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Thread: Amazon.com removes Macmillan books from site!!

  1. #51
    That door could be a time portal... Deb Kinnard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khanada View Post
    Currently, they're taking a loss on many/most/all (?) of these $10 ebooks.
    Unproven. I submit they're taking a loss on NONE of the e-books you can purchase there. Figure it this way: go onto any e-publisher's web site and you will see e-books sold for $5, $6, $7...this is what the publisher feels the book is worth to the consumer, and offers the house a modest profit.

    Now you have Amazon charging $10 for pretty much everything, when they have no upfront costs as do the publishers, and claiming they cannot make money on the titles?

    Please. I don't think so. Despite Med's statement that they have their digital "stocking" charges to pay and certain other overheads, most of those are a one-time charge against any individual title. Plus, Amazon benefits from every conceivable economy of scale. I feel they're being disingenuous when they whine they can't make any money.

    What's really at stake here is that neither Amazon nor the publishers want the e-books to drain off hardcover and/or PB sales, so they price the e-versions artificially high. And they're making money. Depend upon it.
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  2. #52
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheryl Nantus View Post
    a little OT, but how are you finding the Nook? I was drawn in by the video, but when I saw the actual device the bleeding-over from one screen to the other didn't work for me.

    but I *do* like the idea of having the ability to import other files. I'm still holding out hope for the $99 ebook reader that'll just do that - be a reader. I don't need all the bells and whistles.

    Amazon's ability to "kill" books off the Kindle unnerve me. At least I know that if I buy books elsewhere, it's not at a corporation's whim that it stays there.
    I actually don't have a Nook, but I covet it tremendously. I do admit the page turning is slower, so the flash could be annoying, but as with anything else, you probably get used to it after a while.

    Remember, also, that Nook allows for file-lending. Just one more reason to tell Amazon and the Kindle to kiss off.
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  3. #53
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Brian, you are a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, wherein "people who have little knowledge think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge.”

    I'm a licensed Apple developer. I'm certified as a Microsoft Document specialist. I've been using and supporting users on computers since punch card days. I've worked in commercial ebook publishing since 1989, and commercial publishing, academic and consumer, since 1992. You can go into stores or shop online and buy books and software that I've worked on. I've been a Programmer Analyst III with responsibility for servers at UCLA. I was on the Open E-Book Standards committee, and served on TEI.

    I'm a professional; you sound very much like someone who thinks wanting something makes it true. Because you blithely suggest that I am "someone with absolutely no awareness of technology," I'm going to be a little more explicit about why I do know what I'm talking about, than I am accustomed to being.

    Also? I'm tired of people who think that figs want to be free.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post

    The above is completely misleading. Sure, there are costs to a publisher associated with producing any book, but they are one-time costs, not per-volume costs, and so do not matter where pricing is concerned. As long as the price of the book pays back the per-volume costs with a reasonable profit beyond that, and it sells well, the one-time costs will be recouped, and it will sell better -- thus repaying those one-time costs more quickly -- if it's priced more reasonably.
    The point is that book pricing for consumer mass market and trade (and yes, hard cover) is reasonable. Do you even know what the work-flow is for a book? How many people are involved in getting on a shelf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    What's more, with e-books there's no time-pressure the way there is with books placed in brick-and-mortar bookstores. No returns, right? If a book in a physical bookstore doesn't sell within a month (or whatever it is), it's a failure. An e-book could take six months or a year to hit its stride and still be a success.
    The time pressure for a publisher is less often about when a book hits the shelf, than it is about coordinating the many steps. Keep in mind that most publishers don't own the presses; they reserve slots. If they miss a deadline, they may lose a slot. It's true that there are points in the season where a particular book will sell more, but that's really a matter of juggling all the process steps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    The per volume production cost of an e-book is virtually zero. Every cent that the buyer forks over goes either to the distributor or to the publisher. An e-book could be profitably priced at any level above free, if it sells well. The claim that publishers have to set it at a certain level to be profitable is a flat lie.
    No, actually it isn't. The costs for an ebook right up to the fork where it goes to the printer are identical. Acquisition, advances, editorial, copy editing, proofing, design, cover art, typesetting--those all happen first. Those are the principal costs of a book, not printing or distribution. Those costs are the same for the ebook.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Pshaw. No, it's not. Only someone with absolutely no awareness of technology and how it works could buy that load of bull.
    Really? And you know this how? Where can I buy your books? Where can I find your software? Are you a registered developer? I worked for The Voyager Company. I worked for Calliope, I worked for Night Kitchen. My ebooks are published by U.C. Press, University of Chicago Press, and Random House, where I worked on ebooks in The Modern Library, and typeset books like Walden, Plutarch's Lives and Les Miserables.

    Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have hired me as a consultant on digital text.

    Have you even worked in licensing? I have; licensing images, content, fonts, software and audio. I've done rights work for software and printed books.

    Software licensing is a one-time cost, not per volume.
    No, dude, it's not. They charge a per unit fee for a lot of things. Like licensing CODECs. Like licensing fonts (a number of ebook standards use embedded fonts. Those have to be paid for, even if they're Web standard fonts). Image compression software is a per unit license. DRM is a per unit license. Image licensing is a per use fee in digital or print. So is audio.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Not sure about DRM -- but as you say, DRM isn't a good thing, and in any case it's not more than about a dollar per volume.
    See? You say you are "Not sure," but then you pull a figure out of your ass. I've done the licensing. I am sure. Unlike you, I am not guessing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Server and software costs, tech support, multiple file formats, all that's overhead and when divided by the number, not only of e-book titles issues but by number actually sold, comes to next to nothing, especially when you realize that for most of them the dividend in the equation should also include all print volumes the publisher produces, plus office activities.
    Yeah, you've never worked in corporate finances either. You realize that the publisher carries the costs for six months to a year? That the author is paid an advance before the publisher has made any money? That all those people who work on the book, as well as the support staff, have to be paid? Those are all costs of publishing a book. And in ebook publishing you have additional server costs, and tech support costs, and additional QA costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Look. People self-produce and self-publish e-books all the time and offer them for free. (No, no one makes a profit doing that, of course.) With one computer, two software programs (a word processor and a Web browser) and Internet access. That's all you need to produce an e-book for the premium outlets such as Amazon.
    Yeah. I know. This is harsh, but most of those books are what we call text dumps. The text is dumped from a word processor into a digital shell--often .pdf or Kindle. Amazon is not a premium outlet. Depending on who made the Kindle, and whether or not they use the internal Amazon work flow tools, the book is poorly made. Most of the time, the books are not what I'd call professional.

    As a piece of writing, frankly, an awful lof of those self-published books are crap; many are barely in English. (I should probably mention that in addition to working in the production side of publishing, I've been a reader and editor. I also have a Ph.D. in English.)

    Most of those books are not professional ebooks. They're really not. And I wouldn't buy them. Most publications don't even review them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    . . . then they're lying or being misleading, as that guy is.
    "that guy" is Bob Miller; editor and publisher of Harper Studio.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Miller
    I agree that e-books should be priced lower than physical books. But I don’t agree that being profitable at $27.99 translates to being profitable at $9.99. It only costs us about $2.50-$3.00 less for us to publish the e-book, not $18.00 less. The right price is certainly one that a consumer will pay, but we won’t have books for them to buy if authors and publishers can’t make any money. So we need to find the right pricing somewhere between the hardcover list price and the money-losing $9.99 that Amazon is teaching consumers to expect.
    From here.

    Great so you think he's "lying or being misleading" and I am "someone with absolutely no awareness of technology."

    Dude, did I mention that I'm one of the two people who admins the server you're posting on?

    You go on about corporations, and teh evil. But while I am cognizant of the problems inherent in corporations, having worked for them and as a stock owner, I see it differently than you.

    I know the peopl who work in publishing. I know them. I know publishers, editors, designers, typesetters, sales, PR and marketing folk. I know agents. I know these people as colleagues and friends. They are there, even the marketing folk, because they love books. I've seen them go to bat for a book that they think people need to read, even if it's not going to make a lot of money. I also know artists and authors. Who are paid based on a percentage of cover price.

    You are talking about "your impressions." You're entitled to have your opinion, of course--and certainly, you shouldn't buy something you don't want to buy. However, you're yet another person who is not informed about how publishing works spouting off about how it's broken.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    My impression of the big publishing houses at this time is that they are too set, too fixed on trying to preserve the broken brick-and-mortar model of bookselling, to adapt well to the new circumstances.
    I suggest that before you set out to fix something (and no, it's not broken) you should learn how it actually works. The fact that you can't get the publisher's name right--it's Macmillan--is probably indicative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    So although I do think Amazon is being bloody unreasonable here, I have no sympathy for McMillan, either. In terms of where e-book pricing should be set, Amazon is right (which doesn't excuse their behavior of course), and McMillan is wrong. As it and other big publishers are about a lot of other things.
    Here's what Macmillan, via John Sargent, has proposed:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Sargent of Macmillan
    Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.
    Last edited by Medievalist; 09-24-2013 at 02:34 AM.

