|It'd be nice if being awesome covered rent... but we're not there yet.|
As someone who was coming of age during the time of Napster, I remember the seductiveness of it. Downloading a digital copy (usually of a song I already owned on CD at first) made it so easy to put together the music I loved. I justified it to myself, saying that I didn't have a lot of money, and it was greedy of the big music corporations to ask me to spend $10-$20 on a CD with a dozen songs, only a few of which I actually liked.
Then someone said something to me that changed how I saw it forever. That yes, maybe the corporations were greedy and only paying their artists pennies on the dollar, so that the artist I loved was only getting a dime from my $10 purchase. By refusing to buy it, I was denying the Evil Corporation its $9.90. But I was also denying the artist their dime. And I needed to remember that most artists needed those dimes if they were going to continue to make art.
It was an eye-opener. And as I became one of those dime-hungry artists myself, I started to see how not paying that $10 affected more than just the person whose name is on the front of the creation.
A book is more than just the author's creation.
There are editors, usually several of them for each book, all spending a significant amount of time (weeks and sometimes months) on very painstaking and sometimes tedious work. (I would not be able to spend my professional career searching for misplaced commas for a line edit.)
There is the cover illustrators, who are artists themselves and deserve proper recompense.
There are the support staff. All of the people who keep the business running and who make sure readers and vendors know about the amazing books that are out there.
And we can't forget the author, who has likely spent months, if not years, in the process of creating the story.
When looked at from that angle, there are a lot of people who are putting a lot of time and energy into creating a book (and this doesn't change according to the format, whether digital, physical or audio). They all need to be paid out of that $10.
So now I want to say something to those who are upset about book prices. I get it. Times are tough and money doesn't stretch very far.
But when you see a publisher charging $10-$12 for an ebook, instead of thinking the publisher is trying to take advantage of readers, please think of it as a publisher who is treating their staff and authors with respect, and paying them for their work.