E-books vs. Real books

Sep 09

I try buy mostly all real, physical books. I do get some e-books but not many. I have been keeping an eye on the court case against Apple and a handful of others who tried to do price-fixing with e-books. They primarily wanted to ensure Amazon did not take over the industry and monopolize. They lost and Amazon now can price their e-books as they like. You can read the entire case here or a synopsis here and here. Some Kindle owners are excited they will be able to get their e-books at lower prices. Others are not so happy. An attorney for Barnes and Noble said,

“The settlement is likely to lead to predatory pricing and increase monopoly by Amazon.” The settlement will also decrease competition, leading to “less choice and increased prices in medium and long term,” DeFelice said.

We should all be nervous about Amazon’s hold on every industry. It is ironic that in a world wracked with financial insecurity and politicians blaming the other parties that these types of decisions are not being noted as important. They are so far-removed from the day-to-day consciousness of people. People are simply not aware of how decisions like this are putting people out of work, local companies out of business. How many independent book stores are near you? Are there less now than ten years ago? Why do you think that is?

Sad day for e-publishing, happy day for e-book connoisseurs. But at what cost? If the publishers make less money, it will trickle all the way down to the readers. It always does. Think of how shoplifting is dealt with in department stores. Do the thieves pay for the stolen goods? No. Do the companies absorb it? Yes, sorta. They do at first but then the next year they raise prices to account for any loss in profits. This is how retail goes. What do you think will happen with the publishing companies? They will find a way to lower their costs to maintain or raise their profits. It is the nature of business. Everyone wants everything cheap…cheap…cheaper. Where can we get it cheaper? But there is always a cost. We wanted cheaper products, we get them. In the long run, the costs come out of the quality, out of the economy. We cannot keep an industry working efficiently without paying for it. We demand lower prices and we get it but we get what we pay for. We have seen clothes that lasted literally a decade or more now fall to pieces in a matter of months. But they are cheaper. And what of the companies who make clothes in this country, the more expensive clothes, quality clothes? We all want the economy to get better but we don’t want to pay the piper. We don’t want to pay for a quality product. We want to complain. That is just ridiculous. Of course e-books are often priced around the same as real books, they have to compete and keep the real books in the competition. Of course, they still have to pay the editors, the publishers, the publicists, the agents, the distributors, the lawyers, the receptionists, the mail-room people who deliver the potential classic to the editors, the authors themselves! So, paying for the e-book is still something we have to do! Do they need to make money? YES! Of course! Be reasonable. Stop complaining about ridiculous prices and realize, the more we demand lower prices, the more quality we will relinquish and the more our economy will fail to thrive.

But, alas, it is too late for this decision. We will see what happens now.

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