POOR J. K. ROWLING
Amazon has priced the hardback edition of her novel at a mere £9 whereas the kindle version is retailing at the higher price of £11.99. EBooks, which cost hardly anything to produce, are traditionally far cheaper than the dead tree version of novels and they now outsell both paperbacks and hardbacks across the globe.
Clearly amazon has decided to capitalise on this fact - and J.K. Rowling’s incredible popularity - by making kindle owners’ pay a higher price for ‘The Casual Vacancy.’ A calculated decision to maximise profits, this was bound to be controversial.
The backlash from furious kindle owners was swift and vitriolic.
Out of thirty five reviews posted on Thursday, over twenty three people had given ‘The Casual Vacancy’ only one star out of a possible five. This brought the overall ranking of the novel down to a pathetic two and a half stars - somewhere between the worrying ‘I don’t like it’ and the apathetic ‘It’s OK.’
But these poor reviews were not about the quality of her prose. Each one contained an angry protest about the high price of the eBook.
Hence: ‘Poor J.K.Rowling.’
Yes, she is a big girl now and the world’s most famous living author. I suppose in some people’s eyes she is fair game, cushioned by a huge fortune and it won’t matter to her if she becomes the centre of a bitter pricing row between amazon and kindle owners. They might think that a rating of only two and a half stars for her new novel won’t not upset her… but will it?
Of course it will.
Beneath her wealth and fame, J.K. Rowling is a sensitive woman and an artist who desperately wants to be taken seriously as an adult author. She has abandoned the lucrative world of wizardry and witchcraft to prove her skill as a decent storyteller for grown-ups. In switching genres she has taken a brave step and become a debut author all over again. Debut authors in any genre are nervous creatures.
Those comments on amazon, those stars and those reviews matter. They are the voice of the general public and are usually honest and revealing about the true merits of a work of fiction. The price row about the eBook has overshadowed everything else and distorted the launch of her new novel. I have no idea if she is aware of the drama unfolding on amazon but I would be devastated if this had happened to me.
Chin up, J.K. You were never destined to have an easy ride. Unlike the wonderful fictional world of loyalty, friendship and honesty you created at Hogwarts; jealousy, meanness and avarice still rule the world of muggles.