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san_remo_ave
01-30-2010, 10:06 AM
Here we go!

Apparently, Amazon.com has spent the day on Friday pulling down ebooks and removing 'Buy It Now' links for all books produced by Macmillan publishing. (I have only checked the US site)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/technology/30amazon.html

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2010/01/29/game-on-macmillan-pulls-the-kindle-books-and-amazon-removes-the-buy-button/

Looks like two major companies are facing off.

My sympathies to those of you who are Macmillan pubbed. Amazon is a major source for book purchases (paperback AND ebook) and this can't be feeling good to you at the moment. I hope this is resolved quickly.

WildScribe
01-30-2010, 10:13 AM
Huh... interesting reasons. Honestly, though, sometimes $10 is a discount vs. the hardcover, but I never buy hardcovers anyway, and it is more than your typical trade. On average, book companies are making $2 more from me per book than they did before, and faster, too, with less overhead on their part. Sounds like a good deal for them.

san_remo_ave
01-30-2010, 10:18 AM
Me, too, WildScribe. I rarely purchase hardbacks, but have on occasion purchased the ebook at $9.99.

The problem with this action today (or yesterday now, depending on time zone?) is that Amazon is pulling down sales links for ebooks AND hard copies. The only exception is 3rd party transactions, which are typically used book sales and authors get no furhter royalties. So, in my opinion, readers & writers will suffer till this gets sorted out. Afterall, iBookstore isn't on line yet, is it?

gothicangel
01-30-2010, 10:18 AM
Surprise, surprise the publishing's biggest bully start throwing their weight around.

Maxinquaye
01-30-2010, 11:22 AM
It will actually be good when the ebook version of iTunes opens. There will be more competition and neither publishers nor booksellers will be able to get into tats like these. It will be good for the readers, and ultimately good for writers.

vfury
01-30-2010, 03:00 PM
The Book Depository (http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/) is a good alternative (for books) to Amazon. I know several people who buy from them and have no problems. Edit: I can't believe I forgot to add that they do international shipping!

I can't wait until there starts being more competition to Amazon--it's terrifying how they can just pull an entire publisher's stock from their site.

ChaosTitan
01-30-2010, 06:24 PM
I'm not sure what I think about the business side of this whole mess, but my heart is broken for thousands of authors whose sales will be affected by this decision. I have several friends published by Tor and some of Macmillan's other imprints, and this just sucks donkey balls for them.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-30-2010, 06:40 PM
Wow. I.....wow. That's a pretty staggering chunk of inventory going away.

@Maxinquaye: Is that really in the works, an iTunes eBook seller?

WendyNYC
01-30-2010, 07:01 PM
As someone who JUST FREAKING BOUGHT a Kindle, I'm pretty irritated. What?! If I had a Nook, I could buy WOLF HALL, but too bad so sad for me?

I sent Amazon an email about it.

Susan Gable
01-30-2010, 07:31 PM
Well, I was turned off by Amazon when they went into everyone's Kindles and wiped off a book they weren't supposed to sell in the first place.

Not that I have a problem with them correcting the situation -- but I don't think they should be allowed to just "waltz into" your machine and take something back. They should have asked for and been granted permission by each customer FIRST.

I admit, I like Amazon as a place to buy things. I don't buy used stuff, only new. I like having the stuff delivered right to my doorstep (or to anyone's doorstep) with free shipping.

But they DO behave like bullies a lot of the time.

Susan G.

Toothpaste
01-30-2010, 08:15 PM
My biggest issue with all of this, aside from the obvious problems you have stated, is the following:

Publishing is in trouble right now. We need everyone to get together, have a sit, and figure out a new business model to help it survive. Once we've done that, then yes, maybe big business can go back to playing the game, but if we don't fix the problems first, there isn't going to be a game to play. This is not the time for Amazon to be throwing its weight around. Especially not less than a week after the birth of the iPad.

Bad form, Amazon. Bad form.

Sevvy
01-30-2010, 08:19 PM
Especially not less than a week after the birth of the iPad.


I wouldn't be surprised if that right there is part of this reactionary tactic.

And like, five seconds after I posted in my blog about this, I saw this thread. ^__^ I figured someone on here would have read about this too. It sucks what's going on, because this really hurts the readers and writers a lot more than the corporations.

Hopefully the fact that Macmillan is owned by an even bigger fish will at least keep this battle on even footing.

timewaster
01-30-2010, 09:19 PM
It will actually be good when the ebook version of iTunes opens. There will be more competition and neither publishers nor booksellers will be able to get into tats like these. It will be good for the readers, and ultimately good for writers.

I am pretty sure it won't be good for writers. We're pretty much stuffed whatever.

ChristineR
01-30-2010, 09:31 PM
You see, this is why I got out of the computer industry. They're like a bunch of third-graders. Watch Amazon say something vacuous on Monday, like "MacMillan does not share our vision for the Kindle." Would it kill them just to charge the price that the publisher asks?

You can just buy your books at Barnes and Noble or Borders, I guess.

san_remo_ave
01-30-2010, 09:45 PM
You can just buy your books at Barnes and Noble or Borders, I guess.

Borders doesn't offer ebooks that I can see and DRM'd books from other bookstores (B&N or BooksOnBoard) don't play well with Kindle (and since Bezos claims millions of Kindles sold, this is no small industry issue). Non-DRM publications are easy-peasy, so I'm likely to be shopping for those till this is sorted out.

I buy only ebooks these days and won't go back to paperback because of this standoff. I'm more likely to select another DRM format, but unlikely to do that until I can confirm any investment I make in the new format can be, um, protected (read: stripped to read in other formats). I read a lot and won't lose my investment due to bully corporate tactics, yanno?

Birol
01-30-2010, 09:49 PM
@Maxinquaye: Is that really in the works, an iTunes eBook seller?

You hadn't heard? I'm surprised you guys hadn't been discussing it around here, but the answer is, yes. Apple is getting into the ebook game. Let me see if I can find an article for you.

Here's the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/business/media/28media.html) article.


You can just buy your books at Barnes and Noble or Borders, I guess.

Or they could pay a visit to their local indie book seller.

ChristineR
01-30-2010, 09:56 PM
Borders doesn't offer ebooks that I can see and DRM'd books from other bookstores (B&N or BooksOnBoard) don't play well with Kindle (and since Bezos claims millions of Kindles sold, this is no small industry issue). Non-DRM publications are easy-peasy, so I'm likely to be shopping for those till this is sorted out.

I buy only ebooks these days and won't go back to paperback because of this standoff. I'm more likely to select another DRM format, but unlikely to do that until I can confirm any investment I make in the new format can be, um, protected (read: broken to read in other formats). I read a lot and won't lose my investment due to bully corporate tactics, yanno?

This is true, but it's also one of the reasons why I haven't bought a Kindle. My feeling is that with all the DRM and other issues with the Kindle, that it's really hit and miss what you can get for it, and in a few years, the Kindle may turn out to be useless, or only have public domain titles. If you have to get the paper edition, I guess you have to get it from someone else now.

Birol, my locally owned bookstore is Borders. We do have one independent left though.

Christine N.
01-30-2010, 10:42 PM
Just another reason I hate proprietary formats. Nook not only reads B&N format, but also .pdf natively, which I can get from anyone of a number of places. Amazon forces you to send it to them to reformat before its useful to the device. Even if Nook format went away, I could still use the device.

The more Amazon tightens its grip, the more things will slip away from them. Stupid.

WendyNYC
01-31-2010, 12:40 AM
Watch Amazon say something vacuous on Monday, like "MacMillan does not share our vision for the Kindle." Would it kill them just to charge the price that the publisher asks?
.

Amazon emailed me back and this is basically what they said.

"Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel" isn't available for Kindle. Your direct feedback to the publisher is helpful.

You may see a link labeled "Please tell the publisher: I'd like to read this book on Kindle." directly below the product image on some book detail pages:

http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Hall-Novel-Booker-Prize/dp/0805080686

If a book you're interested in isn't currently on the Amazon.com website or doesn't have the request link, please contact the publisher directly and ask that they make their content available on Kindle.

I said thanks but no thanks, I'll just head to the bookstore and buy the hardcover.

See, I actually WANT the BOOK. In whatever form. I'm not loyal to Amazon nor my Kindle.

Birol
01-31-2010, 12:51 AM
This whole situation reminds me of when the baseball players went on strike a few years ago. It wasn't the players or the owners that suffered in that stalemate, as it was a battle between the Haves and the Have Mores. No. The ones who suffered were the regular people who worked at the stadium in order to pay the mortgage, and the fans who looked to the game as an outlet for their own emotions.

Macmillian won't suffer through this battle. Neither will Amazon. And they're too big to hear or care about the cries of the people who will feel the impact of their little feud.

Unimportant
01-31-2010, 01:03 AM
The Book Depository (http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/) is a good alternative (for books) to Amazon. I know several people who buy from them and have no problems.
Yes, I buy from them regularly and have found them to be excellent. (Editing to add: and they have free international shipping, so that makes them cheaper, for me, than Amazon.)

I stopped buying from or linking to Amazon a while ago, after Teh Gay ranking fiasco, and won't touch Amazon again.

Sheryl Nantus
01-31-2010, 01:49 AM
Just another reason I hate proprietary formats. Nook not only reads B&N format, but also .pdf natively, which I can get from anyone of a number of places. Amazon forces you to send it to them to reformat before its useful to the device. Even if Nook format went away, I could still use the device.

The more Amazon tightens its grip, the more things will slip away from them. Stupid.

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.

veinglory
01-31-2010, 02:11 AM
Borders doesn't offer ebooks that I can see

Since Borders acquired fictionwise (http://www.fictionwise.com/)they probably have the biggest ebook inventory of anyone, although they haven't imported it all to their own ebook site yet (http://ebooks.borders.com/content/borders/index.shtml).

san_remo_ave
01-31-2010, 03:29 AM
Since Borders acquired fictionwise (http://www.fictionwise.com/)they probably have the biggest ebook inventory of anyone, although they haven't imported it all to their own ebook site yet (http://ebooks.borders.com/content/borders/index.shtml).

Oh, thanks! Had forgotten. Still have to deal with that bloody DRM on titles, which makes me more than a little crazy.

Brian Rush
01-31-2010, 04:53 AM
My biggest issue with all of this, aside from the obvious problems you have stated, is the following:

Publishing is in trouble right now. We need everyone to get together, have a sit, and figure out a new business model to help it survive. Once we've done that, then yes, maybe big business can go back to playing the game, but if we don't fix the problems first, there isn't going to be a game to play. This is not the time for Amazon to be throwing its weight around. Especially not less than a week after the birth of the iPad.

Bad form, Amazon. Bad form.

