One Star Reviews Over Book Prices are Dumb.

This review was posted for Son of the Black Sword.

1.0 out of 5 starsThis rating has NOTHING to do with the writing!

(Name removed because he probably meant well, and this isn’t personal)

Format: Kindle Edition

I read and absolutely loved, Correia’s monster hunter books. Own each and every one of them. I was so looking forward to reading this one after I saw the blurbs for it. However, I cannot bring myself to allow the publishing company that Correia has his contract with, to take advantage of me. Like many of the ‘main stream’ authors, or rather, those that aren’t taking advantage of self publishing, the cost of the book is inane. The Ebook. Which costs the publishing company NOTHING to create in comparison to hardback, and paperback books. Costs more than the Paperback. That alone, will prevent me from purchasing this book, until the price is fixed to something reasonable.



I know writers aren’t supposed to respond to reviews, but I’m not responding to this as a writer, I’m responding to it as a retired accountant.

I am the author in question. Your review doesn’t hurt anything except my overall average. You aren’t sticking it to the man. You aren’t harming the corporate fat cats. If you think the book sucks, give it one star. That’s awesome. That’s what the stars are for. But you don’t use one star to bitch about the price of eBooks. That just makes you look stupid. We shouldn’t still be having this conversation with anybody who isn’t a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Now, Accountant Hat on. This is pretty basic stuff. This is how basic costing works, not just for books, but quite literally everything. But today, we’ll talk about books, because your ridiculous review has pissed me off.  I’m going to dumb this down and keep it simple as possible.

I produce a product, which I sell to a publisher. Under that contract I am given an advance against royalties (money up front), and then I get royalties based upon a percentage of the sales price. This is good. This is how authors GET PAID.

Now, over on the publisher side they have a bunch of costs associated with the production of my product. Some of these costs apply to both ebooks and print. However, contrary to what most people think printing isn’t the big deal, as much as all the other stuff.

There are four levels of costing. Each one will represent a percentage of the cost of the product.

General and Administrative: These are the costs associated with having a company. Regardless of whether the product makes it out the door or not, you are paying the rent and keeping the lights on.

Overhead: Cost related to doing whatever it is your company actually does.

Direct: Costs related to actually making whatever it is you make.

Now, I’ve never been an accountant in the publishing industry so I’m not sure what the rules are for which costs go into which bucket. (My accounting experience was for manufacturing high end electronics, then guns, and finally keeping the wings from falling off of A-10s, and this varies from industry to industry)

Now, the thing that is different between eBooks and physical books is that Direct part. (Which having seen how books are printed, trust me, you are drastically overestimating) and you’re leaving out all that other stuff like having a company, and paying a bunch of people to make art and sell it.

And direct cost is more than “paper” and “ink”. On my publisher’s books, I am a Direct Cost.

Oh, but wait, we forgot the last percentage, and that’s profit. That’s the awesome part everybody wants to maximize. I like when my publisher makes a profit, because that means they get to stay in business, which means I get to continue making lots and lots of money.

So when a producer sets the price of an item, they look at what all those numbers above are, and then they try to cover all of them, and have some left over to make a profit so it is worth doing it again.

Some products are more profitable than others. When you go to a fast food restaurant, the margin on the burgers is slim. If they sold nothing but burgers they’d be in trouble. However, the margin on soda is amazing. That soda you spent a couple bucks on? The most expensive thing involved was probably the cup. When I was selling guns, guns were cut throat, high competition, and on most brands I’d only make 10-15% on the sale of a gun. But then I’d made 40%-50% on accessories. That was how I kept the lights on.

Ebooks are like that. Publishing is an industry with crappy margins. Don’t believe me? Ask Borders. Yes, ebooks have a lower direct cost, but that is all still going into the same company bucket. Some lines are more profitable than others. Duh. It isn’t about “fairness”. Business has nothing to do with fairness. Business is about staying in business.

That’s the basics of how costing works.

But wait, there’s more!

Now we get into Econ 101! (I love Econ).

So now that you know how much you have to make in order to keep the lights on, you want to maximize your profit. You want to sell it for as much as possible, but not for too much because that will turn some people off and you’ll sell fewer units, so you want to get that sweet spot where the supply and demand curves meet.

Some people are willing to pay more, others are willing to pay less. Go super cheap, make less per unit, and sell more, and at the other end you go super expensive, make more per unit, but sell less. Which is why the Nissan Versa and Aston Martin DB9 can both exist.

Beyond that I’m not going to explain how supply and demand work. That’s the first few hours of an Econ class. Or go read Thomas Sowell. You’ll thank me later.

Books aren’t cars, but they’re basically interchangeable entertainment products. Some authors’ brands can get away with a higher cost because they’ve established that they’re a Honda, and some new guy is going for moped prices because his quality isn’t established and the only way he can hope to attract customers is by low price. The super cheap customer isn’t going to buy the Ferrari, and Ferrari is just fine with that.  But when cheap guy posts a one star review for the Ferrari, we’re all going to laugh at him. For the record, I’m not a Ferrari. I’m more of a Ford Expedition.

Since there isn’t some super easy way to tell you what the perfect sweet spot is, publishers guess. Some guess too high, and others guess too low. Who guesses just right? Well, we don’t know, because it isn’t like you go around showing your competitors your P&L (that’s a Profit and Loss statement for you Bernie fans, for those guys, think of it as magic voodoo).

Oooooh, but there’s even more!

What? Pricing eBooks is even more complex? Unpossible!

Yes, because now lawyers get involved!

Did you know that Amazon is actually a business too? And that it exists to make money? And that it also wants to maximize its profit? Crazy. Bernie should do something about that.

Publishing houses don’t work off the same contract as lone self-published authors. In fact, for a publishing house to set up an ebook distribution deal with Amazon there is a lot of wrangling, and Amazon gets a say in how those books are priced. This involves lawyers (see that line about Overhead, they probably go in that bucket).

And that isn’t even getting into the fact that in said contract, there are all sorts of little special things, like Amazon promotions (where they can put things on sale or discount them or bundle them with audiobooks) and publishers need to set their regular price to take those things into account.

Now, if you’ve got a publishing house that sells ebooks in other places (like on their own page in monthly Webscription discount bundles that have been around since the internet was invented) then that complicates matters, and Amazon is going to have you set minimum price guidelines and maximum discount rates. It all gets very complicated, and is also why for the first few years of my career the most common FAQ on my blog was “Why can’t I get your book on my Kindle?”

Once my publisher got that contract hammered out, and Amazon was happy with the minimum prices they agreed to, I was super happy, because now on my personal P&L I was making a whole lot more money by having my eBooks in the biggest marketplace. Yay.

Now, you may have noticed that my publisher (who trust me, isn’t evil, she’s actually pretty cool) drops the prices of the ebook the longer it has been out. Part of this is that contract thing, and another part is that demand curve thing, but either way, it gets cheaper as it goes.

So yeah, in this case the ebook is around paperback costs. HOW BARBARIC! Oh, except wait… There is no paperback yet. The book is only out in hardcover. Which means back on that demand curve (remember, profit good) the potential customers aren’t choosing between an $8.99 paperback and a $7.99 ebook. They’re choosing between a $25 hard back and a $7.99 ebook.

In our case when the paperback comes out, my publisher drops the price because the market conditions have changed (which is why the Monster Hunter Nemesis ebook is $6.99 and Monster Hunter International is free). Sometimes my eBooks show up for less because Amazon is having a sale, and I don’t even know about it until one of my fans tags me on Facebook about the sale.

You really want to get offended? My Super Evil Publisher also sells eARCs (Electronic Advanced Reader Copies) on their own page three months before the book comes out, for close to hard cover prices! GASP! These are the early, probably not fully proofed, versions that would normally go out to reviewers. But going back to that demand curve thing, some brands are in such demand that there is a market of people who will spend $15(!) to get an eBook, because they are in that much of a hurry to find out what happens next, and are willing to pay a premium to get it first (I actually earned out my advance for Monster Hunter Nemesis off of eARC sales alone).

Now if you’re self-publishing and trying to decide how to price your book, it is simpler. You don’t have a bunch of lawyers involved, and you don’t have all that G&A and Overhead. Lots of self-published folks go 99 cents, others do the $2.99 to maximize the royalty percentage. Same principle. You’ve got your market and your demand curve, and you’re going to price accordingly. You need to figure out the price that maximizes your return. Whatever you set it at, somebody is going to come along and say it is wrong. ONE STAR!

This all boils down to a question of entertainment dollar value to the customer. If you want it now, and you really like this particular brand, you’ll realize that you spent more than that on your burger combo at lunch today and buy the book. If that isn’t worth your entertainment dollar value, then you won’t purchase.

In pricing, nobody is “taking advantage of you” unless you are stuck in a monopolistic situation. Ruth’s Chris costs more than Sizzler, but Ruth’s Chris isn’t taking advantage of you, they are pricing according to their brand and their product to maximize their position in the marketplace. If they price too high, then they will not make a profit, and will have to adjust or lose market share. Which is kind of funny, because in this tortured analogy, I’m actually priced more like Sizzler, and you just gave a one star review to Sizzler, because I’m not priced like McDonalds.

Accountant Hat off, Writer Hat on… Back to this kind of one star review, it is utterly pointless. You aren’t educating anybody. The only person you’re harming is the author. Because nobody in the world is going to say your review was helpful, nobody is ever going to read it. So all you did was lower the overall average stars, which primarily damages the author’s standing. A review that says “I’m too cheap to buy this ONE STAR!” is the same as “It sounds like this baby killer likes guns ONE STAR!” or “I bet he listens to Fox News ONE STAR!”

“What a rip off! It turns out Moby Dick is about whales! Whales are fat and stupid and so is Herman Melville! ONE STAR!”

Ignorant reviewers… You aren’t helping.

Frankly, it is kind of insulting. Me? I’m fine being insulted. I consider it blog fodder. A. I get called the worst things in the world daily, so I’ve got rhino hide. B. I’ve sold a ton of books so I know you’re full of crap. But put yourself in the shoes of some new author at a publishing house and think about how they feel when you post reviews like that. It’s like you’re telling them that the eight hours* of entertainment they provided was worth less than the price of a hamburger.

And I’m not even talking a very good hamburger.

The value of a book isn’t the paper. The value is the entertainment you get from the book. If you get books because you like having shelves and shelves of books (nothing wrong with that by the way, you should see my office) great, but why the hell did you buy an eReader anyway? Authors love being told that the entertainment they provide isn’t worth a buck an hour, usually from people who have no problem drinking a $6 Coke and eating $4 nachos while watching a 90 minute movie that cost $8 to get into.

Stars are to rate the product, not to announce to the world you don’t understand how capitalism works. If you’re too cheap to buy it, just don’t buy it! If you read it and it is good, give it stars! If you read it, and you thought it was bad, give it less stars. It’s that simple.



*Oh, and shut up, speed readers. That’s right. I said eight hours. Deal with it. Nobody cares that you read 6,000 WPM like some sort of freaky robot person. Most people read for fun at 200 WPM and most books are 100k words. I swear, I’ve never in my life mentioned that it takes hours to read a novel without some self-righteous speed reader chiming in the comments about how brilliant they are and how they read a novel every fifteen minutes. Goody for you. Those of us who’ve known the touch of a woman don’t care you read fast.



My next novel release, Into the Wild
Left Wing Bias in Publishing: Your Wrongthink Will Be Punished!

362 thoughts on “One Star Reviews Over Book Prices are Dumb.”

  1. You tell ’em sir. I can speed read, but I prefer to go slow. Then I re-read because contrary to what people say, yes, I can find little tidbits the Author (s) left hinting at future events.

    1. I can speed read too, and my wife makes me look slow.

      But one time we had this dude pop up in a discussion like this, and got all snooty because he’d read Monster Hunter in less than an hour. Uh huh… That’s 200k words. It was so dumb I had to look up the world record, and this anonymous internet dude crushed it. 😀

        1. hey i can tear up a ruths chris steak in a minute and a half… but they tend to kick me out when i do it. (the fact that I enjoy getting kicked out of snooty places is beside the point)

    2. I *can’t* slow down my speed reading. Which is good, where fiction is concerned, because I can reread most books over and over again (if they’re good) and find new bits I missed.

      It’s a bit of a nightmare where things like, oh, textbooks are concerned, though. Studying becomes absolutely hellish because I *know* I missed stuff…

      Audiobooks, though–I love those. I get the whole book the first time! 😀

      (Seriously, though, the above mini-rant about speed readers made me laugh, so hard. Sounds just like my brain twin when she notices how fast I went through a book…)

      1. That’s because you then start calling me demanding I read faster so you can discuss it with me. And if I don’t read it fast enough you start slipping up and dropping spoilers all over the place, damn you!

      2. It took me years to slow down my reading speed. In college, I’d kill a novel a day in between studying and work (if it was a good novel). I know I missed stuff- my speed reading was about one to three words, fill in with context, jot down outline style for quick reference before the test. Not for fun reading, for class- though I did find pages of drunken ramblings that look suspiciously like outline notes from the Cleric Quintet when I was cleaning out my college stuff the other day. Horrible practice for some jobs I’ve taken since, but live and learn.

        A trick to slowing down is reading out loud. At least it was for me. It takes a *lot* longer to speak it than to skim it at lightening speed. Once I’d been doing that a while, my reading speed slowed down to saner levels.

        1. My last few years of college, I *did* read out loud (for fun) to a group of friends (Pratchett’s stuff, mostly, but we also did the bulk of the Vorkosigan saga). And it did help, a bit. 🙂

          Now that I’ve started up classes again (well. one class.) in something pretty alien to me (programming), I’m revisiting the joys of textbook reading, blech. However, repetition also helps: I may have to read the chapter two or three (or four) times, but it will eventually sink in and I get most of the information. Still sucks, though.

    3. Personally, I enjoy the book far more when I’m reading quickly. As the words on the page blur by I’m not paying attention to the mechanics of reading and enjoying the story (along with the fast paced movie/audio playing in my head)

      reading fast makes a lot of reading far more enjoyable, but it is hard on my wallet 🙂

      1. This. I like reading out loud to people, but I’m always amazed at how tiring it is compared to when I’m reading on my own. It’s the difference between being consumed by the book completely, and just *reading* the book, I think. But I often wish I could be consumed by the book/absorbed into its world while reading just a bit more slowly. That way, I’d start the withdrawal tremors a little later, and run out of reading material with less frequency…I think. But eventually I just decide I’m glad I can read *period* because I don’t think I’d ever get the hang of Braille. And yeah (@SaratheRed) if the textbook was interesting (particularly history or science) I’d often find myself not doing the homework, because I got distracted and just kept reading til I finished! Not exactly the most efficient studying method.

        1. That reminds me of this discussion I had once in high school:

          History teacher: you don’t have to study that yet, we’re nowhere near that section.

          Me: I’m just reading it for fun. *is near end of textbook*

          History teacher: Oh, okay, *laugh* carry on.

          Repeat conversation with biology teacher later on.

          1. There were some classes (such as History) where I had the book read before the class started. Despite being a fairly high speed reader, I never had problems with retention, either.

            Used to have the same problem with fiction, too (if it was good). Went through about 600-700 pages a day, even rereading. Now I have an opposite one – trying to be an author, I slow down to analyze, especially the obviously good parts. (There is no way that the first chapter of MHI should take three friggin’ hours…).

