RHYS BOWEN: I confess to checking my Amazon stats at regular intervals--I know. It's an obsession that results in bleak despair every time my numbers go down, but I can't stop myself.
Today I found myself checking the top hundred mystery bestsellers and what a surprise--I find that most of them are ninety nine cent Kindle books. Several of them are by names I recognize--legitimate writers. So I'm wondering several things--can they actually make a good living by selling their books at 99 cents? That means they earn 33 cents a book. A thousand books gives them 300 dollars.(which it will have cost them to have the book set up in Kindle format) Ten thousand gives them $3000 . That means they have to sell an awful lot of books before this is worth their while.
Perhaps some people do sell a hundred thousand kindle books. But how would readers find out about you if you're not on that bestseller list?
My next point to ponder is whether we are lowering the expectations of the readership. Some of those 99 cent books will be good. Most of them will be poorly written and have been rejected by regular publishers. Will readers come to think that this is how a story should be? Silly question really. They are already used to the fragmented style of TV drama , the lack of characterization of action movies.
And my third point--how will this affect the publishing industry? I've already been given one star reviews by Kindle readers who are angry that my Kindle books are being sold at $11.99 (a price set by my publisher for the first year). Will those readers eventually force down the price of all books as the power and scope of the e-reader grows?
I had an interesting brush with this myself last spring when St. Martin's had me write a free e-story featuring Molly Murphy, to coincide with the release of Bless the Bride. The cover clearly says A Molly Murphy Story. It is not a full book. Suddenly I find that it had risen to #2 on free Kindle. Then I find that I am getting all these one star reviews because IT IS NOT A WHOLE BOOK. This blew me away. It was free. It was a good story. It's like getting a sample chocolate at Sees Candies and then complaining because it's not a whole box.
My point is that readers are becoming entitled. They want the best, right now, and they don't want to pay for it. And those people putting up their own 99 cent stories on Amazon are sadly catering to them. It may just mean the end to legitimate publishing.
What do you think?
(And I was asked to republish this blog that first appeared on my own Rhys's Pieces site. If you've already read it, I hope you'll forgive this repetition.)