Smashwords’ Mark Coker had a conference call with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) this week to discuss the ongoing investigation into the agency book pricing model. In a blog post, Coker has now explained (at length, and with graphs) his views on the subject.
The gist of Coker’s argument is that indie authors are the future of publishing and that authors and publishers should have the freedom to decide their own pricing. That’s a fairly uncontroversial position, but there are others who argue that retailers should ultimately decide how much is being charged for a product in their own store.
It’s a complex issue, but one worth getting your head round if you’re an indie author. After all, the price of your book says something about you, and readers react differently (not just in terms of purchasing decisions, but in terms of their perception of your author brand) based on the price of your work. Readers (and authors) aren’t dumb, and they know there’s a reason why one book costs 99 cents and another costs $10.
In a dynamic market with no monopolies, authors should be free to go with whichever retailer offers them (in their view) the best terms. This is another reason why monopolistic practices in the publishing industry need to be fought. If you don’t like the terms that one retailer offers, you hopefully have options to go to others. But ultimately the issue comes down to control, and it’s another reminder of the dangers of having power concentrated in just a few hands.