Jul 25

For less than the price of a cup of coffee

I’m sick of people complaining about eBooks costing less than a cup of coffee. As if that’s a sensible comparison to make. People use it as reason to both embrace and reject eBooks; I don’t really care about that. I haven’t really chosen a side on the whole eBook debacle because I don’t think there’s a side to choose. But it still really chafes my ass when people use the eBook/coffee argument to moan about eBooks pricing…

…says the guy using the eBook/coffee argument to moan about the eBook/coffee argument.

The usual complaints are:

“How dare people charge less than a cup of coffee!?”

“How dare they dismiss such hard work by charging less than a cup of coffee?”

“How dare they devalue MY book by charging less than a cup of coffee for their book?”

I don’t really care, and if you think that the above points are a sensible basis for online arguments then you’re spending far too much time perusing the internet looking for pointless fights and not enough time writing! A cheap price does not devalue a book.

“But!” people cry, “you’re forgetting that when a book is created there is a writer, an editor, a publisher, an agent, marketing, proofreading, cover design, printing, delivery charges, etc. Love and honesty and *sniff* the soul *weep* of a person go into that book.”

And coffee just appears out of thin air?

Aren’t you forgetting the people that pick it, delivery to a processing plant, shipping it halfway around the world, the grinding machines, the manufacture of the grinding machine, the people that work in the factory that makes the grinders, the cappuccino machines, the manufacture of the cappuccino machine, the people that work at the factory that makes the cappuccino machines, cup (manufacturer/staff/delivery), spoon (manufacturer/staff/delivery), napkin (manufacturer/staff/delivery), the staff at Nero, the people who design and print the menu so you know what’s available, the meetings about costing and how much to charge, the marketing staff that made you visit Nero instead of Costa, the cost of the cafe (rent/maintenance/staff/cleaning), the table you’re sat on, the comfy chairs that are sucking all the loose change from your pocket, the poor people that do put their love, honesty, and soul into picking the damn beans in the first place and then getting screwed over with a pittance of a wage (now there’s your devaluing!).

Just because books and coffee are mass produced items it doesn’t mean you can stick them next to each other and say “Ha! Point proved!”

You wouldn’t stand there and say a book is cheaper than a car, how dare you devalue all the hard work that goes into a car…because it doesn’t make sense. They are two completely different products. They’re both sold and a profit is made. That’s about as similar as they get.

If you don’t like cheap eBooks then don’t buy them, but don’t moan about ‘expensive’ eBooks. Why not buy the cheaper one for 99p and send the ‘extra’ £7 you would have spent of a paperback to the author, I’m sure they wouldn’t turn you down. Or better yet, since the author WANTS to sell their book at 99p send the money to a charity.

Maybe one that promotes fair wages for coffee farm workers.

8 comments

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  1. Approved!

  2. Whew! Rant on, Steven!
    Right. If people want to argue an issue, they’d better dust off their debating skills. Easy pickin’s don’t necessarily support an opinion – which is what a lot of this comes down to.
    As for me, the pricing will be set by the market in the end. You know, the reader. 😉

  3. SO glad you’ve got that off your chest! And judging by the price of a cup of coffee in some “got you by the short and curlies so you’ll pay up or go without” places, some ordinary paperbacks cost the same as a cup of coffee.

  4. Bravo!

  5. If they don’t like how ebooks are priced, then they shouldn’t publish an ebook version of their work. If an ebook is an absolute must, then surely there are publishing mediums that allow an author to set the price for their ebook as they see fit, right?

    1. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of people who publish ebooks who don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Not saying I do, but I’m not publishing any 😛 It’s not just them though, people who prefer ‘traditional’ books moan because more people will buy the cheap ones than theirs, or expect paperbacks to decrease in price. I think that’s underestimating the reader, and not understanding pricing in the least. A good book is a good book, the price is the last thing on the readers mind.

  6. Ha. I love it when people make random comparisons between two entirely different things. WHY ARE THESE YOGURTS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN TAMPONS? DINNER WAS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN MY SHOES – AND I WEAR THOSE EVERY DAY!

  7. Good point, dude. I used to work at Costa and having to make decent coffee with ridiculous requests (“I asked for tea and this just isn’t hot enough”. “Erm, it’s made with boiling water? Would you rather have a cup of steam with a tea bag in it?”) is really hard work…but is in no way comparable to the hard work of writing a book. A book is something you might want to read again and again so it has longevity value, whereas coffee doesn’t – and if you’re recycling your coffee then you’ve got more to worry about than the price of an e-book.

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