if you felt attacked. But, well, calling writers and publishers "greedy" for wanting more than $4 for their work seemed to beg for a reply. You might say that, too, was an a rant at strangers. :) - Kristen
jumpuphigh: Dutch painting of a woman writing a letter.   (writing)

Re: fiddke dee dee

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2011-11-02 02:02 am (UTC)(link)
Ummmm, wow.

fiddke dee dee [sic]

I'm assuming you meant "fiddle dee dee" here and as such, you are indicating your contempt for or feelings of lack of importance of the things that [personal profile] elf says in her post. Just because she doesn't agree with you doesn't mean that her thoughts aren't valuable. I find her to be a critical thinker who examines issues from all sides while forming her opinions.

I'm sorry if you felt attacked.

Nice little fauxpology there, Kristen. Since you chose the language "whiny little bitches" to describe your potential customers, it's hard for me to believe that you really are sorry. Perhaps you are sorry that someone called you on it.

I notice that you didn't address the following things said in this post and perhaps that is what you should have done instead of making your condescending reply:

Because, of course, poor people aren't real book lovers.

"A publisher I know explained that Kindle prices will be set to match paperback prices so more readers will buy the paperback"

Authors have *never* been paid for every reader. Have never been paid by word count, either, except for one-shot payments in the short-story market.

Anyone who tells readers, her potential customers, "Well, get over it, ya whiny little bitches," is not acting like someone I want to financially support.

I tell you though that if I walked into a store and was treated like you are treating your potential customers, I would not only walk out, I would tell everyone I know how I was treated.

I, like [personal profile] elf, bought my Sony ereader (does that even count in this argument) because I wanted an easier tool than my laptop for reading all of the free content that is out there. See, you aren't just competing with other professional authors for my reading dollar. You are competing with people who publish writing free to read on websites (easily convertible to epub). You are competing with pro-authors who offer up entire books as samples for free in order to entice me. You are competing with people who respect me as a reader and value me no matter how much I paid. You are competing with hundreds of books in the public domain. You are competing with people who have never called me a "whiny little bitch". And they are winning.


tl;dr This "whiny little bitch" has no problem finding things to read and in fact, has more to read than she can handle. She's not going to regret never reading your apparently out-of-print novel or book of short stories.
Edited (Words: They mean things) 2011-11-02 03:00 (UTC)
yourlibrarian: LibraryGeek-eyesthatslay (BUF-LibraryGeek-eyesthatslay)

[personal profile] yourlibrarian 2011-11-01 11:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I imagine this means every author also wishes violently for the death of every library ever created. Can you imagine how many readers those reach that of course would have bought their book had the library not existed?

I suppose the fact that young readers are in decline is also of no concern -- after all, it's not like they have money to fork over, right?
jumpuphigh: Text "Snark is My Fandom" with snark punctuation in background. (snark)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2011-11-02 01:19 am (UTC)(link)
Wait! Was that sarcasm? I couldn't tell.~

;)
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2011-11-03 01:10 pm (UTC)(link)
I once read a blog post by an author that thought used bookstores should be illegal because authors weren't getting paid royalties on those books, and said author thought that libraries were a little hinky as well. I was boggled.
havocthecat: kaylee frye has not yet decided whether to use her power for good or evil (firefly kaylee good or evil)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2011-11-03 02:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Not to mention the VAST SWATHES OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY THEFT in the realm of fanfic. You could probably fill Fort Knox with all the lost revenues caused by those of us who choose to read fanfic instead of purchasing someone's book. We're all thieves. THIEVES.