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  4. #54
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Amazon is playing the bully-boy by pulling all of Macmillan's books, not simply refusing to sell their ebooks.

    That's robber-baron tactics designed to gain a monopoly.

    Monopolies are not good for consumers.

    I am deleting all of my links to Amazon.

  5. #55
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    Medievalist, just about everything you posted was either ad hominem fallacy or irrelevancy. I'll identify which fall into which category (explaining the irrelevancies as needed), and answer the few valid points you did raise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    Brian, you are a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, wherein "people who have little knowledge think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge.”

    I'm a licensed Apple developer. I'm certified as a Microsoft Document specialist. I've been using and supporting users on computers since punch card days. I've worked in commercial ebook publishing since 1989, and commercial publishing, academic and consumer, since 1992. You can go into stores or shop online and buy books and software that I've worked on. I've been a Programmer Analyst III with responsibility for servers at UCLA. I was on the Open E-Book Standards committee, and served on TEI.

    I'm a professional; you sound very much like someone who thinks wanting something makes it true.
    Argumentum ad hominem, 100% from start to finish. Address the idea, not the person. None of this shows in any way that I'm wrong or that you're right, and all of it should be ignored.

    The point is that book pricing for consumer mass market and trade (and yes, hard cover) is reasonable.
    Irrelevant. We're not discussing pricing for hardcovers. We're discussing pricing for e-books.

    The time pressure for a publisher is less often about when a book hits the shelf, than it is about coordinating the many steps. Keep in mind that most publishers don't own the presses; they reserve slots. If they miss a deadline, they may lose a slot. It's true that there are points in the season where a particular book will sell more, but that's really a matter of juggling all the process steps.
    None of this has any relevance to e-books in any way.

    The costs for an ebook right up to the fork where it goes to the printer are identical. Acquisition, advances, editorial, copy editing, proofing, design, cover art, typesetting--those all happen first.
    As I said, all of those are up-front, per-title (or even overhead) costs, not per-volume. The per-volume cost of an e-book is very, very low. Those other costs will be repaid if the book sells well, as long as it priced so as to provide a reasonable return and to sell well.

    Really? And you know this how? Where can I buy your books? Where can I find your software? Are you a registered developer?
    More ad hominem, more stuff to be ignored.

    No, dude, it's not. They charge a per unit fee for a lot of things. Like licensing CODECs. Like licensing fonts (a number of ebook standards use embedded fonts.
    Anyone who has ever even read an e-book knows that the reader is capable of changing the font himself. I'm sure you know that, too. That you suggest this makes me suspect that you are being disingenuous.

    DRM is a per unit license.
    Thank you. That I did not know. However, it doesn't radically change the fact that the cost per volume of an e-book is very low, it merely makes it non-zero (assuming one uses DRM, which we agree should not be done).

    You realize that the publisher carries the costs for six months to a year? That the author is paid an advance before the publisher has made any money? That all those people who work on the book, as well as the support staff, have to be paid? Those are all costs of publishing a book.
    Per-title, not per-volume. Or else overhead costs. In no way do they begin to justify pricing an e-book the same as a hardbound, or the claim that an e-book costs the same per-volume to produce as a hardcover.

    In fact, you presented something in your previous post at the very beginning that undercuts the entire argument: the $2 per volume cost of a mass-distribution paperback. The retail price of a mass-distribution paperback runs between $6 and $10 these days. Yet all of those costs you mentioned as being the same for e-books as for hardcovers are also the same for paperbacks. The big publishing houses are claiming that they cannot sell e-books for $9.99 profitably, but they DO sell mass-distribution paperbacks (which, although cheaper to produce than hardcovers, are more expensive to produce than e-books) for that much or less. Are you going to claim that they are not making a profit on sale of paperbacks?

    And in ebook publishing you have additional server costs, and tech support costs, and additional QA costs.
    And in print book publishing you have additional warehouse costs, and the QA costs are higher, not lower, than they are with e-books.

    Yeah. I know. This is harsh, but most of those books are what we call text dumps. The text is dumped from a word processor into a digital shell--often .pdf or Kindle. Amazon is not a premium outlet. Depending on who made the Kindle, and whether or not they use the internal Amazon work flow tools, the book is poorly made. Most of the time, the books are not what I'd call professional.
    Most of the time, the books are not very good quality in terms of the writing, but in terms of formatting and production there is no distinguishing them from e-books produced by a publisher.

