Rants 'n' Raves

Greedy Authors/Publishers

I am, I freely confess, an avid reader. There are weeks where I will, literally, read 3 or 4 books depending on my work and travel schedule, however a trend seems to be appearing, at least in the books that I read, that I find just a little annoying.

I recently (at the time of writing) read the fifth book in the "Harry Potter" series, entitled, "The Order Of The Phoenix". I was, however dismayed to see it come out only in hardback. I have all of the Harry Potter books, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them, but I think it is a real metaphorical stab in the back the way this most recent book has been released at such a relatively high price point.

The first 4 Harry Potter books, to my knowledge, were made immediately available in paperback, priced (in the UK at least) at £5.99 each. The fifth has been released only in hardback, with a cover price more than double this amount. As an adult with my own source of income, it falls to me to decide if I'm willing to pay for it or not, but what about the literally millions of children worldwide who have no choice but to bug the hell out of parents to buy it for them - more importantly, what about those who are on tight budgets, for which £13+ is a little much to be splashing out on?

J. K. Rowling is probably one of the richest authors on the planet. I am pretty sure she is the richest female author anyway, and I was, franky, disgusted to see this happen with the pricing of this latest book.

It is my opinion that this is simply an act of gross dis-loyalty to her readers. I would expect that very few people have read "The Order Of The Phoenix" as their first foray into the world of Harry Potter. I would think that most people who have bought and read it have done so as a result of reading the first 4 books, and wanted to keep up with the adventures of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid et al. These are the readers who have remained loyal and supportive, and in response have been charged more than double the normal rate for their "fix" of Potter - and I think that is an abuse and frankly an insult to those who have bought, bought and bought again.

This is NOT, however a tirade againt J. K. Rowling personally, more a comment on a growing trend in the publishing industry. I also read the vast majority of Star Trek books as they come out, and have been similarly stung on a couple of occasions by these books. A mini-series will be started, then once you get to the 4th or 5th book in the series, the final conclusion will be released only in hardback, again at more than twice the price of the original books in the series - if you have been loyal and bought each installment as it comes out - if you have already spent a consderable amount on the books to date, you're going to want to read the conclusion and the bumping up of the prices on them is just abusive of that trust and loyalty.

Yes, I know writers are out to make a living, but I also know that authors make a good living from paperbacks alone - to return to the example of J.K Rowling, she was a rich woman well before the 5th book came out. Peter David, author of the Excalibur Star Trek series - you are just as bad. And there are others too numerous to mention.

If you want an extreme comparison, it could almost be compared to drug dealing... You start off cheap, getting the customer insterested, and then, when they're hooked, you screw em for every penny you think you can get.

This is annoying for another (admittedly vain) reason. I buy books rather than borrow them from the library, as I often re-read them. I keep these books (not surprisingly) on bookshelves, and in some kind of sensible order. I like them to look tidy - I like sets of books to LOOK like sets of books, but when this price hiking happens, you lose the continuity. I have 4 Harry Potter books which line up nicely as a set, with similar looking spines, then a comparatively huge 5th one which looks completely out of place, and in no way "fits in".

What do I want to see? I want to see authors and publishers show their readers some of the loyalty that their readers show them. Not asking a lot, just asking them to treat us the way we treat them....

I also know that, there is no chance of it happening - after all - we're just the people that pay the wages - why should we be important?