Deadpool 2 and Why Do EBooks Cost So Much?

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Let me tell you up front, this isn’t going to go the way you think it is.

I’ve been meaning to rewrite a post like this for a long time. I wrote one on my old blog years ago and, in fact, am going to cannibalize some of it here, ‘cuz I wrote it in a better mood then. I’ve been meaning to redo it for this blog and finally, Memorial Day, today is the day. I guess I’m honoring a veteran blog post, as well as our real veterans today.

But first, I mentioned Deadpool 2. My wife and I went and saw it last night, having heard, “It’s everything the first movie was, but more so!”

My official review then: “Meh.”

Not as good as the first one. Still funny, unnecessarily violent, meta-fictional in that he talked about it being a movie while it was a movie. There was some deeper character stuff in the afterlife and emotional stuff, but for the most part… Kinda disappointing. The best part of the whole thing was the extra ending after the initial credits play.

I also went into the theatre last night thinking that I was going to write my ebook pricing rant today, so I was doing research. Keeping receipts. For my wife and I to have a night out at the movies cost 8 bucks per ticket (that’s with the military discount). Our medium popcorn and single large drink to share cost 12 bucks, for a total of $28 for a movie that was fun, entertaining, but did not meet my expectations. (Should have seen Solo…)  Luckily the babysitter (my mom) was free.

We also went out for Vietnamese pho for dinner, at about the same price. So $28 x 2 = $56 for a (let’s face it) rather forgettable evening out. Kinda stings the ole pocket book.

Now we get to the meat of this rant: Ebook prices.

Most of you are probably thinking, Yeah, why do they cost so damn much? 

Well, that’s not exactly the angle I’m going with here.

Although, if you’re talking about the Big Five publishers and their best-selling mega-hit fiction from household name authors, Yes, I agree, they do cost probably more than they should. They charge the same for an ebook as they do a paperback, or sometimes even a hardback, even though there’s no material and no physical shipping costs or warehousing to speak of. Yeah, they probably could charge less for the electronic version, given actual costs on their part.

But guess what? Most of you guys are paying it. Over and over again. 

When I check the top five “Most Sold” ebooks right now on Amazon, four of them cost $14.99 and one costs $13.99.

Now, jump to the opposite side of the spectrum and the source of my angst.

The big trend of independent ebook authors right now (and since the dawn of ebooks and indie publishing several years ago) is to charge next to nothing for your books. Most indie novels are going for $2.99.

Does anyone see a problem with that? Most of you as readers are saying, Nope, no problem here!  You’re buying the cheap indie books at 3, 4 or 5 bucks, enjoying them almost as much, or as much, and sometimes even more than the $15 books. And then many are turning around and buying the $15 books too. Because the reading experience is actually worth that 15 bucks to you. Otherwise you wouldn’t pay it.

So why are those books worth $15 and these other ones worth a third or a fifth or even a fifteenth as much?

The truth is, many of those indie reading experiences are worth just as much as the pricy, household name, mega-corp books.

And some of them are not, let’s face it. But you don’t know until you read it. And some of those $15 super-author books aren’t worth $3. It’s all up to the reader to decide. I know I’ve read some “bestsellers” and wondered, Who keeps paying that guy or gal to do that job? 

The truth is, it’s mostly the indie authors’ faults. They have low expectations of their own work so they set low prices. And therefore set low expectations for their readers too. They’ve brought the market price too low, and dragged the readers down with them.

So the general price of indie (read low expectation) ebooks is generally $2.99 to $4.99. And some go as low as $0.99. For a novel. Hundreds of pages that will equate to a week or two or more of entertainment, depending on your reading habits.

