11 March, 2012
Only When Nobody's Reading

Right, going to try for another short journal entry. Nothing fancy. Nothing much to say. I figure this will most closely resemble thinking out loud. Actually, that's probably pretty much what all of these journal entries resemble. I think one of the main reasons I manage to write them is that I don't actually believe anybody is reading them. Take any other social media site where I have, in fact, gotten feedback, demonstrating that someone was actually reading, and I have had this amazing habit of shutting up. So, yeah, if I actually thought anybody was reading this, I probably wouldn't be typing it. All very silly. All very strange.

Very simple reason why I haven't written more of these journal entries recently. Even short entries. I've been working on my Shakespeare project and making excellent progress. In fact, I had been making so much progress the last couple of weeks, writing just about every single day and everything, that I kind-of locked up this week. Only got words written down on electronic paper on Monday and Thursday evenings. Sunday doesn't count. Considering it last week. Actually, I can't remember if I got anything written down on Sunday. Oh, well. Not important.

In fact, I've been meaning to write a short journal entry for awhile. Talk about all the progress on the Shakespeare project, but I haven't because I've been striking while the iron was hot. Feeling the drive to add words to the project, and I wasn't going to let writing about writing get in the way of actually writing.

Basically, I'm scared out of my freaking mind. The project is taking shape. There are more than enough words to tell that I've really got the beginning of something here, which is the part that scares me. It's all very clear at the moment, but I'm terrified of what's going to happen when I hit a certain point. I mean I think I've only got it worked out to a certain point. Then, boom.

I mean, sure, I've got notes, but what about them. Yeah, we shall see. Do I know what the hell I am doing or not. I think so but we shall see. Had a moment of great revelation a little over a week ago as I figured out how to deal with a major roadblock. See, in the play, Shakespeare does what he does, and I realized that I wasn't going to do that. I had set things up in such a way that I could not simply do anything resembling what had happened in the play. Finally, after much thought or really lack of thought and just being terrified that I was going to hit the wall, I suddenly realized how to buzzsaw my way through the great big tree blocking the road.

Good news all around. Made me happy. Everybody wins. And, this doesn't resemble at all what I had thought I was going to write about this morning.

Well, I wanted to keep this short so I'm going to keep it short. We shall see if I remember what is bothering me next week or some random point thereafter and I actually write about it.

Nobody's reading. I can only write these entries if I think nobody's reading. Go figure.

18 March, 2011
Price-point Dilemma

Electronic books are too freaking expensive. That's been my opinion for years, and I've had absolutely no reason to revise my estimation. In fact, if anything I've been too soft. This was seriously brought home to me recently when I started searching for electronic books to get and discovered that the vast majority of them are more expensive than the actual honest-to-god dead-tree paperback versions of the exact same books. What the fuck? I mean, really. What the fuck?

Sure, I know maybe just a little about the costs that go into a book, but the one thing I know for an absolute certainty is that electronic books don't have anything resembling the overhead that goes into their dead-tree brethren. In fact, they've got even less of an excuse to be so much more freaking expensive than the dead-tree versions because the pricing structure is far more favorable to the publisher. When you have to give slightly more than half the cover price to the bookstore, you have to charge a little more to cover your costs. However, when you get to keep more than two-thirds of the cover price, there is absolutely no reason to charge more than when you get less than half.

Makes me sick. Makes me physically ill. It's price gouging. It's taking advantage of the audience. It's not supply and demand. I'm sorry, it's not. You're not stuck with too much or too little inventory if you don't hit the pricing sweet-spot because there is no physical inventory to have too much or too little of. It's charging what the market will bear, pure and simple. It's the reason why books from famous authors cost more; even though, there is absolutely no fucking reason why the famous author needs more money. They're already fucking rich. The publisher is fucking rich. They could cut the price. No reason to charge so much just because the people will pay. I don't mean "can" pay; I mean "will" pay regardless of whether or not they "can" afford it. Have a heart you fucking rich bastards and be nice to your audience who don't necessarily have the disposable income to spend on your shit. You do realize that some of your audience are choosing your shit over things they need, right? They're not all as rich as you, you slime-coated, flee-infested, shit-encrusted leaches.

