eBooks, and what it’ll take to get me to buy one.

First, I’d like to say I have never purchased an eBook or .PDF and swore never to purchase “air.” As a long time gamer, I find the practice of Major Companies selling gaming PDFs distasteful at best and deplorable at worse, charging exorbitant money for what is essentially air. However, for smaller writers, I have no issue with self-publishing or PDFs, and although few have ever caught my eye, I’m sure that there will be one eventually that I will purchase.

So… let me amend by saying I will never purchase a .PDF from a major gaming company for the sole reason that you’re charging way too much, you greedy fucks.

Now… that said, on to eBooks.

This weekend Amazon and Macmillian had a “tiff.” In short… Macmillian wanted to put price “a” on their eBooks, Amazon said they wanted to put price “b” on them. That’s fine… Amazon is a retailler they have a right to sell under or over the MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) as they see fit. However, where the issue seemed to arise – and keep in mind I’m not in the industry, although I read many of the trades – is that Amazon apparently wanted Macmillian to accommodate their by selling to Amazon at a lower price, better to fit their profit scheme on their pricing of Macmillian’s eBooks. Tiffing ensued and Amazon, for a short time stopped selling Macmillian’s title… for all of about a day or so.

In short, Amazon was in the wrong. They forgot where the Retailer is in the chain and they simply because they chose to discount… doesn’t mean their publishers have to discount to them. They sell at a discount at their risk/loss, in the hopes that they will sell more that retailer “B” by doing so. That’s what retailers do. They apparently figured it out and all is back to normal.

But that got me thinking about it. Macmillan wants to sell new “Hardback” release eBooks for 12 bucks.

Who the fuck are they kidding? 12 bucks… for the privilege of not having to print, store or ship real dead tree books to stores, and on to the consumer?

Ok… here we go. Lets put this in the proper perspective.

I walk up to you and tell you I have a fabulous new toy car… it’s the best in the world, it’s shiny, well-made, fun and really really good looking. You can buy it for 24.99. But… have I got a deal for you! You can buy the right to take a picture of it – with your very own camera – for just 12 Bucks. Oh… and it get’s better. although you use you’re own camera, you get to display the picture in this great new frame that I can sell you for only $500!!!

Now think for a sec… what would you tell me to do with that picture? Be honest.

Right. I’d need to hire a proctological extraction team!

With said, think about eBooks. Here they… a digital copy of a pBook (Thatls right, you heard it here first… a “pBook” or Physical Book). No muss, no fuss… doesn’t rot or mold…doesn’t take up any space on your shelf, and it’s convenient. In fact… it’s just a stream of electrons. But wait: You see, there is muss and fuss. You have to buy it, download it, and you need an eReader of some kind to even look at it. Oh, and it does degrade the more time you access the file… and in some cases there’s even planned obsolescence. And, did I mention it does take up space, and materials? You have to buy that eReader and maintain it after all, and depending on the book or items, you may even need more than one for your collection.

But its convenient, right?

Well, it is… as long as you have batteries, and room, and light (most readers apparently don’t even have a back light) and you’re in a place where they allow electronics to be operated. if note than, although you can carry around 90 eBooks… they’ll be locked up tighter than a Jonas Brother in a strip club.

And all for the low low cost of six to fifteen bucks, not counting your $300 to $500 electronic “bookshelf.”

So in a nut shell, there are my reason for not wanted to ever ever purchase an eBook. They’re too expensive, too costly to maintain, require special equipment, and god help us if the power/batteries fail or the reader thrashes itself. A paperback pBook is small so I can carry several. They don’t need anything more than sunlight or a candle to use them. I trade them in at a used pBook store and get some credit for another. I can share them with friends, family or club. I can even give them as a gift to someone I don’t know sitting at a bus stop and just looking bored… without second thought.

Oh, and if I drop it in a puddle, a hairdryer will usually fix a pBook back to a readable condition in just a short while… go ahead, dunk that Nook or Kindle… I dare ya.

So… I’m dead set against them, so why do I want to clue these publishers on how to sell one to me?

Because I’m also a stupid fucked up “Child of the 80s” and we’re ALL about the tech as we desperately hold on to our Armageddon-driven, corporate-manufactured, Marxist Cyber-futures like the ones mentioned in the Gospels according to Saint.Gibson and Saint.Sterling.

