So in case you've been living under a rock, you probably heard about the Department of Justice filing "an antitrust lawsuit against Apple Inc. (AAPL), Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in New York district court, claiming collusion over eBook pricing.” For those not familiar with the case, here's a good rundown. On the one hand, this is great for consumers. I mean, who wouldn't want lower prices? Sure, I don't mind paying $9.99 for an ebook, though I am hesitant when it comes to ebooks priced at $14.99. After all, you aren't really owning the ebooks to begin with. Then again, on the same level you aren't owning a movie when you go to the theater, or even a play. You're paying for a few hours of enjoyment. So it boggles my mind when readers complain at paying 99 cents for a short story that takes them maybe a half hour to an hour to read.
Anyway, of course many of the publishers are upset about this latest ruling, which is to be expected. They've been making a shit load of money this past year. As for the writers? Well, sure, they've been making money, but not as much with that standard 25% digital royalty. Take, for instance, the novel Run by Douglas E. Winter, which was published in hardcover by Knopf back in 2000, then later reprinted as a mass market paperback in 2001. Despite being a great novel, it went out of print years ago. However, I recently found it was brought back digitally for the bargain price of -- drum roll, please -- $13.99.
That price is just beyond absurd if you ask me, especially considering that the book isn't even available in print anymore. And if it was still in print, it would be a mass market paperback, which would mean it would be priced at the most at $9.99.
Scott Turow, the president of the Authors' Guild, is none too pleased with what has happened, but you have to keep in mind Turow is a mouthpiece for major publishing. He's looking out for the publishers' interests, and not the interests of, well, authors.
My concern right now is for the authors such as myself who have been benefitting greatly from the agency pricing model. Sure, as a consumer I prefer lower ebook prices, but as a businessman I want the publishers to price them as ridiculously high as possible. After all, the higher the cost, the more likely readers will try newer authors, such as yours truly.
So it will be interesting to see what happens once everything gets worked out and prices begin to change. Will readers buy fewer self-published titles? Probably not. Will this eventually hurt publishers and their authors? Doubtful. I mean, yes, publishers won't be raking in quite as much as before, but maybe they'll sell more books at the lower costs, which will make up for it. Nobody really knows. But this is bound to get really interesting ...