Doomsday for books–or is it?

So, it’s Freitag here in Deutschland.  Freitag = Free Day = Friday.  Actually, most of the days of the week in German are strikingly similar to English.

Zum Beispiel (For example):

Montag = Monday

Dienstag = Tuesday

Mittwoch = Wednesday (Okay, so this one’s pretty different, but Mittwoch literally means mid-week–that makes sense, don’t you think?)

Donnerstag = Thursday

Freitag = Friday

Samstag = Saturday

Sonntag = Sunday

On to more interesting topics.  There is an uproar in the literary/publishing world.  The gist of the problem is that

The world of printed books is becoming not only obsolete but too competitive to maintain.

To explain:

The world of e-books has gotten huge in the last few years.  With the growth in popularity of Amazon’s Kindle (I’m sorry, Canadians, but you’re the only country left that doesn’t have it) and the ease with which writers can publish an e-book (and thereby circumvent the difficult, competitive aspect of agent/publishers), printed books have declined in popularity.  And now, with the introduction of B&N’s Nook, Plastic Logic’s QUE, and Spring Design’s Alex (stupid name, isn’t it?), this downward trend in printed books will only continue more rapidly.

Add to this conundrum the ridiculous and mind-blowing price cuts on hardcovers, and you’ve got a problem on your hands for publishers and writers.  Wal-Mart started the war by offering new hardback bestsellers for only $9.99.  Amazon said, “Okay, we’ll match your nine ninety-nine and raise you same-day delivery.”

“Oh yeah?” Wal-mart replied.  “Check this: we’re droppin’ to eight ninety-nine.”

“Well, shoot me coonskin,” said Target.  “I gotta jump on this here bandwagon.”  So they did, lowering their book prices to ten.

Sears, never one to be left behind, said, “Screw you all, I’m going home”–oh, no, wait.  That was Cartmen on Southpark.

Redo:  Sears, never one to be left behind, said, “If you buy a nine dollar book from Amazon–those cheeky bastards; Target–oh, the depth of our loathing; or Wal-M–we can’t even say the name without a gag-reflex; then we, Sears-the-Magnificent-as-chosen-by-the-Almighty-himself, will reimburse that amount!  Of course, you must first spend forty-five dollars at our store, and then we’ll give you those nine bucks back.  But, it’s a deal, ain’t it?  You know you want to…”

As Nathan Bransford asks on his fantastic blog, WHERE DOES THIS END?

You’re probably thinking, who cares?  This is great for the consumers–cheap books.

Ah, not quite.  Now we’re teaching consumers that the value of a book is $10.  Only for best-sellers does a $10 price tag begin to cover the costs of printing, promoting, royalties, editing, et cetera ad noseum.  What about a new author?  Let’s say I actually get my book in to print.  The cost of doing so puts the value of each copy at $25…but now no one will buy it because they’re spoiled on friggin’ Wal-Mart prices!  Crap, crap, crap.

Not to mention, what about independent bookstores?  They’re already becoming a thing of the past, and this only makes matters worse.  You see, they just can’t compete with the low prices because they don’t sell in bulk.  C’est horrible.

But, I shan’t end the blog on such a horrifying note.  The world of books will somehow  adjust–for better or for worse.  For new writers such as myself, this trend will only increase the difficulty of getting our words into print…but such is life.

I wish everyone a nice weekend.  Now, go out and buy a full-price hardcover at an independent bookstore.


What I’m Listening To: Sisters by Rosemary Clooney