Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Paulo Coelho to Publishers: “Don’t be Greedy.”

Bestselling author Paulo Coelho, who has seen how lower prices on his own ebooks have led to higher sales and greater profits, cautioned publishers from Frankfurt this weekend not to be greedy.

He also suggests that lower prices for digital books are good for the industry, that change is inevitable, and a lot else that made a shocking amount of sense.

Bravo, Paulo. Bravo.

13 replies to “Paulo Coelho to Publishers: “Don’t be Greedy.””

Imagine what would happen if the Authors Guild or a group of high-profile authors put pressure on publishers to treat customers and artists better. Real progress could be made. Instead, you have these groups siding with their employees against the best interests of the lowest-earning workers to maintain a system whereby the rich get richer and everyone else gets dropped.

The best analogy I can think of is a labor union convincing workers to take a deal that benefits the foremen and doesn’t do much for the general laborers.

Kudos to Paulo for being better than that.

Could you image if the Author’s Guild represented authors? If they embraced all authors, self-published or traditionally published, against ober bearing publishers and greedy retailers, how much their ranks would swell.

Yes, and I’m sure that more than one person in that standing-room-only crowd said, “Yeah, but what does he know? He’s only an author. We know what we’re doing. We’ve been doing this for years.”

Amidst the controversy about pricing, let’s not lose sight of another very important point he makes: He says his own work is never driven by money, but by a desire to tell a story. I’m not saying that writers don’t need to make a living – of course they do. But this is a point that seems to be obvious to writers and readers but lost to the suits in big publishing. The business should be subordinate to the stories, not the other way around.

What does Coelho possibly know about business. He is ONLY a writer. :)

Publishers bring valuable services — let me repeat, VALUABLE SERVICES — and in return they only keep roughly 60% of net. What a bargain.

I think a big part of the problem is that publishers to some extent exist within an echo chamber….they rarely interact with people outside of publishing, and when they do, they don’t listen.

I think the biggest thing that publishers are missing right now is that price REALLY, REALLY matters. Because of the increase in self-publishing, there are a lot more good books out on the market, meaning a lot more competition for reader eyeballs/money. And when a reader is trying to decide what to buy, and all they have to go by is an Amazon/Goodreads rating, a few reader comments, and a short plot blurb, one of the biggest factor in their decision making price is going to be price. After all, when a reader can buy 2/3/4 indie published/self-published books for the same price as I trad pub book, its not a hard decision to make.

And given how many good books are being released for less than $5, very few people in their right minds are going to be willing to pay $10+ for a book, no matter how good it might be.

Listened to that talk 3x times. This guy is so smart — I always got the feeling he wanted to say : “Publishers, you’re pretty much done for in the future.” but couldn’t because he wanted to be polite in a space with mostly publishers.
Or maybe he sees hope that they are going to adapt to the market and start lowering their prices.

It’s very puzzling to hear this ‘speech’ by coelo. He hasnt a thing at 99 cents for 2 years. He had done a temp experiment. Check out his books and ebooks at amazon, they are from 22 dollars for his newest one, to 18.00, to 10.99. with ebooks at 9.98 to 6.99. Cant even imagine what he’s talking about since his prices are sky high and continue to be

He doesn’t set his prices. His publisher does. Sounds to me like he saw how well his ebooks sell at a lower price and is frustrated that those in charge won’t do more of it. Neil Gaiman went through this with his publisher when he wanted to give digital copies of AMERICAN GODS away for free, and they made it a pain to do and only went with it for a month.

During that month, print sales of the book TRIPLED. And then sank back down after the promotion was over. And still, they wouldn’t do more promo like that. Because to them, it’s a zero-sum game. If someone is getting a read for free, that means they aren’t spending that money elsewhere on another of their books.

Publishers think our addiction to reading means we will spend anything, not at all, when all their books are in the library for free, and will soon be in paperback for 7 bucks, most of us will not buy a hardcover anymore. Surely publishers realize that for every one copy they sell to a library they are only getting one purchase for dozens of readers? Never mind all the used copies sold, they get nothing for them. Do they not know that half of those readers would buy the books if they were cheaper? I would estimate, through libraries and used book sales, 50% of people who read a book never paid a dime to the publisher or author. That is the market they could tap by lowering prices. Why do i buy Hugh Howey books as soon as they come out? Because they are priced right.
Books are not like ‘Game of Thrones” or Iphones, I do not need to wait in line on release day, I can wait a few weeks to get them for free in the library.

I know this is a horrible analogy, but…… If i made toilet paper I could sell it at a dollar a roll like everyone else, or i could sell it for 25 cents, which would make me the number one toilet paper seller? 25 cents. Assuming the quality was the same, everyone would buy my toilet paper over the others, and i would sell so much i would be rich. I would rather sell a million rolls at 25 cents than a hundred at a dollar. This is the model that made Walmart rich, it is the model of fast food, it is the model of Home Depot. The problem is the big 5 think there is a loss of quality, and often there might be, but in some cases there is no difference. The wood in the Home Depot is just as real as the wood in a lumber yard. Just like many ebooks are just as good as anything put on paper.
You think a big publishing house, living in the shadow of the obvious, would try it ONCE, just put a famous writers next book out on ebook readers for 5 bucks, and watch the money roll in….

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