While I agree that it's bad form on Amazon's part, I don't agree with your reasoning in the paragraph above. Publishing certainly is in trouble, and a new business model is needed, but one won't be adopted unless publishing companies feel the pressure to do so. So I for one am not inclined to go easy on them. The current model was designed for brick-and-mortar bookstores: largish-to-huge print runs, aggressive marketing to book dealers, an advance and stingy royalties to authors, and hope the book dealers sell a lot of copies to readers in a fairly short time so they don't return them. The whole thing simply screams inefficiency, and it's a terrible model for marketing to on-line outlets, let alone e-books. McMillan seems to be trying to preserve the pricing that was predicated on the expectation that a certain percentage of books will be returned by booksellers -- and that's even before you factor in the near-zero per-volume cost of production and storage for e-books -- without any consideration for the fact that it has no basis in commercial reality.

At the same time, Amazon is being asinine. Or I think they are. Does anyone know if publishers require outlets like Amazon to prepay for e-books? I don't see how that would be workable . . . anyway, assuming that Amazon effectively pays the publisher royalties on e-books sold through the Kindle store rather than prepaying (much as it does for independent authors who self-publish there), I see no reason why it can't let publishers set whatever prices they want, however unreasonable I may think those prices (again, similar to what it does for independent authors). If a publisher prices itself out of the market, that's its problem and Amazon shouldn't be trying to save its publishers from themselves.

A pox on both their houses, say I.

Sage
01-31-2010, 05:19 AM
As someone who JUST FREAKING BOUGHT a Kindle, I'm pretty irritated.
Me too. Seriously purchased it yesterday and this happens.

Nefertiti Baker
01-31-2010, 06:05 AM
The first thing I thought about was the impact on the authors' sales. God, this is just horrible. I think it's really bad for one vendor to be this freaking huge. Plus, it's creepy that they can just go and mess with whatever you've purchased on your Kindle. It's as if you've paid for a long-term leased item rather than making an actual purchase.

HapiSofi
01-31-2010, 06:46 AM
I am angry beyond the telling.

This has nothing to do with the good of the authors, the readers, or the industry in general. It's a simple power grab, and the only entity it benefits is Amazon.

De-listing Macmillan's books is the same b*llsh*t stunt Amazon pulled on Hachette and the POD publishers back in 2008. What it boils down to is "Do as we say, or we'll kill your distribution."

Loss of distribution is not survivable.

There are feral thugs working in Amazon management. They've been there for a while.

Silver King
01-31-2010, 07:08 AM
It would seem that this publisher is doing a disservice to the reading public by charging more for e-book content when their costs to provide such content is substantially less than when they produce the "physical" varieties of those same products.

Or am I reading this situation all wrong? From the links I followed in the original thread, the publisher seeks to charge more for a download through Amazon than it would for a hard copy of its books.

Medievalist
01-31-2010, 07:27 AM
It would seem that this publisher is doing a disservice to the reading public by charging more for e-book content when their costs to provide such content is substantially less than when they produce the "physical" varieties of those same products.

1. The idea that a professionally produced ebook costs less than the same book in printed form is a myth. Most of the cost of producing a trade or mass market or hardcover consumer book are in the steps before the book goes to a printer. A mass market paperback printed in the numbers of say Danielle Steele costs the publisher about $2.00 to print and bind.

The process and costs for an ebook and a printed version of the same book are identical up to the point in work flow where the digital file that goes to a printer is "forked" and is then subjected to several steps to make an ebook.

2. Ebook costs do not include returns, or shipping or warehousing. They do include software and DRM licensing (and yes, DRM is not a good thing), and server and server software costs, and tech support costs not only for the server(s) for for people who need help with their ebooks. They may, depending on the publisher, include producing multiple copies of the book in different file formats. They may also include higher licensing costs for images. The probability of having to re-produce the same ebook again because of changes in the ereader or the OS is also quite high.

You don't have to take my word for it--though I've been doing this since 1989. Here's another source (http://theharperstudio.com/2009/02/the-kindle-and-questioning-the-economics-of-ebook-publishingthe-conversation-continues/), a publisher, who estimages that at most it's two or three dollars difference.

3. What I would like to see are day and date release for ebook and printed book, and identical cover prices, with lower prices as books come out in lower priced editions. So if you want the ebook when the hardcover of the next John Grisham comes out, you pay a comparable price. Or you can wait for the paper back to be released and pay less.

triceretops
01-31-2010, 07:29 AM
Silver King, I'm with you on this issue. I'm screaming for a 9.99 ceiling on ebooks, but I think Amazon went way too far in this case. Hapi was right about them pulling this BS before, knocking off buyer buttons of the small publishers, although I loved it when PA got the ax.

I just don't see the overhead in ebooks like I do in print. Meaning physical production costs, returns, and warehousing.

Tri

James D. Macdonald
01-31-2010, 07:30 AM
It would seem that this publisher is doing a disservice to the reading public by charging more for e-book content when their costs to provide such content is substantially less than when they produce the "physical" varieties of those same products.

Or am I reading this situation all wrong? From the links I followed in the original thread, the publisher seeks to charge more for a download through Amazon than it would for a hard copy of its books.

You are reading the situation wrong. The most substantial costs in any publishing -- ebook or paper -- is in acquisition and editing. The slush reader, the acquiring editor, the fact checker, the copy editor, the proofreader, the marketing and promotion ... the price is exactly the same. Printing itself is one of the smaller costs in the complete book-production cycle.

What am I doing about this?

I'm in the process of removing every single link to Amazon that I've ever put up on every web page under my control.

I urge everyone else to remove their links to Amazon, and instead link to Barnes and Noble, Powell's, Books-a-Million, Borders, or some other on-line book vendor.

Medievalist
01-31-2010, 07:31 AM
Here's Macmillan's John Sargent in Publisher's Lunch (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/lunch/free/); he took out an ad to get this message heard today.

Go read the link, please. I know some of you never click on links, but this time, please read it. It's a fairly short statment.

triceretops
01-31-2010, 07:35 AM
1. The idea that a professionally produced ebook costs less than the same book in printed form is a myth. Most of the cost of producing a trade or mass market or hardcover consumer book are in the steps before the book goes to a printer. A mass market paperback printed in the numbers of say Danielle Steele costs the publisher about $2.00 to print and bind.

The process and costs for an ebook and a printed version of the same book are identical up to the point in work flow where the digital file that goes to a printer is "forked" and is then subjected to several steps to make an ebook.

2. Ebook costs do not include returns, or shipping or warehousing. They do include software and DRM licensing (and yes, DRM is not a good thing), and server and server software costs, and tech support costs not only for the server(s) for for people who need help with their ebooks. They may, depending on the publisher, include producing multiple copies of the book in different file formats. They may also include higher licensing costs for images. The probability of having to re-produce the same ebook again because of changes in the ereader or the OS is also quite high.

You don't have to take my word for it--though I've been doing this since 1989. Here's another source (http://theharperstudio.com/2009/02/the-kindle-and-questioning-the-economics-of-ebook-publishingthe-conversation-continues/), a publisher, who estimages that at most it's two or three dollars difference.

3. What I would like to see are day and date release for ebook and printed book, and identical cover prices, with lower prices as books come out in lower priced editions. So if you want the ebook when the hardcover of the next John Grisham comes out, you pay a comparable price. Or you can wait for the paper back to be released and pay less.

Hmmm...thanks for filling me in on this aspect. Sure would be nice to see a side by side comparison of an e-book and a MMPB, as it relates to ALL phases of production from concept to finished product. A clear and concise spreadsheet would help the uninformed (like me) understand what's up with this industry trend.

Tri

Silver King
01-31-2010, 07:49 AM
You are reading the situation wrong. The most substantial costs in any publishing -- ebook or paper -- is in acquisition and editing. The slush reader, the acquiring editor, the fact checker, the copy editor, the proofreader, the marketing and promotion ... the price is exactly the same. Printing itself is one of the smaller costs in the complete book-production cycle.
But from a book buyer's perspective, whether it be retail for one copy or wholesale for thousands: Why should I pay more for an e-version than a hard copy?

That's the crux of this issue, as I read it, that has me at odds with deferring on the part of the publisher.

ChristineR
01-31-2010, 08:21 AM
Who says you are paying more for the e-book? Macmillan says they want to price e-books at $5.99 to $14.99. E-books for books out in hardcover they say will be $12.99 to $14.99. I could be confused about this. What are these links in the original thread?

Silver King
01-31-2010, 08:29 AM
Who says you are paying more for the e-book? Macmillan says they want to price e-books at $5.99 to $14.99. E-books for books out in hardcover they say will be $12.99 to $14.99. I could be confused about this. What are these links in the original thread?
This is from the link I read in the original post:

...Macmillan has had a very negative attitude toward ebooks. It has charged 50% more for the digital equivalent of the mass market paperback (usually $9.99 versus a paper copy which sells for $6.99-$7.99)

sassandgroove
01-31-2010, 08:50 AM
Because the content is the same and that is what you are paying for.

Medievalist
01-31-2010, 09:41 AM
This is from the link I read in the original post:

That's from Dear Author. Seriously, it's an interesting blog, but they are not authorities.

Macmillan was one of the first companies to support ebooks as Macmillan. I worked for them, in that they owned a chunk of Calliope. They, like just about every publisher employee in the executive suite--which is who decides these things--think DRM is A Good Thing. They naively often think that a pirated book is a lost sale.

But Macmillan has actually said, via John Sargent (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/lunch/free/) how they would like to see pricing:


Looking to the future and to a growing digital business, we need to establish the same sort of business model, one that encourages new devices and new stores. One that encourages healthy competition. One that is stable and rational. It also needs to insure that intellectual property can be widely available digitally at a price that is both fair to the consumer and allows those who create it and publish it to be fairly compensated.

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.

The agency model would allow Amazon to make more money selling our books, not less. We would make less money in our dealings with Amazon under the new model. Our disagreement is not about short-term profitability but rather about the long-term viability and stability of the digital book market.

This actually sounds reasonable to me, as an ebook buyer who purchased more expensive un-edited "E ARCs" from Baen for more than the price of the finished version, and then bought the final ebook too.

Toothpaste
01-31-2010, 10:49 AM
Actually Brian, I think you actually do agree with me, but just don't realise it. I'm not saying publishers shouldn't change the model, I'm simply saying that Amazon playing such tactics is not helpful when we are in a place where those who make books and those who sell books need to have a serious sit down and figure some stuff out.

aruna
01-31-2010, 11:28 AM
Macmillan books are still available for purchse on amazon.co.uk. At least, Wolf Hall is.

Hedgetrimmer
01-31-2010, 04:13 PM
Yeah, this is all interesting and unfortunate, but the publishing industry itself isn't without culpability. An e-reader is nothing but a machine, a tool. The actual product is the book itself. It's like holding a patent to an air conditioning unit but not having access to freon to make the damn thing useful.

But Amazon doesn't hold rights to books. They simply came out with a tool that they said would revolutionize publishing. One publishing house took the bait and signed on, then all the rest followed suit. Instead of being so competitive to the point of shooting themselves in the foot, the industry should've sat down and come to an agreement that they wouldn't buy into this. After all, if they aren't signing away electronic rights, books simply remain as books.