Let’s a do quick comparison to other things we spend our money on…

  • I already mentioned going out to the movies. $8 to $12 per ticket, as much for 50 cents worth of popped corn and just as much for a large cup of diabetes-inducing sugar water. Lasts about 2 hours (longer if you actually develop the diabetes).
  • A movie rented at home via fancy digital services. Almost as much as going out! About 6 bucks for a 2 hour movie, which again, you may or may not enjoy. And once you start the damn thing, you only have 24 hours to watch the rest. You pay 6 bucks to sit on your couch and they slap a time limit on it. An ebook? Take your time. In fact, if you consume the whole thing in 24 hours, you probably didn’t chew well enough.
  • ATM fees. This one really burns my buns to think about. It costs $3, even $4, for the “convenience” of using an ATM machine that isn’t specifically for your bank. So people pay as much or more just to get money out than they want to pay for a week’s worth of entertainment in an ebook!
  • Fast food. Knowing I had a ways to go until dinner yesterday, I went through the drive through just for a snack to hold me over. One Wendy’s junior cheeseburger: $1.49. Add some crappy white lettuce and a slice of tomato: $1.99. A whole meal: about $6. Not too bad. But certainly not as satisfying or nourishing as a full-length novel.
  • Starbucks premium coffee. I’ll hold on this because I reblog it below, but for me, it’s sometimes the cost of renting table space for a couple hours so I can find a quiet escape to write the actual book that I will eventually turn around and sell. At this rate, the cost of renting table space is about the same for half a chapter as readers have been trained to pay for the whole damn book.
  • Pack of smokes. For those who just don’t believe yet that they cause a slow, painful, and expensive death. It depends on the state, but my research shows a minimum of $6 per pack to as much as $15 per pack in New York! (Chemotherapy, hospital stays, and funeral: hundreds of thousands, maybe millions.)

So that’s two unhealthy addictions (caffeine and nicotine) that you pay for daily without thought, but perhaps flinch at when you see a book priced at the same amount. (Hey, I’m also a nurse, it’s my job to talk to you like this!)

Yes, I’m ranting. It’s a pet peeve of mine, this pricing thing. I bounce around a lot, looking for that “sweet spot” that will encourage people to try my stuff. Low expectations drag the prices down for everyone (and set low expectations of what’s inside the book, too), while the big publishers go the other way and people follow them there.

The truth is, the prices should probably be somewhere in the middle. And if we expect more from ourselves and our work, and set the prices just a little bit higher, that confidence will probably equate to more sales and higher expectations from readers. But not everyone follows that logic. And we, as indies struggling to follow our dreams and do what we love while still being stuck in a day job to pay the bills, have to meander around trying to see what readers will tolerate from us.

Okay, I’ve exhausted myself now. I’ll stop.

Below this point are a few more examples, copied, pasted, and updated from my original blog post way back in 2014: http://brinkschaostheory.blogspot.com/2014/07/ebook-prices-comparative-shopping.html

Enjoy your Memorial Day. And thank you to my fellow veterans

* * *

Some people say that an ebook isn’t worth spending more than three or four dollars on.  So let’s expand our comparison beyond books.  What about other things we buy in our day-to-day lives?  How much do they cost, how much enjoyment do we get from them, and how long to they stick with us?

  • A gallon of gas.  Right now, about $3 per gallon.  Do I enjoy it?  Enjoy gasoline?  No.  Does it have staying power?  Does my experience with that gallon of gasoline stick with me in my memories or bring new ideas or horizons into my life?  Well, I guess if I’m traveling to new exotic places with it, then it might, but for the most part I don’t even notice that it’s been spent and is now gone.  Unless it was the last one in the tank; at that point, I’m definitely not enjoying the experience.
  • A cup of Starbucks premium coffee.  Shall we say about $4.00, give or take?  Did you enjoy it?  Sure.  By now, for many people, it’s a requirement to get their day started.  Takes you maybe twenty minutes to drink it if you take the time to savor it.  Caffeine buzz sticks with you for a while, depending on your tolerance.  But sooner or later, you pee it all back out and it’s gone.  (In fact, the caffeine tells your kidneys to open the flood gates.)
  • Cheap fast food meal.  Big mac, fries, and a coke: $5.69.  I might enjoy the first few bites, then start to feel guilty, then disgusted.  I don’t finish it but still feel sick for the next hour.  About a year later, I forget how crappy I felt and think, I haven’t had one of those for a while…  Repeat nauseating experience annually.
  • Inexpensive, decent meal out.  Ten to twelve bucks a person.  Tastes good, gets me and the family out of the house, relatively healthy, worth the price.  Does it stick with me?  Well, I remember I like to eat there, but the meal itself gets introduced to the Tidy Bowl Man sooner or later.  Flush and it’s gone, along with the money.  Took me an hour to eat it, if I really enjoyed it, and fifteen to twenty minutes to excrete it, if I took my time and enjoyed that too.
  • Moderately expensive meal out.  Let’s say at Olive Garden, where I was recently shocked to see what it really did cost for my wife and I to have a night out.  Just you by yourself, an entree, drink, and appetizer: about $25.00, probably more.  Was it good?  Sure, pretty tasty, but nothing to write home about.  Gets flushed eventually, but maybe I carry an extra inch around my waist for a while.  Not really the kind of lingering effect I’m looking for though.

