Saturday, 6 October 2012
Show Me The Money - Elen Caldecott
I never studied economics at all, but I have a vague idea that the cost of things, commodities, objects, is determined by balancing what people are willing to sell it for with what people are willing to pay. Plus taxes, of course.
More recently, J K Rowling suffered a series (what's the collective noun? A witch-hunt? A mass hysteria?) of 1-star reviews, based solely on the fact that the £12 price-tag of the ebook was deemed too expensive. The convenience of an instant book wasn't worth it to the reviewers.
Of course, much of the vitriol came from the fact that JK is assumed not to need the money (there was little mention of the publishers who presumably paid huge amounts for the rights and need to make back their investment).
So, does the value of a product change if the person selling it doesn't need the money? There's a slim case for that, based on my understanding of how prices are set. But the amount of time spent on making the product isn't any less. The effort and graft are the same.
There seems to be an idea, among the general public, that writers are either starving in attics (which is considered stupid, but morally sound), or greedy fat-cats milking their fans.
I know lots of writers, but I know none who match either image. Most are trying to maintain a modest life-style through precarious means. Like any small-business owners, they have to be mindful of income and expenditure.
If you don't think the price is worth it to you, wait until it becomes available in a cheaper format, wait 48 hours for the hardback to be delivered, but don't insist that the seller has to change their position. No-one owes writers a living, but equally, no-one has the right to take that living away. Not even from the rich ones.
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