Seriously? The Cost of a Small Latte is too much for an ebook?

The state of ebooks in general and kindles in particular is a turbulent sea these days.  Amazon chummed the waters and authors are in a frenzy giving or practically giving away their hard-won books in an ever-increasing attempt to capture readers.  Temporary sales and giveaways are fine–I’m all for that and am very generous as many recipients can attest–but not as a perpetual state.   And that’s what I see happening.  Readers buy the kindle fire or whatever electronic reading device they’ve sunk money into, and have come to expect free or nearly free books to load it with.

My novels took years to research and write and rewrite and agonize over at much personal sacrifice.   My shorter novellas also required a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears to complete.  And  they aren’t even worth the price of a cup of coffee?

Maybe I should just give up and watch the Big Bang Theory and Grimm, my current obsession.  And gardening, of course, I always garden.  And read cheap books written by other talented authors.   Writing?  Well, I can always do that for my own amusement.

About BethTrissel

Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles. And nonfiction about gardening and country life.
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28 Responses to Seriously? The Cost of a Small Latte is too much for an ebook?

  1. childofyden says:

    I share the sentiment, Beth. 🙁

  2. bethtrissel says:

    I thought you might. Sadly.

  3. Paty Jager says:

    I agree. I put my backlist and couple others up for .99 to get people to find and read me. From here on out I’m making them more.

  4. bethtrissel says:

    As you should, Paty, after all your hard work.

  5. Teresa says:

    I agree with you. This battle will go on for awhile until something in the market turns it around.

  6. Beth, I so agree, but do want my backlist to sell, so I’m one of those with 99 cent e-books. I have a WIP almost ready to publish on Amazon and am torn by how to price the book. This is the first of a trilogy and required research on many aspects. I think I’m also going to publish it on CreatSpace, which is also Amazon, and the print edition will be higher. Does anyone but me still also buy print books? It does seem like cheating authors to sell our books so cheaply, but even at 99 cents, I’m making more money than I ever dreamed possible. What a conundrum!

  7. Mac Crowne says:

    An important question to ponder, Beth. With my first title not yet released, I have to admit, I didn’t write it with a price tag in mind. The writing itself was my focus, as it is whenever I sit at my keyboard. But considering the time and effort involved in becoming published, I too have been scratching my head at so many authors pricing their work so cheaply. I get the concept of reaching readers and building a base, but fear the practice sets an unfortunate precedent that will continue to haunt the industry.

  8. I’m trying to look on the bright side. I’ve been reading some of the comments on the .99 cent and free books. People are beginning to equate the lower price with lower quality. They tend to say things like, “what should I have expected? It was free.” So I do think there are people out there who would still rather pay the money for a higher quality book (of which all of yours most definitely are). A disappointing book is a disappointing book, so to me, even 99 cents is too much to pay for something that I felt in the end let me down. For me, as a reader, I’d definitely pay more money for a book from an author I knew was going to give me a quality read rather than going for the cheap book.

    I think ebooks are on the rise and it’ll be a bumpy ride for a while until the market figures itself out. It appears to be one great big learning process right now, because everything is changing so quickly. But I think even this will eventually even itself out.

    My four cents worth. lol Great topic.

  9. Like Mac I don’t have a backlist, yet, but sympathise with those who do.and who are selling their novels at very cheap prices. I think it will take people time to get accustomed to buying for kindles etc. I got one for Christmas, and it now has lots of free books on it that i can’t get around to reading yet! I do think serious readers will learn quickly enough, though, and will gravitate to buying the authors they like. Even if the price is higher it’s the ease of buying that I think will win the day.

  10. Ray G says:

    I have lots of free and nearly free books on my Kindle, but I also spring for at least two to three books a month some of which are as expensive as a hard cover book. Now if I just had the time to read them all.

    Amazon will let you lend a Kindle book for a short period, but I consider it cheating and won’t even lend mine to my wife. We trade paperbacks, but never eBooks.


  11. Writers finally find a way to get around the low paying contracts of the publishers undercut by the knowledge there were always other writers eager to take what they might walk away from. And what do they do? Hold a fire sale or give away their work

    Compare a book to the price of a movie, a dinner out, a magazine, a pack of cigarettes, even. All things bought, consumed and gone,

    Are readers really so disdainful of the writers’ effort? I’m afraid the answer is yes. Free is pernicious. Ask the musicians destroyed by Napster. I even read writers comment they would not pay more than 2.99 for an ebook. If our own peers don’t value the work, how can we expect the reader to?

  12. Cathie Dunn says:

    Interesting post, Beth. It’s a sad sign of the times. People want ‘free’, regardless of how much effort went into it.
    I’m currently considering the price of my next historical (8 years in the making, with much time spent on historical research) as Highland Arms (at TWRP) is still ‘pricey’. Well, for ebook standards, sadly. I won’t join the .99 club just yet – not with a new book anyway – but someday I guess I’ll have to. Lower prices for older books, higher prices for newer ones.
    I hope the trend for ‘free’ stuff reaches its end soon as it might destroy wonderful writers for the sake of mediocre freebie ‘writers’. As it is, good writers with cheaper books are being tarred with the same brush as poor authors. Not fair.

  13. Beth – I hear your frustration. I agree wholeheartedly, too. If my rights were reverted to me for a book which had already been in print, I could see selling it for 99cents. But I don’t have a big back list, and I’ll probably never see many of those book actually revert to me. I am considering doing a self-published book next year, and will go for a $2.99 price in stead of the 99cents, because I feel you get what you pay for. So good luck to those folks loading their e-readers with 99cent books, as they may discover a sea of mediocrity while they drink those fancy $4.00 lattes.

  14. I’m with you, Beth! I have several books out and barely make enough now to pay for my website fee. And with all the 99 cent books out there, I feel I can’t compete anymore. If I didn’t love writing, I’d have given up long ago. As it is, I’ve stopped writing novels for the time being and am concentrating on shorter stories. I only have one story out for 99 cents and it’s a very short story. And my publisher priced it down, because it’s been out for nearly four years. Between book piracy and books being given away for practically nothing, I don’t see many authors sticking around. It just isn’t possible to make a living at it. You have to do it for love and find another way to make money.

  15. Jinny Baxter says:

    As a long time writer of manuals and articles, one who finally found her way to her real dream to write a novel, I find the current trends in publishing to be intimidating and disheartning. I WILL finish my novel, and if I never sell it, I will at least have done it for myself, for the love of writing.

  16. I have to admit that I troll for free ebooks on a daily basis. I also think it can be a great marketing tool when done right. Offer a free ebook for a limited period of time, hook your readers and they will pay for your other books. I’ve found several authors I thought were incredible through a free ebook and then bought everything they had after that.

  17. This is one of my pet peeves, too, Beth. When you consider that a round of golf, which takes approximately 5 hours to play, give or take, can cost over 100 bucks or more (depending on the course), it’s hard to understand how a book, which can take from a couple hours to a couple weeks to finish and can be enjoyed over and over, is valued so little.

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