March 26, 2012

A Writer's Life - Coffee or book?

What's your first thought when you see this picture? No need to say it out loud, because we all think it. And now think again, real hard, if you please.

While this comparison seems to hit a raw nerve with lots of authors, indie or not, it is awfully flawed. So there's a writer typing and plotting and doing all kinds of writerly stuff for two years until she holds the result in her hands. No-brainer, really. Then there is the barista who does what? Take an order, press a button, put on a lid, and hand over the steaming liquid. True, but do the coffee beans materialize out of thin air? I don't think so. As much as making a cup of coffee isn't the most creative thing in the world it involves a whole lot more than the person who thought up the clever idea of comparing the cost for some java with the cost of an eBook believes it does. I'm talking cultivation of the coffee bush, harvesting, transportation, etc. It obviously doesn't take two years from bean to cup, but it definitely needs more than one minute. And from between the field in Brasil to your preferred coffee shop there are dozens of stages and people involved who make your much needed caffeine boost possible.

Do $3,50 still seem expensive for a cuppa Joe? They sure do. I always think that way about things I drink or eat. In my mouth for a few seconds and a couple hours later you, ahm, flush it all down. There it goes, never to be seen again. Unless the flush is malfunctioning which hopefully it won't.

Do $2,99 for an eBook seem cheap? Absolutely. I've always been a defender of fair prices when it comes to books, be it eBooks or physical books. But this isn't about the burning question why many authors decide to boost their sales by essentially giving their work away for a penny (I will certainly make that a topic one day soon).

Let's get back to that comparison which, as I dearly hope, you've by know acknowledged has a slight limp. It's not so much about a certain price for a certain product, but about what this product means to you. The coffee will give you a boost and depending on how long you're nursing your cup and just how much you prefer hot coffee over cold coffee, this may be a matter of minutes. A book on the other hand you can indulge in for hours and when you re-read it it will be just as good as on first "sip", maybe even better. Coffee is meant to end with a flush. Books are meant to end with an inspired mind. Of course, ultimately it's all about what something is worth to you personally. And in my case the book wins every time.

Copyright by Squawkfox

Support Indie authors!
And bring your own coffee, for crying out loud.


  1. Wow I love this post it really made me think.

  2. I think about this sort of thing a lot. I used to moan quite a bit about how expensive books are, but when you consider how much enjoyment you can get from them for hours, and then read them again and again, compared to say the price of a movie ticket or meal, books are good value.

  3. Great insights!! I'm not a coffee drinker so books win for me all the time. (:

  4. Nice! I don't buy coffee very often but it's a great comparison.

    Funny you should mention making your own coffee - isn't it amazing how much money people can spend on take-out coffee? Bibliosue has a review on take-out food, today, by coincidence (