The question of who should be setting ebook prices has been on my mind a lot lately, in no small part because of Amazon’s disputes with Hachette and Bonnier. One of the leaks suggests lower ebook prices are part of the terms Amazon is demanding in the negotiations, with $9.99 being the maximum price for most ebooks. I’m torn over whether I like this method or not.

On one hand, lower ebook prices means readers can buy more books and the price of ebooks will become more reasonable. I don’t hide the fact I’ve backed off buying a lot of traditionally-published ebooks I really want to read because the prices are simply too high and I refuse to pay them.

If lower prices result in more sales, as some have suggested, the lost revenue on the sale price might be made up in a greater volume of sales. It’s hard to say without data, but logically it would make sense. It should also be noted that the revenue of the publisher may remain structurally lower if another of Amazon’s demands (this one has been confirmed in the Bonnier dispute) is accepted, which is that their cut from the sale of an ebook increases from the current 30% to the print standard of 50%. Then the publisher not only has lower prices (with a potentially greater sales volume), but also a lower cut of each of those sales. If those are the new terms, I can understand why publishers would fight.

However, this also means the retailer, not the publisher, gets control over the price of ebooks. Traditionally, retailers set the sale price of books after buying them at a wholesale price from publishers, but I’m not sure the same model should apply to digital books because the products are instantly available, and there’s no need to warehouse or ship them. The other option is that publishers be given the agency model, where they get to choose their own prices and give a cut of the sale price to the retailer. The big publishers and Apple were sued by the US government for using this model and colluding on prices, so if this is the right model to go with, it will be a while before it can be reestablished.

By extension, this also leads me to wonder if publishers aren’t given the ability to set their own prices, should indie publishers also lose that ability, and have to abide by some pricing metric set by Amazon and other retailers? I don’t see how we can reasonably argue publishers should get one model and indie publishers another, and I definitely favour indie publishers being able to set their own prices.

Obviously this is a tough question to answer, as there are implications with either choice. The outspokenness of authors, continuation of contract disputes, and attention from the media proves as much. The ongoing and upcoming contract negotiations between Amazon and publishers will bring about new relationships between the actors in the publishing space, but it’s still hard to say what those relationships will be, and when the dust settles, who will be setting prices and whether they’ll go up or down.

The second day of London Book Fair was another information-packed day, with seminars from Hugh Howey, Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Joanna Penn, Orna Ross, and so many more knowledgable people.

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The seminars and Q&As at Day 1 of the London Book Fair were full of advice for independent authors, much of which came from the most successful in the industry. Instead of trying to list every tidbit of helpful knowledge, I’ve compiled the best advice into a few key points. The unfiltered information can be found on my Twitter stream, as I was tweeting all day.

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Just do it

Just do it

No, I’m not sponsored by Nike, but their slogan holds an incredible truth: the only way you’ll achieve anything is to drop all your preconceptions, fears, and insecurities and act. Do it. Whatever it is you want to achieve or be known for, you just have to do it.

It’s so hard to actually arrive at that state though, where nothing else matters but the work you’re doing. Believe me, I know. I suffer with it immensely. I overthink anything and everything, and the Resistance has a strong hold over me.

But I’m trying to break through, and so should you.

The daunting path to happiness

The only way to achieve happiness is to do what you love, and even that doesn’t mean you’ll have sustained happiness. The act of doing the work can be tough and taxing, but when you see the emotions produced by those who enjoy your work it will all be worth it.

For many a creative the process of birthing their work is incredible difficult and challenging on a mental, and sometimes even a physical level. But when it comes time to show the work, if they can get over the insecurities of finally revealing the product of their labours, the reward is the happiness, produced by the reactions of those who enjoy it and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the project.

Overcoming fear

Fear can be the biggest inhibitor of both success and happiness, and it’s a difficult mental block to overcome. It is produced and solidified in so many ways, from thinking too much about the process, or focusing too much on the final product and reactions it will invite. And, of course, in the mind those reactions are always negative.

The key is to take things step by step, not to plan or think too far into the future, because then all the mind can summon is a series of mental constructions based on the worst possible scenarios. There’s no need to get preoccupied with the next project or step, when there’s still work to be done with what’s in front of you.

At some point, it will be possible. You’ll achieve the mental control and clarity to focus on multiple projects or the next steps in the process, but it takes time to develop that mental security. It may first necessitate a taste of success, proof that you’re work isn’t horrible, or it may simply come over time as you slowly build up your mental abilities and achieve a better control over the fluctuations of your mental state.

Success can be as scary as failure

Of course, that all depends on you. The above examples assume you’re scared of failure, as many of us are, but you can also be scared of so many other things: not being authentic, not being sufficiently original, or simply succeeding.

It may seem like an odd thing to be scared of, but there are responsibilities that come with success, and they can be just as scary as failure, or even scarier.

You know what failure entails. Everyone’s been there before. But success is usually a new experience. It definitely has its perks, without doubt, but it can also be quite daunting.

Whatever it is you fear, or is holding you back, start to fight it. Identify what’s holding you back, be it fears and insecurities, or routines and traditions, and take them on.

Break free of mental slavery in whatever way you need to, then do whatever it is you want to do most. It will be difficult, don’t try to fool yourself. But the reward at the end will make it all worth it. Whether it gets met with success or failure, however you define the two, you will have done or created something to be proud of, no matter what anyone else says.

Image courtesy Thiophene Guy.

Should the state be eliminated?

There’s no question the future of our world is urban. More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and this is predicted to rise to more than two thirds by 2050. This brings up an important question that few are debating: what is the role of the state in a predominantly urban world, or does it even have one?

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Two reasons not to celebrate Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is easily one of the worst holidays of the year. The media tries to position it as being all about love, and showing appreciation for loved ones, but anyone who actually examines the holiday can see that’s not the truth. The elites use Valentine’s Day to enforce two things: sexism and consumerism.

What was originally a religious holiday has, as with all other holidays, been changed to force people to conform to the traditional, oppressive world the elites are trying to create. The values they try to instill on society through these altered holidays work to keep them in control and oppress the minds of the people.

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Youth is not a gift to be squandered

Youth is the best time of a person’s life. It’s when they have the most freedom to choose their path forward, the most energy to push themselves to the limits, and the least restrictions on their mind. Unfortunately, too many people squander their youth trying to achieve a life no longer suited to the modern world.

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The power of inspiration

The power of inspiration

A lot of entertainment is created to keep us oppressed, to keep us from learning about the flaws of our world and doing something about them.

But there are some forms of entertainment that instead of providing distraction, provide inspiration. The type of entertainment that provides the inspiration you might be looking for depends on your interests and passions.

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Take control of your life

Take control of your life

When it comes down to it, the only person who has control over your life is you. You need to chose your path, climb the hills, and keep charting the way the forward.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be people trying to guide you, trying to hand you a map of their road so you’ll follow along. The path of life is a difficult one, whichever path you choose to take, and taking someone else’s road can be tempting, especially when the promises are to save you from some of those difficulties. The well-trodden path is always the easier path, but if you care about yourself and your future, you shouldn’t take it.

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Becoming familiar with the unfamiliar

Written on December 13th, 2013.

When I walked out of the cinema after seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug this afternoon, the feeling that hit me, other than the brilliance of the film, was how I no longer felt I was in an unfamiliar place. I no longer felt it was odd to be living the kind of life I am.

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