Now they're all crying about it. But what do you expect? They crawled in bed with the devil expecting roses, candy and all the sweetness of romance. Shit. The devil doesn't practice romance. He simply gets you between the sheets, screws your ass and tosses you away.

Kenny
01-31-2010, 05:29 PM
Role-playing companies have started working on e-publishing a while back. Of all the big names RP companies I know only one doesn't use e-pub (and that's Wizards of the Coast (and they pulled out)).

Most of the companies do not use DRM as they feel this screws the customer (and only Wizards did not have a DRM free version of their work).

Of those who both e-pub and real-world pub most, if not all (again only Wizards differed), offer a discount on their e-pub books. I've used PDF and real-world books and have a library of both and both have their good and bad sides. Maybe some of the big publishers should look at how RP publishers moved into the direction of e-pub and see if they can learn lessons from them.

See http://www.rpgnow.com / http://e23.sjgames.com / http://www.yourgamesnow.com

Miguelito
01-31-2010, 07:04 PM
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.

The agency model would allow Amazon to make more money selling our books, not less. We would make less money in our dealings with Amazon under the new model. Our disagreement is not about short-term profitability but rather about the long-term viability and stability of the digital book market.

It sounds like a neat business model with dynamic book pricing, but it also sounds like what Macmillan wants is collusion with book retailers to control prices. Normally when this happens, it isn't the consumer that wins but anybody that stands to make money off of the transaction.

I can't help but be sympathetic in a way to amazon.com: they want to charge what they see the market sees as fit, not what Macmillan does. Maybe one way this dynamic pricing idea will work is if the pricing is run by the retailer and not dictated by the publisher.

Khanada
01-31-2010, 07:39 PM
I can understand that Amazon should have the right to set their own prices. But I cannot get 100% behind them here.

Currently, they're taking a loss on many/most/all? of these $10 ebooks. But the public is now seeing this $10 as THE price of ebooks. Many think it's too much. (Tho they shell out $15 for a movie ticket and walk out with nothing but a ticket stub after 2 hours - I don't get it...)

So Amazon is going to go back to publishers and say that, Hey, we can't sell ebooks for more than $10. Nobody can. We are going to pay you less per book now, cos we can't distribute your books without making a little money here.

So that's the point where publishers are going to lose money on this. What expenses are they going to cut in order to make up for this loss of income? They're going to stop taking chances on the new author. That's already been happening. And the small authors they do take on -- their new contracts are going to make today's standard contracts look like an author's goldmine.

Please tell me what I'm missing here. Please show me where I'm wrong - that I'm just being pessimistic and that this is not going to end like this. No, it isn't right for the publishers to try to control retail prices. But all I can see is Amazon acting like a spoiled 3-year old -- all to, what, push out a few more Kindles? And I have even less chance of getting published than I did 6 months ago.

Momento Mori
01-31-2010, 07:53 PM
Miguelito:
I can't help but be sympathetic in a way to amazon.com: they want to charge what they see the market sees as fit, not what Macmillan does. Maybe one way this dynamic pricing idea will work is if the pricing is run by the retailer and not dictated by the publisher.

I have no objection to Amazon charging what they want, but that doesn't equate to their having the right to force publishers to lower their prices to enable Amazon to retain its profit margin and market dominance at the expense of the publisher's.

Tough negotiations are one thing, unilaterally withdrawing books for sale is something else. Amazon are doing this to hurt Macmillan's sales and in turn their authors. It's not a good thing for publishers, authors or even readers. It's the equivalent of Amazon whipping its dick out in public and having a wank so they can show they've got a big one.

MM

Brian Rush
01-31-2010, 08:15 PM
1. The idea that a professionally produced ebook costs less than the same book in printed form is a myth. Most of the cost of producing a trade or mass market or hardcover consumer book are in the steps before the book goes to a printer. A mass market paperback printed in the numbers of say Danielle Steele costs the publisher about $2.00 to print and bind.


And that mass-market paperback doesn't cost the same retail as a hardbound volume, does it?

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. 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 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.



2. Ebook costs do not include returns, or shipping or warehousing. They do include software and DRM licensing (and yes, DRM is not a good thing), and server and server software costs, and tech support costs not only for the server(s) for for people who need help with their ebooks. They may, depending on the publisher, include producing multiple copies of the book in different file formats. They may also include higher licensing costs for images. The probability of having to re-produce the same ebook again because of changes in the ereader or the OS is also quite high.


Pshaw. No, it's not. Only someone with absolutely no awareness of technology and how it works could buy that load of bull.

Software licensing is a one-time cost, not per volume. 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. 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.

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. Now, a publisher does have some additional costs, but almost all of those are associated with quality control: editing, proofreading, cover art, etc. And none of those costs applies per-volume, only one-time per title. Because of those costs, a publisher would lose money on an e-book if it was offered for free, but not a whole lot of price hike above free would mean that they weren't. And if they claim otherwise . . .



You don't have to take my word for it--though I've been doing this since 1989. Here's another source (http://theharperstudio.com/2009/02/the-kindle-and-questioning-the-economics-of-ebook-publishingthe-conversation-continues/), a publisher, who estimages that at most it's two or three dollars difference.


. . . then they're lying or being misleading, as that guy is.

EDIT: I think the main thing to keep in mind here is that publishers are corporations. They are not benign, they are not on our side, they are not to be trusted. They lie. They cheat. They behave ruthlessly and without regard to any public-good considerations. If it's legal and they think they can profit from it, they do it. All of that is also true of Amazon, of course. But at least Amazon is making sense in terms of its own self-interest. Corporations also make stupid mistakes, and all of the big publishing houses are making them now.

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. The only solution is for them to fail and be replaced by something else -- and I see that already happening. A combination of increased self-publishing and the rise of new, small, innovative publishing houses will ultimately bury them. Hasn't quite happened yet, but it will, because it must.

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.

Birol
01-31-2010, 08:58 PM
:popcorn:

Terie
01-31-2010, 09:00 PM
:popcorn:

ETA: Ha! Birol beat me to it!

Maxinquaye
01-31-2010, 09:22 PM
:scared:

Deb Kinnard
01-31-2010, 09:22 PM
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.

Christine N.
01-31-2010, 10:07 PM
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.

Medievalist
01-31-2010, 10:13 PM
Brian, you are a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 (http://www.cluetrain.com/book/index.html).




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?


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


. . . then they're lying or being misleading, as that guy is.

"that guy" is Bob Miller; editor and publisher of Harper Studio.


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 (http://theharperstudio.com/2009/02/the-kindle-and-questioning-the-economics-of-ebook-publishingthe-conversation-continues/).

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.


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.


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 (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/lunch/macmillan_30jan10.html):


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.

James D. Macdonald
01-31-2010, 10:20 PM
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.

Brian Rush
01-31-2010, 10:53 PM
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.


Brian, you are a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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?



Here's what Macmillan, via John Sargent, has proposed (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/lunch/macmillan_30jan10.html):

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.

eqb
01-31-2010, 10:56 PM
Medievalist, just about everything you posted was either ad hominem fallacy or irrelevancy.

http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2010/01/28/mansplaining/

Birol
01-31-2010, 11:01 PM
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?

Calla Lily
01-31-2010, 11:04 PM
*bows at Medievalist's feet*

san_remo_ave
01-31-2010, 11:26 PM
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.

James D. Macdonald
01-31-2010, 11:26 PM
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.

IceCreamEmpress
01-31-2010, 11:39 PM
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.

Brian Rush
01-31-2010, 11:40 PM
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?

Medievalist
01-31-2010, 11:56 PM
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 (http://www.amazon.com/Handlist-Rhetorical-Terms-Richard-Lanham/dp/0520076699) 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.


Irrelevant. We're not discussing pricing for hardcovers. We're discussing pricing for e-books.

You were the one who references hardcover prices Brian.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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?


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.


"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.



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.

James D. Macdonald
01-31-2010, 11:59 PM
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.

Greg Wilson
02-01-2010, 12:03 AM
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?

James D. Macdonald
02-01-2010, 12:06 AM
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.

Greg Wilson
02-01-2010, 12:08 AM
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.

Gillhoughly
02-01-2010, 12:37 AM
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.

Linda Adams
02-01-2010, 01:33 AM
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?"

Gillhoughly
02-01-2010, 02:32 AM
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!

JulieB
02-01-2010, 02:32 AM
Tobias Buckell has a really good blog post (http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2010/01/31/why-my-books-are-no-longer-for-sale-via-amazon/) analyzing some of the costs involved.

Christine N.
02-01-2010, 02:37 AM
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.

san_remo_ave
02-01-2010, 02:42 AM
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. http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx2MEGQWTNGIMHV&displayType=tagsDetail

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-01-2010, 02:47 AM
aka Someone Else Is To Blame syndrome.

Gillhoughly
02-01-2010, 03:08 AM
Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles

:roll:

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 (http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2010/01/31/why-my-books-are-no-longer-for-sale-via-amazon/). What HE said!

IceCreamEmpress
02-01-2010, 03:15 AM
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.

You are missing the point entirely.

There is a value, for some people, to buying a book when it comes out. That's why most people buy hardcovers, according to market research--the "buying soon after release" is a larger selling point for hardcovers than "likes the format."

So this is why publishers have routinely published the higher-priced hardcover first, then the lower-priced paperback. It's the same reason that car manufacturers drop the prices of the 2010 car models when the 2011 car models become available.

Macmillan wants to retain that advantage--to give people a choice to buy the new Dan Brown book or whatever for $24.95 list hardback or $14.99 list e-book during its first weeks and months of release. Then, when the $8.99 paperback becomes available, they may or may not choose to drop the e-book price to match that or go lower than that.

Amazon says "Nah, we're the biggest retailer, and we're going to set your prices or not carry any of your products."



"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.

Again, you are missing the point about TIMING.


"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.

Again, you are missing the point that TIMING and the calculation that there is a market of people who are willing to pay a premium for quick access to new releases ARE A PART OF THE ENTIRE PROFIT AND FEASIBILITY PROJECTION PROCESS.

The actual per-unit physical production cost is only a small fraction of what it costs to put a book on the market. Yes, e-books have a somewhat smaller per-unit production cost, but it's not as much smaller as your argument implies.

AryaT92
02-01-2010, 03:30 AM
Amazon Answers: "Ultimately....We Will Have to Capitulate"

Could publishers have triumphed so quickly with their strategy to use Apple's entry into the market to move to an agency model for selling ebooks? (Note that the etailer says "ultimately." Immediately after posting this "announcement," disabled Macmillan buy buttons had not been restored yet.) Early Sunday evening, The Amazon Kindle team has just posted (http://click.publisherslunchdaily.com/cp/redirect.php?u=NTAwNnwzNDQ4OXxhcnlhdG91ZmFuaWFuOTJ AaG90bWFpbC5jb218Mzk1NDIxfDEyNjA3NTg5MHw1OTIyMTc=&id=3236697) this to a forum on their site:


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!