So… here’s how to do it:

1) Price: The price needs to come down… waaaaay down. They need to cost less that it costs me to step into a used pBook store and pick up a pulp copy. Why… because if it costs more, that’s where I’m gonna get it, Mister Publisher… and you won’t see a frigging dime of my cash. In these times and costs, I consider that with every purchase of pBooks I make. How bad do I want it and am I willing to wait for it to inevitably show up at my LUpBS (Local Used pBook Store). You want me to buy it now… there’s my price. Cheap, Cheap , Cheap. 3 bucks would be a great price point. That’s about what I can get it for used. That’s for either hard-or paperback release… there’s absolutely no difference till you print it and all I’m interested in is the words… if I want the hardback, I’ll by the hardback.

And before you spin me a said song about how the writers make next to nothing on a pBook , I know that… but lets look at it for real. An average writer makes about 16% on a pBook , and I doubt that’s gross. either. But, for an average paperback pBook which go around eight bucks right now, that means about $1.25. So… If you sell me an eBook for 3 bucks, you can give that writer the same $1.25 and you get to keep $1.75 for you. That for a single purchase of an item that needed nothing more than editing and a bit of lay out… no printing, no storage, no shipping, no losses (unless the book is crappy, of course).

But think of the alternative… if I buy it at my LUpBS, the writer make nothing on the sale, and neither do you.

Of course, the writer could sell it to me direct for say… $2.00 and pocket most of it less editing and layout, and probably do better than publishing with you, mister Big Publishing House… but the advertising and nominal marketing you do might be worth it to him to take the loss.

2) Propriaty: Ok… I’m NOT buying a special reader for your crap, Mister Publisher. No way. Period. It ain’t gonna happen. And I’m not jumping through the thirty hoops of your DRM to work. I’m not even going to download a special reader free… absolutely not. I have a lovely 5-year old Desktop and and nice year old Net-book and a lovely one-month old Smart-phone. If I can’t read it on all of them…. then it’s not even worth the three bucks. After all, I’m already providing the space, power, electronics and time… all I need from you is the frisking media file. .PDF is a fin format, and you can watermark it so if a copy leaks, you know where it came from… hell with a bit of ingenuity and more than likely a lot less money that you’re spending on proprietary formatting and DRMs that some 12-year old is gonna crack in ten minutes anyway… I’ll bet you can come up with a system to track it right to my copy.

And, I’ll bet you can even come up with a way for me to loan the eBook to someone else… but if you’ve paid attention to Number 1 above, than it’s cheap enough that if I wanna give it to a friend, I’ll just give him the 3 bucks (or maybe you can allow me to purchase a gift coupon code that allows him to go download it.)

But I digress…

Back to Propriety. Just Say No; and keep firmly in mind that unlike most eBooks right now; pBook is multi-platform… it can be read with any “Light” reader… be it Sun-Light, Day-Light, Candle-Light, Iridescent-Light, Florescent-Light… even Night-Light, Flash-Light and Fire-Light platforms.

3) Free Stuff: This one is simple. If I care enough about Book “X” to buy a pBook give me the eBook for free! That’s right, free. Remember when places used to give you free stuff to get you to try it? Show me the convenience of your new eBook, show me how cool it is to have one… like all the rest of the cool kids. Face it… it costs you nothing to make an eBook… it’s simple the file you’re using for printing anyway, just reformatted a bit (maybe some layout tweaking). Just give it to me.

And what a promotion tool. “Wanna try Bob Jones new book, “Wankeropolis”… be the first 100 to log in and agree to review it and get a free copy!” How bout this “Bob Jones will be handing out free eCopies of his book on flash drive at Wankercon! Read it and post your review on-line” Or even “Follow the clues on the flash-drive and figure out the mystery and you could win a copy of Bob Jones new book “Wankeropolis” How cool would *that* be.

4) Not so Free Stuff: Here’s a good one to. Buy the eBook and get a three bucks off the pBook version. What a good way for me to try out an author? I spend very little and buy an eBook, read it and if I want I can buy a pBook copy of it for my shelf without worrying about “doubling up”. And since I’ve seen his stuff, I might be interested enough in it to buy other eBooks as well. It’s the same as Number 3, but it utilizes the eBook as a lest costly way for you to get sales of both… even from people that may not have considered buying pBook.

So… there you have it. eBooks, and what it’ll take to get me to buy one.

Just something to think about…

Now… go out and read a pBook!

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Published in: on 02/02/2010 at 07:59  Leave a Comment