I was so happy, entertained, and confused to receive a response from pro-Kindle Amazon reviewer T. Mercer regarding my last post (Kindle Schmindle), that I decided to answer as a new post.
Dear T. Mercer,
Thank you for your kind message, and for your interest in The Possessed. I was deeply gratified to learn of your willingness to pay $15 to read it electronically. As it happens, I don’t have an electronic version to send you. The last few rounds of editing are done on paper proofs that are literally sent back and forth via UPS. In the end, the marked-up proofs are shipped to Ghana to be retyped by orphans. So if you really want to “cut through all this middle-man bullshit,” you’d probably better get in touch with those orphans.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about whether I would send Kindle fans an electronic copy if I had one… and I’m really not sure! I don’t know who is right and who is wrong in the standoff between Amazon and Macmillan (which owns FSG)—from what I see, it’s two huge corporations pursuing their huge corporate interests, far from the realm of ordinary human existences like yours and mine.
So let’s leave that out.
In general, of course, I’m in favor of books being made available electronically and at a low price, and it seems that in the future this will happen according to the model you suggest, with authors releasing material directly to the public. But, the state of the world today being what it is, I’m actually really grateful that FSG published my book—and I’m super-grateful to my super-editor Lorin and his super-assistant Georgia and the super-publicist Brian, and the numerous super copy-editors, who are all such great people and worked so hard to make The Possessed as good as it could be, and to get it out there. And if you and I cut out the middleman, what do they get? I mean, guess I could give them their cut myself, but I’m a writer, not an HR manager—I don’t have the time, training, or temperament to go around dividing up checks.
Furthermore, I’m also grateful to Amazon for selling my book under the list price. (I am disappointed that they’ve now hiked it up to $10.20, which can still get you a single Brita replacement filter with $.04 left over—and needless to say I would love The Possessed to be on Kindle—but still, a $10 paperback is not bad at all.) But, at the same time, I’m also definitely in favor of independent bookstores, and I know they can’t afford to give $5 discounts whenever they feel like it. So maybe I’m wrong to send people to buy a cheap copy on Amazon (which giant sinister corporation now gives me 6.5% of the price of every book sold through the URL on this website, so I’m extra-compromised!).
In the end I decided it’s OK to leave the question of Amazon vs. independent up to individual readers to work out between their ideals and their pocketbooks. But of course if I go around selling the book myself, that’s bad for independent booksellers and Amazon!
In short, T. Mercer, the more I think about it, the more I realize the only thing I’m really sure of in this mess is that you should definitely read Oblomov. I notice it’s available in multiple Kindle editions.