March 24, 2010

Misguided Aggression

Apparently there's a big kerfuffle going on right now over at Amazon.com. Certain books are getting a raft of one star reviews, drastically lowering their overall ranking. Theoretically, this is leading to less sales of those lower-ranked titles. Less theoretically, the result of all the single star reviews is intentional. The reason for this boycott that isn't really a boycott? Those books aren't available in Kindle-form.

Now, this is far from the first issue to arise from Amazon's reader reviews (search on Amazon and Anne Rice for an example), but it is the latest to highlight one of the reasons I don't like ebooks: they give the appearance of a major layer between the author and the reader not existing. I have no doubt that most readers think authors are just uploading their books and pocketing the money from sales of their ebooks. So of course they're going to assume that the lack of a kindle version of a book when other forms are available is a deliberate move on the author's part, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

I don't believe ebooks, themselves, are the next evil to beseige publishing. In fact, there are cases (and a lot of them) where ebooks make complete sense. Specifically, referential texts and for people who travel and can't bring their paper books with them. No, it's not really ebooks I have a problem with, but the way they're being positioned. If you listen to anyone (or read any blogs) it would appear that "ebooks are paper book killers!". Which is stupid. Paper books aren't going anywhere.

Ebooks, in reality, are just another form for stories to take, just like paperbacks and audiobooks. Why every new thing has to be an [insert name of old thing] killer nowadays, I have no idea. Was television the death of movies? Is snowboarding the death of skiing? Of course not.

No, paper books will weather this storm just fine. The current generation of authors, on the other hand, may not.

And to those perpetrating this attack, that thing on your neck isn't just to fill hats. Do you really think a handful of authors complaining to their publishers will have the same effect as all of you doing something useful like writing letters to those same publishers?

1 comment:

~Jamie said...

I wish we would just embrace ebooks. It's just like you said... they are JUST another form of getting a story to people. Who cares what medium they read it in?

Thanks for stopping by Elana's blog today and reading my interview!