      2. It’s always hard on the wallet, but oh so gooooood.

        And unlike a number of other vices, you can reread again and again with no additional cost except for time (well ) spent.

      1. Trump’s easy to explain: Boehner, McConnell, McCain, Romney, Dole, Specter, Scorfezza, Bloomburg, both Bushes plus Jeb, Michael Steele, Paul Ryan…
        …The Bush AWB, Common Core, Amnesty, Porkulus, more Amnesty, backing Democrats against Tea Party challengers, Amnesty again, hey-guys-how-about-UNOFFICIAL-Amnesty!…
        It’s impossible to explain that someone isn’t ‘conservative enough’ or a ‘real republican’ when the Home Team has spent the past whole generation redefining those terms downwards into oblivion. It’s entirely possible to convince your core voters you simply have no interest in them or their welfare. Trump is the RNC’s self-inflicted wound.

        1. And it’s particularly frustrating for those of us who support Cruz. “Hey, look! A guy who’s fought EVERYONE about those issues!”

          When you describe Trump as a self-inflicted wound, it’s even worse than that: It’s watching a Party commit seppuku, especially when the Establishment are so against someone like Cruz, they are willing to support someone like Trump…

    1. I have a few friends who are Bernie supporters. One of them likes to make the comment regularly that he supports Bernie because leaving health care in the hands of [insurance] companies whose job it is to not pay people is a bad approach, and Bernie will push for more socialized medicine. I’m not an economist or accountant like Larry, but it hurts my brain to hear those sorts of statements.

      1. Bernie claims to be a socialist, just remind them of the National Socialist Workers Party and its leader a guy by the name of Adolf Hitler.

        1. Now now… He’s a “Democratic Socialist”, so it’s more like the German Democratic Republic, or the People’s Democratic Republic of . Totes different.

          1. He was unwise enough to describe himself as a nationalist socialist. Thus, it is fair to ask if he supports a T4 style healthcare cost savings program, wars of conquest and looting, or the wholesale slaughter of American opponents of his regime,

  2. If you’re going to complain about ebook pricing, Baen shouldn’t be the object of your ire. Their pricing is much more reasonable than a lot of other houses out there.

    1. Like I said, in a world with Ruth’s Chris prices, I’m Sizzler, getting yelled at for not having McDonald’s value meal prices. 🙂

          1. That reminds me of the bit I just heard from the Gravity Falls character Soos musing philosophy…

            “If you accidentally eat the toy that comes in your cereal, does that make you the ‘Specially Marked Box’?”

      1. I disagree with that completely, Larry.

        I say you’re Ruth’s Chris at Sizzler prices. There’s a difference. 😀

          1. We ate at a Sizzlers (which is without the s at the end) down under for the novelty of it. Then some time ago we went to Outback Steak House, which served Australian-style steaks in American size servings. om nom nom nom.

      2. Yep. I have absolutely no problem with paying Sizzler prices for what is at LEAST Texas Roadhouse food.

        I reserve my ire for people demanding Ruth’s Chris prices for Joe’s Eatery food (which establishment only remains in business with lavish bribes to the town health inspector).

    2. That was my thoughts. It is less than the other available options. Yeah, maybe it means that others will buy a different book first but that is always an option. I’ve always looked at pricing for ebooks as sorta similar to paperback. Once paperbacks are out I’d prefer it be less (or if books are only in paperback), but both fulfill the same purpose of pocket reading material.

      As for the pricing point for indy its another common complaint. It is too easy to get onto the idea of length as a example of quality or price. While with only a few suppliers it is relatively ‘easy’ to find a price point (For example, Most major films will be close in price, regardless of whether its 90 min or 150) with indy I’d expect it’s gonna be a bit tougher.

  3. Your books (and a few others) I intentionally slow down my reading speed to make the spell last longer. Sometimes to the point that I could read it aloud faster. I /like/ this kind of writing.

  4. Seriously? Over a $7.99 Kindle price? I could see people complaining about $14.99 for an ebook (I’ve done that myself on occasion), but $7.99 (anything in the $9.99 or below range, IMHO) is a perfectly reasonable ebook price. Not that any price justifies a 1-star review. Once again, that sense of entitlement strikes again. Ridiculous.

    And as a self-publisher, I think too many indie writers devalue their work needlessly, giving books away for free or permanently listing them at $0.99, which doesn’t help because it spoils readers who think words magically appear on their mobile device screens without any costs involved. Amazon recommends a price range between $2.99-5.99 for a full-length indie novel, which I think is reasonable. I only list books at $0.99 for temporary promotional periods or for short stories (I can’t in good conscience ask for $2.99 for something that took me a week or two to write).

    1. “I think too many indie writers devalue their work needlessly, giving books away for free or permanently listing them at $0.99, which doesn’t help because it spoils readers who think words magically appear on their mobile device screens without any costs involved. ”

      I’ve noticed this exact same problem, and I think it’s far more widespread than most people realize. Way too many consumers think that it’s as easy to create the product as it is for them to consume it … and that’s not a trend that’s going to do any writers and good.

      1. Permanently listing the first book in the series at under $3 is a good idea, because if I’m browsing through the recommendations I don’t mind experimenting at that price with someone I’ve never seen before. I know several people like me.

        1. I like the Baen model for established authors with substantial series: The First One is Free. I’ve used that to get a number of folks hooked on Monster Hunter and other Baen titles and then laughed evilly as they promptly went out and bought the author’s entire backlist ; )

    2. I only list books at $0.99 for temporary promotional periods or for short stories (I can’t in good conscience ask for $2.99 for something that took me a week or two to write).

      That’s pretty much what I do as well. Short fiction gets $.99, novels go for more depending on various factors and at various times.

      1. I like this policy. I love the short stories as well, but if they’re that short, I want to pay the short price. No objection at all to the regular 2.99 or more for a full novel.

    3. $.99 for short stories (12-15k words), $1.99 for the first of the series, $3.99 for novels, since I tend to write comparatively short books (that being between 70-100K words). I’m probably pricing the books low, but I’m not a name with brand recognition yet.

    4. Its just like apps for your phone. Software used to cost money to own, now in the race to the bottom everybody wants it free. It takes a lot of effort to write an app. Its hard to make money doing it. It takes both skill in developing as well as luck in getting to the customers. You can’t make money when it cost more to get a customer then you are asking for the product. And people wonder why developers write their games so that you have to pay them money in the game to win.

      Sorry for the rant.

      I find books cheep entertainment! I just wish there was a good way to get author signings on eBooks 😉

      1. I thought about that, and it’s either they sign your kindle, or you go the old fashioned autograph book route.

        I kinda like the latter. You don’t lose the signatures when you upgrade the device.

      2. What irritates me is when I do pay for the app, and I still have to make in game purchases to unlock the full game or to win. That feels less like necessity and more like ripping me off.

        1. I feel the same way when I try a $3 book only to find that it’s just the first third of the book, and I need to pay another $6 to get the next two thirds if I want to know what happens, because the book just sort of stopped.

        2. Yeah, I hate that too. But the 12 Gauge Siaga Larry forced me to buy in-kindle really is pretty sweet.

          With the conditions involved in monster hunting, I’d really expect to see a LOT more AK-47’s, especially in the hands of the Ex-military.

    5. its not just indie writers that undervalue their work. its indie creators in general. check out etsy prices sometime. while there’s always a few shops that dare to set prices as high as they should be, mixed with shops that are basically Chinese import re-sellers… most people sell their crafts at barely above the cost of materials. forget labor and other overhead costs, and nevermind actual profit. it makes it that much harder for someone who actualy wants to make a living and has to start SOMEWHERE to break in, given the prices that they have to compete with.

      but… that is the world we live in and if one were to work within free market economy, one figures out a way to make profit. its just… I wish people didn’t make it so difficult for everyone, but especially themselves.

    6. As one who has purchased/read almost all of the books you have out (Warp Marines will be soon I swear!) I really like this policy.

  5. I certainly agree with the premise. Runs along the lines of those people who give out 1 star reviews because their product was damaged in the mail.

    OTOH, though, I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive to believe that Big Publishing is slitting it’s own throat by reinstating agency pricing on ebooks – just that reviews aren’t the place for that debate.

    Case in point: For SotBS, I own the eARC, the hard cover, the Kindle ebook, and the Audible edition. That was worth it to me, even if it was pricey. However, I’ve also cut out a number of other Big Publishing books that might have been worth $6.99 or less for an ebook, but aren’t worth $15 for one to me. I don’t see “forcing” Amazon to increase their profit margin on ebooks to somewhat prop up the hardcover sales as a viable long term strategy. Guess we’ll see.

      1. This. So much this. If I decide a Kindle book (or any other product) is priced at more than I’m willing to pay, then I don’t buy it. Simple as that. I don’t get all butthurt in the reviews section.

    1. Shipping damage is also something you can complain about directly to Amazon – because they care about something that is completely within their control to fix.

      Doing it on a review is useless; unless there is some public outcry, nobody at Amazon is ever to going to see it or do anything about it.

  6. Personally, I would have paid the $21.46 for a paperback copy on the release date. I’m running out of room on my bookshelf.

    1. Embrace ebooks, my friend. My shelves are so crammed I’ve been trying to sell some of my less-read and less-loved books back to used bookstores.

      1. ^ This, exactly. I’ve been ruthlessly purging my dead-tree books. If I don’t love it enough to track down a hardcover copy and/or it’s not available (or available at a decent price–ie, not the same price as a hardcover) in ebook form, they are by and large getting sold in a garage sale. For the first time ever, I’m looking at actually…having leftover bookshelf space…

      2. I’ve considered it, but I spend all day at work on a computer. When I relax, I’d rather read from a physical book.

        I will have to do some book culling soon, or buy a 2nd bookshelf (likely both).

        To each their own.

        1. I’m buying more bookshelves. I like artbooks in physical form, and like you, reading a physical book is how I disconnect and relax.

        2. Second bookshelf? *Second*??

          Not long ago, we decided to escape California. With 40 years’ worth of stuff, including (hmm…carry the six…) about a dozen stuffed full-height bookcases to pack up, we decided to pass on lots of dead-tree books to deserving homes. And libraries. And used bookstores. And neighbors. Acquaintances. Passersby. Ahem.

          Yay for ebooks!

          Now we have a new, not yet finished inside (job security for this retired person) home on 80 acres of woods adjacent to a small river outside our kitchen window.

          And only a couple hundred pounds of books that somehow stowed away on the trip to store somewhere here.

          1. We moved forty boxes of books from California to New Hampshire and are still trying to get enough bookshelves to unpack them. The two six foot high, three foot wide shelves we bought (and the eight foot long, three foot high one) got filled up with *new* purchases in the last eight years. The two Kindles and the old Sony Reader have another several dozen books on each of them. *sigh* I love books, but I have little time to read until I retire (in May! Yay!)

      3. Ebooks are definitely your friend. My kindle currently has thousands on it (more than I could possibly read in my lifetime, tho I damn well will give it a try!), and I rarely go anywhere without it. As much as I would love to have a floor-to-ceiling library at my casa-de-chaos, it just isn’t practical. Hence, having it all in an easy to carry small device has been almost a godsend.

        Tho it is kind of hard to get your favorite author to sign an ebook. 🙁

  7. “Those of us who’ve known the touch of a woman…”


    True Evil(tm) reads novels in their entirety between women. (Preferably sandwiched.)

  8. Now, there are some books where the e-version price is just bizarre. Like this one (Fighting by Minutes, by Robert Leonhard):
    $130 is damn steep, even for a book that’s out of print in dead-tree version and has a limited audience (mainly field grade military officer types).
    But I didn’t give it a 1-star review. I sent an email to the publisher saying “This book is great, I read a library copy, and I’d gladly pay $x.xx for a ebook version”

    1. There you have touched on one of my great frustrations. I’d like to buy a number of history books but they’re priced too high ($30+ or more, for ebook versions, without exchange rates raping my wallet; or worse, pounds for the currency.)

      1. Agreed. Now, I do have an eye on an edition of Sun Tzu at $70.00. But it is a real book, archive quality paper, crushed silk cover…

  9. I feel your pain Larry. This weekend I got involved in a discussion with someone online who was complaining that my books were too expensive for his tastes, and if I wanted him to read them I’d better drop the price (and the closer to free, the better). I say discussion, but it was really more of a “lead a horse to water situation.” They held a number of insane beliefs, including that the “proper” cost for an ebook should be roughly 10% of a hardback, and that they should only have to pay for each word they actually read. When I replied with a discussion of the costs and production of books and how the point of an artist selling something is to give them enough money to continue creating in something, he responded with, and I quote:

    “In any case, that’s a Marxist analysis that has nothing to do with real markets or ‘sustainable business models’.”

    Yeah. Explained capitalism, got called a marxist.

    The problem (and I had a discussion about this at LTUE, and am going to suggest it as a panel topic for next year) is that ebooks have introduced a real disconnect with the audience. Too many people have the mistaken concept that something is as easy to create and distribute as it is for them to acquire and consume. It’s a mentality of “Downloading this took all of seconds, and reading it only a day, so therefore it was just as easy to create as it was for me to consume.”

    Worse, ebooks right now really are driving for the lowest of the “low” prices, as you pointed out (and I put “low” in quotes because that’s only actually true part of the time, the other half simple appears to be low), which creates a market belief among consumers that I don’t see being helpful. Similar to how BiC was forced to raise the prices on their pens due to consumer belief being that as cheap as they were they were low quality, shoddy products despite that not being true, I don’t believe ebooks are benefiting from this “$.99 or $2.99 at the most” mentality. Instead, I think that constant push on all authors to drop their prices that low is damaging.

    Case in point: I had another author go after one of my books for being $7.99. He argued that no ebook ever should be priced over $5.99, and that I should price my books at a lower value, like his, in order to sell.

    Except I looked: He was selling much shorter books at the cost of $2.99 and $3.99, where it took three or so of them to equal my one $7.99. Even on the low end, getting a comparable amount of reading would have cost me $9 from him … but he insisted that his work was cheaper.

    Now obviously there’s the question of quality, etc. Yes, I get that. But my point is that the whole comparison the author made to his own work was hypocritical given he was complaining about high costs.

    Anyway, I think book prices right now really aren’t understood by a lot of people, most of all the consumer. And I think book publishers, self-pubs, and authors alike need to start making a concerted effort to inform the consumer and help educate them, or we’re only going to get more comments like the one I got this weekend calling capitalism marxism. And that’s going to hurt ebooks, authors, and publishers alike. The ebook market needs to take some advice from other e-markets and start settling on some common areas, rather than constantly boomeranging around like a toddler on Red Bull, and it needs to make a case for those common areas that the public can understand.

    1. Which brings up that most people today don’t understand the difference between Marxism, Capitalism, Crony Capitalism, Communism, Nazi-ism (National Socialism), or Socialism. Nor do they understand the advantages and disadvantages.

      I occasionally get called a Nazi, which utterly confuses me because I’m more like a Libertarian (nearly, but not quite, an Anarcho-Capitalist).

        1. Really, I didn’t say anything ABOUT National Socialism.

          As far as “at least it’s an ethos”. So what. Pastafarianism is an “ethos”, but you don’t see me running around with a colander on my head.

