Pearl — Aliette de Bodard

Ok, people, today i’m going to begin with a good little rant.   Are you sitting comfortably?   Then i’ll begin.

Ones day started off well enough in that trying to find a copy of this story to read was fairly easy: as with all the Xuya stories, you just go to Aliette’s website and you’ll find a comprehensive list.

So you look down the list to find Pearl, click on the link and go to the page about it.

Follow the link on that page and you can find a way to Amazon where you get to see that Pearl is included in an anthology and that the cost for the Kindle edition is an utterly ridiculous £11.99, which is bad enough in itself, but then consider that the brand new paperback is only £8.44 — at the time of writing — with new hardcovers from £10.00 and that £11.99 becomes more than utterly ridiculous …

… like, seriously, WTF!!!

All i can think of to explain this appalling discrepancy is that this is done by someone who is clearly a Luddite hell-bent on making some kind of statement that they hate Kindles and the people who use Kindles: at £11.99 they obviously have no intention of ever wishing to sell this to anyone with a Kindle.   If, by strange chance, the person setting this price gets to read this and wishes to let me know that they had another reason to insult and abuse Kindle owners in this manner, then please let me know and i’ll be more than willing to update this page adding your excuses — and please do make it entertaining for posterity, if nothing else, we could all do with a laugh.

The reality is this: the Kindle version is a very simple, teeny, tiny, data file — FFS — we’re not buying shares in the AI program that lands and manages a rover on Mars, no land has to be cleared and farmed for decades to grow the trees, no trees had to be harvested and killed, no dead trees had to be processed and shipped to mills, no logs had to be turned into wood and pulped, no pulp had to be bleached and made into paper, no ink had to be made and printed onto the paper, no glues and binders and card covers and more inks and shit, no boxes and packing materials, no shipping from publishers to reseller, no warehousing, no trucks and vans and transport hubs, no MOT’s and fuel and repair bills, no insurance and driver, no ferries and ships, no adding to road congestion, no shit loads of environmental damage, polution, CO2 and carbon footprint, etc., etc., etc., and that’s just getting the paperback made and delivered to Amazon’s warehouse.   So why the fuck is the Kindle book £3.55 more than the paperback?

And i can’t even resell the Kindle version.   Yes folks, Amazon made it so a Kindle e-book cannot be lent or resold, while your far, far cheaper paperback can passed on, re-sold, put in the library, and read by several dozen different people all for the much cheaper price of £8.44 which you can share with 10 of your friends so you only have to pay 84p each, while i still have to pay £11.99 for my single user read.

And then, at the end of it, how many of these paperback and hardback books are left unsold, needing to be dumped, pulped or burned by the publishers, otherwise thrown in rubbish bins by the end users up and down the land and sent to landfill the world over when people are fed up with them — the environmental damage of real books is never paid for by those that use them.   Give yerselves a big round of applause!

When more than half the books sold in the world now are ebooks, one can almost feel a little twinge of sympathy for the loss of sales experienced by those writers who ended up giving their work to publishers like this who think that charging £3.55 more for the e-book than a brand new paper back is acceptable.   But, at the end of the day, its incumbent upon the writers to insist in their contracts that any publisher of their work ensures that the ebook version will always be significantly cheaper than the paper version.   Because, after all is said and done, if you’re getting paid by royalties on books sold, this publisher is totally shitting on you because they won’t be selling any of your stories to Kindle users because we’re not stupid enough to be thoroughly taken the piss out of in this fashion.   And whether you like ebooks or not, they’re here to stay and more and more people are using them.   When the world is now buying more ebooks than real books you have to be out of your mind to be shitting on such a large demographic with draconian pricing tactics simply to further some retarded, Luddite mission.

So yeah, sorry to all the writers who gave this publisher a story to go in this anthology, but next time you do anything like this make sure it’s in the contract that the Kindle version will be significantly lower than the price of a brand new paper back: the keyword being significantly.   You’ll find that most Kindle users will happily pay for an ebook if it’s significantly cheaper than the paperback, if not we will happily take our hard earned money else where and eagerly hand it all over to writers who do recognise that an e-book should be significantly cheaper than a paperback.

And worse of all — yes there is actually something worse than all the above — is that i only wanted to read this one single story from this pathetic, retarded, Luddite’s campaign against the 21st century masquerading as an anthology.   Yeah, £11.99 for one fucking short story’s data file.   You couldn’t write this shit …

… anyway, rant over, just don’t pay that, don’t be ripped off, boycott the Luddites, go to Google and read it for free.

I would definitely suggest reading the original version of Dã Tràng and the pearl before undertaking this story.  

And all that said, yeah, it’s a good little story about little AI things who start making their own improvements and evolving, but it most certainly ain’t ever gonna be worth £11.99.

Next up: The Dragon that Flew out of the Sun.

Aliette’s Page

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