The Value of Free Things (Part 2)

Have you all heard of this? Amazon has a policy where customers can return an e-book, even after reading it, for a full refund. Readers, no fools they, are beginning to use Amazon as a lending library, at great cost to authors. Don’t like this? Neither do I! Well, there’s a petition you can sign.

The Value of a Book

Most traditionally published e-books are between $12-$14 on Amazon, and often get marked down to $1.99 for an entire month. Self-published e-books are usually less than $5. Much less. So, why this need to get even that for free? I’ve had people gush to me about my novels, and then tell me that they are letting all their friends borrow it and everyone is loving it. Although I’m over the moon that people are reading and loving my novels, the crucial point everyone is missing is that an author needs to make a certain minimum number of sales in order for a publisher to want to continue publishing them.

For self-published authors this situation is downright dire.

Piracy vs. Libraries vs. Amazon’s return policy

Just so we’re clear on the terminology here:

Piracy = Stealing. You’re getting a book for free, but neither the publisher nor the author gets paid. It’s bad. Don’t do it. If your friends are doing it, shame them into using a library instead.

Amazon’s kindle return policy = Author has to pay the download fee, which is not reimbursed when the book is returned. Author does not get paid for you reading the book, and then has to pay for your return. Not illegal, but distasteful and harmful to authors. If you really want the book for free, use the library.

Libraries = Author gets paid, publisher gets paid. You’re still getting the book for free, but everyone got paid and everyone feels happy. In fact, the more books you get from the library and the more books you request they buy, the better it is for everyone. Libby is an excellent app to read e-books from your library.

The Value of Creativity

There is a mindset prevalent in our society that creativity and creative pursuits are trivial. The sad part about this is that even creative people buy into this and feel that their drive to create something is not as meaningful as–fill in the blank. Despite the fact that society churns with music, television programs, cartoons for the kids, fashion, or that the internet is actually designed by actual designers who went to actual art schools, creativity is treated as something anyone can do.

This is why authors are approached and asked to write for free. How many of us have heard a variation on this? “I have a story you wouldn’t believe. Write it for me and we’ll share the massive profits.”

What has been your experience with any of the above? Continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Emilya Naymark

Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in the Bouchercon 2023 Anthology, A Stranger Comes to Town: edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.

When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

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