“…there’s a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”
– Peter Pan
I love turning pages, both electronic and real. Devouring words and being captured by a story is essential to my mind like breathing is to the body. So you can imagine the impact it had when one of my friends happened to utter the following words upon seeing me hold an actual, real-life book in my hands.
“You still buy them? I just download books now.”
…I’m pretty sure a writer just died.
The resulting conversation got me thinking about people’s perception on ebooks.
A) Do they realise how affordable an ebook is?
B) Do they understand the detrimental impact lack of purchase has on an author’s career?
C) Do they simply not care?
I personally, will never ever illegally download a book. There are so many options available, ranging from libraries and book stores to online book sellers like Book Depository and hello…Amazon, just to name a few. Did I mention how affordable ebooks are? Knowing all this leaves me quite baffled that there are people out there who torrent books without giving the creator of the work a second thought.
You may now all picture poor writers living in a shoe.
This got me thinking more deeply about my own relationship with ebooks. When E-readers first came out, never in my wildest imagination did I imagine myself owning such a horrific creation…let alone two. Well, three if you count my phone. It wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver to go to acting school did I finally embrace the concept of a e-reader. I was happy to buy all the books to my hearts content, but they were expensive and the thought of leaving them behind when I moved back home to Australia broke my heart. (Remember, we are talking about a poor acting student here, and yes, the library became my friend). Naturally, owning a kindle became the next logical step for me. Not only were there free classics to download from Amazon, I was also able to lose myself in endless stories while not becoming destitute in the process.
Those are the positives. Unfortunately, I also happen to have a few major pet peeves when it comes to ebooks.
1) Purchasing an ebook that is more expensive than buying the paperback/hardback
The first time I encountered this phenomenon, I was dying to get my hands on the next book of a series. To my disgust, it was grossly overpriced – around the 12 dollars mark if I recall correctly*. I’m ashamed to say I did grit my teeth and buy it, but only because I was living in a small country town and the chances of my local bookshop having it in stock was slim. Plus, I wanted it right this second. I understand that some authors can command this kind of price or above, but when Game of Thrones is going for less than ten dollars it puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
* I am more than happy to pay $12 and above for a book, my problems with pricing is solely with ebooks. I don’t want to feel like I am being taken advantaged of by a money hungry conglomerate.
2) Purchasing an ebook that is one dollar less than the hardback
Please, no explanation needed.
3)When an unknown published/self-published author charges a crazy amount for an ebook
I have purchased ebooks by unfamiliar authors no matter the price, because I am Team Writer all the way. But when I read a badly edited novel, deep down I can’t help but think that my time, or money, is not being respected. I believe the quality of the story is important, as well as creating a positive relationship with your reader. The reality of the current ebook market is that it’s saturated by novels that barely pass first draft quality. Don’t be that person, and don’t charge an exorbitant amount if you are that person.
4) When ebooks aren’t available.
I have lost count of the times I have wanted to purchase an ebook only to discover it’s not available anywhere. This wouldn’t be a problem if actual bookstores weren’t going extinct left, right and centre and if one is patient enough to actually wait for a book to arrive in the mail. I’m not that person.
So the question remains, what can we as writers do?
Yes, we can bemoan the lack of respect toward our art and voodoo all those who dare illegally download a book, but there is serious misinformation and ignorance here. The reason my friend downloads books (another writer just died) is because he has ‘no money.’ Which I respect completely, but not everyone knows an ebook can be the price of a coffee. We can’t force others to love books the way we do and to support the author behind the work just because we understand the next contract depends on numbers.
No blog post can solve the dilemma of ebook piracy and the topic itself is quite complex and multifaceted. However, I believe there is something, we as writers can do. We need to be better prepared to survive in this industry by making ourselves accessible. The writers I love the most are the ones who blog regularly, tweet, Facebook and even Instagram. I follow indie authors who are giving their ebooks away for FREE on their site while sharing their writing process with followers. I think it’s beautiful and reminds us again why we all write stories in the first place.
…To connect with readers.
When people feel connected to the writer behind the words, more often than not, we genuinely want to support them.
A writer is saved by buying a book.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please feel free to share.
Love and light,