Joe Konrath's done it again, this time on the subject of what has been dubbed "the race to the bottom".
The argument du jour seems to be that if publishers do collapse, then all the current bestsellers will have their ebooks available for $4.99 or less, and that will be the end of self-publishing.Joe gives 4 reasons why, even if the current bestselling authors were to price their books at $4.99 or less, self-publishing would not only be here to stay but would still be a good way for writers to make a living.
1. Ebooks aren't a zero sum game
In other words, if publishing were like a zero sum game then because of Stephen King's deal with the devil--wait, no, I think James Patterson took that over--there would be fewer readers for the rest of us. That is the key point Joe disputes and I think he does an excellent job.
That said, Joe argues that even if publishing were a zero sum game self-published writers could still earn a living because there are so many readers. He writes:
Let's say there are currently 100 million ebook readers, and 1 million ebook titles on Amazon. In ten years, there will be billions of ebook readers (following the path of mp3s). But there won't be a corresponding 100 million ebook titles available--there aren't that many people writing ebooks, and never will be.
If I can currently sell a few hundred ebooks a day in the US alone, what will happen when ebooks become popular in India, China, Japan, Europe, Russian, and South America? There will be a bigger demand than unique supply, and I believe my position will improve.2. People who are bestselling authors now may not be bestselling authors in the future
Readers have an insatiable appetite for reading. When we've finished reading our favorite best-selling authors we read other things, other books or blog posts. If deprived of reading material we'll resort to instruction manuals or the ingredients list on canned goods. Just as writers write, readers read.
Also, if bestselling books came down in price then readers would have more money to spend and it's a good bet most of it would be spent on buying books. Joe puts in this way:
Ever go into a store to buy a big ticket item, expecting to may more than you did? Let's say you research an over and find it for $699. When you go to the store, it is on sale for $499. And they also have a great toaster oven for $99. You probably wouldn't have bought the toaster oven originally, but now that you're saving money on the oven, the toaster oven becomes attractive.
If all ebook prices came down, more ebooks would be sold across the board.
3. The reason bestselling authors are bestselling authors is because of distribution.
A big part of the reason a bestselling author is a bestselling author is because her books are on sale everywhere books are sold. If, one day, publishers do collapse then bestselling authors will have exactly the same sort of distribution as other authors. Far from pushing other authors out it is just as likely--perhaps more likely--that as their distribution dries up so will their sales. Joe writes:
The market is getting bigger. People with ereaders tend to buy and read more. And authors can make a very nice living selling 100 ebooks a day for $2.99 each. Across multiple platforms, on a global scale, I see this as not only possible, but likely for decent, prolific authors.
And as far as bestsellers go, they tend to fade when distribution changes or dries up.
4. The more ebooks there are the more ebooks will be bought
If bestselling ebooks come down in price that would make the purchace of an electronic reader an even better deal and the more electronic readers are sold the more electronic books will be bought. Joe writes:
If bestselling authors all dropped their prices, I believe I'd sell more ebooks, not less, because more people would buy ereaders and have more money to spend on content. There's enough room for 300 cable TV channels, and four billion videos on Youtube.I would encourage you all to read Joe's entire post, Zero Sum.
I like what Joe says about a writer being able to support herself though her writing if she can sell 100 books a day at $2.99 or more. Sounds like a great goal to me!
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do
- Joe Konrath: Are You Ready To Quit Your Job And Write Full Time?
- Amazon's KDP Select, Kobo & PubIt: Joe Konrath & Blake Crouch Share Their Experiences
- Joe Konrath's Letter To The Department Of Justice