Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Playing with Prices

I’m making ‘No Tears for the Lost’ – No 4 in the Riley Gavin/Frank Palmer London-based crime series – available on Kindle at $0.99 or £.077, depending on where you are.
Why such largesse? Because I’m feeling rebellious and want to see if I can bring down the entire industry. Here's why.

“Discounting is bad for publishing.” I forget which so-called legacy-publishing mouthpiece suggested this a while back (I paraphrase), but it was part of a broadside aimed squarely at the Kindle self-publishing army for not playing fair by undermining the free world with special offers. The comment was a warning that if this evil practice didn’t cease and desist forthwith and even sooner, by the cringe, we’d all be dragged screaming into a gutter of literary ignorance and that reading itself would be a thing of the past.

How this earth-bound representative of the Collective kept a straight face I don’t know; as if paper book publishers have never discounted a single thing in the history of printing! (Or paid for space in bookshops).

To be honest, I haven’t noticed any drop-off in reading. In fact, I hear it’s on the increase, and in a variety of forms. With the proliferation of e-readers, books of all genres are now more available than ever, easier to find, quicker to obtain and more practical to carry. (I just got back from a holiday in Menorca, and there were enough e-readers around the hotel pool to light up a small town. And I doubt they were only carrying just one book. Given the airlines’ baggage allowance these days, you simply can’t carry too many paper books without taking out a mortgage on the excess).

However, the latest shot across the bows against Kindle's owners is a demand by a bookshop in Warwickshire England that authors should cut out the heinous and barbaric practice of linking their websites to Amazon, since it disadvantages independent bookshops. (This is all part of a concerted effort to get Amazon to pay their fair share of tax – which I agree with – but it kind of uses a blunderbuss approach in that it’s now authors who are being put up as part of the problem, which is silly).

I’ve been in plenty of independent (and chain) bookshops over the years, and often seen neither hide nor hair of my books being supported by them (even in some instances a couple of days after doing promotional gigs there), so I find such protests a little weak, even hypocritical.

The thing is, I fully understand why bookshops prioritise on books they know they can sell, even if it doesn’t include some of mine. It’s called business. And, as with all businesses, if you want to survive, you have to make decisions based on what you know will work for you. And that includes taking note of local practice, offers, deals, discounts, packaging, special events – call it what you will.

However, what works for the goose and so forth…

I currently have 16 books which are traditionally-published – ie: in paper form. I've also got a few which I’ve put on Kindle myself, either because I retained the electronic rights when they were first published or because I’ve decided that was the way I wanted to go because I didn’t think they’d ever be published ‘traditionally’ (these are short story anthologies).  However, compared with some, I’ve done relatively little in the way of price reductions or deals.

Call me a slow learner.

 So, in the spirit of modern business practice, I’ve decided to hell with it, which is why I’m letting ‘No Tears for the Lost’ go for a paltry $0.99 or £0.77. And if this causes the utter collapse of the entire publishing industry as we know it, I’m really, really sorry. May the Borg and everybody else forgive me.

Frankly, though, I’m not holding my breath.


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