And yet. I read the first Pretty Little Liars book, because it was free (as a promo sort of deal). Book two was $9 on my Kindle, and the later books were more than that. The trade paperback was also $9. $9? For an adequate story about a bunch of girls who are, by and large, terrible people who always make the worst decision and who never seem to feel bad except when they get caught? I was perfectly happy to ditch that series to go read fanfic. I wish it had been better, because a high quality, interesting, multi book soap opera about teenage girls getting into and out of trouble would have been worth my money.
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2011-11-02 04:32 am (UTC)(link)
That analogy is so stupid as to be utterly meaningless. It is not an individual reader's job to pay the author a "fair" wage--I work at a museum, and I'm sure that a mere fraction of a cent from every visitor's entrance goes towards my wages. Does that mean I am TRAGICALLY UNDERPAID? Does that mean that actually, each visitor should pay $15,000 to get in instead of $8? $30,000? $100,000 (that's what our CEO makes)? Otherwise they clearly don't value employee time, right?

Sheesh.

Since I don't get paid enough to buy full-price new books, I guess I shall continue being a book-hating plebe who uses the library for free and steals money from authors. Or something. (I guess I could not read at all! Even less of my money would go to authors that way.)

If an analogy falls apart that badly, it doesn't provide any damn "perspective."

(Anonymous) 2011-11-02 10:31 am (UTC)(link)
I did mean "fiddle," yes. Typos are easier on a phone. My state was buried in snow & lost Internet.

About high ebook costs, when I shared what a publisher said, it was a fact, not an opinion. Here's a link, too, explaining the high cost of ebooks: http://michaelhyatt.com/why-do-ebooks-cost-so-much.html

Offended by a price cap? Not at all.

(Anonymous) 2011-11-04 11:27 pm (UTC)(link)
We all have price caps.

Responding to the use of the word "greedy" - yes. In what I intended to be a light post (and hardly literal), I was responding to this "greed" idea with, "Well, come on. You're not actually paying that much. Lookit this..."

Again, I'm seeing it wasn't taken in quite the way I intended. Live and learn. :)
jumpuphigh: Dreamsheep in front of bookshelf with text "Books make everything better" (Booksheep)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2011-11-02 04:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Perhaps I wasn't clear in my previous response to you.

My point wasn't that you made a typo, after all, we all do that on occasion. My point was that your response was condescending, contemptuous, and insulting. My point was that there was a lot of information in this post that you seem to be hand-waving away, including commentary on your own behavior towards potential customers.

Michael Hyatt wants consumers to be brainwashed as to the cost of ebooks. I've read that post of his before. It's especially fun, for me, to read that while having Baen's website open to all their books which are priced either $5 or $6. Baen has had a healthy ebook audience for over a decade. If ebooks needed to be at least $9.99 to cover publisher costs, I think they would have raised their prices by now.

(Anonymous) 2011-11-04 11:47 pm (UTC)(link)
If you were insulted, if you were personally offended, the best I can say is that I didn't mean to personally offend you. If you perceived my response as condescending, I don't know what to say but, "I didn't mean to be." My "fiddle dee dee" was, genuinely, "Oh, come on. There's not even any reason to be mad about it. Could you not tell the post was supposed to be light? Fun? No..? Hm."

There are a lot of comments, here, and most of them took my blog post entirely too seriously (insulting another artist? Where? How? It was a word-count comparison. Show me where I said a bad word about "Sail," which is a kick-ass song I happen to love). In fact, my post was taken so seriously in so many surprising ways that it would take forever to try to explain how UNserious it was(except for the larger message, which I just explained up above in my previous comment), and it would be impossible and a waste of time to try to assure those who chose to be offended that it was a FUN post. (Granted, "whiny little bitches" doesn't sound like fun - I'm a stranger to you, after all, so for all you know, I'm actually spitting on you and kicking you as I say it instead of smiling over a beer glass with a "Come ON, really? More than $4 is greedy? Get out!" look - but why anyone who isn't someone exactly like the Amazon poster I dedicated most of my blog post to would be so offended by it confuses me.)



havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2011-11-03 04:26 pm (UTC)(link)
In case you're curious, your post here prompted my own post on what I look for with ebooks and ebook readers.