Those of you who’ve known me a long time know that I’m quite critical of any arguments that try to justify an ebook priced close to or exactly the same as a traditional print version of the same story. Yes, the story is the same, and the editing and formatting work is the same, and it’s entirely fair to want to see that cost recouped, but there is obviously no electronic equivalent to warehousing, shipping, physical printing, material costs of same, bookstore placement, or bookstore returns (an inexplicable practice unique to publishing and brick and mortar bookstores), and it irritates me to see those fundamental differences between the two mediums hand-waved away as “inconsequential to final cost.” They aren’t, and people aren’t stupid.
So, given that, you should understand that I was reasonably happy to see that the ebook and print prices for Hidden Things weren’t similar — the former being a third less than the later. Looking at it from a reader’s point of view, it seemed consistent with today’s market.
But I still would have liked to see the ebook price a bit lower, and it’s possible I might have made a few comments to my agent to that effect. I’m always going to be the guy that misses the days when I could pick up a copy of I, Robot for $1.25.
Understand, this isn’t about ‘moving product’ — it’s about reaching people. I don’t want to destroy the romantic illusion of the self-employed author, but the fact is I have a day job that pays the bills. I’m not excited about the idea that Hidden Things might make money (though I certainly want my wonderful agent and editors to get paid); I’m excited because very soon a lot of the English-speaking world will be able to read a story I wrote, and I think they might like it. People like to go round and round about whether someone is a ‘writer’ or an ‘author’ and what those words mean in ‘the industry’; bottom line, I guess I’m just a storyteller, and if I see a way to tell a story to more people, I want to try it.
Anyway: last week, Harper Voyager let my agent know that they’d decided to lower the price on the ebook of Hidden Things by two dollars (down to 7.99 from 9.99 — very close to half the price of the print edition). Today, that change took effect on all the sites where you can pre-order the book, and I am very, very happy.
Even better, all the awesome people who had already pre-ordered the ebook will automatically get the new, lower price as well, which makes me feel fantastic — as if we’ve been able to hand each of those great, supportive people a couple dollars.
So: if you’re one of those people, here’s that two bucks I owe you, and if you’ve been on the fence about a pre-order, maybe this will help.