    "Depending on who made the Kindle"? What? Doesn't Amazon have a single manufacturer they use for this product? And what do you mean Amazon is not a "premium outlet"? We're still talking e-books here, right? The premium outlets are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Sony's distribution network -- I'm probably forgetting some. But Amazon goes to the top of the list. What outlets for e-books would you consider "premium" if that one isn't?

    As a piece of writing, frankly, an awful lof of those self-published books are crap; many are barely in English.
    I absolutely agree, but we're not talking about the quality of writing here. We're talking about the cost of production. Now, filtering out the dreck does increase costs to publishers, but again, that's cost overall, or per title, not per volume issued.

    I will say that self-published books also include a few that are too GOOD to be accepted by publishing houses, especially by the big ones -- too avant-garde, too impossible to pigeonhole in one genre or another, too "literary" and not sufficiently "commercial" -- but the overwhelming majority of them are too bad. And of course, all of that is irrelevant to what we're talking about.

    (I should probably mention that in addition to working in the production side of publishing, I've been a reader and editor. I also have a Ph.D. in English.)
    No, you shouldn't mention that. It's more argumentum ad hominem crap. Like all the rest of what you say that falls into that category, it should be ignored.

    "that guy" is Bob Miller; editor and publisher of Harper Studio.
    He's still lying or being misleading.

    BTW, I didn't say that you have no awareness of technology. I said that anyone who believed what you were saying fell into that category. You are the best expert on whether you believe what you're saying. I don't know, and don't care to speculate.

    Dude, did I mention that I'm one of the two people who admins the server you're posting on?
    No. Is there some reason why you should mention that?

    Interesting. To quote the portion relevant to this discussion:

    "The price will be set for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99."

    Several things to observe here.

    First, if Macmillan is issuing some e-books priced at $5.99, clearly the claim that they cannot make a profit issuing them at $9.99 is untrue.

    Second, if they are pricing the books from $12.99 up "at first release, concurrent with a hardcover," the obvious reason why they are doing so is to avoid competition between their two products. The same reason why some other publishing houses are delaying e-book issuance for some months after issuing the hardcover (although evidently Macmillan isn't one of those). It has nothing to do with the cost of production of the e-book, and to suggest that it does is disingenuous. Both the pricing of paperbacks, and the lower-end pricing of e-books issued by publishing houses, prove that what you're saying about cost of production and pricing necessity is untrue.

    It could not be more obvious that publishers CAN sell e-books profitably for a good deal LESS than the $9.99 ceiling Amazon imposes. They just don't want to.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Medievalist, just about everything you posted was either ad hominem fallacy or irrelevancy.
    http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/.../mansplaining/

  7. #57
    Around and About SuperModerator Birol's Avatar
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    Brian, here's the deal. Experience and creds do matter, even on the internet. Medievalist has offered hers. Will you do us the courtesy of doing the same? Or do we just have to take your word for it?

  8. #58
    Shiny new cover! AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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  9. #59
    Back at it san_remo_ave's Avatar
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    I posit that the issue Macmillan has with Amazon is as much the percentage of commission to Amazon as the price point.

    To date, I understand that Amazon has commanded upwards of 60-65% of the sales price (and has only recently moved to decrease it due to Apple's entre into the market with a proposed lower commission charge). I think there are two relevant points in John Sargent's open letter to pay attention to, especially if you're going to speculate about whether or not a publisher can 'make money' with ebook sales through Amazon:

    Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.
    (bolding is mine)

    The $9.99 price point issue appears to be based on hard cover:ebook price ratios, and that only with NYT Bestsellers (after they hit the list). Amazon has regularly posted new hardback ebook versions at much higher price points until they list ($14.99 is not uncommon --I know this because I wait often for proven NYT selling authors to hit the list before purchasing). And the price point at Amazon does continue to drop over time until the paperback version is released.

    Personally, I believe the issue of commission is at least as important to publishers as the price point itself. The commission alone could be worth twice the profit for the publisher. I think the publisher has more skin in the game gambling on an author, so should make more money. But that's just my opinion.

    Oh, and Brian, I can see that you're new around here. We welcome new voices and opinions, but I suggest you idle it down just a bit. This:

    BTW, I didn't say that you have no awareness of technology. I said that anyone who believed what you were saying fell into that category. You are the best expert on whether you believe what you're saying. I don't know, and don't care to speculate.
    if you'll mind the bluntness, is passive-agressive bullshit. By stating that 'anyone who believed what you were saying' you are implying precisely that you think Medievalist 'has no awareness of technology'. Clearly, she believed what she wrote or she wouldn't have posted the remark.

