insulting readers

My Take On .99 E-books and the Type of Reader They Attract…

First, before I even get into the post, I’d like to thank every single reader who has ever purchased one of my e-books for .99. Whenever anyone takes money out of their wallet and buys one of my books, I’m grateful and I hope I didn’t disappoint them. For me, as an author, it’s as simple as that.

Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to mention a blog post I read the other day about low-balling, pricing e-books at .99, and what type of reader this attracts. I don’t know the author in the post, I haven’t read this author’s work, and I doubt I ever will. I respect this author’s right to an opinion, but I can’t say I wasn’t stunned when I read this post. I’m not even posting a link to the blog post because I don’t want to start anything with this author, and because I find it hard to take her very seriously. Not to mention the fact that I think she’ll regret her post and I’d rather be civil and not call anymore attention to it.

In a sentence, she believes pricing e-books at .99 is low-balling and that this attracts the wrong kind of reader. I’m still unclear as to what the “wrong” kind or reader is because I didn’t read any solid statistics nor did I read any factual examples. I did, however, read a lot of opinion…a lot of blah, blah, blah. And that’s fine. It’s her opinion and she has every right to share it openly. But I also read a lot of insulting comments about who the “wrong” readers are, and frankly, I was left wondering why this author would even go this far in public. As a reader, I found it insulting. And, unfortunately, I guess that since I actually scan the web for .99 e-books myself sometimes, I’m the “wrong” kind of reader.

I can honestly say it’s been a long time since I’ve disagreed with anyone so much, especially the part about “wrong” readers. I don’t think readers can be categorized and placed into boxes. I know, speaking as a reader now, I can’t be put in a box. I buy .99 e-books, I shop for e-book bargains, and I still buy e-books that go as high as twenty dollars sometimes if I really want the book. (I’m reading John Irving’s, Twisted River e-book right now and I think I paid around 17.00 for it…but it’s John Irving, not Betty Z. Summers who self-publishes her own books. In this case I want her book considerably cheaper, and frankly I don’t want to hear her complaining about it.) And I think most readers are like me in this sense, especially when it comes to buying e-books. We want them cheaper and we don’t care about anything else.

Speaking as an author now, I don’t have any choices about how my books are priced. I leave this up to the publisher and I never interfere. I trust all the publishers I work with, because they’ve been doing this for a long time. And when one of my publishers prices one of my e-books at .99, I know there’s a good reason. And when those .99 e-books sell, as I stated above but I’ll repeat one more time, I’m grateful to every single reader who made the purchase. I consider all my readers the “right” kind of readers.

I’ve always felt that building a solid career as an author has a great deal to do with gaining the reader’s trust and respecting the reader’s opinion. And I don’t think I’d lose if I bet that most readers would agree with me that .99 e-books are a good thing for both authors and readers, especially when an author’s career is still on the rise. I know all e-books can’t be priced at .99, but once in a while it’s nice to give the reader a break. And it’s just as nice to give the author a break so he or she can build a readership with a reasonably priced book.