Friday, October 30, 2009

Perspective on the price wars

This comes from Puddnhead Books:

With Walmart and Amazon racing each other to cheapen and devalue the worth of books, there are some consequences we all need to consider.

If price is your first concern when buying books, you're in for a world of hurt.
1. Low, Low prices mean the chain bookstores will fall first, and most of the indies will die second. Borders is already hanging by a thread (beacuse they discount too much), and I'm predicting a bankruptcy in early 2010. The other chains can't get their bills paid if the online discounters are selling books for less than what they bought them for. Indies will hang on with author events and knowledge and customer service and personal relationships and fierce customer loyalty, but every brick and mortar store will die in a long term price war.

2. No new authors, and no new ideas. Publishers won't be able to take a chance on them, and indie booksellers won't be there to nurture and promote debut novels. Your reading choices will, very quickly, be limited to the most mainstream and bland thriller, the most mainstream and bland chick lit, the most mainstream and bland mystery, and maybe something crappy and thoughtless for the kids. Oh, and LOTS of tv characters.

3. Walmart buyers will decide what books get published, and which don't. Already, if the buyer at B&N passes on a book, that book deal just might fall apart. I wonder how many promising young talents lost their one shot at a writing career because one person thought the book wouldn't sell. Now imagine the open-minded, creative minds at walmart picking out your books. Go on, check out the books they stock now. Now imagine that those are your only choices.

4. This applies to e-books, too. The physical cost of the book - paper, glue, printing, shipping - is only 10% of the cost of the book. The rest of the cost pays the author, the publisher, and the bookstore. $10 e-books mean either the author is getting less, the publisher is getting less, or the bookstore is getting less. And ultimately, it means the reader is getting a LOT less. Because good storytelling, good research and good ideas aren't cheap, and we shouldn't treat them that way.

Read the rest.

And this comes from me, the reasons I don't shop at Wal-Mart.

1) Wal-Mart employees are the top users of state-funded health insurance in more than a dozen U.S. states including ours. This means that Wal-Mart's low prices are also being subsidized by state taxpayers as they compete, uh, aggressively with small and locally owned businesses. So we do end up paying for those low prices in another way.

2) What's more, Wal-Mart beeps out CDs with swear words in them. If you are a YA author and your book includes any of this language, it's safe to assume that Wal-Mart won't carry it or will alter it.

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