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An arrogant hack author named Douglas Preston appeared in a New York Times article two weeks ago, wherein he said that readers who wanted ebook editions of his book (and wanted them for less than the cost of the hardcover) were astonishingly entitled and, quite literally, he accused them of making America unhealthy.

So. That ticked some people off—including me. Two weeks later, Preston has realized that maybe he shouldn’t run around insulting his customers, and he has now offered up a half-assed backpedal (via), in which he attempts to mollify his readers with about half a Hallmark card’s worth of affection. He succeeds, however, only in proving he thinks his readers are stupid enough to believe his obvious lies.

Chris Meadows at TeleRead debunks Preston’s turnaround pretty thoroughly. I just want to add a couple of “how stupid does he think we are?” points about both the statement and his other new comments:

  • Preston never apologizes. He should apologize.
  • Preston says he wants to make money for Wal-Mart. In his original comments, he said “the Wal-Mart mentality…is very unhealthy for our country.” Is this a joke?
  • He says he has no control over pricing or windowing (the practice of delaying ebook releases to force people to buy hardcovers), then says he supports windowing. He uses movies as an example of windowing, but fails to mention that movies in a theater offer more value and a different experience than DVDs, while hardcover vs. ebook editions of books offer exactly the same experience (and the people who disagree can still buy the hardcover).
  • In his statement, he says, “We want to write the best books we can.” Uh, no. If that was true, you’d spend longer than 9 months apiece on them.
  • He says he wants his “publishers to make [his books] available to you in the format in which you prefer to read them.” Come on, Preston, you’re not even trying.
  • And, of course, the ultimate lie: “From our perspective, the most important element in all this is you, the reader.” What does it mean when my BS detector shrieks and then melts?

Look, Preston, here’s the thing: you write books because they make you money. You hate ebooks because you think you’ll make less money on them. You hate your readers because they want ebooks, and because they don’t like being bossed around, or being told they’re stupid and greedy.

You grudgingly crapped out this… this statement, whatever it is (not an apology), in which you transparently lie and say you like your readers. Hopefully, it’s not fooling anybody, but TechDirt put this news in the “good-for-him dept,” so you got at least one. Basically, you’re a jerk. But now you’re being slightly more diplomatic about it.

Listen, you owe your readers nothing less than a debt of immense gratitude, especially if they’ve allowed you to write full-time and make a decent living at it. You should be fighting your publisher to give your readers what they want. They don’t want free books, and they don’t want to rip you off. They just want a fair deal, and when you call that “entitlement,” you should come crawling back on your knees and beg for their forgiveness. Instead you throw this sloppy mess of platitudes at them. It makes me furious, and I’ve never given you a dime.

OK, deep breaths.

The person I really feel sorry for is Lincoln Child, Preston’s writing partner, who hasn’t said anything stupid about this. But then, he’s worked with this colossal jerk for years, so… I guess he’s not entirely innocent.