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Super-Cheap E-Books Have Some UK Authors, Booksellers Worried

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What's the Latest Development?

Today's announcement that e-book sales in the UK were up 188% by value in the first half of 2012 was greeted with both cheers and concern as Amazon and Sony continue with a sales promotion, begun this summer, in which certain titles are being sold for as little as 20p (33 US cents). Readers have responded eagerly: Five of the 10 books currently on Amazon UK's Kindle bestseller list are available for 20p. 

What's the Big Idea?

One author, Peter James, notes that although he and his publisher are still getting paid as they would if his e-book was being sold at full price, the long-term ramifications of such deep discounts are troublesome: If the public gets used to paying so little for books, the dwindling number of independent booksellers that remain will be unable to compete. Also, as a member of the Society of Authors notes, "If books are perceived to have no value...the chances of professional authors...making a living from their writing [is diminished]." For its part, Sony prefers to give its customers some credit: "[The 20p price is] such a significant discount off list price that consumers can appreciate it is not the 'new price of ebooks'."

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