Sunday, February 14, 2010

Macmillan author and elitist Douglas Preston makes huge impact in dispute over ebook prices

Macmillan author and intellectual elitist Douglas Preston (born in The People’s Republic of Cambridge, grew up in the wealthy suburb of Wellesley, Mass., attended a swanky private high school in nearby Weston), whose new Mars-related novel Impact hit #4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction bestseller list earlier this year, has made a huge impact in the growing conflagration over ebook prices with these asinine remarks, quoted in a recent article in the Times:
“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing,” said Douglas Preston, whose novel Impact reached as high as No. 4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction best-seller list earlier this month. “It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.”
Not surprisingly, Preston has tried to dull his comments by posting this piece on his website:
An open letter to our readers:

We have watched, with interest and no small amount of alarm, the recent struggles between publishers and eBook retailers. We thought it might help if we explained our position. We, as writers, have no real say in the matter, and no real influence on either side of the issue. We, like you, are caught in the middle. What we want is simple. We want to write the best books we can for you to enjoy; for our publishers to make available to you in the format in which you prefer to read them; and at a fair price that enables us to write future novels while keeping the publishers and the Amazons, Apples, Barnes & Nobles and WalMarts of this world in business. From our perspective, the most important element in all this is you, the reader. Without you, the Preston-Child books would not exist, and it is to you that we owe our first and greatest allegiance -- on this issue and, in fact, all related issues.
Unfortunately, Preston's attempt at damage control is not working. Just read some of these comments posted on Amazon in the review section for Preston’s new novel:
• "Dear Mr. Preston, I was so looking forward to reading your new book, Impact but couldn't have been more disappointed to learn that the kindle release has been delayed... so that you can sell more hardcover books. Then I read your comments on the American consumer."

• "This is just another mediocre novel written by a production author with more interest in padding his pocket book then producing a quality product. Truly a waste of time and money... delete this book from your list."

• "This is a substandard product done by a greedy man. It reminds me of the greedy bankers that pay themselves bonuses after someone bails them out of the mess they made. This is the greed factor. The fiction produced by the bankers was actually superior to Mr. Preston's."

• "I agree there is a sense of entitlement in this country, but there is also a sense of greed from writers and publishers. I won't be buying your books again."

• "This author has no sense of how mass consumer mentality can make or break a product. I have been an avid e-book reader but i only purchased books which cost 9.99 or less. I either buy a book at this price or totally opt out. Authors should evolve into this new model or will soon become extinct. Power to the Readers !!!!"
Keep up the good work, Hoss!


Joost Schuur said...

It's worth pointing out that Impact is currently available for $8.87 on the Kindle, although it won't ship until May 4th.

The price is slated to go up after that.

Anonymous said...

Everybody wants to make a buck. I can't blame them for that. Everybody wants to save a buck. I can't blame them for that as well. There is something to Preston's comments, the American consumer, often times, wants something for virtually nothing. Never have we had so much available for so little, and yet, we still want even more for less. Business wants the big buck, authors want the big buck and yes, the consumer is greedy in his own way as well.

Paul said...

Joost: Thanks for the specifics.

Anonymous: I agree, but Preston could have been more tactful in making his comments. Preston's notion of "entitlement" runs deep in our society. I wonder if he thinks the government should abolish its entitlement programs, or private foundations should stop awarding grants, or charities should cease their activities because "consumers" should be expected to "pay the real price of something.”

Pembroke said...

I find it amusing that Preston doesn't want his book to be available electronically. In my experience, royalties from ebooks are higher than for traditional paperbacks because the publisher doesn't have to front the cost to produce it. I think there is a lot of misconceptions about ebooks.