My favorite authors have weighed in about the ongoing Amazon-Hachette debate, so I thought I’d offer my opinions as a reader, book lover and former bookseller. I have yet to receive the e-mail Amazon is apparently sending to Kindle owners, misquoting George Orwell and urging readers to contact the CEO of Hachette to demand lower prices, but I’ve read its contents and I’m familiar with the debate.
Yes, Amazon, I would like lower e-book prices. But I’d like lower-priced everything. I don’t think movies should cost $10 at a theater. I don’t think cable TV should cost $100 a month. But if I want a product enough, I’m willing to pay the price the market will bear.
And I will never believe a corporation when it says it is on my side.
I prefer e-books, not because of the lower cost, but because of the convenience. I read LONG books, and don’t like carrying a brick around. I like to read at night, after my wife has gone to sleep. I live in a small house with limited shelf space. As a result I’m willing to sacrifice things like amazing cover art, huge detailed maps and the like to feed my hunger for reading.
And I have a Kindle, so my choice of booksellers has already been made for me. I can’t vote with my feet as much as I’d like to. I also can’t share my books with my friends – as much as I’d like to – DRM makes that impossible. Amazon has decided that I am the only person who can read the books I purchased from them.
As an e-book buyer, I’m not buying a book, I’m buying the right from Amazon to read that book, provided I don’t let someone else read it or try to read it on anything other than their electronics. It’s nothing more than a fee-based library without overdue fees.
So their arguments about how they want to lower prices to reach more readers falls flat to me. If they were REALLY interested in catering to the consumer, they would allow portability between devices, wouldn’t trap them with end-user agreements, and wouldn’t arbitrarily delete books from customer’s Kindles when those rights expire.
Amazon isn’t looking out for the customer by championing lower prices, they are trying to sell more Kindles. Just like they didn’t offer hardcovers at 50% off to help the customer, they did it to drive business away from brick-and-mortar stores like the one I used to work for and eliminate competition.
I don’t link to Amazon when I publish a review, I want to give my readers a choice to buy in whatever format they want, from whomever they want. If you want to support Amazon, go for it; I do, albeit grudgingly, although when I buy a hard copy I always support an independent seller. And if at some point I lost the ability to buy goods through their website, I would simply find somewhere else to do it.
I’m already looking for alternatives.