Price-fixing is bad for both readers and authors, says Hoyt Hilsman

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In an article in the Huffington Post with the above title, Hillsman, a journalist, screenriter and critic, says he is “bewildered” about the publishing community argument that setting artificially high prices is good for everyone.  Here’s an excerpt:

In the face of these new realities, it is hard to make the argument (as the publishers and some authors are doing) that having lower prices for e-books is a bad thing, either for readers or for authors. The publishers have argued in the past that that high prices for books subsidize publication of authors who would not otherwise get published. That suggests that the publishers are in a charity business, which they are decidedly not. And it is hardly true anymore, when the bookshelves are crammed with celebrity biographies, vampire romances and flimsy self-help tomes. The reality is that authors who would not otherwise get published can now get published in a variety of forms — e-book, print-on-demand and other forms — and make three to four times the money per book.

Despite all the fuss about diversity, literature and the “unique” aspects of book publishing, it is a business like any other, and must operate within the realities of the marketplace and the law of the land. Artificially raising prices simply to preserve an outdated business model is not the way to preserve the critical importance of books and reading in our culture. Perhaps the major publishing houses will suffer – they may even wither and die (although I doubt it). But books will go on in many new and old forms. And readers – and authors – will be all the better for it.

More in the article.

1 Comment on Price-fixing is bad for both readers and authors, says Hoyt Hilsman

  1. Felix Torres // May 2, 2012 at 7:56 am //

    Interesting article.
    It doesn’t cover much that hasn’t been covered to death and mummification around here but it covers it well.

    What makes it interesting to me is the source: Chicago Tribune via Huffington Post.
    Mainstream Media. Political media.

    I’ve been expecting this and I expect more, similar reports as the Conspiracy case heads to court: the mainstream media going past their “go-to” publishing insiders and actually looking at the merits and demerits of the case. Add in that the current DOJ administration has shown it can use targetted media “leaks” to control/direct the mainstream media’s attention and its pretty clear that as the DOJ case moves on coverage will *not* be limited to or defined by the Sargent/Turow Axis and their apologists.
    And that the consumerist angle is going to be front and center.

    Should make for an interesting dog and pony show once the mainstream media shows up at Court for the Settlement hearings. Especially now that the BPH’s “poor, woeful victim of Amazon’s deep pockets”, B&N has a deep pocketed sugar daddy of its own.

    I’m thinking the smokescreen of “we’re protecting the world from eeee-vile Amazon” isn’t going to hold much water when the DOJ reminds the court that Amazon primary competitors are Apple and Google–two of the richest companies on the planet–and B&N and Kobo, both backed by giant multinationals of their own. And that the law is about consumer prices. (The mainstream media–especially the TV crews–just looooves a good “multinationals ripping off consumers” story.)

    Interesting times coming up. 😀

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