      1. I occasionally get called a Nazi, which utterly confuses me because I’m more like a Libertarian (nearly, but not quite, an Anarcho-Capitalist).

        It’s because communists and socialists have managed to utterly confuse the majority of the populace about just what fascism and Nazism actually were. Instead of “socialism-lite with nationalism and/or racism”, they think it was basically what is actually called a corporatocracy, aka crony capitalism.

        1. Which is still confusing since “Small government, staying out of the way” is a far cry from “Government actively engaged in protecting corporate interests”

          But then again, that was my point anyway. The populace is largely ignorant of political and economic theory.

      2. Just remember what P J O’Rourke said in “Give War a Chance:”

        I have often been called a Nazi and, although it is unfair, I don’t let it bother me. I don’t let it bother me for one simple reason. No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.

    2. I agree with you. Sadly, a lot of people devalue how much effort goes into creating a work of art, which is why those people can justify pirating so easily.

      I also agree with your points on the race-to-the-bottom pricing approach with self-published books. Other than certain situations (sales, giving away the first book of a series in order to pull people in, etc), I always find myself questioning how good a $0.99 book can really be. That’s not fair to the author, but I can’t help it. It’s just like what you said about BIC pens.

    3. Well, I know for myself, with a fairly cramped budget, ebooks are not competing with new print books. They’re competing with *used* print books. I suspect this is more widespread than the big sellers realise.

      1. Your shelving them with used books rather than new books is one reason why I think it would be good practice for ebooks to depreciate much in a manner similar to some other digital markets, for example, Steam. An ebook comes out at a price just below paperback (so around $8). When the next book by that author comes out, or after a few years, drop the price a bit. Then drop it again with the next one. Either leave it or drop it once more with the next. That way, the price does go down after a period so that it does balance down towards “old and used” prices, and better yet,

        This is the model I’ve begun following. After a few releases, an older book that several years old will be half or so what it was when it launched, but by then its 2 years old anyway.

      2. Got distracted and hit post on an incomplete post! Whoops!

        As I meant to say, and better yet, timing price drops of old books around new releases boosts old sales and lets buyers know roughly when they can expect something to drop.

  10. I about choked on my own spit at your last comment! Hahahahaha!
    This blog post provided me about 20 mins of entertainment for FREE! 5 STARS!

    1. 1) It cost you 20 minutes of time, plus whatever time it took to find it, or realize that Larry is a good source of entertainment. Though the last cost is offset by whatever prior entertainment Larry has provided. 2) This serves as a loss leader for Larry. Whatever he doesn’t extract via paywall he more than makes up for in advertising.

  11. My reading speed is relatively comparable to Owen’s reload speed. Course, in this analogy, I’ve dropped most of the ammo in the dirt.

  12. One-star reviews over book condition or shipping issues are equally dumb. This reply is the only really good one I have ever seen an author make to a review but that is because it isn’t a review of the book but of the price.

    On the other topic, I can read very fast and I do so when reading some non-fiction. When reading a novel, especially a good one, I slow down and enjoy the ride.

    1. I do sorta disagree on shipping issues if the shipper is on the site where you are starring. You are reviewing the service of the site at which you are leaving a review. Just make certain that there is sufficient information to break out what the negative was. It would be better if the product and supplier ratings were separate though (e.g. got part in 2 days but was a lemon get a 5 star supplier vs 1 star product)

    2. My best ever response to a book review was this when this one dude went off about what a horrible writer I was, and how I was trash, and how if you wanted to read a good urban fantasy book, you needed to read Jim Butcher. Because he was a *real* author!

      Luckily, the day before he posted that Jim Butcher had read one of my books and posted a glowing review, so my entire response was “Jim Butcher disagrees with you” and a link. 🙂

      1. Could I have that link? I’m giggling just thinking about it, but having that to link to would be so much fun…plus I’m curious about Mr. Butcher’s perspective…not that I’m a fan or anything… 😛

        1. It was on FB long, long ago, so no. Best part was Best Orcs Ever. 🙂

          I know Jim now, and he’s my cover blurb for SotBS.

  13. Not that I’m endorsing these, but what’s your take on the folks who one-star over ebook rights issues? Thinking specifically about the ratings on the last one or two Robert Jordan books when Brandon Sanderson wrapped them up or the mirage of the good David Eddings books on US ebook sites (releasing for a while, then yanked). I remember right when AMoL came out, maybe after 3 days the reviews were almost evenly split between 5 and 1 star reviews, and none of the 1 star people disliked the book. They were just pissed that the ebook was withheld for a few months.

    1. I think those people are ridiculous clowns. Reviews are supposed to be about the book, not whatever their personal beef is.

    2. “I want this product so bad that I’m angry enough to give a one star review because it’s not in my hands.”

      I believe that’s called “greed”.

  14. On a related topic, I think people shouldn’t give one star to products just because they don’t want to buy from scalpers. Nintendo has this problem where it releases limited edition items that are super-hard for normal people to get, so the only way to buy them is from scalpers/resellers at huge markups. And I totally understand people being upset about that. But it drives me nuts when people one-star those products and then use their review to tell people not to buy from scalpers. Like I said in one of my reviews for such a product, if I want an item enough to pay $40 even though its retail price is $13, and I’m okay with that, I don’t need some concern troll telling me not to make that purchase. And if I’m considering buying an item, I want to know about the quality of the item, not just read complaints about how it’s so expensive.

    Also, re: speed readers — Ever since I figured out that speed reading is not actually a superpower but really just skimming, people who speed read novels kinda piss me off. It’s one thing if you start a novel and think it sucks so you kinda skim to see what happens. But “skim for plot points” should not be your go-to way to read a novel. That doesn’t qualify as reading a novel. Stop calling that “reading”. It’s skimming. It doesn’t make you special. It just makes you a jackass.

    1. I can see the one star for products because of artificial scarcity. Like Larry said wrt books, the one you are effecting with the one star is the author, or in the Nintendo case, the company that made that is producing and selling the product (Not that I do this personally, I usually don’t bother rating something at all unless I REALLY LOVE it). Although I can also see your point of view.

      As for speed reading. I read pretty fast (not quite speed reading speed) and I would love to slow down and enjoy more, but quite often I can’t get myself to do so (especially with Larry’s books, but also a few other authors). I REALLY can’t wait to see what’s next. With my favorite books, I generally re-read them after the first rush through to enjoy the finer points that I missed, and lately, I’ve done the Amazon “add narration” thing and then go back and go through again.

      Oh, and I just finished listening to Swords of Exodus and WHAAAAA!!!! I WANT THE NEXT ONE!!!!

      ok… calm down… It should be out soon…..

      1. I have to read fast too. Otherwise I always end up at 3AM with 3 chapters to go and the alarm set for 6AM to go to work.

        1. Yeah, I read fast, and actually read, not skim. There just isn’t enough time in my day and lately reading has become something of a luxury, so I’ll read and eat at the same time – whether it’s at the computer or at a physical page.

    2. I bought some used DVDs from Amazon, and they had separate feedback for the DVDs and the seller (HPB of Columbus, OH). I made a point of reviewing the product fairly, then commenting in the seller feedback “Excellent shipping and product quality, but the next time you sell a DVD for $12+ online, you might want to remove the “HPB $0.99 CLEARANCE” stickers off the cases before you ship them….” and docked them from 5 stars down to 4 stars, because otherwise their service was great. It’s just that these were DVDs 5 & 6 of a set of 9, and I’d paid $10 for a set of DVDs 1-3 5 years ago, and $12 for the #7-9 set 4 months ago. I’m still trying to fight against artificial scarcity stupidity to acquire sets 5, 7 and 8 for a series that retailed for $30-40, and once it went OOP and sold off in clearance sales for far less than that, can now only be found for $150-200 a set.

    3. Umm…I don’t know about anyone else, but I read pretty fast, and I retain what I read. I don’t “skim for plot points” and call it reading or any other nonsense like that. It’s just my default leisure reading speed is fairly rapid, though there are certainly people who read much faster than I. Maybe it’s just a lingering irritation at teachers telling me (when I was in elementary/middle/high school) “there’s no way you absorbed that material that quickly! Stop skimming and actually read the assignment/book/etc!” but people who say that reading fast=skimming really tend to piss me off. You don’t know how I, or any other fast reader, absorbs information/how we retain what we read, so pretending that you do, and saying that we/they must not be “actually” reading…and saying that that makes us/them “jackass(es)” Makes you (imo) look like a real jackass. People who act like reading fast makes them special somehow…well, they piss me off too. But that doesn’t mean everyone who reads fast is a jackass like those folks. I’ll step off the soapbox/ranting platform now, heh…

      1. One of my teachers (the biology teacher mentioned in a previous comment) put out essay-answer questions to weed out whether or not we’d absorbed the material. It shut up all the people bitching about my speed of reading and information retention because I’d invariably finish the tests so quickly I’d have ten minutes to spare, so I’d ask if I could leave the room and read. Since the tests were either teacher graded, or your paper was checked by someone else in the room x/y and I’d get most of the answers right…

        It stopped the people who were pretending to read, or had paid someone else to do things like research essays for them.

        1. More than once in college, and subsequent work based training courses, I’d take a test and finish well before the rest of the class. The funny thing is I’d also find myself in the top 10% of the grades as well after doing so. Some of us just think faster, and don’t spend a lot of time second guessing our answers.

          1. I had the very annoying habit of dozing in some classes, then waking up, answering the “gotcha” question the instructor had just thrown my way, then slumping down again, blissfully asleep.

            (Yes, true story. My then future wife witnessed it, and the aftermath in World History – apparently about five minutes of dead silence…)

            People are different – and in different ways, depending on the material. My daughter’s fiance has a real reading disability – but he can whiz through an MHI novel nearly as fast as I do (faster, these days, see above). So far as I can tell, he gets just as much out of it, too.

          2. I don’t consider myself a fast reader by any means, but I have found that if I did my homework, I would generally do very well on the tests as well.

            The idea of studying, to some extent, is foreign to me. I generally did lousy when I had to sit down an memorize things (10th grade vocabulary, 9th grade geography comes to mind); the only tests I’ve seriously studied for were prelims for my doctorate in mathematics…and even then, I passed one without studying (albeit, that was a fluke…)

          3. (Incidentally, my inability to read fast drives me nuts. There’s so much to read, and my time is extremely limited…)

    4. It’s also rather jackass-ish to assume that all speed readers are skimmers.
      Some people just read FAST. Every single word, just much faster than average.
      It doesn’t make us special, it just makes us fast at reading.
      There’s probably something you’re much faster at than I am. However, I’m not going to sit here hissing sour grapes and calling you a jackass because I’ve convinced myself the only way you can do it faster than me is by cutting corners. I’m going to congratulate you on being fast at that skill.
      If we were all the same and did things at exactly the same level of competence, the world would be a very boring place. That’s something to celebrate, not be bitter about.

      1. Heh… Which is funny, since I read at 800 wpm and my wife at 1000, so it isn’t that I don’t like fast readers, I’m just sick of listening to people bitch about how they’re special when I set some arbitrary number of entertainment hours. But oh, hey, look where we wound up anyway. 😀

        1. You cite an average (or possibly a median) time. About all you can do.

          Now, it took me three weeks to slog through the Leckie, to give it a proper vote in the Hugos. Not a single enjoyable hour (60 or so, I think). Negative value, there.

  15. “and finally keeping the wings from falling off of A-10s”

    1) That is awesome.
    2) How did I not know this?
    3) Why is this not part of the blurb?!?

    Webscriptions are great, except if you’re buying the monthly bundle every month you aren’t getting a ‘discount’. You are for that particular month … but when it comes out in paperback you’re buying a second copy. Of an epub. And then the epub of the … leather edition. And this is ignoring the eARCs.

    Back on point:
    4) ONE STAR for failure to -sufficiently- report/brag about having anything to do with the GAU-8 transporter.

    1. One of my last company’s contracts was on the A-10 Wing Replacement program at Hill AFB. I was G&A (ha! see what I did there!) so I was tangentially involved with a slew of different contracts, mostly Air Force and Army.

    2. “The gun so awesome, they put wings on it!”

      Though they’re airfoil-shaped, the “wings” are really just an accessory mounting platform. Bombs, rockets, tactical lasers, cupholders, that sort of thing.

  16. FWIW, I personally thought that the SotBS ebook was priced reasonably well. It was close to the higher end of the range of what I’d expect, but still doable. If it was priced any higher than that, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. But I did buy it, and I enjoyed it a lot, so, I guess… hoorray for market research ?

  17. “..and finally keeping the wings from falling off of A-10s”
    I just knew that somehow, somewhere, Larry was connected to epic BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRT.

    1. LOL… I still remember the first time I heard that. Those A-10s are pretty quiet so with all the other stuff going on at the time I didn’t even notice it was there, then it was like GOD farted.

      I was going through some urban combat training and didn’t even know there was a aircraft range in the area. To this day, I still think the Marines should have picked up the A-10, although I understand the arguments against that.

      1. And bombs and missiles.

        Truth be told, the gun is great against lightly armored vehicles. But despite the hype about the gun, the Mavericks are needed for anything with real armor.

        1. Heretiiiiic! Burn the heretic! Buuuuurn! 😛 Seriously, the A-10 is a beautiful, beautiful piece of machinery. Ohhh…so damn purty.

          1. Dude, you need new eyes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan, but the A-10 is called Warthog for a reason. 🙂

          2. You take that back! 😛 Seriously though, I really do think the A-10 is a beautiful machine. It’s not as “sleek” as some, maybe, but it’s (imo) a gorgeous example of form following function. Plus, what other plane *farts* whilst it lays waste to your enemies? God’s flatulence, ‘s what that is. 😀

  18. Fun fact: That guy’s review was written on a device which is valuable because of how charge or magnetic fields can be arranged in some internal storage medium. The same device absent the proper arrangement has the same mineral worth and zero actual worth.

    I work in software. It honestly amazes me how many *software engineers* do not understand they create no mineral wealth but insist on evaluating wealth in terms of pies or whining about what a drug costs per pill.

  19. I love the blog posts, but……. I’m going to have to ask you to please focus on the next MHI, or SOBS or anything thing else! You write it and I’ll buy it! eBook because it takes forever for the Audible version to come out, paperback in case the SHTF and I need reading material or TP, and finally Audible because I’ll listen to it several times waiting patiently for the next one to come out!

  20. A quibble – unless something has really changed in the last couple of years, Amazon’s dedication to profit is lower than that of many other companies. For the first decade or so, it was dubbed ‘’ because the bottom line was so lousy. (I await correction clarification.)

    Also – if a $2 lottery ticket is buying me ten minutes of delighted day-dreaming about where I’d spend all that dough, then a decent paperback is cheap at twice the price.

    1. Hell, I already know what I’ll buy if I ever get 10-30 million AUD. I just need the dosh to land on my lap. For giggles, I’ll occasionally buy a $1 scratchie and let my kids scratch the thing. I’ll sometimes win $2-$10.