    Stop it. Take a deep breath and move away from the forums for a few hours. We'll be here when you return and you just may find you see things in a fresh light.
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  10. #60
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    The per-volume cost of an e-book is very, very low.
    This is utterly irrelevant.

    All of your points based on that point are irrelevant as well.


    But thanks for playing anyway.

  11. #61
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    Argumentum ad hominem, 100% from start to finish. Address the idea, not the person. None of this shows in any way that I'm wrong or that you're right, and all of it should be ignored.
    No, Brian. That's not how arguments work. When someone says "Here are the detailed specifics of my very related experience" that is actually a meaningful argument.

    Your saying "Blah blah it doesn't matter this is what I think and my opinion is as good as yours" is irresponsible and shoddy argument.

    Or what we like to call argumentum ad ignorantium.

    If one person says "I worked for Firm A, and this is how Firm A calculated its costs and profits," and that information checks out, the other person saying "No, this is how I think Firm A does things based on data I pull out of my ass" only one person is making a useful argument.

    If you have disagreements with the specifics Medievalist offered, share them, and provide sources that back up your position. If you think people here are going to be cowed by your using Latin, think again.
    Last edited by IceCreamEmpress; 02-01-2010 at 12:11 AM.


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  12. #62
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    Well, a claim that something is "irrelevant" would be stronger for some reasoning behind it. If it really were "irrelevant" then I submit that mass paperbacks would price the same as hardcopy.

    James, here are the two points that I raised with Medievalist that really need answering, and they got lost in the noise perhaps.

    "In fact, you presented something in your previous post at the very beginning that undercuts the entire argument: the $2 per volume cost of a mass-distribution paperback. The retail price of a mass-distribution paperback runs between $6 and $10 these days. Yet all of those costs you mentioned as being the same for e-books as for hardcovers are also the same for paperbacks. The big publishing houses are claiming that they cannot sell e-books for $9.99 profitably, but they DO sell mass-distribution paperbacks (which, although cheaper to produce than hardcovers, are more expensive to produce than e-books) for that much or less. Are you going to claim that they are not making a profit on sale of paperbacks?"

    And:

    "First, if Macmillan is issuing some e-books priced at $5.99, clearly the claim that they cannot make a profit issuing them at $9.99 is untrue.

    "Second, if they are pricing the books from $12.99 up "at first release, concurrent with a hardcover," the obvious reason why they are doing so is to avoid competition between their two products. The same reason why some other publishing houses are delaying e-book issuance for some months after issuing the hardcover (although evidently Macmillan isn't one of those). It has nothing to do with the cost of production of the e-book, and to suggest that it does is disingenuous. Both the pricing of paperbacks, and the lower-end pricing of e-books issued by publishing houses, prove that what you're saying about cost of production and pricing necessity is untrue.

    "It could not be more obvious that publishers CAN sell e-books profitably for a good deal LESS than the $9.99 ceiling Amazon imposes. They just don't want to."

    Care to take a stab at answering those two points?

  13. #63
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Medievalist, just about everything you posted was either ad hominem fallacy or irrelevancy. I'll identify which fall into which category (explaining the irrelevancies as needed), and answer the few valid points you did raise.
    Also? You aren't using ad hominem correctly. You know those books I mentioned? This book is one of them. I worked on the print version as the RA, and produced the digital one.

    I haven't attacked you Brian. I have pointed out that you do not have credentials, and that you are wrong. I have pointed how I know you are wrong, and that you are trying to argue about a topic on which you are poorly informed. I'm attacking your words, not you as the person who wrote things that are inaccurate and that reveal a paucity of knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Irrelevant. We're not discussing pricing for hardcovers. We're discussing pricing for e-books.
    You were the one who references hardcover prices Brian.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    And that mass-market paperback doesn't cost the same retail as a hardbound volume, does it?
    None of this has any relevance to e-books in any way. Why not Brian? You keep asserting things based on what? On what experience? What knowledge. I make books. I work in software. What basis are you making these assertions? I even cited sources, with links--though you called them liars (that's ad hominem, by the way).