As reported previously here, other major publishers do in fact have plans for pursuing "the same route," so this may be just the first chapter.

:flag:

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 03:41 AM
Leaving aside the rest of the argument, why is being new to Absolute Write important in this context?

Just that he doesn't understand the cultural expectations of the community. He's a new guy in an established community; navigation can be tricky.

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 03:51 AM
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?"

I understand that this seems insane.

Part of the problem is that we think when we are buying a book we are paying for the object. And we are.

But most of the cost for that object is, well, not really ephemeral, but it isn't the paper, the ink, or the binding. It's the contents, the text.

I used to tell people to think of book as something that meant "container." The word book itself in English means "Beech," as in the tree, because the wood of the tree was used to make tablets for writing.

But book can mean "clay tablet," "scroll," "codex manuscript," "printed codex book." These are containers for text--"tupperware for text," as I've sometimes said.

The differences in cost for the container are not a large part of the cost of making the book, the cost of making the thing we want to read.

The amount in terms of the price that the retailer gets, the author gets, and what's left for the publisher, are what Amazon is grabbing. Moreover, it looks -- and this is me not being sure of myself-- it looks and sounds to me like Amazon is in some cases asking for exclusive ebook rights. I know for a fact that for two books I would get royalties on we're saying no because Amazon wants an exlusive deal.

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 03:56 AM
And just as a reminder--e-books don't account for that much in sales--a few hundred copies vs. thousands of paper copies.

Yes. Ebooks are for people who can afford computers, phones, and ereaders. They are a tiny portion of sales, as much as I love them.

Ebooks, even after twenty years, are still for early adapters, geeks, and bibliophiles with discretionary spending who want to buy books.

eqb
02-01-2010, 04:03 AM
The differences in cost for the container are not a large part of the cost of making the book, the cost of making the thing we want to read.

Even though I am a fairly savvy tech person, and even though I am an author, I do confess my first reaction to $15 was, "Say what?"

It's entirely illogical, yes, I know.

But logically, I see the costs of producing a book. (And I'm getting an education in that over the past twelve months.) Really, as Medi says, there are many costs involved in making a readable, entertaining book, and the printing part is the least of it.

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 04:13 AM
The old razors vs. blades phenomenon. Razors are cheap, blades are expensive. Without one or the other the device is useless.

I do think that's the model Amazon is using; it's the model of Xerox (sell the copier, but control the paper and ink) and that ink jet printers in particular used (the printer was free or under 50.00; the color cartridges were anywhere from 40.00 to 90.00).

The idea was if the manufacturer controlled the razor blade production, or the ink cartridge, they had a customer for, well, a long time and could count on the customer having to buy from them because of patents.

So Amazon brings out an ereader that uses a proprietary file format, and DRM.

Except.

The content that goes in the file isn't controlled by Amazon.

It's licensed to publishers. It's owned by writers.

And Amazon, and the Kindle aren't the only options. They aren't even the option with the largest amount of users. (5 million is nice but not that many in terms of the other options afforded ebook readers).

So Amazon has sort of made a strategic underwear gnomes sort of error.

san_remo_ave
02-01-2010, 04:15 AM
...strategic underwear gnomes sort of error.

:roll:

Is "strategic underwear gnomes" a technical term? Because if it is I wanna start using it at work!!
:)

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 04:39 AM
By the way, if someone ever offers you a tour of a "Web press plant" (it has nothing to do with the Web, but it's where a lot of mass market paperbacks are printed), go.

Jump at the opportunity. It's amazing. Get a tour, then ask if you can have lunch in the cafeteria and talk to the people who work there. Talk to the people who run the press, and to the people who do the pre-flight checks, and to the stock room people. Ask if you can talk to the marketing/sales people. Ask if you can watch the "chekers," the QA people in the warehouse.

At both the plants I went to -they had slots for books that were going to be hitting shelves in a year or eighteen months. At one they were printing a Danielle Steele book that wouldn't be shelved for months. And they knew that there was at least one other printer with a contract for the book--because they suggested the printer when they didn't have a free slot.

It's an entirely different view of books and publishing.

kuwisdelu
02-01-2010, 04:52 AM
I understand that this seems insane.

Part of the problem is that we think when we are buying a book we are paying for the object. And we are.

But most of the cost for that object is, well, not really ephemeral, but it isn't the paper, the ink, or the binding. It's the contents, the text.

Yep.

The problem of selling a digital product in a world that—while having embraced the internet age—is still thinking by-and-large in physical terms.

veinglory
02-01-2010, 05:12 AM
The thing is, publishers sell at the price point they can get away with. I am not sure what business this is of Amazon's? They let third party sellers on their site sell preXmas toy gerbils for a billion dollars--but get all het up about ebooks?

thothguard51
02-01-2010, 05:22 AM
Sorry to interupt a very educational thread, but in another group I belong to, a HC writer stated that Amazon has agreed to terms with HC that all new ebooks from HC will sell at the $14.95 range. When I asked her where she heard this, she said Publishers Marketplace reported this. I don't have a subscription to PM so I could not confirm, and I see nothing about this in PW. Anyone else hear this news????

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 05:26 AM
I think she's confusing Harper Collins with Macmillan, and not understanding the Macmillan response, which is here:

http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/lunch/macmillan_30jan10.html

Harper Collins is a News Corp/Rupert Murdoch company.

Slushie
02-01-2010, 05:29 AM
The thing is, publishers sell at the price point they can get away with. I am not sure what business this is of Amazon's? They let third party sellers on their site sell preXmas toy gerbils for a billion dollars--but get all het up about ebooks?

Feels like a power grab, don't it?

#

No matter how many we're-fighting-for-teh-consumer press releases we see from Amazon, they're hypocrites as long as they DRM their products.

ETA: and by products, I mean ebook inventory.

veinglory
02-01-2010, 05:32 AM
No matter how many we're-fighting-for-teh-consumer press releases we see from Amazon, they're hypocrites as long as they DRM their products.

And their own forums show their customers were very upset about zhu zhu pet ripoffs--but they were just patted on the head and told 'caveat emptor'.

thothguard51
02-01-2010, 05:35 AM
Thank you Medi, the MacMillian letter says alot without pointing fingers...

kuwisdelu
02-01-2010, 05:38 AM
I'll be interested to see what their price point on the iBookstore will be.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/143553/macmillan.png

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 05:45 AM
I'll be interested to see what their price point on the iBookstore will be.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/143553/macmillan.png

Mr. Jobs has said:

"The prices will be the same," Jobs told Wall Street Journal reporter Walt Mossberg in a brief Flipcam interview. He also took a quick dig at Amazon: "Publishers are actually withholding books from Amazon because they're not happy."

See this (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/bookselling/steve_jobs_on_amazon_and_apple_ebook_prices_the_pr ices_will_be_the_same__150442.asp).

Mac cult specific sites have the video with transcript. He is, I think, alluding to Macmillan as one of the publishers who are not happy.

kuwisdelu
02-01-2010, 06:29 AM
Mac cult specific sites have the video with transcript. He is, I think, alluding to Macmillan as one of the publishers who are not happy.

I frequent a few of those ;)

The cult ones, that is.

I wonder since they're no longer on Amazon, so there's no "same." Hmm.

thothguard51
02-01-2010, 06:33 AM
Is all this good news for smaller publishers. Will they be able to increase their presence or pricing to follow, or will they continue to offer their stock for less in hopes of picking up customers unhappy with the higher prices...

Oh, the times, they are a changing...

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 06:38 AM
I frequent a few of those ;)

The cult ones, that is.

I wonder since they're no longer on Amazon, so there's no "same." Hmm.

Well, Amazon has kinda sorta said they'll re-list Macmillan titles. It's an odd, disingenuous statement that amusingly uses the word "Monopoly" in reference to Macmillan (which is bitterly ironic in the context, as well as inaccurate with respect to Macmillan). I think Amazon didn't expect the backlash. Me, I'm still removing links from my sites after the April "removing queer history books but not porn" amazonfail.

I note that of the "Big" publishers, Random House who is very keenly in favor of DRM is missing, and that Amazon has mistreated Hatchette, Penguin, and Macmillan.

JulieB
02-01-2010, 07:55 AM
Scott Westerfeld has a very nice blog post on the issue: http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/?p=2138

thothguard51
02-01-2010, 08:05 AM
Why is it the author is the one who always gets screwed, and no one ever says thank you when they are finished screwing us. I keep wondering where publishers would be if authors banned together and refused to work with them unless certain conditions are met. Oh, thats right, its each man for himself in this game. Just teasing, sort of, as we are somewhat in competition with each other, even though there is room. But seriously, the vendors are getting serious, the publishers are getting serious, the reading public is getting serious. Where are the authors in all of this? Damn, I should have started all of this 25 years ago when it was so much easier...

Gillhoughly
02-01-2010, 09:09 AM
That's hilarious. Looks like he's been lurking here; I recognize some wordage that might have originated with me. :D

I can agree with him on some points, but remain PO'd with Amazon for disabling Macmillan sales.

They're still disabled. Just checked one of my titles. Thanks a heap Amazon. You still suck.

Better believe that all Amazon links on my site will be deleted, with B&N, Borders, Booksamillion, etc. filling in the gap.

I'm aware that there are many complexities to the pricing issues that I don't know about, but Amazon simplified things. Because they're playing chicken with Macmillan, I'm not making money on my Macmillan titles on their site.

All this so they can pimp their damned Kindles. Well, guess what--they've got competition: anyone see this article (http://247wallst.com/2010/01/28/amazon-will-have-to-cut-kindle-prices-sharply/)?

"To strengthen that moat as Apple enters the market, Amazon will have to cut the Kindle’s price by at least 20% to bring it well below the iPad’s. That means lowering the price of the base Kindle to $199 and the 9.7” screen Kindle to $399. The new iPad coincidentally has a 9.7” screen. Amazon will cut the Kindle price and that means it will probably do no better than break even on its e-reader/e-book business for the next year and perhaps longer. That is the sacrifice it will have to make to keep Apple from taking the market away."

Gosh. The big bully is no longer the only muscle on the street. You'd think they'd be happy for the price increase Macmillan wants.

Sure, the readers get screwed, but again--more people buy paper books than e-books.

That may change as the old guard dies out and computer-raised kids take over, but I don't expect a massive shift to happen too terribly soon.

For what it's worth, I looked over a recent royalty statement.

My e-book sales account for .0335% of the total sold of that title in a 6-month period.

.

Medievalist
02-01-2010, 10:07 AM
more people buy paper books than e-books.

That may change as the old guard dies out and computer-raised kids take over, but I don't expect a massive shift to happen too terribly soon.]