      But yeah, it’s fun to daydream too =)

  21. Ugh. People like Mr. Cheap-@$$ One Star really grind my gears.

    I only have one ebook out at the moment a self-published short story/novella. I priced it at $0.99 because I really could not in good conscience expect people to pay any more than that for a story that will take them an hour or two to read, especially since I’m a brand-new author. Seems reasonable, right? Yeah, not to this one @$$clown I got into an internet discussion with. One of those preaches-with-his-nose-in-the-air types who proclaimed that he wouldn’t pay money for anything that took him x amount of time to read. The guy actually posted an honest-to-Gravy spreadsheet that laid out the maximum price that he decreed authors should charge for a given story length. And IIRC, he measured by time, not word length. I wasn’t the only one who told him to get a life.

    As for speed reading, I’ve slowed down some, but at my peak I could plow through two or three novels per month. And that was with schoolwork and homework. I can still read through one of your novels in about 6 hours or so. Unfortunately that 6 hours is usually 9 PM – 3 AM. And always when I need to go into work early that morning. So curse you for that! 😉

    And forgive an ignorant Liberal Arts major, but what is G&A? I know you’re not talking about the gun rag.

    1. It’s the 7th paragraph of the post, after the italics. G&A is General & Administrative costs.

      Too bad it’s not Guns & Ammo though. It’d make budget meetings a lot more interesting. 🙂

  22. $7.99 for an e-book and it only takes eight hours to read?! What a rip!

    (And I have too known the touch of a woman. But I had to chase the last one two blocks to get my watch and wallet back.

  23. I once complained about an eBook price on Amazon but I did it in the associated Forum, not in a review where I had to rate the book. That was for Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson which they were asking $17.99 for. I understand the economics and they have a right to sell it for whatever they want. I also have a right to bitch about it but I did not make the mistake of effecting the rating of the book while doing so.

    If I wanted to be entertained by Larry but did not want to purchase his books I could just read his blog. 🙂 However, I think I do have all your books.

  24. Two items:

    First, I remember the good old days when every Baen e-book (except the EARCs) was $4 to $6 regardless of whether it was in hardcover or paperback. But the thing is, Baen had to change their pricing structure to ink this deal with Amazon in order to give their authors a lot more sales exposure. Sure, it means paying a couple more bucks but: more exposure = better sales = authors write more books.

    Second, speed-reading a Larry Correia novel kinda sounds kinda like pureeing a perfect cut of steak and chugging it in one gulp, or slamming a glass of fine sipping whiskey. Sure, you get through it nice and fast and finish before everyone else, but you’re kinda missing out on a lot of the extra flavor and nuance that you only get when you take the time to savor it.

    1. I can’t just pick up an MHI novel and “savor it,” at least not the first time through. Maybe on subsequent readings, but the first time I gotta find out what happens next…

  25. Unless it’s something intensely visual, like a book of maps or photography, the ebook is worth MORE to me than either a paperback OR a hardback. (And I’m speaking as someone with over 6000 physical books in my home.)

    Because, with ebooks, EVERY book is a large-print book. And as my aging eyeballs deteriorate, that’s worth a lot.

    1. My dad had a stroke a few years ago. It turned out that reading was incredibly helpful during his ongoing recovery. His eyesight was poor, but using an e-reader has allowed him to read almost back up to his pre-stroke voracious pace.

  26. I don’t speed read. If I could it would make homework much less taxing for me. When you are 40 and going back to school you need any little edge you can get. Regardless of my inability to speed read, I wish I could have asked you for help with my Econ and Accounting classes the last couple of years! It is important for people to understand that there is no magic in creating items. I sell hand made crochet and knitted items as well as patterns that I design. Often I am told my prices are ridiculous because I take into account my time, the time and money I have to pay my testers and proof-readers and everything that goes into making a quality product. Today’s consumer is living in a Wal-Mart world, and they are Wal-Mart girls.

  27. As silly as it is to try to “fight the man” with nothing more than a piece of your mind in stead of all of your wallet, at least this guy’s review is better than that clown that “reviewed” your first several books on Amazon that gave a damn near page by page synopsis of the book he was reviewing. That clown was posting “reviews” that seemed to go on for 10k words plus.

    1. Oh, I hated those so much. All those reveals, twists, little nuanced bits, fuck it, shove those right into the review in the most ham fisted way possible. 🙂

  28. Amazon wants 1 star reviews over price. They are pressuring publishers to lower prices. Amazon wants people to use amazon and kindle for everything. Remember when amazon removed the buy button from McMillan? They may do that Baen some day. Cause its business and Jeff Bezos is a dick. Amazon is setting themselves up as customer advocates. Who just wants to save you money. If amazon didnt want this to happen they would break out ratings by confirmed purchases and non confirmed ones. As a consumer, I value reviews from people who read the book over ones who dont.

    This doesnt really hurt someone like Larry because he gets enough real reviews where it doesnt matter. Its authors that may get 25 reviews who really get hurt.

    On a side note… When memory of light came out it did not come out in ebook at first. There are 100s of one star reviews over it with comments from people saying they will pirate the book because of this.

    If amazon did not want this they would only show ratings inline from confirmed purchases. Jeff Bezos has shown that being a dick and shitting on people can make you rich.

    1. Actually, Bezos wants to make as much money as he can even off things he hates. You would not believe the amount of gun parts and paraphernalia that move though the Amazon Fulfillment Centers.

      Now the little PC Nazi dweebs that make up his IT & Customer Service departments absolutely love 1 stars on anything non-PC. Even if you find a 1 star review that violates their review rules and outright lies about the product, when you flag it, their response will be something to the effect of “we want our reviewers to feel safe expressing their HONEST opinions”. The emphasis on HONEST is mine, but the wording actually came from the Amazon customer service. The review flagged contained outright lies that were provable, but the product was not some that fit into the Politically Correct spectrum.

      1. I figured that was in part Amazon compromising with the big five. Rumor has it that the big five were pressuring Amazon towards insanely high ebook prices even then. I suspect this last go round of negotiations, Amazon caved to the big five because Amazon knew the indy ebook suppliers were enough to take up the slack.

        1. Amazon didn’t give, so much as they handed the Big 5 a petard and said “Here ya go.”

          And the Big 5 are obliging them.

    2. Actually, the whole “agency pricing” thing did not involve the publishers offering or Amazon pushing for the publishers to lower their price. What the publishers wanted and Amazon resisted was Amazon being unable to reduce Amazon’s part of the price.

      That’s right. The publishers wanted Amazon to make more per unit and Amazon resisted it.

      The reason Amazon was willing to discount ebooks AT ITS OWN COST is that its data showed that a $10 ebook they made $2 off was more profitable than a $15 they made $7 (hypothetical numbers; IIRC, the actual sweet spot was a bit lower than even that). Why? Volume.

      The publishers sort of got their way in the end by Amazon demanding – and getting – a lower price from them, giving Amazon even larger per unit revenues. That’s why this isn’t sustainable: you can’t pay your main retailer to inflate the price of an item, increase their income, and reduce your own – especially when your main retailer is rapidly becoming your main competition.

    3. ” Remember when amazon removed the buy button from McMillan?”

      You mean when negotiations between Amazon and Macmillan broke down and Amazon therefore no longer had the rights to sell Macmillan books?

      What was Amazon supposed to do in that situation? Keep a non-functioning “buy button”? Please be specific.

  29. I used to get those pre-release reviewer copies from Del Rey for a while. They were for free though. Then, I ripped up one side and down the other of a David Eddings book I thought he did a worse than usual Deus Ex Mahcina on, and they never offered me the chance to review a pre-release book again. I guess the whole point of their program was that you were supposed to gush all over the authors and not give an honest review.

  30. I’ve never really understood the “your ebook is too expensive” complaint, especially at launch. Usually the ebook price is significantly lower than the hardcover price, and if you were going to wait for the paperback anyway, that’s still going to be available, AND as you point out, the ebook price will go down when the paperback comes out.

    For an example, take the last couple of Laundry Files books; The Annihilation Score is $24ish in hardcover and $13 on Kindle, whereas The Rhesus Chart is $8 in both paperback and Kindle. If you waited a year you’d get the $8 book either way, but if you didn’t you could pay only $5 more for having the book *then* instead of in a year, and you can re-read it a couple of times during that year.

    *Maybe* if the ebook is the same price as the hardcover…but I haven’t seen that happen, and I’m at the point where I’m running out of room for books, and I’d rather have room for RPG books than hardcover novels.

  31. This guy just baffles me. The paperback isn’t out yet! His whole point is completely moot. Even if it were, though, if he’s expecting self-publishing prices from a bestselling novelist, and Hugo award nominee, he’s smoking crack. Self-publishing is great, and I’ve read many fantastic books from self-published authors, but like you said, the business model is a totally different horde of space hamsters.

    The only place where I can kind of understand his argument is when eBooks are MORE expensive than paperbacks (which he does mention, so he must have been going off of the $9.99 price that the eBook used to be). Even if that book doesn’t cost much to print, I’d still like to have some of that savings passed on to me.

    Luckily, though, whenever that happens, I found a super secret way to get around it….just buy the cheaper one!

  32. Non-writer question: what does it mean that you “earned out [your] advance”? I’ve seen similar wording elsewhere and can guess at the meaning, but would like to know for sure.

    1. You get an advance against royalties up front. Let’s make the math easy. Say your advance is $10k. So when you sign your contract, they give you 10k.

      Let’s say when the book comes out the cover price is $10, and you get 10% (again, just to make the math easy) so you would have a $1 royalty per book.

      However, since you got 10k up front, you need to sell 10,000 copies to “earn out”, then every book after that you are getting another $1.

  33. Was Son of The Black Sword released as an e-book at $7.99? I would have sworn that it was $12.99 or more. I didn’t leave a bad review because of it, but I did get the audible version instead since it was cheaper (I’m a platinum member).
    I did the same thing for Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass ($13.99 for e-book).

  34. I’m giving this blog post a 1-star rating because the American political system is broken, global warming, and North Korean nukes. Non Sequitur Forever!!!

  35. Those of us who’ve known the touch of a woman don’t care you read fast.

    That has got to be the best line in the whole thing.

    1. I have to admit, I said out loud, “But what if I’m the woman in the couple and I’m the fast reader?” *touches face*

      1. You may flip it to knowing the touch of a man… Or other non-binary gender human contact of your choice, because it is not my place to lord my cismale gendernormative fascism over others! 😀

  36. This reminds me of the folks who stamp their feet and shout about conspiracy theories because gas prices don’t track linearly with oil prices. I always ask them the same question: If the oil was free, would the gas be free? Doesn’t help ’cause you can’t fix stupid.

    1. ” I always ask them the same question: If the oil was free, would the gas be free?”

      It’s a measure of how far my trust in the American public has gone down that I fear many people would hear that question and answer, “Of course!”

      1. I knew a guy a few years back who was convinced that tap water should be free, since it’s naturally occurring and necessary for human survival.

        I didn’t have the heart to tell him ( or he didn’t have the head to hear, w/e) that you don’t pay the water department for water, you pay it for filtering, treatment, storage, pipe maintenance, and the electricity to pump it out of the wells and into the water towers.

        1. Yup – even if the oil was “free”, someone has to pay for storage, transport, storage, refining, transport, additives, etc., etc. One thing the low oil prices are doing is highlighting taxation.

          …and free oil? Terrifying. Free oil = death of the oil industry = societal collapse regardless of what the alternative energy mafia says.

          1. Kind of like how free wood =/= free furniture. There’s still a lot of assembly required between “bunch of log” and “bedroom set”.

        2. I had a guy driving a taxi berate me on why Filipinos tended to drink soft drinks instead of good, clean healthy water, and fruit juices.

          “Because water that’s fit to drink and fruit juice are expensive. Cholera from water or cola, hmm, most people pick Coke.”

          Taxi guy: “Why not have the government fix it?”

          “Because the government is corrupt and is more interested in lining its’ pockets than helping the people.”

          Taxi guy: Why haven’t you revolted against them?

          Me: We’ve done that twice, and it hasn’t really done any permanent good. Also, guns are expensive and we don’t have guns unless you’re rich, Rich people who can afford guns also can afford running water AND bottled drinking water.”

          Taxi guy: They should tax the sugar industry higher then!

          “Oh, you mean make everything more expensive and the big sugar industries are owned by families who also are in politics? How is that supposed to help the poor people who can’t get potable water, even in the city, and can only afford soda as a drinking source?”

          Taxi guy: *no answer*

          That’s not even taking into account the (daily low-power earthquakes that regularly damage piping. I’m not joking about the price of water vs cola too. Bottled water costs at least twice as much as the cheapest cold bottled soft drink on the street (It used to be RC Cola, but it’s been some years.)

  37. I priced the Kindle editions of my books at a lower price than SotBS, but I’m an unknown. SotBS is written by this guy with a solid rep for good work.

    I can talk about the costs of producing that ebook that “costs the publishing company NOTHING to create in comparison to hardback.” BS. Formatting alone; ebooks require as much formatting as hardbacks, but it’s _different_, so you have to format twice (and a third time for the paperback). You can probably use the same artwork for both, but again the formats (including file type, size, and resolution) differ, so your graphics guy has to rework the cover art (and again for the PB, since it lacks flaps, and the publisher will probably add some review blurbs from the earlier releases to the PB).

  38. Obviously he didn’t review David Drake’s “Air and Darkness”, which at $12.99 is even MORE expensive then Son of Black Sword.

  39. I just picked up David Weber’s new Hell’s Gate novel – “The Road to Hell” for $9.99 Kindle price (as opposed to $27 for the hardcover). I suppose your nameless critic would also think THE RENT IS JUS’ TOO DAMN HIGH!!!1! for that book as well . . . Sigh.

    Now Tor, on the other hand, has some ridiculously high prices for some of their e-books, but even the $12.99 I paid for Weber’s latest Safehold on Kindle wasn’t too bad compared to the hardcover price. Which is all the money those (censoreds) got from me last year, because they’re evil puppykickers and I don’t feel like supporting Scalzi’s stupid-huge contract, but whatever (ahem). 😉

    That said: I’ve also picked up lots of good works on Kindle by indie authors at $0.99 – 4.99 a pop – Chris Nuttall and C.J. Carrella, among others, come to mind – so I find it hard to complain when I spend $8-$10 bucks to get the occasional something by an established star in the field like Larry or Weber.

    1. I’m still waiting for the one before that (Safehold) to come down to what I’m willing to pay.:) Love that “The price was set by the publisher” comment.

      1. Ditto. I’ve happily bought all of David Weber’s books in ebook form… as long as those ebooks were put out (and priced) by Baen. The Safehold series, I’ve been buying from thrift stores if and when I find one. Result: Weber hasn’t gotten a dime from me for that series, sadly. But happily, neither has Tor.

  40. Hey now, there are plenty of places where you can get a damn good hamburger for 8 bucks. Not homemade level, but still pretty damn good.

  41. If you get books because you like having shelves and shelves of books (nothing wrong with that by the way, you should see my office) great


  42. I go the Audible route because it suits my average of walking around for about 2 hours everyday, which I’m assuming has a bunch of other production costs.

    1. See? Now that is just sleazy. Get enough people doing that to newer authors to lower their average, and you can really screw up their careers. That’s not right.

      1. I noticed something strange – when he reviewed MHI just under a year ago, he griped about the price a little, but it didn’t stop him giving the book five stars:

        So, what I want to know is, what changed between then and now? Or, for that matter, between then and when he wrote the review that KRF found less than five months later? Why did this go from a minor quibble to THE BIGGEST INJUSTICE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND?

        1. He probably read a blog from a self-publishing evangelist about how it is the only way to go, and then stayed in a Holiday Inn Express.

    2. I think to be fair, with this one he has a point. It’s a short story of 49 pages being sold for $4, and judging from the review the author hadn’t quite made that clear but marketed it as a book. This is one of those cases of a “cheap” ebook that really isn’t.

  43. Of course I think that paying paper back prices for an ebook is outrageous and overpriced. $0.99 is as much as I would ever pay!

    Now that I have made the obligatory ‘hagglers opening bid’, ah, Larry, any chance I can get my fix of eArc of the Grunge variety anytime soon? I got my $15 here… If you can get it for me today I could slip you another $20 on the down-low.

    You got to understand, we are not talking entertainment here, we are talking a freaking monkey-on-my-back NEED!

  44. I can see a one star for content (really bad writing that appears only after reading the free sample; bait-n-switch that appears deliberate, not just bad signalling by the cover and blurb) or for badly made stuff. But really.

    OK, I might do a one-star on price if I paid top-dollar for [famous author I used to love] and got poorly edited, bloated, typo-laden, no-trope-left-unabused text. Otherwise no. Just no.

  45. Yes, I can read quickly … but I don’t read novels quickly for the same reasons I eat chocolate in little tiny bites; I want to savor the flavor.

    Which is also the reason why I don’t give a damn how much the kindle edition costs … I buy the hardback as soon as it comes out. I love the feel of books, and although I do have a lot of paperbacks (I don’t always discover a writer early enough in his career to catch hardback versions), there are authors that I pre-purchase hardbound versions of his NEXT book as soon as it is announced.

    I have banker boxes of books, and I like hardbound because when I drag them out to re-read them, they still feel and smell like new, unlike paperbacks. And I do reread books, usually every 4 or five years. Even the stinkers, which sometimes are better after they have ‘aged’. (If not, I trade ’em in and get 10% of my money back from my local used book store … and I go looking for a new author.)

    Reason I’m saying all this is that I think you over-reacted to Mr. Cheap-Seats. I understand why you did, and I value your opinion and all that but …. how many hardcovers do you sell in the first 3 months of publication?

    Sometimes when I find a new author I go back and read his early works, and for me it’s just wonderful that the cost of each book is less than the original/new publication price.

    I know, it would be better for you if I bought it when first published (if it’s your book), but I’m happy and you’re just glad somebody is still buying the book. Right?

    So for your blog fodder thingie, it’s your blog and you get to run it any way you want to. But when you get all hissy fit, you kind of undermine your moral high ground.

    Just saying. You had your say, I had mine, and I’m not going to stop reading your books merely because we disagree on how you choose to respond to a reviewer who says he is STILL buying your books but is looking for a cheaper price.

    1. A hissy fit? That was a lesson in the fundamentals of cost accounting.

      Look, when people are wrong, letting them be wrong to protect their feelings isn’t doing them any favors, because they’re going to continue to go through life being wrong. I’d rather tell the truth than be nice.

      1. Letting someone go on thinking they have the right of it when they’ve not got the first clue ain’t nice, either. I’d rather get one good chewing out for a screwup than screw up *again* because nobody explained to me what I did wrong (because they thought they were being “nice”).

      2. A 1 star is a big F-You when it gets factored in on your review score. It hurts because it takes a lot to overcome its impact.

        Considering that from what I have seen, Baen’s ebook versions are consistently cheaper than the other big brick & mortar scifi houses, I’m not sure why this guy is throwing such a fit. The price is actually reasonably when coming from a normal publisher.

        However, there are times when I do not think bitching about price is wrong. Take a look at the reviews for this guy. Personally, I will never touch his books because of his pricing as an indie author, and I actually find the genre entertaining, because I’m a long time MMO gamer from the early days when EQ was the big boy on the block.

        He has more reviews like this scattered like this throughout his books, but he just doesn’t get the clue that he is losing out on potentially a lot of customers, because of the $2.99 for less than 100 pages an installment.

  46. You’re absolutely right (of course) about the purpose of reviews, and about ebook pricing for fiction.

    What really pisses me off, though, is scientific publishing (Springer I AM LOOKING AT YOU) where _the authors do NOT get paid_ (or get paid bubkes) and the ebook quality is – at this time – _lower_ than print (due to lower resolution, inadequate index support, inadequate zoom/pan support for graphics, and inadequate layout support for putting charts/tables on the same page as the text) yet the ebook costs the same as OR MORE than the already hideously expensive paper copy.

    (Since this comment is not appropriate for reviews I’m taking the liberty of putting it here.)

  47. Totally worth the read for the last paragraph alone. Was reading along going “yup, good point. . .ohhh, nicely explained – you tell ’em, Mr Correia” Then the last line I just popped out a loud laugh and scared my dog. Good times.

  48. I don’t consider myself a speed reader. but it still takes me less then 8 hours to finish a book. (ok so its like 5-6 on average, but its still couple of hours shorter then 8 😛 ) its part of the reason why books on tape don’t work for me. they slow down the story so much that I start having trouble with focusing on it.

    that said… still more hours of entertainment than a movie theater, so your point still stands. just nitpicking 😛

  49. Gotta concur with the speed reading thing, I got up to the 900-1000 WPM range way back when I was doing the exercises for it, but that’s for blowing through paperwork, there’s no time to think about what you just read. No time to form a good mental image, enjoy the wonderful settings and characters and moments being laid out for you. Speed reading is for work, or study, period. It focuses entirely on comprehension at the direct expense of personal reflection. Who the hell speed reads a novel? That’s like just blowing through the Wikipedia plot synopsis on movies you haven’t seen, and claiming it’s better somehow because it took less time than watching them.

  50. I agree for the most part Larry: don’t like the price, don’t buy, the entertainment value is high for the price, and reviews are not the place to argue about price.

    However, as an avid ebook reader, I do feel like a large portion of the publishing industry just still does not understand ebooks and the people who read them. Not only are there often formatting issues (i.e., hardcoded font sizes), but they treat them like a consumable to be used by one person. Amazon has a lending program, but it’s up to the publisher to enable it, and many don’t. It’s up to the publisher whether they want to be DRM-free, and many don’t.

    The value in the ebook is often the slightly lower price, the customization (e.g., enlarge the font), and importantly for me, the portability. The negatives are that I can’t really lend it (even if enabled, the other person has to have a Kindle and they can only borrow it once for two weeks maximum), and I can’t resell it.

    Those last two items are enough in my mind, as a consumer, to expect that the ebook price will be cheaper than the hard copy and sometimes significantly so, purely as a comparison. If you’re a person who either likes to lend books or who likes to resell later, these are two shortcomings that devalue the ebook to a consumer, and yet publishers seem to rarely recognize.

    People like that don’t like seeing the price of the ebook “subsidize” the price of the hard copy, and it may be enough to cause them to either wait to buy, or just not buy at all.

    But yes, the reviews are not the place to complain about it. And Baen is one of the better publishing companies regarding ebooks, I respect a lot of what they do.

    1. “However, as an avid ebook reader, I do feel like a large portion of the publishing industry just still does not understand ebooks and the people who read them.”

      Absolutely, but that kind of thing is self-punishing.

  51. I’m still not sure why eBooks cant be more creatively priced.
    Something like if it is currently $10 for the whole book offer it as $2 for the first 1/2 – 3/4 and then $9 for the rest. All the ‘good’ authors get more and customers don’t end up paying out so much for something not as good as you hoped and you only finish because you paid for it.
    Almost how Baen get you sucked in with about the first 25% for free!

  52. I’ll continue to dock a book in the review because of its price. It probably will only be a star or two but so be it.

    Why? Well, as a reader I only have power over an author in two ways. One, to buy the book or not, and two, to rate and rank the book thus potentially affecting others decision to buy or not. If iv’e already spent my money on a book than I am reduced to option two. My down-vote is the only way to let the author know of my frustration with his choice to choose a publisher who prices books too high compared to the perceived value of the book. I’ve mostly switched to buying books by self publishers due to the high prices extorted by the traditional publisher. If I can help persuade authors to switch to self publishing then we both win. I win by getting a book cheaper and the author wins by increased sales and percentage of that sale, which even if priced lower has been proven to return more money to the self published author. (See Author Earnings).

    Again, its my only option as a reader and I choose to use it.

    1. No. Actually you aren’t helping anybody with anything.

      So many misconceptions, so little time… Here goes.

      If you got everybody to switch over to self publishing, all you are doing is causing more competition in one market. That isn’t a win for all of the less known brands who are now competing at the same price points against the thousands of big established brand name authors you just dumped into head to head competition. So basically if you got what you wanted you just destroyed the cash flow of thousands of newer aspiring writers and drove them out of business. Congratulations. I’m glad that was worth the price of a soda.

      And in traditional publishing, the vast majorities of writers don’t “choose” their publisher. They shop their product until they find a buyer. Since it is a long, hyper competitive process, with over 99% failure rate, most of us are happy to get a contract period.

      And if you are under some delusion that self publishing is all roses and sunshine, you’re smoking crack. Self publishing is even more competitive, and yes, you get to keep a larger percentage of the royalties, but you are also the editor, marketing department, proof reader, and sales force. Yay. Trust me, been there, done that. And keeping 75% instead of 20% is awesome and all, until you realize that for most self published authors you’re on your own, competing against a couple hundred thousand people JUST LIKE YOU in a really saturated market.

      There are success stories in self pub (I’m one of them, I’m friends with a bunch of others) but it is hard work.

      And frankly, that isn’t your decision to make on behalf of authors.

      You want to quibble over a buck or two, fantastic. But don’t think your preconceived notions of how a business runs, is how the business actually runs.

      1. I wish it was a buck or two. Just the other day I bought a couple of E-books. Two were by self publishers and were priced at 4.99 and 5.99. The third was Kevin Hernes latest… 14.99 for the ebook! I enjoyed all three equally but only the higher priced one makes me grit my teeth and question the value of what I purchased. Hes series, like Monster Hunter is one I was hooked on before I discovered the joy of finding good books for half or less and sadly, once those legacy series are done I’ll probably overlook anything new from those authors as its not worth the risk.

        Recently I’ve read to authors each trumpeting their side of the self published versed traditional published argument.

        ML Brennan earns out…

        and Eliot Kay ways in…

        It was shocking to see how much better the self publisher did even after hiring out editing and cover work. And… even after double the profit, the books were half the price for I the reader.

        Dismiss my quibble as you will but I’ve been burned too many times by overpriced books which ended up sucking the big one and I’ll fight what I see as too aggressive pricing the only ways I can… avoiding the author or dinging the reviews.

        1. Uh… Dude. What a couple of authors make is pretty much irrelevant, because by that same token I just used my royalties to purchase a mountain. Literally.

          Now, Hearne’s book is $14.99. Mine is $6.99. The self-pubbed you are happy with is $5.99… So I’m within a buck of the self-pubbed book, but I’m getting one star. Okay then.

          Now, on Hearne, see that big article I wrote using only simple words so even Bernie supporters could understand it? See that bit about publishers guessing? In his case what is happening is that their guess is that they’re trying not to undercut their print book market. My publisher didn’t go that route. Different guess. Which one of us guessed right? Don’t know, as I said, we don’t show our competitors our P&Ls.

          But hey, you read a blog once. Go you.

          1. Hey! you found my post from yesterday! Again… I have never posted a 1 star review nor defended them. Read my OP.

            I read many blogs. I follow around 4-5 dozen self published authors. Does that make me an expert. no. I never said I was. But… I am stating what I see these authors write about their success.

            One thing that is true. I love success stories. Self publishers are a big success story. That combined with the savings I as a reader get is why I waste the time spreading word of their books, success and the changes in the industry. Also, combined with the screwing the reader is getting from the Big publishers with agency pricing and price collusion is why I hate this side of the industry. Thus, the activism.

          2. And I’m telling you your activism is misguided. Just let authors author. It isn’t your place to force them into what you think is best for them.

            And that is coming from a dude who has pissed off lots of people in traditional publishing, who likes self-publishing, so when I’m telling you that, maybe you might want to back off and see that your activism is misguided.

          3. Your granting me more power than I actually wield and your OP grants the 1 star reviews far more power then they would have earned also. how am I not letting the author’s author? If an author does not like the feedback, well, not everything is the fault of a stupid customer.

            Sales will dictate what happens but the thrill I get when finding a great series of books at a price point far below what the big five sell them for fuels my activism. If its misguided, well, isn’t most activism?

          4. I’m not granting you shit. Internet debate is a spectator sport. I’m never under any delusion of swaying the decided. I spent time writing this blog post to sway the undecided and give ammo to my side. It’s the same reason I take the time to debate with people in the comments. Once the post sinks down the page it is no longer worth my time.

            I don’t know about misguided activism. My activism has mostly been stuff like arming teachers to prevent school shootings or showing the world the political bias in publishing. I don’t waste my time posting pointless reviews to dick up some poor author’s career.

            Here’s the thing. You have zip power over a guy who gets a couple hundred reviews out the gate. The author who gets four reviews out the gate however? Guys like you and Mr. One Star are damaging to them. You’re lowering their average and costing them customers. That’s a dick move. The fact that it is also pointless just rubs it in even more.

          5. This is interesting because these beginners your defending are usually pricing their works low enough to not generate the bitch reviews in the first place.

        2. You bought a book for $15 out of your own free will, you read it and you enjoyed it. And then you complain about it?

    2. “power over an author”

      Implicit in this is the assumption that the author, whom you are docking, has any say in the pricing of the book.

      Except in the case of self-pub, they don’t.

      You’re harming the author for nothing.

      1. I’m trying to convince the author to choose to self publish in the future. Thus saving my money and making him or her more. My only way of doing this is by either not buying trad published books or by dinging those I do buy.

        1. I’m trying to convince the author to choose to self publish in the future.

          Thus making more work for the author and/or increasing the author’s expenses so that you can get a cheaper book?

          Editing, good editing anyway, isn’t free, neither is cover design. Formatting and layout take time and effort that the writer could instead be using to write.

          Some folk thrive in that environment, others not. If they don’t, do you think your little “ding” is going to make up for it? If they do, do you think they need your “ding” to “encourage” them?

          Pointless little exercise that doesn’t accomplish anything.

          1. Most of the authors I follow who self publish outsource their editing and cover work. I hang out over at where the majority of comments are from self publishers. Many have had traditional published books in the past and really like self publishing now. I do too as my cost as a reader are so much less.

            My little “Ding” might do absolutely nothing… but, its all I have. The best way will succeed in the future. We will see.

          2. Have you considered writing your author a letter making a reasonable case for moving over to self publishing? The one star review over price smacks of a juvenile pettiness.

          3. If you are addressing my comment, then I said I ding a star or possibly two due to price. I’ve never written a one star review.

            and two… write a letter to whom> The author? some are hard to find email addresses to. I submit that the review ding is a great way to get the authors attention as illustrated by this thread by the author himself. He noticed it and he noticed these comments. Goal accomplished. Also… the review ding and the review comment are read by potentially like minded readers like me thus magnifying the effect. There are plenty of us review price dingers out there as this type of gripe by the author is not uncommon. They get the message and if the sales bit is severe enough they might decided to reduce the cost of their product.

