Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Blogger ~ Mark Stone on Amazon Rules Re: $0 Kindle Pricing

Amazon Takes $0 Kindle Pricing out of the Hands of the Author
By Mark Stone

There is no doubt that with the advent of the digital age, the publishing industry faces its greatest dilemma yet. And, thanks to the Kindle from Amazon and to the late, great Steve Jobs, they are scrambling like madmen to repair the shrinking book market. I mean, who wants to lug around 1500 books when moving when all you need to do is pack your digital reader or tablet?

The literary world is in the middle of its greatest paradigm change since Gutenburg used the very first printing press, putting thousands of scriveners out of business. This is not a bad thing, change is inevitable, even necessary to promote growth and enhance our lives. One of the biggest changes, and seemingly far outpacing all the new digital gadgets that hit the market every few days, is the world of self-publishing.

Amazon has provided a platform for John and Jane Q. Public to write, edit, publish and market their own creativity and achieve the literary recognition. Okay, maybe recognition is a bit much, but now anyone can publish an e-book and actually have a chance to reap some greenbacks for the effort.

Which brings me to the point of this article…marketing of self-published books. Yes, there are some very good self-published works out there, and a whole heap of crap that stink up the site. So, with literally millions of e-books to choose from, what’s an author to do?

Price it right. There are a TON of $.99 books on Amazon. Enough that you’d have reading material for the next decade! Then some bright penny out there decided to price a book at $0 in an effort to become noticed. Hey, if a person enjoyed their book at $0, maybe they would be willing to shell out $3-4 for a second from the same author, right?
Right. Overall, it is an effective campaign strategy that has worked well…for the author. But what about

I know, I know…you’re saying "Amazon is HUGE, it makes a metric ton of money, why should they make more? They should be helping the writers out."

Understood, however Amazon is a business, and like most businesses, is out to make money. They provide the publication service (via CreateSpace) and virtual bookshelves. If we as authors use their sites, it is not unreasonable for the provider of said bookshelves to ask for their cut, even if it is only pennies on the dollar.  They didn’t have to be a vendor of e-books, but they are and as a vendor they are allowed to asked for a fair cut of the profits.
In other words, try toddling off to the local Barnes & Noble with a boxful of your books and ask them to stock their shelves with your product, but take no profit from doing so because you want to give them away. How fast will you be laughed out of the store? I think it would break the sound barrier.

Does that mean Amazon should never have free books. I don’t think so. A case-by-case basis should be made for multi-published authors to dole out one free book as a lure to purchase their others. Since customers are always looking for the deal (as am I. There are quire a few free books on my Kindle), the multi-published author can get his/her name out there, perhaps garner a fan base. It not only makes sense, it is a good business model.

Now, for those authors who have not self-published more than one book, sorry, it is my opinion and it is Amazon’s call. If you think they are taking unfair advantage, you could always stay with Smashwords and other e-vendors who would be willing to give your work away for free.

No comments: