Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Is Amazon good for books?

Posted by Jason O on Oct 9, 2012 in eNovels & Writing |

Anyone with an interest in the publishing world and books generally will be aware of the battle going on between publishers and Amazon over the setting of prices. The publishers argue that if book prices are set too low, it will wipe out the ability of writers (and publishers) to earn a living. Amazon, and the self-published community disagree, for obvious reasons. I thought I’d throw in my tuppence.

Let’s be honest: the internet will probably wipe out bookshops, or at least turn them into niche businesses, because they just cannot compete with the vast range and buying power of Amazon. Having said that, Amazon can’t really replicate that moment of browsing in a bookshop when you come across a book you have never heard of. The problem is that you are more likely to use the bookshop as a showroom, and seek the book more cheaply online.

The other side of Amazon is the part which affects me not as a customer but as someone who has written a book. I hawked it around literary agents, was rejected, and in the old days would have had to just return my script to a bottom drawer and let a dream die. Yet Amazon allowed me to commission a cover design, get it edited and eformatted, and publish it. It has sold very modestly, but it is out there, and I have met people I didn’t know who have read it. Some enjoyed it, some didn’t, but I got to fulfill a lifelong dream because of Amazon which the traditional publishing industry denied me.

Now, I say denied me, but don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who feels embittered by the rejection, because as I read more about the economics of the traditional publishing industry, they had no choice. They just haven’t the money to take risks anymore on unknowns like me, which is fair enough. But that doesn’t mean they should be allowed stop me going direct to the market with my offering, something which Amazon permits me to do.

Is it fair that I help crowd the market with what is essentially my hobby, selling a novel for €2.99 and dragging down prices? I have bought two ebooks from Amazon, priced far more than €2.99, and whilst I am enjoying reading them I do feel a bit hard done by at the price (€12.99) for what is essentially very modest post-print work. What they seem to be missing is that if the books had been cheaper, I probably would buy more, a fact they are going to have to wake up to sooner or later.

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