I don't think it will happen any time soon. The printed codex book has two thousand years of beta testing. It is completely debugged. It is portable, self-contained, rarely malfunctions, and if made even with recycled low acid paper has a life time expectancy (assuming normal non-abusive use) of fifty years or more in terms of archival standards.

Plus humans are hard-wired, like our rodent and primate kin, to hoard. We like physical, tangible objects. Licensing a file for use in specific conditions (DRM or not) doesn't really meet the same need.

Unimportant
02-01-2010, 11:18 AM
I'm aware that it costs a dollar or two less to produce a copy of an e-book than a copy of a mass market paperback, so I figure the e-version of a book ought to cost a dollar or two less than the mmp.

But if a brand new hardcover bestseller hits the shelves at $24, it makes perfect sense that the e-version would be $15. Yeah, I'd gulp at paying $15 for an e-book, but I also gulp at $24 for a hardback. (Especially when you double or triple those numbers, which is what I'd pay here in New Zealand).

It makes the most sense to price the books at what the market will bear. And honestly, $15 for the latest release by Big Name in e-book isn't really out of line when you look at what small presses charge -- around $13 for the e-version and $17 for the trade paperback print verion of a 250 page novel.

aruna
02-01-2010, 12:03 PM
I used to tell people to think of book as something that meant "container." The word book itself in English means "Beech," as in the tree, because the wood of the tree was used to make tablets for writing.

.

Interesting factoid:
The German word for Book is Buch
The German word for Beech is --- Buchen

James D. Macdonald
02-01-2010, 04:23 PM
A brilliant parody of Amazon's weasel: (http://www.amazon.com/review/R3AEYP9XYNAPHR/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm)





1.0 out of 5 stars Amazon has a monopoly on Kindles!, January 31, 2010
By Mary Robinette Kowal
Dear Fellow Customers:

Amazon, one of the "big six" online stores, has clearly communicated to me that, regardless of my viewpoint, they are committed to charging $259 for the Kindle.

I have expressed my strong disagreement and the seriousness of my disagreement by refusing to buy a Kindle. I want you to know that ultimately, however, if I want a Kindle I will have to capitulate and accept Amazon's terms because Amazon has a monopoly over their own machine, and I will have to purchase one even at prices I believe are needlessly high for e-book readers. I will at that point decide for myself whether I believe it's reasonable to pay $259 for an e-book with DRM. I don't believe that all of the major e-book manufacturers will take the same route as Amazon. And I know for sure that many print publishers will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced paper books as an alternative.

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

Thank you for being a reader.

Komnena
02-01-2010, 05:25 PM
I definitely don't want a Kindle if books I've paid for can be snatched back at Amazon's whim.

dragonjax
02-01-2010, 07:07 PM
I definitely don't want a Kindle if books I've paid for can be snatched back at Amazon's whim.

It's happened before. All too clear it can happen again.

thothguard51
02-01-2010, 09:41 PM
Ok, its monday, Feb 1st. Anyone heard anything knew?

Slushie
02-01-2010, 09:50 PM
NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/technology/companies/01amazonweb.html) article.


Under Macmillan’s new terms, which take effect at the beginning of March, the publisher will set the consumer price of each book and the online retailer will serve as an agent and take a 30 percent commission. E-book editions of most newly released adult general fiction and nonfiction will cost $12.99 to $14.99.

Those terms mirror conditions that five of the six largest publishers — Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster — agreed to with Apple last week for e-books sold via the iBookstore for the iPad.
More!

Analysts say Amazon, which accounts for 15 to 20 percent of domestic book sales, probably realized it could not compete with Apple if it wasn’t offering the same range of content. “Amazon figured out pretty quickly that this was a battle they could not win,” said Mike Shatzkin, the chief of the Idea Logical Company, a consultant to publishers.


Macmillan FTW!

thothguard51
02-01-2010, 09:59 PM
So, Amazon gave in just as they knew they would and starting March First, they will only receive the 30% commission for all new works published by MacMillan.

So, if MacMillan is getting the higher price per ebook, and getting a 30% extra commission per ebook, does this mean the authors will now be getting a larger payday?

Where are the authors in all of this?

dragonjax
02-01-2010, 10:02 PM
Ok, its monday, Feb 1st. Anyone heard anything knew?

Yeah. As of 1 pm Eastern today, Amazon **still** hasn't put back the buy buttons on Macmillan books and e-books.

thothguard51
02-02-2010, 12:03 AM
Really, who wins this battle? Consumers, Publishers, Vendors, or Writers? I see each side losing something, I am just not sure what it is we have lost in reality...

veinglory
02-02-2010, 12:05 AM
30% is a better deal than most (small?) publishers get from Amazon, I think?

dragonjax
02-02-2010, 12:17 AM
Really, who wins this battle?

Right now, Barnes & Noble. Very shortly, Apple.

thothguard51
02-02-2010, 12:42 AM
Well, Barnes and Noble would have my vote. I still prefer paper over electronic. I guess the author is still left out in the cold... And without us, there is no content...

Chasing the Horizon
02-02-2010, 01:42 AM
Really, who wins this battle? Consumers, Publishers, Vendors, or Writers? I see each side losing something, I am just not sure what it is we have lost in reality...
I've been following this story and I think the only one who's going to lose in the long term is Amazon. They're making themselves look scared and stupid. They obviously don't think they can compete with Apple on a level playing field, and want to be able to undercut Apple's ebook prices. But it's all silly, because the vast majority of Amazon's sales are print books (and all the other physical stuff they sell). For some reason Amazon seems obsessed with their Kindle, like it's their pet project or something, and now they're all mad because they know they can't win a hardware competition with Apple. They lashed out at Macmillan because they can't get to Apple. Brilliant, and very mature *eyeroll*.

This story is all over my news feeds, so it's not just people close to the publishing and book selling industry who are learning that Amazon is stupid. They're also giving Apple lots of free publicity for the iPad (which is mentioned in most of the articles). Apple should send them a thank-you note. :D

Oh, and Kindle owners will probably lose too, since they're at the mercy of Amazon's whims. Sorry. But in the long run this is going to be good for publishers, readers, and writers (because anything that's good for publishers and readers is also good for us). Since the iPad is a mobile computing device, not just an e-reader, lots of people who've never read an ebook will buy one, and then will start reading ebooks because Apple will make it so simple to buy them. I remember when iTunes and the iPod first came out. Digital downloads of music and MP3 players already existed, of course, but they were pretty much only being used by geeks. Now everyone and their grandmother buys and plays their music through digital downloads. I doubt ebooks will catch on quite the way MP3s did (for a long list of reasons), but Apple has an amazing ability to popularize technology. They did it for smart phones and MP3 players, and now they want to do it for ebooks and e-readers. This can only be a good thing for everyone but the competition (i.e. Amazon).

Chasing the Horizon
02-02-2010, 02:39 AM
Well, Barnes and Noble would have my vote. I still prefer paper over electronic. I guess the author is still left out in the cold... And without us, there is no content...
How can something just hurt the writers? We're connected with our publishers, so what hurts them hurts us, but it can't JUST hurt us. Publishers can't exist without talented writers. They know this. It's why they wade through slush piles and take risks on new writers. Amazon can't exist without publishers, because they're a retailer and need the products to sell. They seem to have forgotten this. Amazon needs Macmillan a whole lot more than Macmillan needs Amazon. Macmillan knows that, which is why they stood their ground. Amazon apparently figured it out, since they backed down.

Macmillan was founded in 1843. They have survived recessions, the Great Depression, and the advent of radio, movies, television, and the internet. They will survive this recession and the advent of the ebook. They will continue taking new writers, because publishing good books is the key to success for any publisher (and they obviously know this, or they wouldn't have survived 167 years).

thothguard51
02-02-2010, 02:53 AM
CTH, I totally agree and get the points of publsihers need writers and amazon needs the publishers. My think is MacMillan just got a 30% increase in profit with this deal since Amazon is backing down from their 60%. Do you think MacMillan will bulk with agents and author now who want a bigger share of royalty on e-books as well? I think all the publishers are going to try to hold the line with their authors. I could be wrong and they all might just suddenly decide to share the wealth, but I have serious doubts.

This is what I mean by the authors are going to be left out in the cold. We will now have to fight our own publishers for an increase. Or maybe not...

veinglory
02-02-2010, 02:55 AM
Well, Barnes and Noble would have my vote. I still prefer paper over electronic.

Borders have a very considerable ebook inventory, soon to be about the biggest there is. there are always options.

thothguard51
02-02-2010, 03:01 AM
Depends on if Borders can stay out of receivership...

They can't even keep bookstores open...

CheshireCat
02-02-2010, 03:12 AM
Why is it the author is the one who always gets screwed, and no one ever says thank you when they are finished screwing us. I keep wondering where publishers would be if authors banned together and refused to work with them unless certain conditions are met. Oh, thats right, its each man for himself in this game. Just teasing, sort of, as we are somewhat in competition with each other, even though there is room. But seriously, the vendors are getting serious, the publishers are getting serious, the reading public is getting serious. Where are the authors in all of this? Damn, I should have started all of this 25 years ago when it was so much easier...

It would be very nice if all writers could band together and set standards and practices. Very nice.

It will never happen.

First, it's illegal. (In the US, at least.) We're self-employed and therefore cannot form a union or other entity for the purpose of setting standards and practices.

Second, you will never, in your lifetime or mine or probably our grandkids', see ALL writers agree on anything. Ever. Get six writers in a room, start a casual discussion about the business, and see how fast you get passionate disagreements. Now multiply that by tens of thousands.

Third, as a part of Second, I remind you that the Aspiring Writer will do anything, accept any shitty deal, to Get Published. (Not all, of course, but many. Possibly most.)

So ... dream on.

It's such a nice dream.

:e2bummed:

kuwisdelu
02-02-2010, 03:15 AM
When Writers Go on Strike!!!


That would good idea for a book.

But I won't write it, because I'm on strike.

James D. Macdonald
02-02-2010, 04:13 AM
Taking some time off from changing links to Amazon into links to Barnes&Noble and Powell's, to respond to Brian's foolishness.



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.


You probably meant "hardcover," but your problem is still the same: Paperbacks sell many times more copies than hardcovers. That's a fact that you're still ignoring. If we take total numbers of sales into account, e-books should sell for more than hardcovers.

The cost of reproduction of an individual e-book is still irrelevant.



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

They've been answered many times, before you even posted them, but go ahead anyway.



"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?"

No, she's not going to claim that they aren't making a profit on paperbacks. The number of paperbacks sold dwarfs the number of hardcovers sold, which in turn dwarfs the number of e-books sold.

You're also assuming that the cost per unit of e-books is a lot lower than $2.00/each. Do you have anything to back that up?

To make this simple enough for you to understand: If they make one penny of profit on each paperback, and they sell 100,000 paperbacks, they've made $1,000. But to make that same $1,000 on 10,000 hardcovers sold, the hardcover would have to go for ten cents more than the paperback (assuming cost of production was equal). And to make the same $1,000 on 100 e-books sold, they'd have to charge ten dollars more than the paperback. Understand now?

