You tell me: “Spamazon” and ebook pricing

From Livia Blackburne‘s Twitter feed I came across this post about self-published spam ebooks that are clogging Amazon’s Kindle marketplace. (The original Reuters article can be found here at Yahoo.) It caught my eye because of several things I’ve read lately, one being former agent and current YA author Nathan Bransford’s recent poll on what readers think is a fair price for ebooks. Then, of course, there was the New York Times piece on Amanda Hocking who got her start self-publishing (the quote that stands out for me there, and not in a good way, is, “For me to be a billion-dollar author,” she would tell me later, “I need to have people buying my books at Wal-Mart.”)

This gets back to quantity-versus-quality  and how the flood of ebooks can make it nearly impossible for a good, legitimate work to make its voice heard in the marketplace. It’s always been a challenge for small, independent, and midlist writers. For me, it also highlights the continued importance of the role that gatekeepers play in the traditional publishing process.

What do you think: Is price a reliable way to determine the relative merits of an ebook? Or are you more or less likely to take a chance on an ebook priced at 99 cents because, even if it’s crap, it was only a buck?

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4 thoughts on “You tell me: “Spamazon” and ebook pricing

  1. I would rather pay more and get a book worth reading. That includes work from new and established writers. For example, I believe I got ANNA KARENINA for free on my Nook. It’s riddled with errors and wrong words. I had to stop reading it. I’d rather pay for a translation wherein errors don’t jerk me out of the story.

    If a writer doesn’t value his or her work, why should I? And I mean that both in monetary terms and in terms of producing a readable book.

    • I’m surprised that the ebook conversion of public domain novels has not occurred to me before now. I’m reading THE SEA WOLF, which came bundled with my Kobo, and so far that’s been a good experience. But if it’s so poorly composed as to be unreadable, a free book is hardly worth the price.

      • I’m trying to remember which other novels were free–from among the classics (Tom and I both have some newer free books in which mistakes are legion). Nothing seems to have been quite as poorly done as Anna, though.

  2. Whatever it costs, I want it to sound interesting to me. I’ve found some new authors that have entertained me by trying out one of their works that didn’t cost much–and I’ve read some bad stuff, too. I guess my problem with ebooks and their pricing, though, is the well known authors who’s works cost more as an ebook than even the same book in print does.

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