A Response to “At What Price”

I was recently informed of a post on newpulpfiction.com entitled Table Talk: At What Price? wherein one of the participants, Barry Reese, decided to passive-aggressively complain about the price point or our books, based mainly on conjecture and made-up quotes. I posted a response on that site, and I’ve also posted it here, as I fully expect it to be removed.

C’mon Barry, at least show some bravery and at least call out the novel as The Desert Demons, as published by me. After all, it’s quite evident you’ve got an axe to grind regarding my company and our books’ prices. I thought the complaint sounded familiar, and I realized you’d made the same gripe in a comment left on the DD’s page on Amazon.

Is this the same Barry Reese who just 24 hours ago was lamenting the “attack” by Tony Davis on New Pulp stories, only to hear you turn around today and call another New Pulp story, The Desert Demons, “inane” and a “ripoff”?

Your quote:

“The publisher’s response is that the economics of Print on Demand forces those prices. … It’s simply a case of them wanting to boost their bottom line.”

…borders on libel. Please tell me where I ever mentioned such reasoning. If anything, it’s clear you deliberately took passages out of context in order to validate your screed.

I’m temped to detail our rationale for the new Doc Savage novels’ pricing, but frankly, it’s none of your business. No one’s getting rich off these books. And when you get your books carried by major distributors, the vast majority of room for profit is gone. Mr. Reese, since I’ve never heard of you being a writer before, and I had to look up your books, I can safely say you have little experience with such elements of the publishing world, regardless of your claim of being “around POD publishers for years.”

Your boasts that “no paperback is worth” $24.95, and that “the market will correct itself as publishers discover the limits for what the public will pay” only show your naivety even more. We brought scores of copies of the new Doc books to PulpFest and had them all sold in less than a day. If you put out a quality product, featuring a beloved character, people will buy it. The $40 hardcover you bemoaned has sold better than the paperback edition. You’re backwardly right: indeed, the market has spoken.

Perhaps you should listen to the fans a bit more. People wanted a deluxe keepsake edition, a cheaper hardcopy alternative, and a super-cheap e-book. We created all three types (the e-book is coming this month) to meet every price point. No other publisher is doing more to reach more readers. We were happy to do it and we’re grateful to every one who bought a copy. Based on our offerings, it seems that Altus Press is in reality the publisher whose “primary concern is maximizing readership,” to quote you. And I look forward to your eventual rant that our $4.99 e-book is too expensive for your tastes.

It’s too bad you have little foresight, Barry, which is surprising, given your claimed years of experience in publishing. Doc Savage is the most well-known property of all the New Pulp properties. It’s getting a lot of exposure. Just this week it had a 1/4-page color spotlight feature in Previews. It stands to reason that pushing these new Doc Savage novels to achieve success would only help all the other New Pulp authors. A rising tide lifts all boats. Yet you’ve felt it was more important to rant about the pricing based on uninformed conclusions.

I wish to thank Bobby and Mike for a fair, even-handed debate on the logistics that go into a book’s price.

Barry, I look forward to reading more of your sales and marketing expertise on the world of publishing.

Matt Moring
Altus Press

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August 11, 2011

E-Books are Here!

August 11, 2011