Last week, the NY Times reported that publishers will be raising prices on new release e-books from $9.99 to as high as $14.99. People who shelled out several hundred bucks for an e-book reader, and who seem to think they were promised that e-books would stay the same price forever, are angry. And so, they've taken to the practice of leaving one-star reviews on the creative products of their favorite writers.
I can understand the frustration, I suppose -- I mean, if iTunes all of a sudden started selling new records for $14.99, and didn't do a good job of explaining why, I'd be disappointed too. In the case of e-books, the anger mostly comes from a lack of understanding about the real cost of publishing a book. As the NY Times piece points out, you're not paying for the printing and paper when you a buy a book (and avoiding that cost when you buy an e-book), you're paying for a creative work, as well as the editing, marketing and other overhead required to put it out into the marketplace.
But, for the purposes of this post, that is beside the point. I'm much more concerned about the vocal minority who have taken to the one-star-review as their form of protest. I mean, by any objective rationale, a one-star review that has nothing to do with the content is not only idiotic, in an indirect way, it actually does impugn the content of the book itself.
Here's why: I'd never suggest that an Amazon review or a quick glance at the average star-rating should be the only criteria in a book-purchase decision. But for many people, they do hold a lot of weight. So several of these idiotic one-star reviews actually can negatively affect book sales.
So, if you'll follow me on a bit of a stretch scenario, not only is this practice stupid, it is also totally counterproductive. If book sales decrease, publishers will have to raise all prices, e-book included, further to stay in business and then NO ONE WINS!
Look, I know decrying the one-star-protest isn't exactly going out on an ideological limb. But, to me, this is the biggest shame about this whole e-book price kerfuffle. It makes me angry when I see one (on this new biography of Willie Mays, for instance), and even angrier when a reviewer tries to justify it - "this is a product review, not a book review."
So, as someone who strongly believes in the integrity of book reviews, I'd urge you to pay these vocal idiots no mind. Continue to click the "No" under the "Was this review helpful?" and I'll continue to petition Amazon and B&N to have reviews that have nothing to do with the content removed from their site.
Now, on a much happier note: The winner of my Zadie Smith giveaway is.....Kerry, at Entomology of a Bookworm. Congrats!