You Are Overpaying For Your E-Books

When we first relocated to Omaha, my wife continued her pre-workday morning routine. A stop at Starbucks on the way to work to drop $10 on a coffee and a blueberry oatmeal.

But one day we pulled up and found the drive-thru 15 cars deep and a line out the door. So we drove across the street to a local place called Scooters. She got a coffee, a milk and a breakfast burrito. And only spent $7.

That’s right, she got more for less. Better yet, the coffee and food at Scooters was better than any Starbucks she’d ever visited. Over the space of one work-year, she’ll spend $1,000 less. Think of what we can use that extra grand for.

Right now, you’re trying to figure out what this post’s headline has to do with saving $3 every morning. Well, let me tell you.

If you buy e-books from the bigger traditional publishers, or those smaller ones that charge the same as the “Big” boys do, you are spending anywhere from $9.99 and up on an e-book.

Mind you, that e-book does not require production costs of paper and ink. Nor does it need to be physically shipped. It does not require a warehouse to be stored in or a bookshop to find a shelf to rest upon until it is purchased.

Anyone charging more than $4.99 for an e-book should be ashamed of themselves. And yes, I know that three anthologies I am in are running above that price. I know the publisher of those anthologies. They are nice people. They are also dead wrong about the pricing. I can still like them and call them out for what I feel is a bad business practice.

What is even worse is a publisher charging nearly $9 for an e-book from a novel released years, sometimes even decades, before. For example, Tor is charging $8.99 for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, a 300-page novel released in 2005.

Seriously? This one should be $3.99 at most. Because every sale is just gravy on top of the gravy already poured on the money made off of the book over the last 13 years. Then again, Tor has been throwing around money on advances that would make Paul Manafort blush. But why should you the consumer have to pick up the tab for their poor business decision making?

No. The price of e-books are ridiculously out of whack. Most of my books – the ones that I have direct control over the pricing – run $2.99. The most expensive one you’ll find is $5.99 and that is an e-book containing ALL three Del Rio novels. So you are basically buying two books out of the series and getting the third one for free when you buy that one.

Those are fair prices, for both you the reader and me the author. I don’t expect you to pick up the tab for me to eat filet mignon and drink champagne every day. Many small publishers and Indie authors get this. They offer their e-books from as low as $0.99 on up to $4.99.

My upcoming six-book Timeless novella series will run $0.99 each for the e-books. Because they are aimed at younger readers I want them to be able to easily get them without breaking their parents’ bank accounts.

Sadly, not every publisher or author seems to care about the readers they are, in my opinion, fleecing like a flock of sheep.

For example, one Nick Mamatas – who claims to be a writer – released a new book the other day for $9.99 and promptly got taken to task by the very first reviewer to comment on his book’s Amazon page.

The reviewer made the point that the price tag for the work was well more than the reviewer considered appropriate and listed several other authors that the reviewer felt provided better content for a much fairer price.

That was it. No personal attack on the author, just a valid observation on a perceived lack of value in return for the amount spent on the product in question. Nick, reportedly, lost his shit. Wailing to the cosmos at large on his social media about how unfair this criticism was.

First, Nick violated the first rule of reviews for authors. Never respond to the negative reviews – aside from thanks for reading it. You never look good when you attack a reviewer for giving their honest opinion – whether you feel it is justified or not.

Second, maybe Nick should have taken a second or two to consider this from the reviewer’s point of view. Maybe this person has a limited budget to devote to their book buying.

With the same $10 bucks that person just dropped on your one book, they could buy three of mine and walk away with at least a dollar ($4 if they bought the All-in-one Del Rio series e-book) in their pocket. Getting more for less is always attractive, especially when the quality of the less costly product is the superior of the two.

So the question those of you charging $9 or more for one e-book is this: Why? You don’t have to. You really don’t.

Amazon pays a royalty of  70% or roughly $6.90 for every e-book copy sold. If you are an Indie author, you’d get the full amount. A publisher like Tor gets the full amount and pays the author a percentage out of that royalty. It doesn’t take many sales for that to add up to a large chunk of cheddar.

At $2.99 each, as I am full-Indie, I get about $2 a book. And that’s just fine for me. Better yet, my readers get a great story and have some money left over. Say, to buy a coffee at Starbucks (or your local equivalent of Scooters) to sip while they are reading one of my books, perhaps?

So what do you say Nick? Tor? All of the other larger presses overcharging for something that you can’t even hold in your hand by itself? What say you all?

Let’s bring those sky-high e-book prices back down to Earth and give the readers out there more for their money. Before we price our readers out of the market.

Because without them we have nothing.



Good Guys 1, Pirates 0

Good news, the first of the four illegally uploaded copies of the audiobook edition of Escaping Infinity has been taken down by YouTube. The remaining copies will soon follow suit.

It turns out a quick e-mail to Audible this morning led to a quick e-mail from Audible to YouTube and after a little bit of this:


The illegal copy was dispatched.

If you are an author or narrator, please search YouTube – and do the search after you have logged out if you have an account – to make sure your content has not been stolen too.

If it has, file a complaint with both YouTube and Audible and action will be taken. Audible is losing a ton of money on these pirated copies and they are cracking down hard on the practice. But they need us to help them spot all of the illegal uploads.

But for tonight at least, the pirates have taken a shot amidships. They are taking on water and listing badly.

And that’s a good thing for the good guys!

And if you’d like to obtain a copy of one of my books, e-book or audio, please follow this link and purchase one of the many books you will find Amazon links to on the page.

A Blast From The Past

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews on radio shows and online blogs about writing and my books.

There’s one that is coming up soon that has an interesting idea. They ask their guests to talk about their first library, the one where they got into reading. The idea being that this early introduction to reading planted the seed for the writing to come.

And I think its a great idea. No spoilers, you’ll have to wait a few weeks for mine to show. I will link to it when it goes live. But they also asked for a picture of their guest reading at a young age – or something reading related if no photo existed.

I started reading when I was four. You would think as often as I had my face buried in a book someone would have snapped a photo. But after a lengthy search across several states, no photo was found.

But there was one picture of me at about four years of age. And it may have foreshadowed what was to come. Here it is…



I don’t have a clear memory of this moment – hey cut me some slack, its been 50 freaking years – but rumor has it that my story started out this way…



That First Review

There is no period of time longer, more feared and dreaded, than the period of time between a new book release and the first review appearing on Amazon. Because no matter how good you think that novel is, you just don’t know what the other seven billion people on the planet are going to think of it.

So you let your skiff of paper set sail onto the ocean of book readers and pray for fair skies and following seas. And then you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Each second feels like a day until that moment when the first review pops up.

Then comes that dreaded feeling like no other as you click to open it and see what the verdict is.

Last week, my new novel, When The Gods Fell, was released and I’ve spent the last few days wondering: Will she sail the waters or sink to the bottom? Today, I got an early indication. The first review hit.

Summing it up, the reviewer gave it 4 out of 5 stars and laid out an in-depth and very fair and balanced review. Check it out right here.

If the review has you intrigued, give the book a read. Its available on Amazon in both e-book and print formats. An audiobook is on the way but will likely be a couple of more weeks before it becomes available.

Here’s the link to buy the book.

Of course, one review is not a certain guarantee of overall success. But I’ve found that the first review usually is a good indicator of what is to follow. So many thanks to Ambrose for a great review and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as he did.