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.

Once they've paid back the sunk costs, the costs of acquisition, editing, fact checking, copy editing, proofreading, and typesetting ... yes, they can charge less. Your point is utterly bogus. The $5.99 books will come long after the hardcover and the paperback hit the stores.


"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.

No one has claimed it has to do with the cost of e-book production. It has to do with the cost of all production. You're also confusing (again) paperbacks with e-books. They aren't equivalent in terms of volume of sales.


"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."

If you're willing to wait a few years after initial publication, and accept that the cost of e-book conversion will have to be divided among a lower number of actual sales, then you'll see cheaper e-books.


Care to take a stab at answering those two points?

Done.


Now I'm off to remove some more links to Amazon.

Medievalist
02-02-2010, 04:16 AM
This is what I mean by the authors are going to be left out in the cold. We will now have to fight our own publishers for an increase. Or maybe not...

No.

The royalties authors receive are in their contracts. There's no wiggle room for that; no matter what, Macmillan or any other publisher has to pay the contracted royalties.

The royalties are based on cover price. If the cover price increases, royalties increase.

JulieB
02-02-2010, 04:43 AM
Yes, and it's going to be an uphill battle convincing the upset Kindle readers of that fact.

Some get it, but most don't. Most think we authors are going to be rolling in dough. Most think we can just ditch our contracts and self-publish from now on. They're making us out to be the bad guys.

How many of you can go to your publisher right now and demand more money?

Anyone? Beuller?

Unless you're currently in contract negotiations, the answer is no.

And I am preaching to the choir. Sorry.

Dave.C.Robinson
02-02-2010, 05:26 AM
I'm an ebook reader, and an ebook buyer (though I own a Sony not a Kindle).

I'm disgusted by Amazon's behavior in this dispute, and also by the reaction of a number of Kindle owners who are cheering Amazon on. As a disclaimer, I very rarely buy Macmillan ebooks because I find most are too expensive for my budget.

I don't mind paying $15 as a "get it while it's hot" price for something that's currently in hardcover. I've bought both Baen and Tor ebooks for that price in the past and didn't feel cheated. Where I have a problem is when I can buy the paperback for $8 and the ebook is still $15 or even more. In those cases I'll either buy paperback or buy from another publisher.

I'm not arguing with the publishers' right to charge what they want - I'm just voting with my wallet when it comes to buying ebooks.

When Amazon pulled Macmillan books they messed with my tribe and I won't stand for it.

san_remo_ave
02-02-2010, 05:29 AM
Still no 'Buy It Now' buttons on Macmillan books (as of 7:20pm Central)

Also, I'd like to point out that, as a Kindle owner, I am in no way 'stuck' with Amazon as an ebook provider. Nor am I subject to any 'whim' they might delete any ebooks I purchase from them. I backup any Amazon purchase on my desktop and I regularly buy from other stores.

FWIW, I had quite the festive time this weekend purchasing Macmillan (and other pubs) ebooks NOT from Amazon. Yesterday I transferred them to my Kindle via USB and Calibre.

Simple. Easy. Still e-readin' on!

LeslieB
02-02-2010, 05:45 AM
While I can completely agree that Amazon has been acting the bully, I have to join the "$15 for an ebook????" crowd. I suppose it's because I think of ebooks as a disposable product, rather than the permanent purchase of ink and paper books. When I buy a paper book I know that, barring fire, flood and teething toddler, I will always have that book for as long as I want to own it. I just don't feel like I have that assurance with an ebook. I see it as another version of Kay in Men in Black's "I'm going to have to buy The White Album again." Every time there's a technology shift, I'd be buying the same bloody books over and over. So I'm not willing to put the kind of money into an ebook that I'm going to spend on paper. I would only put $15 into a reference book that I knew I was going to use a lot and wanted fast searching capability. For fiction, not a chance.

MacAllister
02-02-2010, 05:50 AM
Right - I hear what you're saying, LeslieB.

On the other hand, I just finished reading an ARC of Connie Willis' Blackout. I loved it. I'll definitely be buying the book as a paper-and-ink object, but I'd buy an e-copy for my laptop, as well. I don't currently own any e-readers, and I don't love reading on my iPod at all. I do keep a handful of books on my laptop so I don't have to travel with an extra suitcase full of books.

But moreover -- the NEXT book is called All Clear, and I'd buy that book any way I could get it. Hell, I'd pay someone to impersonate Connie Willis and just sorta tell the whole thing to me, if it were the only way. There is no end to my booklust, in this case -- so I wouldn't even blink at dropping $15 for an e-ARC (like Baen sells.)

Gillhoughly
02-02-2010, 05:54 AM
Still no 'Buy It Now' buttons on Macmillan books (as of 7:20pm Central)

And since turnabout is fair play today, all Amazon links are now removed from my website.

Their competitors are represented, along with a link to http://www.indiebound.org/ (http://www.indiebound.org/) for those who want to support indie booksellers.

Because of IndieBound I've found two new stores to shop in my area.

http://www.indiebound.org/sites/all/themes/indiebound/images/front/book_55.jpg

san_remo_ave
02-02-2010, 06:00 AM
***MORE NEWS***


SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - A pricing battle lost by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) to a top publisher may herald pressure from other publishers, compromising low e-book prices which could potentially hit sales volume growth for its Kindle e-reader.

The news highlighted for the first time that the world's largest online retailer, and its market-leading Kindle, could soon be challenged by new rival Apple Inc (AAPL.O) in the mass transition to digital books.

Amazon's shares fell as much as 9 percent in the regular session before closing down 5.21 percent. It fell another 2.4 percent to $115.98 after hours... (bolding mine; click link below for more)

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0120164220100201?type=marketsNews

Gillhoughly
02-02-2010, 06:06 AM
Bet their stockholders are thrilled. :evil

I wondering, if they had disabled only e-book downloads, would they have gotten this much reaction?

NicoleMD
02-02-2010, 06:28 AM
While I can completely agree that Amazon has been acting the bully, I have to join the "$15 for an ebook????" crowd. I suppose it's because I think of ebooks as a disposable product, rather than the permanent purchase of ink and paper books. When I buy a paper book I know that, barring fire, flood and teething toddler, I will always have that book for as long as I want to own it. I just don't feel like I have that assurance with an ebook. I see it as another version of Kay in Men in Black's "I'm going to have to buy The White Album again." Every time there's a technology shift, I'd be buying the same bloody books over and over. So I'm not willing to put the kind of money into an ebook that I'm going to spend on paper. I would only put $15 into a reference book that I knew I was going to use a lot and wanted fast searching capability. For fiction, not a chance.

That's how I feel about it, too. There's some value in having a physical thing on a shelf, something to give or loan to friends and family, or even sell to a used bookstore. Or if I want to read it again in 15 years, I won't have to rebuy it on the latest gadget. To me, the physical book is less of a container and more of a piece of artwork, and inside that artwork is another form of artwork. Just looking at my bookshelf gives me a sense of pleasure that I wouldn't get having books on a Kindle or Nook or Ipad.

So for me, the value of an ebook is probably in the $5 to $10 range. It's like eating off paper plates as opposed to china. They both get the job done, both have their benefit/drawbacks. Regardless of timing, I just can't imagine spending $15 on an ebook when for a few extra bucks I could have the hardcover or just buy a different paperback for the same price. Which is why I'll probably won't be in the market for an e-reader anytime soon.

Nicole

Medievalist
02-02-2010, 06:31 AM
Bet their stockholders are thrilled. :evil

I wondering, if they had disabled only e-book downloads, would they have gotten this much reaction?

No, not at all. 5 million Kindles is a drop in the bucket.

As an ebook fan, I would rather buy the same book for more money from eReader. I can annotate and cite passages from eReader.com books, and use the same book file on all my devices--Palm PDA, iPhone, and computers.

And while the typesetting is still less in terms of what I'd like, it's better than Kindle.

IceCreamEmpress
02-02-2010, 06:51 AM
I would only put $15 into a reference book that I knew I was going to use a lot and wanted fast searching capability. For fiction, not a chance.

LeslieB, that's absolutely your right. It should be up to you to decide what price point makes sense to you. And up to every reader.

Not up to one retailer to set an arbitrary price-point ceiling for all products from its vendors.


On edit: Is sooooooooooo JELLOUS of Mac! I am a giant Connie Willis fan.

Toothpaste
02-02-2010, 07:35 AM
That's how I feel about it, too. There's some value in having a physical thing on a shelf, something to give or loan to friends and family, or even sell to a used bookstore. Or if I want to read it again in 15 years, I won't have to rebuy it on the latest gadget. To me, the physical book is less of a container and more of a piece of artwork, and inside that artwork is another form of artwork. Just looking at my bookshelf gives me a sense of pleasure that I wouldn't get having books on a Kindle or Nook or Ipad.

So for me, the value of an ebook is probably in the $5 to $10 range. It's like eating off paper plates as opposed to china. They both get the job done, both have their benefit/drawbacks. Regardless of timing, I just can't imagine spending $15 on an ebook when for a few extra bucks I could have the hardcover or just buy a different paperback for the same price. Which is why I'll probably won't be in the market for an e-reader anytime soon.

Nicole


This is so interesting, as we are, quite obviously, judging books by their covers here. The real work is what goes on between the covers, that's what matter most. Is an author's work truly that less valuable because it doesn't look pretty on your shelf? You still get to experience the story, still get to be moved equally by it, still get the same effort with editing and copyediting put into it. Plus, as far as I can see, when you buy an ebook you can keep it. You don't have to discard it.

I guess I don't think ebooks should cost as much as tangible books, because yes there is an added expense of paper etc. But I do think that we sometimes forget what we are paying money for. The product we are purchasing is the story.

Medievalist
02-02-2010, 08:00 AM
I guess I don't think ebooks should cost as much as tangible books, because yes there is an added expense of paper etc. But I do think that we sometimes forget what we are paying money for. The product we are purchasing is the story.

Yep; it's the story. And the cost of printing, including ink, paper, and binding, of a mass market paperback is about $2.00/book, depending on the quantities printed.

The single largest expense is often the advance against royalties, but sometimes, it's the editorial process, from acquisition through proofing. On a midlist book, the two can be awfully close.

JulieB
02-02-2010, 08:41 AM
Yep; it's the story. And the cost of printing, including ink, paper, and binding, of a mass market paperback is about $2.00/book, depending on the quantities printed.

The single largest expense is often the advance against royalties, but sometimes, it's the editorial process, from acquisition through proofing. On a midlist book, the two can be awfully close.

Oh, yes! I was pricing editing services today in preparation for a blog post on this topic, and you're absolutely right.