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    As I said, all of those are up-front, per-title (or even overhead) costs, not per-volume. The per-volume cost of an e-book is very, very low. Those other costs will be repaid if the book sells well, as long as it priced so as to provide a reasonable return and to sell well.
    No Brian it's not. The costs are shared, right up to the fork when the file goes to a printer or to more production to create one or more ebook file formats. And ebooks are "printed" in one sense, when the copy is purchased and downloaded. So there's no way of knowing per volume costs because you don't know how many copies/downloads you will sell until they are sold.

    The costs can potentially drop over time--which is one reason John Sargent of Macmillan is arguing for day-and-date release, and similar pricing, with the pricing model dropping over time.

    I also note, though you dismiss it, that yes, there are on-going file format changes with ebooks. Kindle has already produced three separate file formats; ebook files needed to be changed to support the new Kindle OS. This has happened with just about every file format that is specifically designed to be an ebook, including .lit, .pdf, the open ebook HTML/XML standard, mobi and ePub. This is part of the nature of software; it changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Anyone who has ever even read an e-book knows that the reader is capable of changing the font himself. I'm sure you know that, too. That you suggest this makes me suspect that you are being disingenuous.
    In some file formats you can, and in some you can't. There are publishers and authors who only want a locked text format because they really do want a book typeset for the screen.

    It depends entirely on the file format and the particular ebook standard being used. I note that there's a reason typesetters and designers are not overwhelmed with many ebook file formats--including the current implementation of Apple's iBooks, which uses epub. You can change to one of a handful of fonts, and a handful of sizes, but the text is currently only supported with full justification. Since it sits on XML/CSS/XHTML, there's not a whole lot you can do in terms of typesetting, but ragged right ought to be an option.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    In fact, you presented something in your previous post at the very beginning that undercuts the entire argument: the $2 per volume cost of a mass-distribution paperback.
    You need to go back and re-read. That's the cost of printing and binding for a mass market paperback from an BNA. Again, printing is not the real cost of a printed book; it's all the stuff that happens before the book is printed, and those processes and costs are part of the ebook too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    The retail price of a mass-distribution paperback runs between $6 and $10 these days. Yet all of those costs you mentioned as being the same for e-books as for hardcovers are also the same for paperbacks. The big publishing houses are claiming that they cannot sell e-books for $9.99 profitably, but they DO sell mass-distribution paperbacks (which, although cheaper to produce than hardcovers, are more expensive to produce than e-books) for that much or less. Are you going to claim that they are not making a profit on sale of paperbacks?
    Hardbacks cost more to print and bind; the paper is different as well as the binding material and technology. I should also probably point out that library bound books cost more still, which will eventually be an issue regarding site licensing for lendable ebooks.

    Again, here's what John Sargent of Macmillan is proposing:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Sargent
    Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.
    In other words, pricing on day and date for an ebook will be tied to the price of the printed codex version's cover price. Paperbacks and their associated ebook will typically be priced less than hardbacks and their associated ebook. Now, when a paperback is released for a book initially in hardcover only, the ebook price decreases as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    And in print book publishing you have additional warehouse costs, and the QA costs are higher, not lower, than they are with e-books.
    You know this how? You have warehouse costs, and shipping costs for printed books. You have server costs (including personnel and licenses and hardware and ongoing costs for maintenance) for ebooks. Regarding QA--what on earth makes you think QA is lower for ebooks than printed ? What do you imagine the QA process is like for printed books?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Most of the time, the books are not very good quality in terms of the writing, but in terms of formatting and production there is no distinguishing them from e-books produced by a publisher.
    I think perhaps you're using a much more limited dataset, are aren't terribly interested or knowlegeable about typesetting, because you are wrong.

    There's a tremendous range, and there are all sorts of things tied to file format. There are a couple of small .pdf only publishers who do amazing work on their .pdfs, but they are not the norm. There are also important difference from device to device, even using the same file.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    "Depending on who made the Kindle"? What? Doesn't Amazon have a single manufacturer they use for this product?
    Sorry; the Kindle file, and no, Amazon uses several manufacturers to assemble the Kindle reader.

    There are a number of different tools that will output a file in Kindle format. It is quite possible for Kindle files, and for the Sony file, to do some small but noticeable tweaking in terms of typesetting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    And what do you mean Amazon is not a "premium outlet"? We're still talking e-books here, right? The premium outlets are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Sony's distribution network -- I'm probably forgetting some. But Amazon goes to the top of the list.
    Amazon will sell any e-book that doesn't get them hit with a court order. There's no QA check at all; they are a bulk retailer. They don't care. Premium suggests higher quality.

    Some things you're not getting.

    1. Amazon in a quarrel over price points for ebooks, acted like a bully and delisted all the books, print as well, from Macmillan.

