Is $0.99 the Fair Price for a Poem?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

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As discussed in our lead article today, PoetrySpeaks.com is a place for poets to gather online, for readers to browse new work, and a place for poets to make a little money for their effort. The site allows poets to sell individual poems much the same way a band might offer a single for sale on iTunes, except in this case a consumer can opt to purchase either an MP3 spoken-word edition for $0.99, a text version, also $0.99, or a bundle of both the MP3 and the text for $1.50.

Currently, the top selling poem on the site is Clowns by Robbie Q. Telfer, and is only available as an MP3 audio file. The poem is nearly four minutes long, which just happens to be about the length of an average pop song, something that makes the price of $0.99 seem reasonable. The second top-selling poem is Jack McCarthy’s Magnum Iter, which comes in at nearly fifteen minutes in length, making it even better value.

Of course, most poems don’t come in nearly as long as these two do, which begs the question: What is the fair price for a poem — spoken, in text, or bundled? One of the reasons that has been historically cited for the generally modest sales of individual books of poetry has been the high cost of what usually amounts to a 75-100 page hardcover. Could buying poems piecemeal, for a fair price, be the solution to building a bigger audience?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.