Big Book Announcement Thingy (I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore)

I just sent this to my Uber Inner Circle list (the email list that people who buy my crap end up on if they want to be -- do you want to be? look at the bottom of the quoted message for the subscribe link). It sums everything up nicely. The only addition I'll make is on pricing:

Preorder pricing is honored. The price will not increase.

After launch, the paperback book's cover price will have to go up to $21.95 because it's nearly 800 pages (instead of 270ish).

But the ebook price will remain $2.99.

Let me know what you think in the comments.


Penguin Is Out Of Their Minds. 
I'm furious (but happy, but furious) and here's why
So here's the deal: Last night (Sunday Apr 22), I saw that my 2nd book was only $1.20 on Amazon. Last time that happened, everyone jumped on it and we "hacked" Amazon's top seller list by making a 3 year old book #2 on the top 25 books. It was CRA-ZAY. So, I facey-tweet+'d it out to everyone, and right now, it's #31 on the bestseller list (if you want to participate, http://tinyurl.com/mibook2 -- here you go :) )

And all along, people have asked me about Kindle editions, and why my books aren't on e-readers. The truth is, it is -- but Penguin, in its infinite wisdom (meaning, price fixing) decided to charge $12.99 for a digital copy that costs them zero dollars and zero cents ($0.00) to distribute.

I fought this. I didn't win. It's still $12.99. So I delisted it with the 2nd book and attached it to the first, out of print book. This hid it for the most part, and kept people from being what I consider to be ripped off.   But today in 2012, e-readers are so much more popular than they were when the book came out. They're even more popular than just a year ago when we played this trick on Amazon the first time.

I don't know what sparked it in me this time, but I'm angry. It pisses me off that people who want my book have to pay such an insane price to have a bunch of 1's and 0's on their e-reader. Now, I can't take down the digital version of the 2nd MI book. I can't do anything about it, actually. That aspect of the contract I signed, i can't touch. And I can't put out my own competing version of that book at a more reasonable price.

So, whatcha gonna do about it, Joe? 
No, seriously, whatcha gonna do?
Funny you should ask. What I've decided to do with your permission: I'm going to turn the 3rd MI book into an "omnibus" edition. I'm going to take the entire first book, the entire 2nd book, and the contents of the entire 3rd book and stick them out there as the "Really Really Mentally Incontinent" book. This will get me around all of the copyright gobbledygook that keeps me from reprinting the first book or releasing my own edition of the 2nd book on Kindle.

The good news -- you've already bought it [if you preordered, that is --Joe]. Even though the pagecount is about to triple, the price you've paid is going to guarantee you a copy of the book, both physically and digitally.

The "eh, not that bad" news -- it may take a tiny bit longer to get this together, but the truth is, it won't take THAT long. Adding the chapters and contents from the first two books is going to increase the overall thickness of the book, which will cause a slight redesign of the cover (since the spine width is part of the design), and it's going to take a bit to format the interior template to accomodate all the new material. But to make all of my writing affordibaly accessible to everyone who wants it, I think it's worth it.

But I want your OK. Please reply to me (if you don't mind) and let me know what you think.

Ok, I'm done now. You can delete this.

Your Pal Joe The Peacock
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Some debate has opened up on the Facebook thread about this discussion. I'd like to clarify a few points.

Dorothy Sasser wrote:
I'm gonna instantly become REALLY unpopular here but... I have a friend who works in the publishing industry. and like you, she rants about the pricing models they've chosen to follow. So while she agrees, pricing is out of whack: distributing digital material through commercial venues isn't free. It's not. It's servers, it's bandwidth, it's payment tracking technology, yada, yada, yada. And you know this Joe - ain't NUTHING in life free. So, if it's not worth what they're charging to use their backend, then go the Louis CK route and do it on your own (entirely possible, btw), price it as you see appropriate and reward your readers that way for their devotion. But don't rant about your deals with the behemoths because they charge for their service, or wax on about how to 'screw the man' out of the deal you signed; that's disingenuous.

My reply:
Not to be rude, but being honest, you don't know what you're arguing about. I'm not happy with the pricing on an ebook version of a deal i signed -- they did not tell me what that pricing would be when I signed the deal, only that they were planning on a digital release. Once the deal was signed, I still didn't know what the price was. Only after the book was released did I find out what they were charging ($12.99).

Now, the publisher does a lot for a writer. They edit, they promote, they package, they ship, they buy shelf space (yes, buy), and they send checks. The price they pay the writer is sometimes too low, sometimes fair, and sometimes a shitty "writer" makes a fortune for crap (see: Snooki). But that's all PRINT.

Now, you're right -- it's not FREE to publish a digital version of a print book. The cost to lay out the digital version is... Well, nothing. Unless you fraction out the time spent putting it together for print, which is disingenuous, because the template for print and the template for digital release are pretty much already made and to convert takes seconds.

There IS a cost to send the file to Amazon, and that is the cost of internet to the building. Divide that across how many books they digitally upload per month, and you're looking at a cost of below one penny.

So, yes, it's not free, but it's infinitesimally small. So I just called it "free." At any rate, there's no shipping of physical goods, no shelf space, and no retail outlet. It's a digital file. It costs nearly nothing to distribute. To charge $12.99 for it is fine in a free economy, but I personally think it's robbery, and I won't stand for it.

And to clarify, i'm not "sticking it to the man" -- I'm sticking to my principles. There's a difference, even though sometimes the two do overlap.

Dorothy Sasser's reply:
I know more than you think, Joe. That said, if your complaint w/the publisher is no control over the price of your product, then you need to control the distribution mechanism and not rant about screwing the people you signed up with. Dustin has the right idea. But I can't stand up behind the notion that you're actively looking for ways to screw the people you signed with, because you didn't have a say in the pricing - and unless I'm misinterpreting what you wrote (which is possible), you never did have a say. 
Regardless, I wish you success in book sales. :)
My reply:
I'm not trying to screw anyone. I'd say that, through collusion and price fixing, they're trying to screw everyone. I'm just trying to make something that is already available for free on my website (yes, even the 2nd book material which is printed and published by Penguin) easily distributed to Amazon Kindles and other e-readers. The current gatekeepers charge to high a price, and I have the right to distribute that material in its current parts how I wish, so I'm wishing.

Agree or disagree, Dorothy is brining up some very valid points in the ongoing conversation that is big publishing vs. self publishing. The conversation continues here if you'd like to join (and be nice).