    2. Yes, I think that publishers are concerned about ebooks being sold at a lower price and cutting into sales of print books--which is reasonable since the costs are shared, right up to the point of going to the printer. So if people only buy the cheaper ebook, then publishers will loose money. There aren't enough early adapters to make up in quantity the loss. Ebooks for publishers are right now an experiment, and a luxury. They are supported by the sales of print books.

    3. I really don't think Macmillan is being unreasonable. I really do think that authors, artists, publishers, typesetters, editors, designers should be paid for their work.

    I realize that you are new to Absolute Write, and not really informed about publishing, or e-publishing based on what you've said here, but you really and truly need to go do some homework.
    Last edited by Medievalist; 09-24-2013 at 02:35 AM. Reason: Some people can spell. I'm not among the elect.

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  14. #64
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Care to take a stab at answering those two points?
    Perhaps in a bit.

    Right now I'm busy removing all my links to Amazon.

    But: Your points are irrelevant where they aren't bogus where they aren't ignorant. I'll leave it at that until I have the time to deal with you.

    Incidentally, pointing out that you don't know what you're talking about is not the argumentum ad hominem.

  15. #65
    practical experience, FTW Greg Wilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    I realize that you are new to Absolute Write...
    Leaving aside the rest of the argument, why is being new to Absolute Write important in this context?

  16. #66
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Wilson View Post
    Leaving aside the rest of the argument, why is being new to Absolute Write important in this context?
    He doesn't know the social norms or the usual style of discourse.

  17. #67
    practical experience, FTW Greg Wilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    He doesn't know the social norms or the usual style of discourse.
    I suppose. Seems that the temperature on this thread is pretty high in general, though, not just from the "new guy"...but I guess that's understandable, given the stakes of this fight between Amazon and Macmillan.

  18. #68
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Amazon--you suck. Seriously. You suck, you smell bad, and your mom dresses you funny.

    Macmillan--good luck with the fight, but don't expect the bully to be graceful or to play fair.

    They've already whipped theirs out for The Great Pissing Contest.

    Don't expect the writers to be cheerful over this mess, either.

    We're the ones getting pissed on.


    Like Uncle Jim, I'm removing links to Amazon on my site--even for books not under the Macmillan umbrella. Thanks to this thread I can add new sellers to my links, along with links direct to the publishers.


    The Kindle is a great idea, but I loathe the monopoly that forces readers to buy ONLY from Amazon. EFF that. When I found out I couldn't get books from other venues I struck Kindle off my list of Cool Things To Have. It was just bloody stupid.

    But screw 'em all. Writers who have works with Macmillan--and I'm one of them--are not earning money from Amazon sales. Does Amazon expect writers to protest this to our publisher? Forget it. We're the last ones they listen to.

    I think e-books should cost less than hard copy books, plain and simple. Years after its initial HC release, the e-version of one of my books is still a 24.95 download from the publisher's site. You can buy a used PB for 1.00, or worse--get a pirated copy for zip. No wonder piracy is such a problem with that kind of pricing!

    The publishers have already shelled cash out to get hard copies printed, which was their goal in the first place. Once it's converted to an e-format and the software is in place to sell downloads, then the cost naturally drops as sales are made. There comes a tipping point where the e-book breaks even, then turns a profit, same as for treeware.

    I like how Baen handles e-sales themselves. They offer books in different formats to download (including boo-hiss Kindle), and they keep the prices low, comparable to (sometimes less than) mass-market PBs.

    If this is what Macmillan does for its titles, I'm all for it, just the both of you stop screwing around and give the writers their pittance of a royalty, dammit.

  19. #69
    Soldier, Storyteller Linda Adams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    I think e-books should cost less than hard copy books, plain and simple. Years after its initial HC release, the e-version of one of my books is still a 24.95 download from the publisher's site. You can buy a used PB for 1.00, or worse--get a pirated copy for zip. No wonder piracy is such a problem with that kind of pricing!
    I was reading a book on marketing, and it said that when people complain about pricing, it's often because what's being given for that price is not balanced. Consider:

    If I buy a hard back for $25, I'm getting a book that's printed on better quality paper and has a hard backed cover, with a nice book cover. The book is also larger.

    If I buy a trade paperback for $12, I get a book that's nearly the size of a hardback, but with a paper cover. Paper's maybe not quite as good quality.

    If I buy a paperback for $8, I get a much smaller book with a paper cover. Paper's usually cheaper, too.

