There they sat, alone in my inbox for just ninety-nine cents.
The Bard himself and my beloved Mark Twain. Ninety-nine cents each, that is, for a grand total of a dollar ninety-eight.
“This collection gathers together the works by William Shakespeare in a single, convenient, high quality, and extremely low priced Kindle volume!”
So low-priced they left out the hyphens. The Bard would never do that.
Ninety-nine cents for the man every high schooler fears. Ninety-nine cents for my favorite literary wit in the world.
I’m sad. These are great men. Men I read early on because my reading level outpaced my maturity, who I had to read again as an adult to fully understand. Men I quote sometimes when I’m trying to sound smarter than I really am.
Shakespeare and Twain, sad portraits staring me down, held hostage by discount-designed covers. I bought them both immediately. Now they’ll be with me at all times on my Kindle, iPad, and phone, not just in my heart and mind. Ninety-nine cents each, their royalties enough for exactly one-tenth of one sip of tea. Maybe I’ll bring my physical volumes to a place where kids either appreciate them or are forced to read. Yes, I think I’ll bring them to school.
Truth is, I’m not doing a good deed or increasing literacy. I’m scared.
I’m finishing up my own book. Pieces lie around waiting to be assembled, file here, cover there, quote on a desktop. I’m dedicating the week before school starts to gluing them together so I can upload to Kindle and…end up on a digital discount shelf next to Shakespeare and Twain?
How can I possibly charge a couple–maybe even a few–dollars knowing I’ve outpriced the greatest authors who ever lived by three, four, five times?
“I know you can read The Complete Works of Shakespeare and laugh with Twain for less than a dollar, but for two or three times more, read my stories about fixing education.” How can I say that?
Will my book stay on the discount shelf next to Shakespeare and Twain, or is there a shelf that’s much, much worse, as far away from The Greats as possible? Where our books can’t even have a conversation about the meaning of life? A “Group W” shelf for literature? A shelf for wallflowers and rejects, where ninety-nine cents looks like the Pulitzer Prize?
“Amazon.com order of…” Three emails confirming my purchases replace the email where Shakespeare had been. Three–Amazon upsold me Cervantes’ Man of La Mancha.
Don Quixote’s good for me–reminds me not to fight windmills so often, something I wrote about in my more-expensive-than-Shakespeare book. It’s good for teachers to remember not to fight windmills as we walk back into our buildings this year. It’s a lesson well worth the ninety-nine cent upsell.
I’m sorry my book will cost more than Shakespeare and Twain, but maybe it’ll cost less than a cup of coffee at a really fancy joint. Who knows.
Right now, I’m starting to collect emails on that little box that pops up on my website so I can tell you when the book’s done. I may even send something else interesting from time to time like a quote from Shakespeare or Twain so you’ll be convinced I’m worth your time and we can continue to share some mornings together.
By the way, I’ve been writing this blog for a little over two years now. I’d like to thank you for reading. I’m honored we’re sharing the journey.