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What makes me the saddest about this whole discussion of books, ebooks, and price is how the desire of the consumer (for low prices) devalues the hard work of the author.
So many of the comments (which I’m not supposed to read) on mainstream articles on the topic make the utterly preposterous supposition that it costs nothing to produce an ebook — that when you take away the physical object, there is very little else that goes into its production.
Frankly, it’s an offensive assumption, because the writers that I know and love are some of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever encountered. They spend years of their lives working on their books. They toil away at day jobs and then write when they’re not working. After their book gets published, they work their asses off to get it publicized, they do events, they write supplementary materials, they maintain websites, they talk to fans online, and they start writing their next book — A WRITER NEVER STOPS WORKING.
And most booksellers I know do the same thing because they love books so much, they love authors so much, they love stories and culture and thought so much that they, too, toil away.
And many of the people I know who work for publishers are the same way as well.
Don’t try to tell me (or them) that there is no work that goes into a book except its printing, shipping, and storage.
So, dear commenter, if you want to pay $1.99 for some unedited drivel that took someone a month to write and a minute to upload, go right ahead. But do not — I repeat, DO NOT — tell me that is all that years of an author’s life is worth to you, and months of an editor’s or a publicist’s or a designer’s life, and weeks of a bookseller’s life or hours of yours, the individual reader’s life, is worth.
How can an ebook (or any book) be worth exactly $9.99, regardless of whether it took 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years to write and publish?
If you see yourself first as a consumer, then by all means, search for the deals, buy the cheapest crap, and keep the cycle going. You’ve obviously got lots of marks in your favor these days (not to mention many states and the US Department of Justice). But if you consider yourself a reader, then do yourself a favor and be willing to pay for good content, be willing to respect hard work, and be willing to do whatever it takes to help this vibrant and passionate culture survive. Because frankly, I’m nervous about handing literary culture over to the consumer. And I sure as hell don’t trust Amazon with it.