          4. No. Did you miss that whole thing where I explained how cost accounting, supply and demand, and Amazon contracts work? They aren’t going to get your message.

            Yes. I noticed it. The only thing I’m griping about is how sad it is that Americans no longer understand basic econ.

          5. “I submit that the review ding is a great way to get the authors attention as illustrated by this thread by the author himself. He noticed it and he noticed these comments. Goal accomplished.”

            I think that was more of an own goal.

          6. Oh, it is extremely petty.

            For me? I sell enough books and have enough fans that I’m going to get enough regular reviews to average out the stupid one star protest votes. However, for an author who is starting out, who is only going to get a dozen or twenty reviews, those stupid protest votes really harm them. When a buyer is skimming down the page and sees something averaging 3 stars, they’re not even going to slow down to check it out.

            So way to go, jerks. Screw over those new guys for something beyond their control. That’ll show them.

            Oh, and demanding trad pub authors go indy is stupid for a couple of reasons. A. Because you know fuck all about their business and you’re telling them how to do it. B. It would dump a bunch of established big names into another competitive market, where the new guys only competitive weapon is price. C. It puts all your eggs in one basket, hoping for the continued benevolence of a single mega corporation. Yay.

            So really, if your hobby is haranguing professionals about how they’re doing their job wrong, and you know jack shit about their job, you probably need to find a new hobby.

          7. I would submit that those “Just Starting Out” authors are in the majority going to be self publishing and thus will already be lower priced.

            Chris Nuttall sums it up perfectly.


            His comment about how Amazon reviews are the only real thing driving his success is spot on. Its also the reader reviews, not the professional reviews which have the most impact.

          8. The only thing you’re demonstrating here is your willingness to actively sabotage another person’s success for your own selfish desires over a process and a situation you don’t fully understand.

            I get the desire to save money. I get the fact that you read something on a blog somewhere. And that’s the problem – you’re easy to get. The sad thing is, you don’t even seem to realize just how much of a jackass you look like. You’re ignoring substantive comments – including from the host who happens to be highly successful, widely-read author – and you can only respond with variations of the same childish rationale you began with.

            In fact, you didn’t even bother responding to the resident expert, so why should anyone take your opinion seriously?

          9. I responded to the host yesterday and my response was deleted or is still in moderation. I want the author to succeed. I stand by my statement that more money can be made by the author in many cases if he or she elects to self publish. I provided links in my post to the author which maybe he took offence to. Regardless… the market will dictate and this post proves that my “message” is being heard.

          10. I don’t delete posts unless they are spam or death threats. Anything from a first time poster or with a link automatically goes to moderation. I only go through my blog comments once a day to approve stuff.

          11. Yes. We will see. Because that’s what markets are for. Markets always determine what is most efficient, and different markets will shake out in different ways. What you are trying to do is force your ill informed opinion on the market to shape it to your whims.

            And I love self publishing. I think it is great. That’s how I started. I’m friend with guys who are making six figures self publishing. The part you are glossing over is the hundreds of thousands of self pubbed books who don’t sell, and your goal is to dump me and other guys who are making mid six figures traditional into that market, to completely fuck over all those new guys even harder, so you can save a buck.

            Me personally, I’m going to let the market decide, and then I’m going to laugh at people who think their one star reviews trump market economics.

          12. That is exactly right. Let the markets decide!

            I would submit that the hundreds of thousands of self published authors who don’t sell are the equivalent to those authors of the past whose works never make it out of the slush pile.

            So… the net successes will still be the same but the responsibility of sifting the slush pile falls to the readers instead of a publisher.

          13. But your one star price protest review isn’t letting the market decide. It is arbitrarily punishing authors who don’t have enough reviews to average it out and depriving them of customers. If you let the market decide, you wouldn’t be trying to force authors into your predetermined path. They would pick their own based upon their own self interest. Customers would shop and purchase based upon their what they’re willing to purchase. Fair market value is what people are willing to pay for something. One bitchy cheapskate doesn’t get to determine that for the rest of the market.

        2. What gives you the right to tell other people how they should conduct their business? Especially since from all your other comments it is pretty obvious that you don’t have a clue how any of this stuff works, or how challenging it can be to actually make a good living self-pubbed.

          What do you do for a living, CB? So that way we can all post ridiculous negative reviews about it to try and force you to make your living some other arbitrary way. Come on. This will be fun.

          1. I am telling nobody nothing. I am simply stating that I enjoy and support lower priced equivalent books. One way of stating that is by commenting on the price in a book review. I think this is valid as how good a book is includes its value and the price helps set the value. I have never posted what I thought was a ridiculous book review. I’ve reviewed them on their merits and concluded whether I thought a book was worth the price charged. Sometimes I recommend other potential readers wait a bit till the price drops.

            One example from my “lost” response yesterday was Kevin Hearne’s new book. It’s Ebook is priced at $13.99. The book, to me, is one of the weaker books in the series. My review combined that thought plus the inflated agency priced cost. I am not the only reviewer upset on that case.

          2. It isn’t lost. You posted a link. WordPress automatically puts those in moderation. I only look at these blog comments once a day. I responded to your point there.

            You are telling nobody nothing? Oh, no. Go back and reread what you’ve posted here repeatedly. You’re trying to swing authors into the career path that you’ve decided is better for them. You’ve said so several times. (which is also why I don’t let people go back and edit their comments) 🙂

            You have been a wonderful example of Motte and Bailey defense though. Thank you for that. (I get to read these in the moderation panel, so I get to see them posted in chronological order as opposed to being in subthreads, so it reads even better) The topic was one star price protest reviews of stuff they haven’t even read, but you retreated to the much more defensible knock the book down in the reviews because the entertainment to cost ratio was low.

            Fantastic. Now we’re in agreement and you can quit preaching about the obvious joys of self-publishing to the guy who has done self-publishing.

          3. You have confused the issue so much I don’t know if its possible to respond.

            My OP was to defend my practice if dinging a book review for its price. As I said, its the only way I have of letting an author and hopefully by extension, the publisher know I don’t consider the book worth the price after I’ve already bought the book. My goal of including the ding is to maybe get the author, if the publisher won’t lower the price, to consider a cheaper route. To most today, this is to self publish.

            Books which I read and which are by self publishing authors are most often much cheaper then by traditional publishers. i will support this method as it saves me money. From what I have read… the self published authors are happy with the income they are getting.

            Thats about it.

      1. The author has the control of whether to shop his book to a publisher or to self publish. If its the latter then I pay much less for his or her work. This might even net him or her more money as is proven by Author Earnings and hundreds of testimonials by the authors themselves. My ding is my message to that author to think hard next time. If he or she chooses to continue with a route that could cost me the reader twice or more then he or she has to realize that my money might go elsewhere.

          1. I want a good book as cheap as possible. From what I read this even benefits the author. If the book is worth paying twice or more for then I will review it highly. If the book is equal to what I can get elsewhere for half the price then something is out of wack. If that makes me a narcissistic asshole then I think you have met far too few narcissistic assholes in your life. 🙂

          2. No insisting that an author cheat herself or himself of money does not benefit the author in anyway shape or form. It is as noted a fools argument by one ignorant of how economics and money works.

          3. As proven by author earnings. the author ends up making more money by increased sales when the E books are priced lower. I am not insisting… I am hoping that authors will realize this.

            Besides, I don’t have to know the economics… the author does. More and more are finding out just how bad a deal they have been getting by the traditional publisher. Especially the traditional publishers who pushed for agency pricing in their latest contracts and who are causing a drop in sales for that Author.

            My main point is if comparable books are available… books A and B and book B is twice the price… why is it wrong for me to hope and grip that Author B switches to Author A’s cheaper method. Author B will most times even make more money. Its basic business… there is a much more streamlined option available now and some authors are finding great success. Do I as a reader who only reads Ebooks care if a publisher has to raise the price of an Ebook to make his sales of Hardcover sales increase? no. I think it sucks. I’d prefer that the cost be lower like the dozens of other Authors who offer similar books of equal quality.

          4. There is nothing wrong with purchasing the equivalent product for less. That is how business works. However, that isn’t what you opened with. You just pulled a Motte and Bailey defense. You were defending the absurdity of one star price protest reviews, and when beaten on it retreated to the much more reasonable market will decide. So duh.

          5. no I was not! My original post says nothing about a 1 star review. As I said I only ding a review down one star… maybe a 5 to a 4. One star reviews are useless (like most 5 star reviews are for opposite reasons). I defended my process of including a ding for the price of the book along with the review of the substance.

          6. Let’s check:
            “I’ll continue to dock a book in the review because of its price. It probably will only be a star or two but so be it.”
            – Okay, fair enough. You only partially screw authors for something totally beyond their control, and not all the way like the subject of this post was about. It gets confusing when there are a couple hundred comments to read in the morning. But let’s look through the rest of that first post that turned you into a pinata. You’re not the one star guy, you’re just the guy telling other people they’re doing their jobs wrong, because even though you don’t understand much about their job, you read a blog post about their job once.

            “Why? Well, as a reader I only have power over an author in two ways. One, to buy the book or not, and two, to rate and rank the book thus potentially affecting others decision to buy or not.”
            -This is true.

            “If iv’e already spent my money on a book than I am reduced to option two.”
            – Or you could just do like the guy this post was about and dishonestly review it anyway. Since that was the topic of the post you were replying to.

            “My down-vote is the only way to let the author know of my frustration with his choice to choose a publisher who prices books too high compared to the perceived value of the book.”

            – This is ridiculous. I’ve already explained why. Short version, in a business with a 99% + rejection rate, most authors don’t get to “choose” their publisher. They are selling a product. The publisher is a buyer. They enter into a business agreement. Most authors have zero say over the price of their ebook.

            And again, “perceived value” is up to you to decide FOR YOURSELF. You don’t get to decide for the whole market. That’s how BMW and KIA can both exist.

            “I’ve mostly switched to buying books by self publishers due to the high prices extorted by the traditional publisher.”
            -Good for you. You. Singular.

            “If I can help persuade authors to switch to self publishing then we both win.”
            – You don’t know that. You aren’t them. Where do you get off telling other people how they’re doing it wrong? I’ve been successful at both self and trad, and I’m smart enough to know it isn’t my place to tell anybody else they’re doing it wrong.

            And I’ve also gone through now no, you don’t both necessarily win. Self pub isn’t for everyone. Trad isn’t for everyone. And I’ve also gone through how if you got your way, guys like me with established brands at the same price are going to beat out the unestablished folks at the same price, and harm them.

            Damn dude. Just let different markets exist!

            “I win by getting a book cheaper and the author wins by increased sales and percentage of that sale,”
            – That’s a heck of a gamble for you to take on somebody else’s career! How considerate and brave of you.

            ” which even if priced lower has been proven to return more money to the self published author. (See Author Earnings).”

            – Again, you read a blog. People who do this for a living are like, nope. Maybe you should take that as a clue that you don’t know as much about the topic as you think you do.

          7. “And again, “perceived value” is up to you to decide FOR YOURSELF. You don’t get to decide for the whole market. That’s how BMW and KIA can both exist.” – This is the heart of the matter. I have no problem paying more for a BMW if there is BMW value in the product. What I object to… and thus reflect in my reviews… is paying BMW prices and getting a KIA.

            If I had bought a Cadillac Cimmaron I’d have dinged its review too! Trade Publishing is trying to push Cimmarons.

          8. This market deciding thing just kind of eludes you, doesn’t it?

            Here’s the thing, if a bunch of people are willing to pay for something, it is worth that. (that is one of the ways accountants establish Fair Market Value) If you personally are too cheap to pay that, then you’re not the target market. So despite your mangling of the car analogy, if it is profitable for the publisher to sell that product at that price point, they will do so.

          9. I don’t get why you think I am saying that. I am exactly saying that the market will decide this. Sales of Ebooks are down by the bigger publishers because of pricing. They are up for the indies. The market is deciding. People will prefer the lesser price for the same items. This is common sense. This is what I am saying.

            I think… What you don’t like is that my value opinion has just as much weight as any other reader. If I feel the value is not there and I say so in my review well, that’s my right. So so sorry it might affect your ratings. You know how to get a product to the reader cheaper… it’s your choice to do it or not.

          10. We’ve now reached the point where this has gone down the page enough there isn’t enough audience to justify arguing with you anymore.

        1. So, based upon your hefty knowledge of reading a couple of blogs, you’re now qualified to tell professionals being professional that they’re doing it all wrong. Got it.

          See, the part where you done fucked up is the “might even net” bit. Because here I am, as a guy who has been successful in both indy and traditional, who is friends with people who are top tier successful in both, who understands in detail that there are pros and cons to both, and that anybody who is a pure evangelist for one system is a biased imbecile, and I’m telling you that you’re full of shit.

          So if anybody needs to think hard next time, it would be you. Because apparently you’ve not thought much at all.

          1. I’m not qualified to tell you anything except I prefer lower prices to higher and that dinging a review works and is not a “Dumb” way to get your attention. Both are self evident.

          2. Well, we’ve sure come a long way from where you started. 🙂

            Yes, you got my attention, in a dumb way. And I went through in detail why the one star protest review is foolish and misguided. We know.

            You can stop digging now.

          3. Dinging a review for a dumb reason isn’t a dumb way to get attention? You don’t really seem to think a lot of things through.

          4. Kids, CB is demonstrating just how Statist institutions work.
            Just imagine if CB was a bureaucrat, and using his aggressively ignorant cluelessness to make decisions regarding the publishing industry.
            Now, in this instance, CB is just some petty, sophomoric, idealist kid who thinks he knows better about what every author’s situation should be over the actual author. Thus, with very little actual knowledge of how things work, he is the great white expert on how all authors should act, and will use what little crumbs of power to force people to go along against their will.

          5. That is so far from what I am trying to say that it’s sad. I’m saying that there is a way to get your books to the reader for less then the traditional way. Larry knows this. If he chooses to go the more expensive route fine. It might cause a few complaints in the reviews or it might cause some to skip his work. That is his choice to make. But, to say I am dumb for complaining about it? or as you say, petty, sophomoric, idealist. Its a fact that there are books for $4 that are just as good as books sold for $14. If I bought a book expecting a $14 value and got what I perceive as a $4 value… based upon dozens like it, then I’ll complain. Should I instead complain that the $4 books are being sold too cheap? That would be stupid for the one buying the books. You might say that I am denying the author money. Its been proven that the volume generated by cheaper pricing results in more income to the author. Thus a Win Win for the reader and the author. The only loser is the outdated bloated traditional publisher.

          6. CB, you’re a bit slow, aren’t you? I call you a petty, sophomoric, idealist kid because you are a petty, sophomoric, idealist kid who doesn’t let his ignorance of how things work for people get in the way of his master plan oh how things should work for people. I call you that because you labor under the misapprehension that the world revolves around you, your desires, your knowledge, you, you, you. And your TLDR walls of text have done nothing but emphasize that you are all about you, you, you. Thus, I rightly call you Petty, Sophomoric, Idealist, and Kid.

          7. You actually make me smile. It’s been forty years plus since I’ve been called a kid. Except for from my dad of course. Thank you though.