Sorry. I get a little worked up on this issue. Name-calling is rude, I know.

I should also clarify that most bookstores give more than two-thirds of the cover price to the publisher. I can think of one bookstore specifically that gives slightly less than two-thirds, which is still more than less than half. Dead-tree costs more for the publisher to produce than its electronic clone. Remember that. Also, keep in mind that the publisher gets two-third of the cover price not necessarily the sale price. It all depends on who is offering the discount.

But, I digress. Electronic books are freaking expensive. Publishers are charging what the market will bear, and there is only one way to fight it. Don't buy the book. Sucks, I know, but it is the only tool we've got for bringing the price-point down. Example, I recently looked up the most recent electronic book of an author I like with the full intent of buying it. Then, I saw the electronic price was $12.99 while the hard-bound price was only $15.84. That's right. The all but zero cost to produce version was almost as expensive as the hard-bound version, and hard-bound books are expensive to produce. I swear, it made me so angry that I almost shit-a-brick. No, not really, I hear it's an expression the kids are saying or more likely used to say. But, it did make me angry. Very, very angry.

Oh, and I did not buy the book. Sorry, author I really like, but you're just going to have to go without one insignificant to the point you'll never even notice sale because you couldn't be bothered to stand up to your publisher and point out that you were, in fact, rich enough that you didn't need to gouge people so much of their own hard won currency for the book. What's that? Contract, you say? Hands tied, you say? Well, fuck you, I say. You're rich enough to hire lawyers to renegotiate your fucking contract, I say. But, I digress.

Oh, and you're not subsiding your publisher's less successful authors. Sorry, you're not. Publisher's just getting rich, too.

Which brings me around to the somewhat uncomfortable point of my rant, and really, I thought this entry was going to be another really short one. Figured I would only manage about a paragraph. I guess I just get far more worked up about the price of books than even I realized.

The whole reason I brought this up in the first place is that I am major-league wrestling with the idea that I'm not charging enough for my own electronic books. Crazy, I know. Whole reason I'm ranting and raving and shit. I'll try to explain, and this whole revelation I'm trying to reconcile might take a bit to explain.

There are a whole lot of public domain electronic books floating around out there. There are a whole lot of badly edited, poorly constructed, and cheaply put together electronic books out there. Oh, and by "cheap," I mean "shoddy." Not that they didn't cost a lot of money to produce. Although, I suppose I could say that a half-decent layout designer is not cheap, but it's still less expensive than all of the production staff and materials needed for a dead-tree version. Oh, never mind. I'm not going off on that tangent again.

My point being that a lot of public domain stuff that someone really didn't bother to put a lot of time, energy or effort into assembling doesn't cost much. These public domain electric books range from free to a buck ninety-nine. They probably go higher, but the ones I cruised all tended to top out at $1.99.

So, I realized something as I was cruising electronic books. I was mentally pooh-poohing anything that cost a buck ninety-nine or less. Obviously inferior, and all of that. I wasn't considering them. I wasn't reviewing them. I was dismissing them out of hand.

It was enough to smack my mind upside the head. Make me wonder if my books are in the cheap-ass junk yard at two ninety-nine a pop. I mean I want to charge three bucks for my electric books. It just feels like a good price-point to me. Cheap enough to be an impulse purchase. Not so cheap it isn't worth putting on your credit card. My reasoning, anyway.

Ideally, I figure it would be cool if I got a dollar a book. That sounds sane to me. Sounds reasonable. So, even two ninety-nine makes me nervous because I get more than a buck out of the deal. Doesn't seem right to me but I was weighing my whole impulse purchase versus too cheap for the credit card thing.

But, I've started to worry that two ninety-nine is still too cheap. That I'm relegating myself to the auto-assigned pathetic and not worth it bin of people cruising for books. People not even realizing that they've thoughtlessly assumed my books are crap because the electronic copy is in the no editorial or design effort range. And, it's enough to make me wonder if I need to raise the price, which promptly makes me want to throw up.

Books are expensive. People don't have lots of money. I don't feel right charging more than is reasonable. Most electronic books are way out there on the unreasonable scale. It's not right. It's not fair, and the thought of raising my price in the hopes people might take my work more seriously just makes me itch all over. I don't like it. Don't like it one bit.

