Author James Patterson thinks he hates e-books and that they’re destroying libraries and bookstores, but in my humble opinion what he really hates is that the new technology allows upstarts like me to sell books that are way cheaper than his novels.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll whip through a Patterson novel as quickly as the millions of others who gobble up his stories, but I think he can afford the competition. After all, according to Forbes, Patterson made $90 million dollars last year. (Million should be said with a Doctor Evil emphasis) That definitely makes him one of the 1%.
I guess that’s why Patterson was able to afford a full page ad a few years ago in the New York Times Book Review calling for a government bailout of the traditional publishing industry. Who can blame him for wanting things to stay the same? He’s done well with the old publishing model.
What has surprised me over the last three years is how many newspapers and news websites share Patterson’s attitude to this new way of distributing books. Articles appear in everything from the New York Times to Salon and Slate decrying the growing e-book market and demonizing Amazon for trying to bring down the price of e-books in the face of price fixing and collusion among the big publishers.
So I was floored when Slate published an article titled “In Defence of Amazon.” Author Neal Pollack admits that he’s not making making the kind of money that Patterson rakes in every year, but he points out that a lot of little authors have been well treated by Amazon and are making some walking around money even if they’re not quitting their day jobs.
I know it’s easier for the big publishers to sell a million copies of one novel rather than 100,000 copies of ten novels, and certainly they get more bang for the advertising buck if they put it all behind one title, but isn’t it better for readers and authors if there is more choice out there? Isn’t it better for publishing that a bunch of authors are making a living rather than just 1%? It’s odd that most of the media outlets that sympathetically covered the Occupy Wall Street movement don’t seem to notice that the publishing industry suffers from a similar disparity. The working poor (authors) don’t have nearly the opportunities (or publisher support) of the 1% like James Patterson.
So I say thanks to Slate for seeing the other side of the issue, for understanding that some authors like Amazon.