          8. In other words, being compared to callow, foolish, immature, inexperienced, gullible youths too full of themselves to find out that the world doesn’t revolve around them- that is a compliment to you? You still think of yourself as a whiny, snot-nosed little tag-about crybaby, ala the little brother people tell to get lost?
            That’s cool.

          9. No, I was pretty much just referring to my humore at your calling me a “kid”. The rest of the blather you spewed… not really worth worrying about.

          10. Hey, I’m not the person who is trying, and failing* to convince people his petty little one star scheme has any merit.

            *and failing in that massively public, humiliatingly obvious, your-fly-is-open, super failing kind of way. The kind of FAIL!!! where someone gets caught out for being an idiot, and they make themselves out to be more of an idiot by trying to idiotplain their idiocy.

    3. @ cb

      There are these things called libraries where you don’t have to pay for books at all to read them. Maybe try them out. Sounds like your blood pressure would appreciate it, if paying for books annoys you so much.

      Meanwhile, I just ordered another copy/format of a series I already have in at least two formats. Thinking of ordering Into the Storm in MP3 CD even though I have it in paperback and Audible. Just, you know, for backup. Good books are worth paying for. If you don’t think so, seriously try that library thing.

      1. Have you seen what Trade Publishers are charging Libraries for Ebooks?!!! This explains why there are few ebooks at my library.

        I am as calm as ever. The only high blood pressures in this thread are by the Fiskers. 🙂

        1. But you don’t personally pay for library books, so what do you care?

          I wasn’t saying that you’re getting mad now. I was referring to your apparent anger at paying high prices for books. Just chill, don’t buy the book. No one’s forcing you to.

          1. You missed my point completely. EBook prices to libraries are so high that the libraries can’t afford to buy as many and thus their selections are limited.
            Thus, none to few of the books I want to read are offered that way.

          2. Wow… You don’t know how library purchasing works either. That’s a whole different blog post about how that works.

          3. What I know is that the libraries say that they are charged 3-5 times the consumer price for an ebook. They said this was the reason they don’t/cant stock more ebooks. Their words… not mine.

        2. I fisk for fun. Blogging lowers my blood pressure. I argue with congressmen and major media pundits. Get over yourself, dude.

  53. Oh, Damien, you never disappoint!

    “Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter · 8h8 hours ago

    Larry Correia freaks over 1 star review.

    Larry gets 5* reviews from his gun-nut buddies, can’t hack real readers.”

    It continues:

    “Jared ‏@pornokitsch · 8h8 hours ago

    @damiengwalter In fairness, that’s a 1* review over ebook pricing.

    Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter · 8h8 hours ago

    @pornokitsch Which every single author ever gets. Correia is just winding up his cry baby act again.

    Jared ‏@pornokitsch · 8h8 hours ago

    @damiengwalter Also, why am I defending Correia?! Pardon me while I delete these tweets and then sterilise my keyboard.”

    You couldn’t create a character as idiotic as the Guardian’s Village Idiot. 🙂

      1. Ever notice how to morons like Damien, anybody who disagrees with them in any way is “whining”, “melting down”, “freaking out” even if it is a relatively dispassionate discussion of how cost accounting actually works, but when they go off on how oppressed they are because they had to cut their hair in high school, or demanding ludicrous things like ending binary gender in fiction, that’s good journalism? 🙂

        1. To be fair, there’s enough hollering in there that “dispassionate” is not the first word I would use.
          That having been said, if you’re a crybaby, what is Walter? A blubbering embryo?

          1. That’s why it is “relatively”. By my standards that was like me teaching a college accounting class. 🙂

          2. Um. See above. Accounting classes were some of those I tended to sleep through.

            You apparently would have been very disturbing to my college habits…

            (Although I am certain I would then have learned more in class than from the book.)

      2. Damien, O, Damien
        O say have you met Damien
        He can whine like an air raid siren
        Even thinks he’s the new Lord Byron
        Damien, O, Damien
        That midget Octavian
        He sees himself as Heinlein’s essence
        That’s because of the anti-depressants
        Above his My Little Pony tattoo
        There sits one of John Scalzi too
        You can learn a lot from Damien

        La, la, la – la, la, la
        La, la, la – la, la, la

        Damien, O, Damien
        O say have you met Damien
        Damien, the horse’s ass
        He goes after white dudes real hard
        That’s because he’s a real ree-tard
        He shits in his hands
        Cuz he’s never been trained
        If you ask why he’ll surely mansplain
        You can learn a lot from Damien

        La, la, la, fuck, off, off

    1. Is Damien still doing the Arthur C. Clarke tour of India and Sri Lanka. He’s a dedicated sci-fi fan that one is.

      1. Speaking of writer, has Damien Walters actually submitted his Great Science Fiction Novel that British Government have paid him stipend for?

        1. He’s still busy pretending he’s a gay mullah writing retroactive fatwas against white cis male golden age SF writers. Apparently there was too many in one place all at the same time or something. Anyway, we know from his Guardian piece “the future is queer” so something or other happens to us in his great non-gender hope piece of literary dung.

    2. You know, I could write a script to generate that kind of commentary. [thinks] I don’t have to write one, just use an existing chatbot script.

      I’d have to make the keyword pool small to make it as predictable as Damien’s commenters, though.

  54. Hell hath frozen over. The denizens at 770 have–mostly–agreed with Larry on this subject. Some of them have also stated that they will be seeking psychological help over this fact.

      1. Mr. Glyer quotes a portion of the original blog post, and then states:

        “The rest is a long but lighthearted lesson about the business of producing books that makes cost accounting entertaining. (I know you think I’m being facetious, which is why I need to say, no, I really found it entertaining.)”

          1. Well, Straw Larry is a being of unfathomable evil so this posting is obviously still part of some sinister plot of his. 😉

    1. A few are being nasty, including some folks who are upset that your last sentence presumes your readers are straight. Seriously.

        1. Not gay, but I could pretend offense on behalf of those who have never known the touch of a woman. Except I’m comfortable with that description and happy with my rapid reading speed. I also like eating quickly.

          I don’t feel that Larry is oppressing me with his slowist values. Or his gourmet tendencies.


      1. Yes. But “Those of us who’ve know the touch of non-gender binary human (or otherkin) contact in a consensual romantic non-triggering manner (unless they are asexual or pansexual and that is okay too) are not impressed you can read fast.” just wasn’t as good a punch line. 🙂

  55. As someone whose knowledge of econ is “seat of the pants” type learning, I really appreciated this. The comparisons used are something to which I can directly related. (never mind that I don’t like Ruth Chris – over rated imo)

    I have wondered about the pricing of ebooks and in fact it was part of the reason I held off getting a reader for so long. Why pay $7. for a ebook, that I apparently don’t actually own, when I can get a physical book for a dollar more – one that I do actually own.

    I’ve got a slightly better picture now. Thank you.

  56. Larrry, you might want to check your server. When I hit this page, it showed me logged in as correia45 with admin privileges (got a screenshot if you want it). After a couple of reloads, I’m just a visitor again.

    And now I’m getting “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” when I clicked Post Comment.

  57. I teach marketing. Something is “worth” what people will pay for it. This is very hard for even business majors to grasp sometimes. They want to impose something they perceive as “fair.”

    Your costs just set a price floor – unless you need to liquidate your inventory.
    Larry – your pricing model flows too much from accounting. A lot of profitable pricing is can you segment the market and price different segments at the most they will pay. To make that work you have to isolate market segments. The point in time you can get the item is a common pricing segmentation variable.

    Book pricing is similar to other markets where there is time sensitive demand of a tangible good. Think movies. Similar pricing model flowing from theater release to pay-per-view to early DVD/Blue-Ray, to most people have the DVD to HBO to free on broadcast TV.

    1. Oh no. I’ve had this discussion many, many, many, many times with marketing folks, in real life, over actual products. I’m exceedingly familiar with the concept.

      1. Re: pricing based on perceived value/your Ruth’s Chris vs. Sizzler analogy, Forbes published a study which found that readers are willing to pay a 60% premium for books by their favorite authors.

        Copious research, and experimentation with the prices of my own books, shows that the sweet spot for indie eBooks is roughly in the 3-6 dollar range.

        The takeaway: if SotBS’s price were porridge, Baen got it just right 🙂

    2. You’re reminding me of the excellent pair of videos by Purgatory Iron Works*: “How much SHOULD you charge for your work?” and “What CAN you charge for your work?”

      They’re basically an economics lesson in 5 minutes, and well worth watching. I’ll post links to them in two separate comments so as to hopefully not get auto-moderated.

      First video, “How much SHOULD you charge for your work?”:

      * The same guy who posted the famous “response to the 9/11 moronic jet fuel argument” video that got millions of views.

    3. Segmentation is part of what has led to this perception that “ebooks should be cheap”. Until the ebook appeared publishers used/blamed hardcovers/trade paperbacks/mass market paperbacks for segmentation, attempting to hide and obfuscate the segmentation by blaming production costs for hard covers.

      I don’t mind segmentation (and when I’m aware of it I can “game” it to pay less myself), but it wasn’t a well known practice, and businesses were happy to keep it that way.
      The arrival of ebooks ripped the fig leaf of printing costs away, so while it’s probably true that the printing cost isn’t that big, publishers have zero credibility on this, at least to long-term readers, after years of blaming rising prices and expensive hardcover books on printing costs.

      1. Would just note that I DO believe that printing costs aren’t a big factor and don’t mind the ebook price starting high and then sinking. It’s just bad PR for publishers that they didn’t admit that until ebooks arrived.

  58. Dude. That was like a one star blog post, man. Like, you’re a member of top one percent of authors, bro, and the top one percent has to consider the needs of the 99 percent of readers.

    FROM each monster-hunter-book author according to his ability TO each monster-hunter e-book reader according to his need!!!111!

    If you have a successful monster hunter e-book, you didn’t write that. Someone else made that happen.

    1. That is true. Since I’m already in the top tax bracket, I look forward to Bernie taking up to 90% of my income to give to needy artists who are in terrible debt, like Kayne West.

      1. The late Bruno Kirby put it best, “I mean, you know, when you’ve loved and lost the way Kanye has, then you, uh, you know what life is all about.”

    2. I think the true crime is that we are allowed to rate books at all, and that books even cost money. Books are ideas and knowledge combined and that should be free, and since all points of view are valid(except ones written by cis white males) they should all receive the same rating of 5 stars and anything less is hate speech. In fact there shouldn’t be ratings at all because Marx debunked writing quality years ago.

  59. The times I’ve been tempted to a one star review over an ebook (in particular if the price is high) is when it’s clear that the publisher (often one of the big ones) took an unedited version of the book, ran it through a Kindle converter, and put it up for sale with blatent typos and misspellings. In particular if they then have the audacity to argue about all the costs of producing an ebook.

  60. I’ve never understood the speed reading thing. It’s like opening a door in your stomach and putting a fine meal in it. I’ve hiked the Inca Trail twice. I was surprised both times how many people wanted to brag how fast they did it. You cross to the other side of the world, take some goofy train which threatens to tip over and people are selling roast guinea pig in the aisles like cotton candy, and then get dumped off some place called “Kilometer 88” to the start of one of the most incredible things on Earth. Then you speed walk it? They probably celebrated back home by buying an expensive vintage wine and then opening that door in their stomach after they listened to Fahrenheit 451 on audio while playing a hockey game.

    “Did you ever read Fahrenheit 451?”

    “Love it. Got checked into the boards during that scene where medics pump the stomach of Montag’s wife. Turns out there was an entire pheasant, 6 cheese blintzes, an illegal book about the Inca Trail and a license plate inside.”

  61. >Those of us who’ve known the touch of a woman don’t care you read fast.

    I wrote a book that’s a slow read
    I want a reader with a lazy eye
    I want somebody who will spend some time
    Not read and go in a spastic rush
    I want somebody who will understand
    When it comes to books, you oughta slow read

    /with apologies to the Pointer Sisters

  62. What really annoys me is when the paperback *is* available and the ebook is priced higher than it is. I can buy America’s Test Kitchen’s _Slow Cooker Revolution 2_ in paperback from Amazon for $16.23 new (prime, so no shipping fees, or I could save them by buying another book with them) or I can pay $25.99 for the Kindle version. In what world does *that* make sense? I grant that I’d *rather* have the ebook (the ability to carry around the recipe lists on my phone is wonderful) – in fact, I paid that price for their _Slow Cooker Revolution_ cookbook and a couple others – but while the cost of printing may be easy to overestimate it’s got to be cheaper than electronic format, especially with color illustrations.

    1. I would agree that doesn’t make sense. Which is why I said that bit about publishers guessing, and sometimes guessing wrong.

  63. Actually, I think your publisher probably has some pretty good accountants. In my business we tend to do Activity Based Costing, simply because some products are low overhead, low fixed cost and high labor (US companies tend to base OH per part on a percentage of labor per part) simply because if we assigned the same OH to everything we would end up with a lot of high material, low labor cost parts and eventually screw up our business model. I suspect based on Baen’s pricing model (can I mention them by name?!), they use some form of activity based costing to help with pricing of hardcovers, mass market paperbacks, and ebooks. Except for the ARCs, those are blatantly taking advantage of those of us who are fully hooked on the crack and cannot wait for our fix.

    1. The eARCS were based on consumer demand by way of fans on Baen’s Bar forum.

      Back in the day, ebook prices were set by Jim at half what he thought the market would bear. I gather the increase was tied to the deal with Amazon.

    1. Sure. Not only can, but a lot of asshats do. Many of them even announce it in their ‘reviews’ (“I haven’t bought this book because Hatey McHateypants, so unthink and badfeelz!”). If you’ve bought it via Amazon, your review will be tagged ‘Verified Purchaser,’ but that’s about it.

    1. I’d go read that, but I’ve got to get back to work writing these books so the government can take the first half.

  64. “Those of us who’ve known the touch of a woman don’t care you read fast.”

    I read fast and I … Uh … I’ve … You know.

    Just saying.

  65. Larry, this does not relate to ebooks and reviews, but I saw it in the news and it made me think of you:

    The reason I thought of you was that I was curious about your perspective as the alpha-accountant at a firm that was in the government contracts and software development industry.

    When I read this article, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “This court order requires a company to develop and deliver software. Does this idiot judge realize that he just ordered a sole-source contract to a company who would rather never deliver the product than deliver it according to any schedule or budget! A company whose overall profits and market share would be INCREASED by slipping schedule?”

    From all the articles I have read, this case does not involve simply turning over to the government information that currently exist. It involves creating new technology and software and then delivering that software.

    I have developed software at several large government contractors and we never did anything without getting paid. We LOVED sole source contracts. I don’t even want to think about the labor rates that any sane Apple contracts officer would demand be guaranteed before starting any development. Also, anyone who has been involved in software development knows that software development is one of the most difficult aspects of engineering to manage schedule and cost on – when you really really want to.

    I shudder to think about what a black-hole this could turn into. The schedule slips, the cost overruns. If Mr. Cook is smart, he could milk this for 10 years and $900 million.

