I know I’m about to piss off and alienate at least three of my four regular readers. I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not. I’m annoyed enough that I don’t really give a fuck.
For a long time, I’ve considered myself a fan of author Larry Correia. I watched his journey to success with interest. I considered him a member of my tribe, or at least from a neighboring, friendly one. No more.
A while back, Mr. Correia posted something to the book of faces. It’s been long enough that it would be nearly impossible to find, but I deleted my comment anyway. I would like to maintain some degree of anonymity here on the blog. Here is the conversation.
Larry: One star reviews of book prices are dumb. Don’t be dumb. (He then linked to a one star review of one of his recent books.)
I agree with him wholeheartedly. Most assholes who do this haven’t bought the item that they “review” in the first place, which is another pet peeve of mine. But regardless, it’s stupid to allow price to be the primary/only factor when rating anything. If it’s out of your price range, don’t buy it. Don’t slam the product just because it costs more than you’re happy with. Based on some of the comments, I decided to ask a follow-up question.
Me: A serious question, if I may. Is it fair to use the price of the book as /a/ factor in rating it? For example, I pay $2.99 for an indie ebook. It’s good. Not Correia good, but good. I would rate it as a solid three stars. However, based on the entertainment value to price, I round up to four. Or conversely, a B-list author who is known for awesome work, and as a result his publisher prices his titles at $15 for an ebook. One falls short. Barely a four star performance. But considering the price, I round down to three stars, citing the price/value aspect as one of the the criteria. Is that dumb or unfair?
Larry (responding to my comment): By that logic I would only want reviews from people who checked the book out of the library.
Look, it is either good, or not good, or some shade in between. If you are anal enough to worry if a book came out to 50 cents versus 75 cents an hour, you’re probably not going to give many five stars anyway (emphasis mine). smile emoticon
I do have to give Mr. Correia credit. He took the time to reply, and he was polite. Since he’s become so successful, he is easily annoyed and quick to toss politeness aside. I can relate. I’m an asshole most of the time, and I’m not rich or well known. But the last sentence of his reply pissed me off enough to prompt this post.
I own at least one version of every full length work that he has ever published, including those co-authored by Mike Kupari. I have most in multiple formats. Here’s the part that stung. I have left reviews for at least some of them, all of which were 5-stars. I even recommended his stuff here on the blog. I guess I’m not that anal.
Why do we read/write reviews? To help decide whether or not to purchase a given item, right? How can price not figure into that decision? At least for normal people, who don’t buy mountains whenever we get the urge.
Larry used to be an accountant. So let’s look at this from an accounting perspective. Well, a budgeting perspective. I ain’t got no high falutin’ degree in accounting or nothing, but I do understand budgets.
First, let’s define entertainment cost. When Larry said, “50 cents versus 75 cents an hour” he is talking about book cost divided by reading time. So, let’s use that.
And let’s say that I have a twenty dollar per month budget for books.
Don’t get all self-righteous on me about how I spend the rest of my money. Even if I spend a hundred dollars every month at Starbux, that is a separate line item on my budget and my personal choice. Fuck you if you don’t approve. It’s not part of the current discussion.
For the record, I hate coffee, and I intentionally misspelled the aforementioned company’s name. I am aiming this at those who like to make smartass comments about the cost of a book being the same as a lunch or two cups of coffee, and how dare I complain about such a paltry sum. I decide how I want to spend my money. Period. This is a conversation about deciding how to spend whatever amount I designate.
Rather than discussing different formats, I’m going to limit this to digital content, and exclude Kindle First and other books that can be acquired free of charge. That way, it’s an apples to apples discussion. The last fifteen e-books that I bought cost $64.01, including tax. That’s roughly $4.27 each.
I don’t time myself while reading. Some books are longer than others, and some are faster or slower reads than expected based on word or page count. For the sake of discussion, I will say that it takes me an average of five hours to read each book. That puts my current average entertainment cost at just over $0.85 per hour.
Mr. Correia’s latest book, Into the Wild currently costs $7.99, or $8.55 with tax in my jurisdiction. Well over a third of my monthly budget for a single title. At about 250 pages, ItW is shorter than average, also. Most of the books I buy are around 300 pages. Hell, ItW is a novella when compared to Correia’s MHI books, which tend to be 500-700+ pages.
Let’s say that it would take me four hours and fifteen minutes (instead of my average of five hours), to read. Plug that into the formula, and we find out that entertainment cost is $2.01 per hour. Almost two and a half times my average. How can that not be a deciding factor?
Update: For the record, I did buy ItW. I may or may not have regretted my purchase.
I admit that four dollars per book is firmly in the fast food equivalent of the ebook market. To continue the restaurant analogy, if I’m going to go out for a nice sit-down meal, I’d like to know that it’s going to be worth it. But it seems that Mr. Correia would have us ignore that pesky little thing known as a price tag.
I’d been sitting on this post for a couple of months. Recently, he posted something else that prompted me to update and publish this.
The new Call of Duty: Infinite trailer looks cool and all, but I got bored and quit the last two pretty quick. The last one I didn’t actively hate like the one before it, but I never even bothered finishing the single player campaign, and I got to about level fifty on mulitiplayer before I just drifted off. I don’t feel like I got my $50 worth of enjoyment out of it. (emphasis mine)
It was all I could do to refrain from copying and pasting his own comment back at him. Look, it is either good, or not good, or some shade in between. You’re not supposed to consider the cost for entertainment products. Or does that only apply to your books?
Dance, monkey. (h/t Jennifer)
I still enjoy his work. I will continue to buy it as long as he continues to not suck. But I’m no longer a fan. I will no longer make it a point to time my purchases to help him make more bestseller lists. And I won’t review any more of his stuff. Or go out of my way to recommend anything he writes, whether I enjoy it or not. Fuck him.