It is: From this point forward, if you post a comment on a Big Idea post in which the focus of the comment is how you don’t like the price of the e-book, I’m just going to delete it.
Why? Primarily because here at the tail end of 2011, I find the subject boring and I find the people who get huffy about an electronic book not being [insert price you believe for whatever reason an eBook should be] are exhibiting a particularly tiresome sort of entitlement, to wit, that owning an electronic book reader means that you are possibly obliged to announce your opinion on book pricing at every turn. See, the thing is: You’re not. You don’t have to. At this point, I wish you wouldn’t.
You know, I have several objects in the house capable of reading an electronic book, ranging from a dedicated Nook e-reader to an iPad to a desktop computer. I buy electronic books all the time, and occasionally I will come across one priced higher than I want to pay. What do I do then? Easy: I don’t buy it and I move on with my life. I don’t post about how I didn’t buy it because I thought the price was too high, etc. Because life is short and there are really more interesting things to talk about and to do with one’s time.
I think it’s important to understand that eBooks are not special snowflakes; they’re just books in electronic form. As someone who prefers to read in eBook form, you are not substantially different from someone who prefers hardcovers, or trade paperbacks, or mass market paperbacks. If someone who preferred paperbacks (or at the very least paperback pricing) showed up on my site on a regular basis to whine and moan about how books should always be priced at that paperback level, on a comment thread that is meant to be on another subject entirely, I would find them tiresome too. Books: They have variable price points! Based on release dates, consumer interest and format, among many other factors! If you don’t like the price point, wait — it’ll come down eventually. Or visit the library (which in many cases you can do with electronic books now) and borrow the thing legally.
There’s another reason I’m going to be deleting eBook price kvetching from Big Idea posts, which is that, simply put, going into a comment thread of a Big Idea and making a big show of why you’re not going to buy the book because of a price point that the author very frequently has absolutely no control over kind of makes you a dick. Authors are already neurotic and twitchy about how the book is going to be received; you going in and announcing “I will not buy your book for reasons entirely unrelated to your writing and about which you were given no say” is really cluelessly rude. If you want to complain about the pricing, please do — to someone who actually has the wherewithal to do something about it, namely, the publisher. They are not hard to find and e-mail.
The shorter version of this: Complaining about eBook prices on Big Idea threads is a) usually off-topic, b) kind of mean to the author, c) something I’m bored with at this point in any event. So from now on, when I see a comment like it, it’ll likely get the Mallet. Just thought I’d make that clear for everyone moving forward.
Update, 12/27: A follow-up entry, of sorts, is here.