    1. I think you answered your own question. 🙂

      Or phrased another way, accountants quiver with dread whenever people who don’t understand how to cost stuff demand things happen at an expected rate. 🙂

  66. Supply and Demand 101 noted and largely correct. Not qualified to opine on economics of book sales, beyond the vague sense that most new books are like perishables. However correct you are on the off-target nature of using Amazon reviews to ding prices, much more interesting would be to hear about how and where one can/should lodge such complaints — much of your response implies such complaints, wherever registered, are off-base. Maybe, but then it seems you put potential consumers to a binary buy/don’t buy election if price bothers them (or maybe buy/borrow-pirate-steal, even worse). Are you sure that’s the direction you want to go?

    1. Am I sure that’s the direction I want to go?

      What kind of clown question is that?

      I’m an author who doesn’t set the prices, but because I’m a retired accountant I explained to you how the system works, so your question to me boils down to “How can we best punish you for not following our arbitrary guidelines we don’t understand?”

      Uh… Don’t?

  67. I’ll suggest his: it is not inappropriate to include in your book review that the cost of the book isn’t justified by the enjoyment of it–and to have that affect your rating.

    I don’t like pure “1 star protest reviews” but an author can’t hide behind completely his or her publisher. The only way to affect them hurts the author as well–which is by impacting their profitability.

    Reviews should be determined primarily by the writing lone but adding or subtracting a star for a great or poor bargain on the price is, in my opinion, appropriate.

    Some new author trilogies from established big publishers price out at over $75 to read electronically. That’s presuming a lot on the reader and it’s appropriate to factor it.

  68. Baen’s ebook prices are one of the more reasonable ones out there! And that’s when the book’s new, not the cheaper prices set later post-paperback. And yeah, as a consumer, high to low, it’s hardbacks, (new) paperback then ebook, but I’m also aware that the writer isn’t the only employee here there. 5-6 bucks for an ebook is not painful, especially from a house like Baen, whose value is in the entertainment level consistency I as a reader and customer get.

    Baen’s got a huge list of authors I’m wanting books from and no matter how I slice it, I’m gonna end up spending lots and lots of money because that’s just how huge the backlog is, on top of my hobby and manga reading (I will finish getting the Lone Wolf and Cub omnibus set, yes I will! Eventually.) To me, it’s a simple and easy price to pay so the author keeps writing more stuff I enjoy.

    There are books I’ll cheerfully plow through in an hour or two; I’m talking the 300-500 pagers. There’s an author whose books are designed that way (Matthew Reilly) because reading the literary equivalent of a John Woo and Michael Bay movie. But that’s Reilly.

    Some authors though, like Larry, I’ll make myself read chunks – 2-3 chapters – at a time, because I wanna savor it – at least the first time.

    That, or my hubby takes the book from my hands and goes “I’m doing this because you asked me to stop you from tearing through the book too quickly.” Then again, he’s the guy who called me up at 4 am to complain that he couldn’t sleep because I’d introduced him to Monster Hunter International, and it’s all my fault he couldn’t put the book down. *grin*

  69. When I was young I use to race through books with my friend and we’d compare how fast we could read. It was a nerd thing.

    Nowadays, I like to savor my books like I savor my wine and food, enjoying the taste of the moment and maximizing the experience, because I’m not getting any younger and I want to have enjoyed the things I’ve experienced in my life.

  70. RE: the speed readers…. you just insulted Vox there, Larry. 😀

    And folks really are stupid to post such things.

  71. I was sad when Baen’s ebook prices went up but I was happy that the books were now on Kindle and Nooks, though I knew where to find them before. I know several people must have mentioned it but other publishers try to sell new release ebooks for $12.99 and up. I’m not about to complain about $7.99.

    1. Pretty much across the board for Baen authors, we didn’t like the price increase, but we did love getting into the biggest market in the world. And because (despite what the original review said) our publisher is really cool, part of that price increase went to increasing the author’s royalty percentage.

      1. As a purchaser, part of me didn’t like the price increase and especially the limits on buying monthly bundles, and a greater part of me was happy Baen was making a solid business decision. Solid business practices make it more likely Baen will be around to buy from when I have more money in the future. (If I don’t have more money, that is my own fault.)

        A supplier who compromises their business to give me low prices is not a good deal, because of the cost of finding a new supplier when the first falls apart.

    2. I was sad as a consumer when the price went up as well, but I had been expecting it a while. The sad truth is, that when ebooks become a significant part of sales, then they have to start carrying their fair share of the overhead. The physical cost of printing books is small, but can be subtracted in whole from the cost of the ebook. The return and overage cost is higher from my understanding, and it can also be subtracted. The ebook had to absorb its fair share of fixed costs, variable costs and author royalties. I do not know as I do not work for Baen (and if I did then I could not be here posting about it), but I suspect ebooks at 2/3 of the Amazon hard cover price and then 2/3 of the paperbook price is about the right pricing structure to keep ebooks covering their fair share of costs (and contributing to profit, and if the publisher does not make a profit then there will very shortly be no publisher). So I am content to pay what Baen is charging. What the big 5 are charging is going to destroy their ebook market……and in the long run that is going to cost them a lot of money. If the big 5 wont fill the demand, then someone will.
      I think Amazon has decided that is a niche they can fill…………..

  72. Larry, I have a couple of serious questions. These are not meant to be troll bait, I am seriously interested in your perspective on them.

    I completely understand your point about not giving authors who have no control over the price one star reviews because of overpriced books from traditional publishers. They have no control over that stuff. What about self-pubbed stuff? I saw someone mention a 25-page story with a $4.99 price tag that they were sorely tempted to hammer with a low rating. It seems to me that since the author DOES have control of the price there that might be a legitimate reason to dock the stars.

    I gave a one-star review once to a book called “The C++ Standard Library: Reference and Tutorial” by Nicolai Josuttis. The book itself was completely brilliant, and the Kindle version was utterly unusable. I paid about $40 for the ebook so that I wouldn’t have to haul around a 900 page reference work, but there were so many spelling errors and formatting mistakes in the book that I might as well have just dragged along a random dump of ASCII text for all the good the Kindle version did me. The worst part was that they completely destroyed the formatting of all the source code examples in the book, rendering the “Tutorial” part useless. When I gave it the one-star review I specifically called out the fact that the book was great, but that the Kindle version was horrid, and my reasons for saying so. Again, I think in that case the bad review was justified, but maybe I am just trying to make myself feel better.


    1. Not Larry, (or strawman Larry for that matter). No, I don’t think the dinging should be over the price. I look at the review, then at the price – is the price worth the product (assuming I rely on that reviewer for a proper review)?

      I can feel for you – having lugged around the HTML 5 “bible” for three years. But I would have looked at the review, seen that the ebook was crap – then made my own decision on whether it was worth the price. (I have bought a few not very good technical books, for a high price – but when they were the first ones out on a “bleeding edge” that I had to get into right away.)

      Sigh. I do thank you for one reminder of why I’m glad I’m trying to change career paths. My aching back…

    2. Now that at least would make sense. The person you’re docking does have control of the price. You, as the consumer don’t feel that you got much value for your entertainment dollar. And you actually bought the product and read it so you know what’s in it and how good it is, as opposed to just going through Amazon randomly protesting.

      That wasn’t very trollish at all. 🙂

      1. Perusing Amazon’s review creation guidelines, they do frown on giving low ratings for things that aren’t about the product, like packaging, shipping time, etc. They have a separate complaint service for those kinds of issues.

        Oddly, they don’t say anything about price.

        This makes sense for belt sanders, game consoles, and even indie books (where, as you said, the seller controls the price). Am I the only one who thinks that Amazon should declare pricing complaints out of bounds in reviews of traditionally published books?

  73. I’ve tried to teach my kids two fundamentals of economics that I pray will save them much loss and foolishness:
    2: The value of a thing is what you can get someone to pay for it right now.

    #2 doesn’t change because of what you paid for it, what it sold for last week, how much work it took to make it, how much it cost to make it, how special it is to you, or how much it would mean to the other person to have it. Period.

    1. During my non-profit mechanic days, I tried teaching #2 above to people regarding their cars, with the added two very important additions:
      2a- if it is going to cost you half of the true value of the car to fix, your car is totaled.
      2b- putting $1000 of parts and labor into fixing a $1500 car does not give you a $2500 car. It means you still have a $1500 car with problems, and you now don’t have $1000 for a better vehicle

  74. I am so sick and tired of people who complain about an ebook being $8.99 when they think it should be $5.99. Plug in your own numbers here; I’m just sick of the sentiment.

    These same people spend, as Larry noted, quite frivolously on movie drinks and popcorn, Starbucks coffee; they buy $12 Rusty Nails in Manhattan, monthly Metro Cards that they don’t break even on. Et cetera.

    My friend spent $2300 on a Macbook Pro but tried to convince me not to use paid email services because “[I] could learn it all on my own for free, so there’s no need to spend $20/month.” Um, dude, I’m the one using a $400 PC which works perfectly fine, whereas you paid an obscene markup for something that does, more or less, what my machine does, but with prettier aluminum. (Not trying to start some stupid Mac vs PC debate here; I’m only pointing out my friend’s self-righteousness.)

    It gets funnier when the ebook is $9.99 and the paperback is $9.22 and Mr. Whiner gripes about the price difference (ignoring the fact that at this point, the ebook is priced for its convenience of instant delivery).

    Maybe I’m the odd man out, but I don’t care what a book costs. I care about spending my very limited time reading something I will enjoy. With my stressful job and family, I am lucky if I can read 20 books a year.

    So if I am convinced that I will enjoy a book tremendously, then I WILL BUY IT NO MATTER WHAT IT COSTS. Because, again, I want to be entertained, go on emotional extremes, call in sick tomorrow, etc. I can’t believe that there are people out there who will pass all of that up over a few bucks–less than what they would tip the waitress at Friday’s (and remember, they could have saved money and cooked their own food at home!)

    Yes, sometimes the product is not as great as we want it to be, but what were you looking for? A guarantee?

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon this blog; I wish I’d organized my thoughts better.

    That said, I’m going to buy Son of the Black Sword right now, even though I’ve never read Mr. Correia’s work. If his writing sucks, OH WELL SOMETIMES YOU WIN SOMETIMES YOU LOSE. At least l enjoyed the blog.

    1. Don’t forget to grab a a free copy of Monster Hunter International on eBook while you’re on Amazon. You’ll need it when you finish SotBS and need your next Correia fix right away…

  75. Ah, the “This item should only cost ‘x’, because it only costs ‘y’ to produce.” argument. I don’t believe I’ve ever run into one of those that wasn’t fundamentally screwed in the head.

    Years back, I used to work at Suncoast, the video sales arm of Sam Goody. And at least once a month I would get The Lecture on how videotape only cost $1 (or 35¢, or whatever it was) to produce, so how could they ask $19.99?

    Oh, my aching sinuses.

    Or, back when I briefly owned a (failing) craft gallery; “Why does this brooch cost $350. I could do this!” (Man, you can’t even dress yourself. Dude, florescent orange top and florescent pink shorts do not go together. And don’t get me started on the florescent green socks).

    Somehow, these arguments never seem to take into account anything but materials. If that. The idea that the laborer is worthy of his hire apparently never occurs to this twits.

    – tangent – Somewhere in here goes the “Why is (name of NFL star) being paid so much more than the average worker. It’s outrageous!” argument. (Excuse me, but how much would they have to pay you to take JUST ONE NFL level tackle? Because for ME, it would take north of six figures, and I’d want to be wearing a tank.)

    There are sooooooo many human pimples who expect something for nothing.

    I suppose that with an ebook, the “You have to pay for all the ones that don’t sell” argument doesn’t apply quite as much, but my other major point holds; If you only want to pay the very minimum of what an item costs in materials and manufacturing to produce, then get used to a very boring and restricted selection. Because nobody is going to pay the opportunity cost of risking any effort on anything that isn’t a sure-seller.

    Do you really want nothing to read but Tom Clancy and Harlequin Romance?

    1. “these arguments never seem to take into account anything but materials.” It’s the same with cars. A new brake line costs a few dollars. Replacing a brake line (or two in my case) cost $500. I asked about it at the shop and I could see the guy getting wound up for the argument. I told him I knew exactly what I was paying for. I was paying for someone who knew how to install brake line, to properly bend it to shape, to bleed the system and so on, to do the job PROPERLY. So I could trust my brakes to stop my car.

      Stupid people arguing with smart people who actually know stuff are everywhere, man, you’re not alone.

      1. I once gave a one-star review (with a detailed explanation of the problem) to a book I ordered new from Amazon because the binding started falling apart the moment I opened it. Two exchanges with Amazon and a trip to my local Barnes and Noble later, I had yet to find a copy of the book that didn’t have the same problem with the binding, leading me to suspect that the entire print run of that particular trade paperback was faulty. On one hand, I hate to punish the author for something that’s not their fault, but on the other hand, I think prospective buyers might want to know if the physical book they’re buying has massive Q.A. issues. Fair or foul?

  76. Even for us that are (fairly) reasonable, this was a good post. I learn things when you put on your accountant hat. I don’t buy e-books because I like dead tree, and have bad luck with electronics. If I don’t like the price, I don’t buy it. I get it from the library, where the taxpayer pays the author for me.

  77. Very insightful. I learned a few news things and was reminded of a few others because of it.
    1. A one star review based on price is a waste of time and only hurts the author (thanks for the reminder!)
    2. I paid $9.99 for Son of the Black Sword in November and didn’t think twice about the price.
    3. When I went to check how much I paid, I learned that Amazon/Audible will only charge me $1.99 for the audiobook addon. Oh hell yeah! I’m all over it.
    4. The Audible page says the listening length is 16 hours and 26 minutes.
    5. 16 hours and 26 minutes of top quality entertainment for $12 = a fucking steal in my opinion.
    Not sure what that reviewer was thinking. Hopefully your blog helped him get his head out of his ass!

  78. *laugh*

    Great response, now go write me some more books to read. MHI, SOABS, don’t care.

    Hurry, hurry, hurry!

    (What? Me? Impatient?)

  79. Thanks for the excellent breakdown. I never whined about the cost of ebooks compared to paperback, but I always did think it a bit odd that I could own a physical copy for a buck or two less than some stored electricity. Now I know more than I did before.

  80. Smartest part of this blog…. The portion reminding all readers of the countless hours of enjoyment we receive from reading (and sometimes rereading) books. Then the debates amongst our friends/peers regarding the books. When I has a teenager, I convinced the majority of my friends to read The Belgariad by David Eddings. No one purchased the book but me. They all borrowed my book and the majority loved it. This didn’t help Mr. Eddings except for the few that went on to buy his other books since they enjoyed his writing style.
    Bravo, Mr. Correia!!! I applaud the time you took to fully respond to the annoyance of the review but you just earned a customer. I’ve never read one of your books but Audible is having a sale and I will purchase “Son of the Black Sword: Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, Book 1” to determine if I do like your novel. $6 is a great price to try and bring new customers to a new (for me at least) author. If I enjoy the book, I’ll buy another, if not, I’m going to buy a $10 cheeseburger in your honor!

    1. One way to try another at a discount is to buy the free version of MHI from amazon, and then add audible narration to it for $2. After, that, plan on your next several credits being used for the rest ; )

  81. Kinda related question. I am all for authors making money. What makes the author the most … me buying the hardcover or me buying the softcover.

    In many cases I can wait the year after the hardcover comes out to buy the softcover but some authors I will always buy the hardcover. For those authors I am on the fence though, I have always wondered what helps them out the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *