Standards, or the lack there of, in publishing..




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Why are there no standards in electronic publishing?

I realize that’s a pretty open-ended question so let me be more specific about the topic of my ire this morning. Why are there no standards in regards to PRICING in electronic publishing?

Last night I decided to buy a book that had been recommended to me. I know, exciting venture. So I buy said book for $6.00. When I open up the book, I realize that in PDF format, it’s a little over 100 pages. However, it’s got that really funky formatting with overly enlarged margin and about two paragraphs of text in the center. So the word count is actually 32,000 words.

So $6.00 for 32,000 words.

Yet yesterday I bought another book for $4.00, which was 24,000 words.

And last week I bought a book for $6.00 which was 124,000 words.

The last print book I bought was $6.99, I don’t know the word count but it was a typical paperback of 420 pages.

Now if I buy any of the e-books in paperback, they’re all larger books that cost between $9-14 per book.


Seriously, do I have to spell it out? Or post a picture of a rabbit with a pancake?


There are absolutely no standards in pricing and publishing. In print, due to the fact that you can pick up the book and SEE if it’s going to be all of 10 pages long, the pricing tends to run pretty similar. Some publishers try to eek out and charge a paperback at $7.99 but it’s usually within the ballpark of $7-8 for 300 to 500 pages. Wide disparity still but the upside of that is that I can visually see the book I’m buying or is listed with an accurate number of pages.

However there are no such ballparks in electronic publishing. I swear publishers try to pretend their books are longer by calling them extended novellas. By the way, the definition of a novella puts the word count between 17,500 and 40,000. An extended novella also, is called a novel.  So your novella of 32,000 is not a novel. It’s not an extended novella. It is in fact a novella and should be priced accordingly. Do not pretend it’s a novel and charge $6.00 for the overly large margins and small text. Is this high school where students try to get away with 15 point font and 2.5 inch margins?  

I don’t want to feel cheated by publisher antics. I’m more than willing to pay for my books and most of everything reviewed on my blog are books I paid for myself. The only books I get free are those I review for sites, which is honestly such a small percentage of the massive number of books I buy and read. However, if I am not incredibly vigilant about watching the number count, I find myself feeling cheated. When I bought said book last night, I wasn’t paying attention. I just wanted the book and committed the cardinal sin of simply assuming its price was relevant to its content length.

However, what alternative do I have? I wanted the book therefore I had to buy it for the price it was listed. There are several publishing houses that are worse than others about this. One reason I err to Torquere Press is that they have a well-defined list of how the lengths of their publications fit into various categories and the same pricing for anything in that category. I know exactly what I am buying for the amount I’m spending.

This is not the first time I’ve been burned by Amber Allure antics. The first few times I admit, I figured it was a fluke. It was only when I started to go through the number of books I’d bought when I realized their antics. For the most part, I would open the book, be annoyed by the formatting and move on. But since I had only bought that single book last night, I finally realized what I was paying for was completely disproportionate to what I was receiving. So do I stop buying from that publisher? Conversely, a number of authors I like to read are published by this house, so what alternatives do I have? I have stopped reading authors altogether that are published by Total E-Bound, which is a very poor publishing house IMO. Do I simply stop buying from Amber Allure?

When I joined Rainbow Reviews there was a thread on whether or not to comment on the length of the story as part of the review. Unless it was relevant to the storyline (ie. hindered characterization, etc) it was pretty universally agreed it wasn’t important other than to comment on pacing and so forth. However, more and more I want to warn other readers about watching for what they are buying.

It’s not just about the content sadly. For example, most of the books I’ve bought from Amber Allure, I’ve rather enjoyed. I won’t name authors because I don’t want to paint them in this ire post, but their content was good, sometimes great and I’ve been happy with the product. If the pricing was even based on the content, I could understand that. Although, we all know content is highly subjective and everyone has their own likes, dislikes, and opinions. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that just feels that I am paying more for a similar product I get somewhere else.

In the vast array of published books, there are too many authors and too many books that I could be spending my money on to feel as if I’m being cheated by high school antics from publishing houses. I grant that there could be legions of people who disagree with me and are happily spending $6.00 on an “extended novella” of 32,000 words. I’m simply not one of them.

I feel for authors who have to deal with the myriad of issues involved in being published, dealing with editors, cover art, book blurbs, electronic theft, marketing, royalties, reviews and oh, that little thing of actually writing the book. To then heap upon them the annoyance of shady publishing tricks, you have my deepest sympathies. If the writing is that good, I can pretty much be counted on to suck it up. But yea, I bitched about it.


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