Why Amazon vs. Hachette shows books are alive and well
August 19, 2014
Suppose I was trying to sell refrigerators to Eskimos.
Would it matter how I priced the iceboxes?
I doubt it. Expensive or cheap, the Eskimos would turn their noses up at them as unnecessary luxuries. Catch my drift?
The battle between Amazon and Hachette is not about books. It’s about how much to charge for them. Millions of people want books and will buy them come hell or high water. The only issue in the dispute between the publishing giants is how much they will pay for them as e-books.
What does that tell us?
It tells us that the desire to read books is a hunger people must satisfy.
Because reading books is a characteristic that has long set humans apart from every other creature on the planet.
Gutenberg was on to something big.
His descendants who invented e-books are on to something equally big.
The human thirst for stories will continue unabated until at least the next great evolutionary shift.
As a general rule those evolutionary shifts don’t arrive overnight. They are as quick as glaciers, as rapid as the ice ages.
Perhaps the time will come when babies are born without eyes, when they have computer chips for brains and care not for things such as love, compassion, pity, honor, sacrifice and Burger King fries.
Perhaps. I’ve checked my newest grandchild now nine-months old, and she shows no signs of these changes.
I take that to mean that readers/story-lovers will continue to dominate the human species for the foreseeable future. Say a few thousand years or so.
It’s good to see things for what they are.
The Amazon-Hachette feud is not about whether people will buy books. It’s about business. And business is always about the money.
Personally, I like the notion of keeping the price of e-books as low as possible.
But I’m not in favor of giving them away.
Because as an author I would like to make some cash for the time and effort and money I put into a book. Does my desire to do a little better than break even on my book projects disqualify me from being an artist?
Of course not. The debate is simply about what is a fair return on investment for a book, what, if anything, separates a fair return from a killing.
I’ll have to leave that up to the big boys.
But, I am sure a book is something Eskimos will buy even in the dead of winter.