How about a good book?  Costs you, say, five to eight bucks in electronic form.  (Or should, anyway.) Takes you a week or two to read, maybe more.  Sticks with you forever.  And even if it doesn’t, you can always go back and read it again.  For free this time.  As many times as you want.  What’s that you say?  It wasn’t as good as you expected?  Neither was that fancy meal you ate, and that cost more and gave you the runs for two days.

Maybe paying more than 3 bucks for an ebook is a pretty fair deal after all.

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Netflix: Altered Carbon and Santa Clarita Diet

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I don’t get much time to watch TV, but we have managed to catch these two great shows.

Well, we caught and recently finished both seasons of “Santa Clarita Diet,” which is just good family fun.

Okay, maybe not for the whole family. My son probably doesn’t need to see gory cannibalism, even if it is from America’s sweetheart, Drew Barrymore.

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And I am the only person who’s watched any “Altered Carbon,” but it’s pretty damn cool!

I’ve only seen two episodes, but it’s a great dark future detective noir with lots of potential. I’ve seen the novel in bookstores, which means it’s a finite story. I’m only two episodes in, out of ten for the “season,” but I’m hoping they don’t artificially stretch the story just to turn a buck. I kind of hope those ten finish the story and there’s only going to be one season to it. I hate when they water good material down just to milk it.

(One example would be the Hobbit movies. Haven’t seen them and I don’t plan to. I can’t imagine how a short children’s book gets turned into a NINE HOUR series. Ridiculous.)

But I don’t want to end on a downer. The good news is, if you haven’t seen either of these shows, give them a chance. You won’t be disappointed!

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Planes, trains, and Automobiles

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“Those aren’t pillows!”

If that line means nothing to you, you’re either too young or it’s been too long since you’ve seen that movie. But the holidays are coming up, so chances are it’ll be on TV. Just in case, though, here’s that scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on Youtube, via Fandango’s “Movie Clips.”

Why am I referencing that John Candy and Steve Martin holiday classic? Because that was my day coming back from Oregon to Japan. I traveled for about 18 hours straight, crossing the International Date Line and losing a day on the calendar. Two hours by car from Lincoln City to the Portland, about three in the airport, 11 in-flight, another 1.5 on a bus and then the last 30 minutes by train.

I’m not kidding!

But it was worth it. I learned so much at that Writers’ Master Class that I still, days later, am not prepared to process it all. And now I have to go back to work for the Navy (leave’s over), to night shifts, and continue my preparations for getting out of the Navy in just 2.5 short months! Whew! But it’s all downhill from here. Looking forward to the roller coaster ride into the next chapter of our lives!

Meantime, I’ll slowly be implementing changes to the way I do business as a writer, publisher, blogger, and general weirdo. Hopefully for the better, for me, my family, and even you, the reader eager for quality escapism and entertainment. Stand by for those.

The first will be a freebie book available to my Conspiracy Newsletter subscribers. If you’re not onboard yet, enrollment is always open. Join the conspiracy and join the adventure! I’m eager for feedback as I start up new and exciting avenues down the developing indie author pathway. And as soon as I get a chance to explore a new cybernetic delivery system, everyone on the mailing list will get a chance to test it out for me in the form of a free downloadable book.

“Join the Conspiracy!” Sign up by clicking here.

More coming soon…

(Note that this post is slightly out of sequence. I actually traveled before Halloween but the costume pics yesterday—and the offer for a free book—were more time-sensitive to get out there.)

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

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I think I can sum it up in two words: “HOLY SHIT!”

I’m not going to go full-blown analytical review.  Don’t want to give away any spoilers or anything.  I’m not sure when this released in the States, but we just recently got it on base here and the wife and I went to see it.  After the dismal experience with Valerian we needed something to make us believe in movie-going again.  And this did it!

(BTW, I would be willing to write a list of complaints about Velarian but I’m trying not to be a downer on here.  “If you don’t have anything nice to say,” kind of thing.  I can generally tell from the ads if a movie is going to suck, so I was not surprised, but we needed a night out and The Fifth Element is one of our faves, so we decided to risk it.  Ten minutes into the movie and I would have been okay with leaving.  I was done with the two main characters after about 60 seconds with them.)