    In each of the above, the price changes because the physical copy of the book changes. But if I buy an eBook, it's priced to the type of physical book being released. If I buy it at the time the hardcover comes out, I pay a hardcover price for this electronic file (I'm thinking of a specific hardback release that I checked the eBook price for). If I wait until the paperback comes out, then I pay a paperback price for the electronic file.

    While I do understand that there are other costs involved, this pricing gives the appearance of being way out of balance. Though, technically, I'm getting the same thing no matter what form it is--the actual reading material--the physical product is not the same. I keep looking at the eBook and thinking, "It's an electronic file, and it costs how much?"
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  20. #70
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Two of my most recent trade size releases are on seriously cheap paper. It's been about two years for one, a year for another, and and the paper is so thin, like newsprint, that it's a wonder the ink didn't bleed through.

    It's thinner paper than I've seen in mass market paperbacks.

    It is already going yellow.

    Both are with Macmillan.

    I don't think most readers notice details like that. I sure don't, and I'm aware of them.

    My criteria is how much do I want to read that writer's book, not the whether it's HC, TB, or PB or if the paper is nice. I don't care what format it's in, though my preference is for affordable print. (If I accidentally drop a print book it doesn't break, and if I forget and leave it on a bus, I'm not out 3-4 hundred bucks for the reading device.)

    The fact stands that many readers who prefer e-books will balk at paying a HC price because they don't care or know about the overheads.

    While most are honest and willing to pay for a book, the temptation is in place to go to pirate sites and get it for free on the release date.

    Some of the new kids coming up are comfortable with that, and even see it as their right to not pay. With some publishers jacking the prices up to HC levels, I can see where they're coming from!

    I want the publishers to be fair to their writers and get royalties for e-sales, but to also be fair to readers and offer e-books at a reasonable price.

    It's already been proposed to have a higher price for an e-format when the book is released, then have the price come down after a set period of time. Fair enough. I usually wait to get the paperback anyway, because I'm years behind in my reading stack.

    If, after a month I see an e-version at a PB price, then I'd be more inclined to get it.

    Is that fair to writers whose books are released as mass market PBs? Hardly. Why should an e-version be higher priced than the treeware version? E-readers won't go for it, not when they can get it for free elsewhere.

    There will be a ton of debate about this, but until the big guns sort their credentials Macmillan writers are being screwed over by Amazon's bullying tactics.

    I'll be shopping elsewhere. Oh, wait, I already do!
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 02-01-2010 at 03:06 AM.

  21. #71
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Tobias Buckell has a really good blog post analyzing some of the costs involved.

  22. #72
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    I probably wouldn't mind paying $15 for an ebook if the reader didn't cost over $200. For $15, you can buy any one of my current published novels in trade paperback, and require no other equipment to read them.

    And that, I think, is the sticking point with ebooks. Dedicated readers are expensive. I have Mobipocket on my laptop, which was free, but I don't really use it that much for reading. I want eInk, I want portability. If I pay an arm and a leg for it, I want content to be inexpensive.

    The old razors vs. blades phenomenon. Razors are cheap, blades are expensive. Without one or the other the device is useless.

    Make the readers cheaper, charge for the content. More money over a longer period of time. If Amazon were to drop the price of the Kindle, I can almost guarantee that those $15 ebooks will sell like sliced bread.

    I'd still rather have a Nook. FWIW, the two books I've written that are available for Kindle can be had for $4.40 each. Both the publisher and I seem to do all right with it.
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  23. #73
    Back at it san_remo_ave's Avatar
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    Exclamation Amazon's response!!

    Posted by the 'Amazon Kindle Team' this afternoon:

    Dear Customers:

    Macmillan, one of the "big six" publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

    We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

    Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

    Thank you for being a customer.
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  24. #74
    aka Sadistic Mistress Mi-chan M.R.J. Le Blanc's Avatar
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    aka Someone Else Is To Blame syndrome.
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  25. #75
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles


    Who else? Burger King?

    Amazon, you blinked. Most of us don't give a flying fart for your self-serving crusade. We know you're not doing us any favors.

    I'm one of the writers under the Macmillan umbrella that you screwed over by disabling sales.

    The only winners have been the used bookstores with Macmillan titles--and you take a cut of their sales, a damned big one.

    In the end people will either buy Macmillan e-books for a higher price or they won't.

    And just as a reminder--e-books don't account for that much in sales--a few hundred copies vs. thousands of paper copies.

    JulieB--thank you for that link to Tobias Buckell. What HE said!

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