Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hey Penguin, Bite Me

Now that I have your attention...

No, this isn't about the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.  The main noun in the subject would have pluralized.  And probably contained some other rude words.

No, this isn't about the cute, little Antarctic bird we all love.

This is about the bad taste in my mouth left by Penguin Publishing.

I am a reader - a relatively voracious one who tends to be very loyal to her favorite authors.  I buy a book, then a series, then replace books that get eaten by dogs, never returned, and now eBooks to replace my hard copies.  

So this very morning, I go to Amazon on my much-beloved Kindle to purchase Sookie 12 or Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris.  I fire up the WiFi, turn the Kindle on, get to Amazon, find the book and...


The price for the eBook is $14.99.

The price for the hard copy - $15.15.

I rub my eyes.  It is after all o'dark:30 and I haven't finished my cup of tea yet.

Nope, still $14.99.

I don't click "BUY".  

I turn off the Kindle.  And then the WiFi.

I walk away.

I walk away from a series that I have bought every book of - some several times over, anthologies so I could get all the short stories, the companion book, been a member of the website for about 8 years, subscribed to HBO to watch True Blood, etc.  I introduced about a bazillion people to the series.  I freakin' named my dog after the main character, Sookie.  

Walked. Away.

$14.99 for an eBook which has no physical product, no wrapping, no delivery charges, no cover art even.  $14.99 that maybe the author will see maybe 20-30% of the total proceeds, whether or not the publishing house chooses to ever really disclose their book sales to the author.  $14.99.

My brother is a self-published author who can wax poetic about the injustices of the publishing industries.  Kindle forums are polluted with vicious debates about the pros and cons of being a writer under contract to a publishing house.  We all know the Apple & Publishers v. Amazon Department of Justice case going on right now.  But today, the whole sordid kit and kaboodle hit home.

Today, I drew a personal line. I am not going to be held ransom to any publisher who thinks that $14.99 is a good price for any eBook.  I am sorry Charlaine, I won't be buying your book.  I'll see if in a few months, once the Department of Justice has brought Penguin to heel, if the price drops.  

If it doesn't, I won't buy.  I may try to get it from the library in about a year.  Until then, I am sure all the book tidbits will be shared on various web sites so I don't get left behind.  

I'll be looking for the self-published who write as well if not better.  I'll be looking for publishers who have lowered their prices for eBooks because they get it.  Or got it once faced with court proceedings and settlements.  

So for now, Sookie Stackhouse, you and I will part ways.  I love you dearly, but I won't contribute to Penguin's bottom line any more.  Maybe someday, you and I will sit down for some sweet tea and a slice of Caroline Bellefleur's marvelous cake.  Til then, ta.