I didn’t buy your book this week, and your publisher is to blame

Mary W. Walters

Mary W. Walters

Dear Fellow Author who has the good fortune of working with a traditional, mainstream publishing company:

This week I read a review of your book or heard an interview with you on the radio, and I was so taken by it that I wanted to have your book immediately. I didn’t even want to take the time to make a note of the title, go down to an independent bookseller and purchase it there (sorry, Independent Bookseller). I wanted it right now.

So I went to Amazon/Kobo/iBooks to make what is known as an “impulse purchase.” (When it comes to books, I do not apologize for being an impulse buyer.)

But then I discovered that in the electronic version, your book was $13.50 or maybe $15.00 or maybe even $19.95.

Now, I can see paying that amount for a paperback, but I am sure as hell not paying that much for an ebook. Because I know how much an ebook costs to make when the book is already available in print: it costs next to nothing. I know because I have created two novels in paperback (DV and Rita) that I have converted to ebooks, and in each case it cost me a ONE TIME PAYMENT of $79. One time. That’s it. After that, I make at least 35% and sometimes 70% (depending on the distribution agreement) of the selling price on every single copy of each book I sell in e-version.

Your publisher wants to rip me off, and rip you off as well

Q: Why didn’t I buy your book in e-version at $15 if I would have paid that much or more for it in paperback?

A: Because I cannot stand to be swindled. And I cannot stand to participate in a scheme that rips YOU off as well, my fellow author. If you were being paid fairly from this widespread scam that sees ebooks being priced at over $10, you would be receiving at least 35% of the cost of that ebook in royalties or (depending on how the ebook is distributed, which is something you should know), even more than that.

Three times this week alone – with three different books by three different authors – my finger has paused over the  “Buy It Now!” button, I’ve thought about the price, I have not clicked, and I have closed the screen. And the problem is that I will probably now never buy that book of yours. It’s sad. I’m sad for you. You may have lots of other advantages over those who publish on their own, but for the reason of ebook sales alone, I’m glad it isn’t me.

P.S. Joseph Boyden has edited a new anthology that focuses on the plight of first nations women. It is called Kwe: Standing with our Sisters, and it features contributions from Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Gord Downie, and many others. It was published by Penguin/Random House and it is available as an ebook for $2.99. Now thats more like it.

(You are welcome to forward this message to your publisher.)