Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Does Amazon One-Click Devalue Writing?

Country music is something I've listened to since I was a kid. My dad was a huge country music fan, and I can still see him dancing to HonkyTonk BadonkyDonk. That, of course, is a whole other story. LOL.

What I love about country music, however, is the story behind the songs. My favorite songs are ones that have a deeper meaning than the song itself. There's a line in Automatic that says, "Cause when everything's handed to you, it's only worth the time you put in.'


So what does this have to do with books and writing? After listening to this song it got me thinking about a conversation I stumbled upon recently about e-book prices.

Twenty years ago no one knew what an e-book was. There was no such thing as Amazon one-click. Readers thought nothing of going to a bookstore, spending hours combing through books, and then shelling out twenty dollars for a few hours of entertainment in the form of a story. While Amazon and other e-book retailers have opened up the market to authors who may otherwise never have the opportunity to see their stories published, have they also caused writing to be devalued because it's now so easy to access? Because it only takes seconds to download a book rather than the minutes, or even hours depending on how far you were from a bookstore, do readers take for granted the months authors put into writing a quality book?

What do you think? Has the value of books as a whole been damaged by the ability to easily download to e-readers?

14 comments:

  1. I don't think "one-click" devalues writing. I think because readers don't have an actual physical, tangible book in their hands, some don't perceive an ebook as having the same value as a hard copy. However, I think one-click has placed many more books into readers hands. And it has been a tremendous boon to the erotic romance market because readers don't have to flash around the cover of the book they're reading.

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  2. I agree with Cara. I sell many more e-books now than I did hard copy. I love country music Sherri and I believe every song has a story. Vince Gill once sang a song and the line 'nobody answers when I call your name...' still makes me cry, regardless of how often I listen to it. I listen to that and can create a whole sad, poignant scene with ease.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Mary. One click has certainly increased the accessibility of books. Does increased accessibility and easy decrease the perceived value, though. That's the question.

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    2. No, I don't think it decreases the value. Authors do still have to write the book and I've read many good self-published books. But I've read some not so good and I think that might be an area we can concentrate on. Is there a way to separate the good from the bad (and ugly). :-)

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    3. LOL. I think that is a whole other issue, Mary.

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  3. I think the notion of decreased value was the argument against ebooks when the format was in its infancy, fostered by the big publishing houses, which saw their hold on the market being severely damaged by the ease of purchase offered by Amazon's One-Click and others. What they failed to see and acknowledge is that ebooks and purchasing by One-Click only serves to increase sales. Sales have historically served as the measure of a book value. Why then should ebook sales decrease said value? In my opinion, values can only be increased.

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  4. Thank you for your comment, Cheryl. I would point out that value and increased general sales don't necessary equal increased value. Here is an example of what I mean. My husband is a cabinetmaker. He spent years training to be able to make heirloom quality furniture. Yet, his furniture, that will most likely last to be passed down to the next generation, is compared to furniture made by huge manufacturers and stamped out on a an assembly line with little care or concern by its makers. The lower cost furniture sells more. Does that make it more valuable? Should it be? Or is the custom piece that has been carefully crafted by someone who put hours of work into every detail be valued more? Most people who have bought furniture from box stores think nothing of tossing it to the curb when it falls apart. There is little value there, yet more mass market end tables are sold than those made by individual craftsmen.

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  5. I don't think it does. When I read, no matter the format, if the story is good and well written then I am impressed by the work. There are books that I have the hard copy of and an e-book of just for ease for example if I am traveling and want to make sure I have plenty of good books to keep me entertained.
    While going to a bookstore and wandering around for hours looking for just the right book to read can be fun, there is a lot to be said for one click buying. I am an introvert so having to put up with people to drive to a bookstore and then the people that are at the store, well lets say it has been a very long time since I spent more than 20 minutes at a bookstore. With one click buying I can look at books to my hearts content I don't have to put up with bad drivers, and inconsiderate or rude people at a store, and if I finish a book at midnight I can go online and buy a new book or another book in the series without having to wait for a store to be open.
    Unless a book is really bad I usually keep them and read them more than once. Some of my fave books I have read at least once a year since I first read them I have bought one book 4 times twice as the reg book (the first one fell apart) once as an audio book (because it wasn't in e-book format and wanted to have it for a vacation so I listened to it during the drive to my destination) and finally as an e-book (my second hard copy was getting beaten up again). That book has yet to get old and reading it on my Kindle doesn't make it less enjoyable because I don't have the book in my hand while reading it.

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    1. I have a friend, and fellow author, who's also an introvert. I'm sure she would agree wholeheartedly with you.

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  6. I always felt it was more because there was a lower cost of production or overhead so it made pricing more desirable. I think I have bought many more ebook than I would have bought on paper. Plus time savings for me. I don't like going to the bookstore and looking for hours.

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    1. Good point. Thank you for commenting.

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  7. I don't think a book that is hard to get is any more valuable than a book you access with "one-click." What I think devalues writing is bad writing and sloppily edited writing. I think there are still plenty of well written, well thought out books but there is an increasing amount of bad writing. I am all for allowing writers opportunity to be read but I think one needs to know how to write, how to tell a story. That is, I don't thnk the desire to write a book, to see one's name on a book cover is reason enough to publish. The question always is Okay so you WANT to write but CAN you write?

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