This article by Nathan Bransford on CNet has been making the rounds of the Intarwubz today, and I’m kinda grateful. It’s reminding everyone that the primary cost of making a book isn’t in the physical creation of the object. Especially for mass-market publishers, who are producing in bulk, the per-unit cost of printing an actual book is negligible. The primary cost is for the content — which, one would argue, is the most important part anyhow, yes? When you buy a book, you’re not paying for a physical artifact, you’re paying for the writer’s work, the editor’s, designer’s, and cover artist’s work–the creative stuff, all of which is still there in an ebook.
(For small press publishers, it’s a whole ‘nother thing, because they’re not producing in bulk, so the per-unit cost of printing a book is considerably higher. But then, most small presses reflect that difference in eBook and print copies, as witnessed in my own recent small-press efforts, where the eBook is three or four bucks, while the trade paperback is fifteen.)
So when you complain that an eBook costs only slightly less than a print book, what you’re complaining about is that the people who actually made the important part of the book shouldn’t get as much of your money for doing the exact same work they’d be doing if it was in print.
If you don’t pay enough for the book to pay the writer a decent rate for writing it, it’s the death of professionalism. As readers, trust me, you don’t want that.
Keith R.A. DeCandido took his sweet time finally writing something for this blog, given that he joined the Liars Club in January 2011. He did the editorial work for Liar Liar, and also wrote the story “Under the King’s Bridge” for that anthology. Keith’s recent and upcoming work includes Goblin Precinct, the sequel to his high fantasy police procedurals Dragon Precinct and Unicorn Precinct; the Leverage novel The Zoo Job, based on the TNT TV series; -30-, with Steven Savile, the first story in the “Viral” series of thriller novellas; and “The Ballad of Big Charlie” in V-Wars, an anthology edited by fellow Liar Jonathan Maberry. Find out less at his web site, which is the gateway to his blog, his Facebook page, his Twitter feed (@KRADeC), his various podcasts, and lots more, including links to buy his most recent books.