“Ford County is the best writing that John Grisham has ever done.” -Pat Conroy
Wal-Mart and Amazon are slashing prices on soon to be released hardcover editions of some of the holiday season’s potential best sellers, offering them online for $8.99 apiece, according to The New York Times.
The titles affected include Sarah Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue”; John Grisham’s short-story collection, “Ford County”; Stephen King’s “Under the Dome”; Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel, “The Lacuna”; and the latest installment in the Alex Cross thriller series by James Patterson, “I, Alex Cross.”
But where does this battle of online retailers leave authors and their readers?
“If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over,” said David Gernert, Mr. Grisham’s literary agent. “If you can buy Stephen King’s new novel or John Grisham’s ‘Ford County’ for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer’s attention away from emerging writers.”
“What this does is accentuate the trend towards best sellers dominating the market,” William Petrocelli, an owner of indie Book Passage, said. Without independents, decisions about what books to put on store shelves would reside in the hands of a few corporate executives rather than hundreds of idiosyncratic booksellers, he said.
On the other hand, low prices from Amazon and Wal-Mart might put more books in more people’s hands and that can’t be all bad.