NicoleMD
02-02-2010, 08:43 AM
This is so interesting, as we are, quite obviously, judging books by their covers here. The real work is what goes on between the covers, that's what matter most. Is an author's work truly that less valuable because it doesn't look pretty on your shelf? You still get to experience the story, still get to be moved equally by it, still get the same effort with editing and copyediting put into it. Plus, as far as I can see, when you buy an ebook you can keep it. You don't have to discard it.

I guess I don't think ebooks should cost as much as tangible books, because yes there is an added expense of paper etc. But I do think that we sometimes forget what we are paying money for. The product we are purchasing is the story.

Yes, it's quite sad, isn't it? Books are judged by their covers. It's why we pull them off the shelf. It's what we see right before opening the book to read, what we see right after we close it. And when we see them on the shelf, we're reminded of the great time we had reading (or didn't in some cases).

But just because ebooks conceivably cost $2 less to produce than paperbacks, doesn't necessarily correspond to and equal amount of perceived value to the customer. I guess we'll find out what exactly that amount is in the coming years, though I suspect Amazon is probably more realistic with their pricing model. (Not that I don't think their actions weren't idiotic.) Enticing readers into the e-book market has proven difficult -- 20 years and we're still in the early adopters phase? $15 books aren't going to help this any. It might just be that publishers can't expect their ebooks to be profitable for a few more years. The readership just isn't there yet, and there are so many alternatives for readers.

But I'm all for the free market, so we'll see how this plays out.

Nicole

Toothpaste
02-02-2010, 09:10 AM
It is sad. Having had a book judged by its cover and thus do extremely poorly I can attest to that.

Way of life I suppose. Still rather sucks that the real value of the work (ie, the work) is considered less so without some picture on the front of it. Especially by fellow writers. Ah well.

But you are right. We will wait to see how it all plays out. Though I have no doubt your attitude will be the prevailing one, seeing as people not involved in the industry truly don't seem to understand where the bulk of the cost in producing a book lies, which is a bit worrisome, as that cost will still exist despite lower and lower prices.

James D. Macdonald
02-02-2010, 09:18 AM
It might just be that publishers can't expect their ebooks to be profitable for a few more years. The readership just isn't there yet, and there are so many alternatives for readers.

And publishers are expected to cut their own throats and/or eat their seed corn to make the early-adopters happy?

Here's the deal: If you want to get the ebook at paperback prices, you'll get it when the paperback comes out. Sound fair to you?

Oh, and I think I've come on a lovely bit of data on what various formats cost when you've taken acquisition, the editing, the author's advance and royalties--pretty much everything except typesetting, printing, and distribution out of the picture:

Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFaunu has been in the public domain for a long, long time.

It's available for free (http://www.sff.net/people/Doylemacdonald/l_carmil.htm) on the web (free, that is, if you have a computer and an internet connection.)

Here's what the other formats cost if you want to buy 'em:

New, Hardcover, $29.95
New, Trade paper, $17.95
New, Trade paper, $17.50
New, Trade paper, $16.95
New, Trade paper, $16.25
New, Trade paper, $12.99
New, Trade paper, $12.50
New, Trade paper, $11.75
Adobe digital editions, $3.73
Microsoft reader ebooks, $3.73
Microsoft reader ebooks, $3.54
Adobe digital editions, $3.54
Microsoft reader ebooks, $2.50
Adobe digital editions, $2.50

MacAllister
02-02-2010, 09:21 AM
Jim, those hard-cover/softcover editions are POD editions, rather than offset-print runs of thousands, though, yes?


Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFaunu has been in the public domain for a long, long time.

It's available for free (http://www.sff.net/people/Doylemacdonald/l_carmil.htm) on the web (free, that is, if you have a computer and an internet connection.)

Here's what the other formats cost if you want to buy 'em:

New, Hardcover, $29.95
New, Trade paper, $17.95
New, Trade paper, $17.50
New, Trade paper, $16.95
New, Trade paper, $16.25
New, Trade paper, $12.99
New, Trade paper, $12.50
New, Trade paper, $11.75
Adobe digital editions, $3.73
Microsoft reader ebooks, $3.73
Microsoft reader ebooks, $3.54
Adobe digital editions, $3.54
Microsoft reader ebooks, $2.50
Adobe digital editions, $2.50

Stlight
02-02-2010, 09:25 AM
It's funny but some of the people I've heard (read the blogs of) demanding the lower ebook price, because it's not paper, didn't cost as much, are the same ones who scream about bad editing. I guess they miss the reality that editors don't work for free.

I think it's a bit reactionary. People used to think that women didn't cae whether they were paid or not... Now it's artists and support staff who shouldn't care if they are paid or not...

Sigh

HapiSofi
02-02-2010, 09:56 AM
I can't believe Amazon's being this stupid. I truly can't believe it. Why don't they just take a megaphone and a soapbox down to Wall Street, find a good streetcorner, and start shouting


WE'RE PANICKING!!! WE'RE DOOMED!!! WE CAN'T COMPETE WITH APPLE RETAILING PRACTICES OR THE iPAD!!! WE CAN'T COPE WITH FRUSTRATION!!! WE CAN'T EVEN HANDLE BASIC CORPORATE PR!!! AND BY THE WAY, THOSE OF YOU WHO'VE SUSPECTED THAT AMAZON IS BEING RUN BY FERAL NUTS HAVE BEEN RIGHT ALL ALONG!!!Their stock price is already down 9%. It'll be interesting to see how low they'll drive it before they knock this off and go back to behaving like a sober, responsible, law-abiding business.

HapiSofi
02-02-2010, 10:16 AM
And while we're on the subject, why is anyone worried about being able to buy cheap ebooks? In hardcopy publishing, the natural fate of books is to go out of print and be forgotten. Once we shake loose of Amazon's weird non-market-driven proprietary schemes, the natural fate of books will be to gradually subside into downpriced but perpetually available ebook editions: an occasion for bittersweet melancholic reflections by their authors, no doubt, but a workable system.

(I feel a strange urge to explain how a hardcopy edition is like a bird that flies out of a stormy night into a feasting-hall.)

Lastly, if you'll indulge my curiosity: why are would-be authors cheering for a system where everyone's books get converted into undifferentiatedly cheap electronic editions at the earliest possible opportunity?

MacAllister
02-02-2010, 10:21 AM
Lastly, if you'll indulge my curiosity: why are would-be authors cheering for a system where everyone's books get converted into undifferentiatedly cheap electronic editions at the earliest possible opportunity?

Amen. (From someone who has suspected for a couple of years, now, that Amazon was being run by feral nuts.)

Greg Wilson
02-02-2010, 10:40 AM
An interesting counter-take (http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/2010/01/amazon-v-macmillan-authors-are-you.html). This person seems to have made a career out of being "the independent author," so her argument needs a reasonably sized grain of salt...but it at least strikes me as a fair response. Most of the people I've told about this situation (all avid readers, mostly not writers) have had the same reaction as some others on this thread: "Why would I pay the same price for an E-book as a paperback?" Now we can wail and gnash our teeth all we want at that kind of attitude from our readers, but I suspect it's a fairly widespread one--and one which needs to be addressed somehow, not dismissed as the product of stupidity or ignorance (even if it is both, a little).

Amazon has obviously overplayed its hand here (and then folded before the flop, which made the initial play even worse ;) ), but I'm not convinced this is quite as black and white a scenario as it's being painted.

ETA: I don't have a dog in this fight; my books aren't published by Macmillan or a subsidiary, and neither one is available in E-form for Kindle or anything else, at least so far. I'm just trying to navigate waters that seem at least a wee bit murky.

MacAllister
02-02-2010, 10:46 AM
I sorta want an iPad now. With lots of gorgeous books on the iBookstore. With full-color, hi-resolution jpgs of coverflow. And I didn't, before this whole brouhaha, is the funny part.

Greg Wilson
02-02-2010, 10:51 AM
I sorta want an iPad now. With lots of gorgeous books on the iBookstore. With full-cover, hi-resolution jpegs of coverflow. And I didn't, before this whole brouhaha, is the funny part.

You know, I was just thinking about how crazy it is that all Apple needs to do to turn the whole tech-connected world on its ear is announce a huge iPod Touch. That's pretty serious cred for an expensive iPhone on steroids. :)

Terie
02-02-2010, 10:57 AM
My think is MacMillan just got a 30% increase in profit with this deal since Amazon is backing down from their 60%.

From what I've been reading (and those who know more can correct me if I'm wrong), what Amazon decided to do was price e-books artificially low at $9.99. They weren't making much profit on that, maybe even a loss on some books, so they tried to make the supplier lower the wholesale price so they could make more profit at the lower retail price.

That is, Amazon unilaterally decided on a low price (probably to sell more Kindle devices), then tried to make the suppliers lower their prices.

Which means, if I'm reading it right (no pun intended!), that Macmillan didn't get a 30% price increase. It just means that they stuck to their guns on the wholesale pricing (which a supplier has a right to do), and now Amazon can choose whether to keep the lower price or make more profit. Just like any other business.

If I owned, oh, say, a bakery, there's certainly wiggle room for getting deals on flour and sugar and yeast in bulk. But if a loaf of bread costs £1 to make (taking raw materials, labour, utilities, rent, depreciation of equipment, and so on into account), then I need to charge a little bit more to make a profit...let's say £1.30. If I decide that, to undercut my fellow bakers, I want to price that loaf at £.70, that's certainly my prerogative, but I'll take a loss, and I can't reasonably expect the flour, sugar, and yeast suppliers to lower their prices by 30% just to accommodate me. That's essentially what (I think) Amazon tried to do.

Amazon.failed.

(Disclaimer: I made the numbers up in the bakery example. I don't actually have a clue about how much it costs a bakery to make a loaf of bread. :))

HapiSofi
02-02-2010, 11:04 AM
Amen. (From someone who has suspected for a couple of years, now, that Amazon was being run by feral nuts.)
Oh, come on. Who could have foreseen that operator input glitches would develop artificial intelligence, independent agency, and a distinctly perceptible agenda?

One thing this episode has done is finally answer the question of whether Amazon Books is still being run by book people: it can't be. Book people would never be this clueless about the deep, implacable anger de-listing has prompted in authors and those that care about them.

MacAllister
02-02-2010, 11:08 AM
There's another set of factors that I keep waiting to see further unpacked, as mentioned by Charlie Stross: (http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsiders.html)

Just before Apple announced the iPad and the agency deal for ebooks, Amazon pre-empted by announcing an option for publishing ebooks in which they would graciously reduce their cut from 70% to 30%, “same as Apple”. From a distance this looks competitive, but the devil is in the small print; to get the 30% rate, you have to agree that Amazon is a publisher, license your rights to Amazon to publish through the Kindle platform, guarantee that you will not allow other ebook editions to sell for less than the Kindle price, and let Amazon set that price, with a ceiling of $9.99. In other words, Amazon choose how much to pay you, while using your books to undercut any possible rivals (including the paper editions you still sell). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the major publishers don’t think very highly of this offer.
(emphasis added)


I know that Cory Doctorow has said that his contracts generally include the right to make e-editions of his books available for free. That being the case, and considering that Cory isn't the only writer I know that does that, it makes me wonder if Amazon has any friggin' idea how any of this actually works.