Oh yeah, I was supposed to be saying kickass things about Atomic Blonde.

Go see it in the theatre before it’s too late!  Cool spy movie without the corny gadgets—not that I don’t like corny gadgets, but this one didn’t need them.  Cool realism in the last days of East Berlin.  Action, ‘splosions, and rock and roll!  Just a great movie experience and a kickass time.  See it on the big screen with big booms.  (Get out of the house and off your phone, for God’s sake…!)

Really, it’s damn good summer movie.  Especially if you need a break away from costumes and magic and the like but still want some over the top excitement.

Spider-Man Homecoming: The Best Spidey Ever?

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I have the advantage of being in The Land of the Rising Sun, where it’s now Friday evening.  So I’ve gotten to see the movie before just about anyone else!

There was a snag in the beginning.  It was supposed to be a 3D showing.  I opened up my little packaged glasses and put them on…  and couldn’t see jack shit.  The right lens was way too dark.  I got up and moved toward the lobby.  So did a lot of other people.  We crowded in and grabbed another pair, returned to our seats, put them on, and…  same thing.  I thought about trying to watch it without the glasses, but that just doesn’t work.  I would only be able to make out about 20% of the visuals for the whole movie.  Just as I was about to go ask for my money back, the house lights came up.  Ten minutes later (or maybe fifteen) we started over watching the regular 2D version and got a free movie voucher on the way out the door.

So there’s a story you didn’t care about.  Tell us about the movie, right?

Well, I’m not going to give you any spoilers.  (I hate that!  I want to discover and enjoy the movie myself.)

Was it the best Spidey movie ever?

It was certainly the cutest one ever.  Lots of great Peter Parker and friends and girl chasing and…  just lots of cute highschool stuff very fitting for the character.  I like very much—and always do in superhero stuff, and try to do the same in my own books—when the real person, the “secret identity,” is the main character. A real breathing person, and they become the superhero.  Really, that just about defines Spider-Man right there.  That’s what made him so popular to begin with, right?  He was nerdy, always got real-person problems Peter Parker.  Spider-Man was him letting loose.  There was plenty of that in this movie, and it was great.

It was by far the funniest Spidey movie ever.  See previous paragraph for hints as to why.

It was also a part of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, which added so much more to it than it just being a standalone Spidey movie.  Lots of other pieces and layers and characters fitting in.  That was great.

The costume was cool and actually made sense.  At first I didn’t care for the sleek design and the tiny little chest spider, but the fact that it comes from Tony Stark makes way more sense than previous iterations where the really cool high-speed low-drag costume was knitted by Peter himself using Aunt May’s crochet needles.  In this movie, the handmade costume LOOKS handmade.  It’s a sweat shirt and sweat pants.  Perfect!

Some kind of off-putting things for old, diehard fans is the remodeling and just plain new supporting cast of characters, but that’s okay.  The same old (and racially monotone, by the way) gang was getting kind of worn out after 50 years.

Michael Keaton is awesome, as you would expect.  The Vulture is finally not a lame old man, but a true badass.  And a working class hero kind of villain, which was cool.  And the whole villain plot fit very well into the greater established universe.  Very nicely done.

So, after all of that, is it the best???  I’m a big fan of the Tobey McGuire/Sam Raimi movies—well, the first and second one, anyway (#3 pretty much sucked).  For me, up until now, Spider-Man 2 with Doc Ock and the whole awesome cast and the plight of Peter Parker stuff…  That was the best of them all.  But now…?

I guess if I was pushed into the corner and made to say which is the best of all, all things considered…  Yes, Virginia, Homecoming is the best ever.  Not an easy call, but yeah, I gotta say it’s so.

In fact, it re-inspired my old childhood love of the character.  More recently, Spidey had taken a back seat for me, especially after those last couple movies.  But I’m loving Spidey for being Spidey again.

So go see it!  (Not that I had to tell you that.  You were going to anyway, weren’t you?)

 

SyFy Channel’s The Magicians

Also, after seeing the hype on the Syfy Channel, I decided to give The Magicians a try on Netflix.

And…  I like it!

It’s kind of a guilty pleasure kind of show.  Similar to Harry Potter, but for the college-age crowd (or older).

There’s foul language, sex and sexual tension, and some scary moth-faced demon guy.  The Harry Potter bit comes in as it’s on a secret college campus for learning true magic.  But the writing is really good, with interesting character development and complications.

