I’ve always loved to read. When I was growing up, I’d go to the library and get an armload of books and polish them off in a week. When I was old enough to buy my own books, I went to the bookstore at least once a week and spend way too much money. But there was nothing like finding a great book, and better still, a book that I wanted to reread again and again. I’d eagerly pop down to the bookstore as soon as I heard that one of the series authors I liked to read and buy the hardback version because I couldn’t wait.
That start to change about 10 years ago, and significantly changed in the last few years. Now go into a bookstore once a month, and sometimes I don’t buy anything at all.
It was because I noticed a trend — the overall quality of books was declining. Not just one author, but all the series authors. As I writer, I think this was a combination of an aging series and pressures to produce a book a year, regardless of how good it is.
So I stopped buying hardbacks. It wasn’t worth spending $27 for a hardback and getting a story that just didn’t work. Instead, I waited for the paperback to come out. At $5 a book, it wasn’t a deal-breaker to get a book that didn’t quite work.
Until the price went up to $7, and a new trend: The books all felt like the same thing. I wasn’t getting anything different or exciting. As writers, we hear that we have to write a story that’s different but not so different that it’s a risk in order for agents and publishers to consider it. There’s not a lot of room in that to be different, and the result is the books don’t take risks that ignite the excitement of readers like me.
So now I’m a lot more picky, even for a paperback. I don’t care for romantic subplots. At $5, I’d get the book anyway if it looked good. At $7, it’s a pass. If I see multiple instances of profanity in the first few pages, it’s a pass. If it’s in first person, it’s probably a pass.
Enter ePublishing. John Locke sells a million books for .99. Suddenly all the writers are flocking to eBooks and selling their stories for the same amount. As a reader, I usually pass on the .99 and free books. These are often not ready for publication and feel more like the writer is hoping to cash in on John Locke’s success with a cheap price. I like the $3.99 price range because I can experiment without feeling like I’m going to waste my money.
Price will influence me to not buy a book. However, it will not influence me to buy a book. I want better books. I want to recapture the magic of finding buried treasure in book.
Have the changes in the book industry influenced what you buy?