Cheap E-books, Boon or Bane?

Or both?

Discussing 99-cent e-books here the other day, Michael Walsh concluded YMMV.

Author Jeff Carlson tells readers of the SFWA Blog he is getting high mileage — he has sold 13,000 copies of his novella “The Frozen Sky”. To celebrate he’s giving away freebies of his other short story collections as Mobi or ePub files.  

However, users of the Amazon Kindle are being forced onto 40 miles of bad road warns the Globe and Mail, because there’s “Spam clogging Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing”:

Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Inc’s publishing foray.

Thousands of digital books, called ebooks, are being published through Amazon’s self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.

Instead, they are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online then reformatted into a digital book.

These ebooks are listed for sale – often at 99 cents – alongside more traditional books on Amazon’s website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want.

Casting this as a crisis may be the smart play for the Globe and Mail‘s news editor, but who is really doing any plowing? As a rule people don’t browse Amazon’s zillions of titles at random. Forcing Amazon’s search engine to sort through more titles is not my idea of a public emergency.

2 thoughts on “Cheap E-books, Boon or Bane?

  1. It’s not a public emergency, no, but it is an unnecessary annoyance. Even the B&N website is full of 99-cent books that don’t load properly, even for the free sample, and you can’t search anything popular in the public domain without having to plow through a large number of these to find the better ones. It’s a nuisance. A button limiting search results to works costing a dollar or more would be a help.

  2. There are several issues here. First of all it seems that people are pirating these works, giving them new titles and author names and putting them back up to compete with the original author. Secondly, many authors, myself included, wonder if a complete novel sold for 99 cents doesn’t somehow devalue our”brand”. My 99 cent titles on Kindle are shorter works of fiction. And I am going to raise the price of some of those to $2.99 to see if they sell better. You get what you pay for. How many of those 99 cent specials actually get read, rather than held for the future when the buyer might get around to it? These are hard questions.

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