I never particularly liked the cheesey, high school drama on The Flash or most of the fantasy shows like Buffy or whatever, but this show I like.  If you like the nerdy stuff, check it out!

(I’m tagging this as a “movie” post ‘cuz I ain’t got no “tv” tag–and don’t watch enough to do so.)

Casting Call: Chris Pratt or Nathan Fillion?

Who will play the Jack of Spades? film

Honestly, probably neither of these guys, but that’s the fun of a fancast, right?  Today I’m going to cast the would-be movie of my new book, One-Eyed Jacks. (Which you can still pre-order at a reduced price until Halloween…)

Here’s the book description:

Rails End, California. 1980s. As a former Vegas magician, Jack knows the world is full of shallow illusions. That’s why he’s grinding out a new life for himself as a smuggler, counterfeiter and debt collector for a local crime boss, and trying to stay off of everyone else’s radar.

Unfortunately, keeping a low profile just isn’t in the cards for the Jack of Spades. After a little trouble in Chinatown, Jack’s employer decides to send him on a working vacation. He’s to retrieve some stolen museum pieces on the island of Saipan. But Jack’s not the only person on the job and the other interested parties are more than they appear.  Hell, they may even be more than human…

Urban fantasy, crime-noir, and Asian myth merge in this darkly entertaining novel of pulp adventure.

jacks-mama-miniThe story takes place sometime in the 1980s, and Edgar casts Steve McQueen and Tom Selleck in the two top roles.  (McQueen passed away in 1980, but Edgar refuses to accept that.)  If this book were being made into a movie today, here’s how I see it breaking down…

(Images omitted, unfortunately, because I’m not sure where the world stands on copyright and the internet at this point.)

JACK:  Our hero and narrator, the Jack of Spades.  He’s calm and collected with a sense of humor and sense of adventure.  He’s also the Wanderer, the Dark Stranger.

My top two picks would be Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Magnificent Seven (although their names were different, as far as I’m concerned, Pratt played Steve McQueen’s character from the original movie).  He’s funny and charming and has a good disposition for this role.  Though, honestly, he may be a little too beefy for Jack’s part.

Not that Nathan Fillion is out of shape either, but I think he’s got more wisdom and subtly.  I can definitely see Jack being more akin to Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly than Star Lord on Guardians of the Galaxy.  I think Fillion might be the better pick for this role.

EDGAR:  Eddie is Jack’s partner in crime (literally) and the comic relief of the book.  He’s also a Mexican American who thinks he’s Magnum, P. I.  Therefore, Edgar would like to see Tom Selleck play his part, but…  He’s giving himself too much credit.  I’m thinking Michael Peña, who provided great comic relief in Ant-Man.  I can definitely see him as the tough but not tough looking sidekick to the Jack of Spades.

FELIX:  Felix Caterina, also known as Felix the Cat on the street, is Jack and Eddie’s employer.  He’s a relatively small crime boss, an older guy with a fast temper but a good heart underneath.  Let’s put Clint Eastwood in that part.  That would go great with one of his lines and make it very ironic: “You think you’re Clint Fucking Eastwood, Jack?”

I can’t tell you much about the rest of the characters without ruining the surprise, so these will be quickies.

ALMA:  Just a casino girl or more than meets the eye?  I have to admit that I don’t know any Filipina actresses off the top of my head, so I asked Google for help.  And they gave me many choices, but I picked the lovely Angel Locsin.  (I hope she speaks English…)

NAGASHI:  The mysterious Japanese man who seems to be watching everybody.  There are only a few Japanese actors I can think of, one of whom has that eerie quiet down to a science.  Hiroyuki Sanada, from SyFy’s Helix series.

PETEY JACKSON:  I wrote this story before I knew director Peter Jackson was a person, okay?  Just so you know.  And this casting is overkill for the role, but who cares?  We have an infinite budget!  Forest Whitaker of the up-coming Rogue One would make a cool cigar-smoking scoundrel!

MING & POH: Felix’s underworld contact from Hong Kong and her bodyguard. Lucy Liu can be both tough and sexy.  And Ken Wantanabe, from The Last Samurai and Batman Begins, has a nice, threatening presence.

All right, get those agents on the phone and let’s get this thing moving!

In the meantime, here are some places you can find One-Eyed Jacks.  Give it a read and let me know who you would cast in the movie!

Amazon

B&N

iBooks

Kobo

Smashwords