That's my dilemma. I've been a tempest in a teapot over this for going on two weeks now. Raise the price. I know I'm going to raise the price. I've got myself around to that idea, I think. Pretty sure. It's going to go up. Still fighting myself over how much. At least a dollar. Price is going to go up by at least a dollar. Maybe even two, but that's it. $4.99 is the top. Anything more makes me so mad I just might spontaneously combust.

One argument I've used with myself to raise the price is that I can offer sales if I raise the price. It doesn't have to be permanently $4.99. I can do discounts, sales and whatnot. I can't really do that with a cover of $2.99. At least that's what I'm telling myself. This may work. This may be the deciding factor. I can lower the price if I raise it. Yes, crazy, I know. Makes my head hurt, but it might be the solution to my dilemma. Time will tell. We shall see.

20 March, 2011
Price-point Drop

Oh, so of course I would find real electronic books for $2.99 right after going on a horribly profane rant about the cost of electric books. Say all kinds-of mean things about people I don't even know. Must be that poetic justice people are always going on about. Well, now I'm just more conflicted and confused. Brain explosion. Spontaneous combustion. All of that. Curse you, Jonathan Strange & Mister Norrell!

Okay, here's what I'm going to do. Ignore the issue for a couple of months and revisit after I've had plenty of time to sulk about it. Yeah, like that. It worked for Hamlet. Nothing bad ever happened to him. Sigh.

31 March, 2011
Price-point Versus Worth-point

Finally uploaded the improved formatting version of my electric books to Apple, which also means I finally increased the price to match what I had raised it to over at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Didn't feel right increasing the price before I could get the new files uploaded, which was an option. Price changes can be done through the website. Book files cannot. Go figure. So, there was a very narrow window in which the books were cheaper at Apple than elsewhere.

Still standing by my price increase; even though, I have found books in the $2.99 to $3.99 price range. Still makes me feel a little silly for going with $4.99, but screw it. I'm not jacking the price around. Electric books are still way too expensive. The vast majority of things I am actually interested in reading are still $9.99 or more. Whole thing still makes me freaking angry.

It's got nothing to do with supply and demand. The reason so many books are $9.99 is that is the Amazon pricing structure cut-off. Go above $9.99 and Amazon gets 70% of the price instead of 30%. This is also why you'll find so many $2.99 books. Go any lower and again Amazon takes 70%. The reason I'm pointing out Amazon's pricing structure is because most publishers want a consistent price across bookstores so if you're going to charge $9.99 at Amazon to stay within that 30% window then you're also going to charge $9.99 everywhere else.

The whole supply and demand thing is also pretty much bullshit when you don't have any freaking inventory. It's all about choosing the minimum number of people you are prepared to have buy your book and how rich you think you're going to get from that. It's got nothing to do with how many people can afford to buy your shit. It's all about how many are going to pay regardless of whether or not they can afford it. Never giving a shit about what people are going without in order to meet your need for money.

Makes me break out in a rash just thinking about the price of my books. Wanted a lower point but I feel like I'm rubbing up against something else. Not the price point. The worth point. Much stranger. Much harder to describe or define. Lot of people are probably using the worth point to justify their over-inflated prices. Sleeping well at night because they place the worth point much higher than the humanitarian point.

Oh, well, don't listen to me. I'm just making shit up as I go. Humanitarian point? Seriously?

Oh, and before anybody gives me shit about my price point. Calling me a hypocrite or anything like that. Saying I bitch out other people for setting their prices much too high.

Hard to beat free. All I've got to say. Anybody who really, really needs to read one of my books can do absolutely that for absolutely free simply by downloading a copy from my website. No questions asked. Buy a copy if you feel like supporting the author and want to encourage the possibility that the author might write more. Purchases done through online bookstores pretty much for the convenience factor. If there was enough demand, and by demand I mean one or two whole people asking for it, I would go through the hassle of figuring out how to do one of those PayPal donation boxes. Lock out the big chain electronic bookstores all together.

Free? Didn't you just finish ranting about worth? What's free mean about worth?

Yeah, I know. Shut up. I'm making this shit up as I go. Books cost too much. Still makes me angry. Everything else is pretty much just frothing at the mouth.

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