Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s an old saying but still holds true today. Art, in its various forms, is subjective as is its value to an individual. Entertainment is often a form of art, whether it’s a film, TV show, music, video game, or in written form such as a book or magazine. In our digital world, the range of prices one might pay for entertainment is quite wide, ranging from a free download to hundreds of dollars for a concert ticket. In the end, the human mind and spirit require some form of entertainment to make life more enjoyable. Once you forego all forms of entertainment, life becomes dull and gray.
As a reader, I have spent as much as $30 on a newly released novel that I just couldn’t wait to read. At the same time, I have downloaded free books onto my Kindle and have come to find that they can provide just as an immersive and imaginative reading experience as the $30 hard cover. Which is correct? What value should be placed on a wonderful 8-hour journey of the imagination, which undoubtedly required hundreds or thousands of hours for the author to create?
Every day, millions of people willingly spend $11.00 at the cinema or $14.99 for a DVD, resulting in three hours of entertainment. Yet, I find readers who balk at any eBook listed for more than $2.99, even from an author who has proven to generate high quality novels. If three hours of movie entertainment is worth $14.99, shouldn’t a 300-page novel be worth twice that price?
Narrative-driven video games often fall into the 8-10 hour range for a single play-through. Even if the game is stellar, much like reading a book or watching a movie, replay value is low until time passes and you’ve forgotten enough of the story so that another round feels satisfying and fresh. Such games retail for $50-$60, yet some readers cry foul if they must pay $20 for a print copy of a 400-page novel that provides the same amount of entertainment.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is the value of entertainment. I ask readers to place a little more value on the print medium if they wish authors to continue to write and for the medium to continue to exist. Next time you see an eBook priced equivalent to a McDonald's value meal, consider its entertainment value. The eBook will last far longer and consuming it is a much healthier alternative.