Monday, February 2, 2009

There's No Going Back

Bargain Hunting for Books and Feeling Sheepish About It” is a great article by David Streitfeld on the changing habits of book buyers and their impact on publishers, authors, readers, and traditional bookstores. Streitfeld’s aghast comes from his participation in the very habits that are changing the publishing industry forever – buying a book for little money over the Internet versus shopping at a brick and mortar bookstore.

As an author I certainly understand the negative side effects of Internet technology – publishers are laying off employees, bookstores are closing, and authors are receiving far less in royalties. Even booksellers don’t make a lot of money – there are so many copies available of the most titles pricing is very competitive. These are exactly the reasons I just purchased two books over the Internet. From the behemoth Amazon, no less.

Without leaving the comfort of my home, I paid under $26 for both titles, which are being shipped to my front door. No wasting gas driving to the bookstore, then spending time searching for the titles, requesting help when I can’t find what I’m looking for, then making the return trip, etc. What would take an hour took less than 10 minutes. Engaging the Internet I saved time, got a decent competitive price, and had my choice of copies to choose from, some used and some new.

I don’t feel sheepish as Streitfeld apparently did. Would I like to get more royalties for my novel? Of course! At the same time, there’s no going back to way books were sold pre-Internet. As a writer, I need to let go of worrying about how many books I’m selling vs. readers who purchase the novel for less money through booksellers, love it, and spread the word.

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