Monday, July 07, 2014

The Other Side of the Story

It's no surprise that the media supports traditional publishing. It seems that every few months, someone posts an article on the Huffington Post or elsewhere about "the true cost of self-publishing" using figures no business-savvy indie writer would use. Naturally, these articles blow up the cost of publishing a single book into the five-digit range because they attempt to emulate the way traditional publishers do things. You can also see articles by traditionally published authors lamenting that their careers will be shot if no one can preorder their books. While traditionally published authors are judged on the velocity of their sales, very few indie authors are allowed to have preorder buttons on Amazon. (Smashwords does allow this, though I haven't tried it.)

Anyway, if you'd like to hear the other side of the story, please check out this petition on by Writers and Readers. It's addressed to Hachette, and it calls for them (and all publishers) to stop fighting low prices and fair wages. It explains the conflict between Hachette and Amazon, along with the implications this has for writers and readers. Here are a few key quotes:

New York Publishing once controlled the book industry. They decided which stories you were allowed to read. They decided which authors were allowed to publish. They charged high prices while withholding less expensive formats. They paid authors as little as possible, usually between 2% and 12.5% of the list price of a book.
Amazon, in contrast, trusts you to decide what to read, and they strive to keep the price you pay low. They allow all writers to publish on their platform, and they pay authors between 35% and 70% of the list price of the book.
You probably aren’t aware of this, but the majority of your favorite authors can’t make a living off their book sales alone. Very few authors could when New York Publishing was in charge. That is changing now that Amazon and other online retailers are paying authors a fair wage....

You may have heard that Amazon and Hachette are having a dispute about how books are sold. The details are complex, but the gist is this: Amazon wants to keep e-book prices affordable, and Hachette wants to keep them artificially high. Higher than for the paper edition of the same story....

Hachette is looking out for their own interests, not the interests of writers or readers. This approach is consistent with a long history of treating bookstores as customers, writers as chattel, and readers as non-entities. But we believe the Hachette approach is backwards. We know the only players who truly matter are the storytellers and their audience. That’s us. That’s you. We’re in this together.

 Read the rest of the petition at this link. If you agree, please sign it and share it with your friends. No matter how authors publish, they all deserve fair compensation for their labor, and all readers deserve access to a wide variety of reasonably priced books.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some publisher do charge as much or more for the eBook, and I've never understood why. I'm not paying that much for an eBook. Only once have I ever paid over ten bucks for one.

Andrew Leon said...

The worst part of it all is that because of the attitudes of the publishing industry and what authors are worth, the public in general tend to think that authors shouldn't get paid for their work. There is a prevailing attitude that indies ought to give away their work.

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