Rowling Follow Up
Posted on April 17, 2012
Yesterday, I posted my reverence for J.K. Rowling. I want to add that just because I made a motion for her to be Queen and Empress does not mean that I think she is completely benevolent. I decided to delve a little further into her new book venture, The Casual Vacancy.
I found an interesting article on Financial Times online (you may need to register for free to see it) about her pricing intent for the e-book version of the new book, although I may need to change the word choice “interesting” to “worrying” or “borderline terrifying”. Instead of pricing the new book (out in September 2012) at $9.99, she is doubling that price. It is yet to be determined if she will sell directly through Amazon or through her website Pottermore. However, her high price brings up more questions about e-book pricing. How much is too much?
The Huffington Post put out an article on the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple and other publishers in terms of pricing. It seems that there may have been a conspiracy to raise e-book prices to several major companies’ benefits. I myself have seen many popular titles at $12.99 to as much as $15.99 for an e-book. And even though I’ve vowed not to spend past $9.99, I know that I’ve broken that vow for books I really wanted.
Now put the power of Rowling behind that price, and suddenly the great deal for being an e-reader goes away. Let’s remember that there is no physical publishing being done. There is formatting involved, but that’s for programming purposes. There isn’t any mass production of resources being used. So why do e-books garner that kind of pricing? Because they can, and we keep buying them.
Part of what’s going on is the publishing houses freaking out over what e-book publishing changes for their world. They want their piece of the pie, and many times I think they set the e-book price high for just that. But now we have an author who clearly states that she will not allow her book to be bought for less than $19.99. So who profits from this exorbitant pricing? Definitely not the readers. And it could be drawing a line in the sand between authors with publishing deals and houses behind them and the independent authors trying to get themselves out there.
Again, I did not say that naming Rowling the Queen and Empress of writing meant that she was a benevolent ruler. I think that we will have to watch what happens with the DoJ lawsuit and her book release to make a full decision on her reign. But we must admit – the girl has game!