elf: Quote: "I found a special snowflake;" 5-point snowflake (Special Snowflake)
elf ([personal profile] elf) wrote in [community profile] ebooks2011-10-31 20:19

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 (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.