Rocky McGredy is a columnist and editor of FIVE THôT. He has a consumerist view of the world a voice that tells story in a conversational yet powerful tone.
Recently, I’ve decided that reading on the train is a much more constructive activity than gawking at random bystanders on the train. It also helps me put good use to that tablet that I spent 600 dollars on (which, I never use). For the most part, getting books digitally is a convenient and awesome thing; I can pretty much find any book ever written by typing 4 letters or less into the search field, books download extremely fast because they’re just text, and I can store a billion of them on my tablet before it gets bloated and takes a shit. Honestly, the user experience couldn’t be much better, except for one thing– the price of ebooks is virtually the same as buying a physical book.
Maybe I’m being nit-picky, but it does enrage me a little bit that I’m still required to spend fifteen-to-twenty dollars per book. I have to imagine that the cost of producing an ebook is chump-change compared to producing paperbacks on a large scale. I just find it a bit ridiculous that we can decide that the cost of a song is ninety-nine cents, and the cost of an album is ten bucks, but the cost of a book can vary from half that price to three times that price.
I subscribe to the idea that as things become easier to produce, the cost should naturally reduce. The manufacturers, being the good people that they are, do this because they don’t have nearly as much overhead to produce their product. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like doing such a thing for your customers would actually make you more money in the long run because your product now falls into an affordable range for a different demographic; but I’m not the guy running a multi-national, multi-million dollar publishing company.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the people who distribute the delicious content that we eat up on a daily basis cannot reduce the cost of a digital product because it somehow ends up costing them just as much money. Or, maybe, hypothetically, those distributors have become accustomed to the idea of making a certain amount of money, and they’ve realized that they don’t have to change a thing because most people will still pay fifteen dollars for an e-book because of convenience alone. That’s just hypothetical, though.
Whatever it may be preventing book publishers from lowering the cost of e-books, it’s annoying and discouraging. I read a book every three days to a week, and when I’m done I’ll go out and buy something new. I’d give all sorts of digital money to publishing companies if they made the prices feel like highway robbery, but instead they give me the full retail price. So, I end up going to the used book store, like always. It’s not a big deal, I actually enjoy going to book stores. There’s so little of them now, it feels a bit like a history museum.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one that holds this perspective, though. I think these giant, archaic corporations should be afraid of the future swallowing them whole. Soon enough, writers will realize that they don’t even need publishers to distribute their books and they’ll start digitally distributing their content on their own. Or even worse, piracy will run rampant. We’ve all seen how fast a song can be downloaded illegally, now imagine how fast a book would be. Just because you aren’t failing by maintaining the status quo, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t break the mold on a consistent basis. All consumers want is the most convenient way to give you their money, and to not feel like they’re breaking the bank by doing so. I can only imagine that adapting to such a culture would benefit you in the long run.
Book image courtesy of Shutterstock