I think they just have their own big old wish-list, and neither know nor care if they're hurting publishers, editors, writers, or anyone else in the publishing supply chain.

We already know they don't give a crap about their customers.

That used to be called slash-and-burn (http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/slashburn.htm)--and it's fatally short-sighted.

HapiSofi
02-02-2010, 11:09 AM
Greg Wilson, Ms. Hamilton is wrong on a surprising number of facts, slickly, and all in the same direction.

Greg Wilson
02-02-2010, 11:10 AM
(Disclaimer: I made the numbers up in the bakery example. I don't actually have a clue about how much it costs a bakery to make a loaf of bread. :))

Especially since this particular bakery was reacting to the imminent arrival of the "iPanini."

Medievalist
02-02-2010, 11:26 AM
One thing this episode has done is finally answer the question of whether Amazon Books is still being run by book people: it can't be. Book people would never be this clueless about the deep, implacable anger de-listing has prompted in authors and those that care about them.

I don't think Amazon ever was run by book people. Jeff Bezos is not a book guy. The last book person I knew (from Voyager, and before that, Random House) left in 2007 saying that none of the executives were book people. The attraction to selling books was in part the ease of shipping and warehousing.

NicoleMD
02-02-2010, 11:26 AM
And publishers are expected to cut their own throats and/or eat their seed corn to make the early-adopters happy?



Somebody's going to have to eat it. I'm not sure there's much profitability at this point unless people start thinking outside the box. If a publisher spends $7000 to produce an e-book, it's quite feasible that there's not a price point that will provide a profit to all parties involved. From what I understand, Amazon's been eating it up until now, giving the publishers their cut and maintaining their $9.99 pricing. Now Amazon wants the publishers to eat it, and the publishers want the readers to eat it.

Only problem is consumers (in general) don't care how much money went into producing a product, especially the intangibles that go into producing a book. Just because a $14.99 price tag will make the ebook profitable for everyone doesn't mean readers will be willing to pay it. Some will, but will it be enough to counteract those who don't?

But people will always read, and writers will always write, and somewhere, somehow, they'll always intersect. (Hopefully.)

Nicole

Medievalist
02-02-2010, 11:30 AM
I want an iPad desperately. Even more, I want to make multimedia books on the iPad, with images, and audio, and annotations, and video.

MacAllister
02-02-2010, 11:33 AM
I do think there's a market for higher-quality, more expensive ebooks. And eManga and comics. And I think that readers and fans generally are absolutely willing to pay for better production values. I know I am -- I'd definitely pay more for a well-formatted book, with a gorgeous full-color cover, author photo, and so on.

I'd pay more, for the same reasons that I'll go buy the hardcover of that ARC I already read and loved.

HapiSofi
02-02-2010, 12:55 PM
I want an iPad desperately. Even more, I want to make multimedia books on the iPad, with images, and audio, and annotations, and video.
It's going to be a brilliant medium for publishing comics.

eqb
02-02-2010, 03:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
And publishers are expected to cut their own throats and/or eat their seed corn to make the early-adopters happy?

Somebody's going to have to eat it.

But remember the very next thing Jim said in that same post:


Here's the deal: If you want to get the ebook at paperback prices, you'll get it when the paperback comes out. Sound fair to you?

Early adopters who buy hardcover, because they want hardcover, because they can't wait, already pay a higher price. Those who can't or don't want to pay that much wait for the cheaper MMP. The same will happen with e-books.

Medievalist
02-02-2010, 03:32 PM
It's going to be a brilliant medium for publishing comics.

I note that Hatchette has rights to some graphic novels as well as a fair amount of manga.

Dave.C.Robinson
02-02-2010, 03:41 PM
While I'm really interested in the possibility of the iPad for comics, I do have to say that a color cover is not something that makes me want to pay higher prices for an ebook. Atrocious proofing, which seems more common in ebooks than pbooks, will definitely make me want to pay less; though that's not unique to ebooks, I'm never willing to pay as much for something shoddy.

The one thing that will make me pay higher prices for ebooks is how badly I want to read that author right now. It's the same thing that makes me pay higher prices for hardcovers rather than waiting for paperbacks. My absolute cap on any given ebook is approximately the going price (not the list price, but what I can actually buy it for) of the current paper edition, and preferably a dollar or two less.

As for multi-media in books, it's something that only appeals to me when used sparingly in non-fiction, not fiction. Part of my reasoning is that my reading is often interrupted, and no one has managed a multi-media system that automatically pauses as soon as you lift your eyes away. Add in the annoyance of hearing something spoken that I could be reading (I'm much more a visual learner than auditory one) and complaints that it interrupts other people's TV and it's just not something I look for. Add in the fact I'm a fast reader and don't want to spend half an hour on five minutes of content, and it's just not one of my selling points.

I'm still furious about the sense of ten dollar entitlement from Kindle users. Yes they're within their rights to set a personal ceiling on what they will pay for entertainment, but that doesn't mean they should get it for that price months before everyone else does.

Having said that, there is a real issue with price/value dichotomy in the ebook industry, and this isn't helping matters. However it's got nothing to do with the price of bestsellers. The real problem shows up when ebooks released at hardcover list prices are still on sale for that price long after the mass market paperback has been released for a third the price.

Most consumers don't see ebooks as being worth more than paper, I know I think they're worth a dollar or two less, so seeing one priced that much higher triggers off their "rip-off alert." That makes it harder for everyone. I think there's also a perception that because they paid so much for the reader, they should get a savings on the books to recoup that investment, even though publishers don't see any of the money from the sale of reading devices.

Twizzle
02-02-2010, 04:34 PM
Only problem is consumers (in general) don't care how much money went into producing a product, especially the intangibles that go into producing a book. Just because a $14.99 price tag will make the ebook profitable for everyone doesn't mean readers will be willing to pay it. Some will, but will it be enough to counteract those who don't?



Haven't seen it mentioned yet-fascinating interview (http://www.themillions.com/2010/01/confessions-of-a-book-pirate.html)with someone who loves himself some book piracy.

Sevvy
02-02-2010, 05:50 PM
Most consumers don't see ebooks as being worth more than paper, I know I think they're worth a dollar or two less, so seeing one priced that much higher triggers off their "rip-off alert." That makes it harder for everyone. I think there's also a perception that because they paid so much for the reader, they should get a savings on the books to recoup that investment, even though publishers don't see any of the money from the sale of reading devices.

I know I blanched at the 14.99 price tag when I saw it first, but if that's the price of ebooks when the hardcover is coming out, then they're getting it for about 50% less, which sounds about right to me. Then the price drops again when the paperback comes out. Ebooks would still be cheaper than their physical counterparts...I think the consumers just haven't figured that out yet.

As for the savings on books because the reader was so expensive...these people are idiots. Take a walk over to the world of video gamers where you pay $500 dollars for the gaming system then $60 dollars for games as well (when it comes out). Unless you wanna wait a month or two for those prices to come down just because the game is getting old, you shell out the money despite how much you payed for the system. This is why I didn't want a Kindle, even though the prices of the books were cheaper. For me, the Kindle would not have paid for itself in cheap ebook prices unless I bought a lot of 10.00 ebooks, especially since I usually buy the cheap, 7.00 paperbacks anyways.

If Amazon wants to offer its Kindle readers savings on book prices because their reader is so expensive, then they are the ones who take the hit, because they're the ones who made an expensive ereader.

Edit: After thinking a little more (breakfast does wonders for the brain at 9am), I realized that Amazon was doing something similar to how different game systems have exclusivity with titles. Amazon was trying to have exclusivity with low priced ebooks. That way, if you wanted to buy cheap ebooks, you had to buy the Kindle to get them. Then here comes Apple with the iPad, which has ereader capabilities to go along with everything else it can do. People are going to buy these things no matter what, and now that Macmillan can set the price for ebooks, there will be less reason for people to buy Kindles. I mean, if you've already bought the iPad, why buy a separate ereader as well? At least, those would be my thoughts if I was working at Amazon right now.

Twizzle
02-02-2010, 06:50 PM
...This is why I didn't want a Kindle, even though the prices of the books were cheaper. For me, the Kindle would not have paid for itself in cheap ebook prices unless I bought a lot of 10.00 ebooks, especially since I usually buy the cheap, 7.00 paperbacks anyways.

...Amazon was trying to have exclusivity with low priced ebooks. That way, if you wanted to buy cheap ebooks, you had to buy the Kindle to get them. Then here comes Apple with the iPad, which has ereader capabilities to go along with everything else it can do. People are going to buy these things no matter what, and now that Macmillan can set the price for ebooks, there will be less reason for people to buy Kindles. I mean, if you've already bought the iPad, why buy a separate ereader as well?

Why? E-ink and size. I'll admit, I don't know much about the iPad, but I do believe I've heard it doesn't use e-Ink technology. Ouch. It's also bigger, no? I read in bed. I like the smaller paperback size. And I'm not looking for a device that does other things. I've no need. I have a Blackberry and laptop already. I just want to read, maybe listen to music or check the internet-which the Kindle does (though, I wish it did those better). So, a cheaper e-reader would be a better option for me than an iPad. But that's just me.

Also, you don't need to use Amazon titles exclusively on the Kindle.

But as to your comment's first part-my Kindle was a gift. I wasn't concerned about recouping money thru cheaper title prices. But I've noticed a shameful thing. Out of the books I have downloaded, only 35% were paid for-less than 5% of those were $9.99. The rest of those were below $7.00. The 65%, all free. None are over $9.99. I also have over 20 samples on there right now.

However, many of the books I did buy I would NEVER have purchased if I hadn't enjoyed the sample in conjunction with the low price tag quite so much. I've found some great new authors. I have also refused to purchase books because they were over $9.99 or whose e-releases were delayed. It runs counter to what I, as a writer, wish I would do. I hate that I do that. But as a mom with 2 kids and a family trying to make ends meet, I, the consumer, can't bring myself to do it.

I also suspect regular consumers, who know squat about publishing, feel no guilt or moral squickiness like I do. *coughWalmart,anyone?cough* So, I'm curious if consumers will balk and what the repercussions will be.

Terie
02-02-2010, 07:33 PM
It runs counter to what I, as a writer, wish I would do. I hate that I do that. But as a mom with 2 kids and a family trying to make ends meet, I, the consumer, can't bring myself to do it.

And see, here's the thing. Just like you probably don't buy many hardbacks but wait until the paperbacks come out, you'll be able (under the windowing model Macmillan proposes) to wait for the e-book until the price comes down. And no one will begrudge you that. So it's all good.

My books were paperback originals, but even if there had been hardbacks, it wouldn't have bothered me-the-writer that readers waited for the less-expensive paperbacks...just like I-the-reader often do. You're not doing anything counter to what writers do. :)

Twizzle
02-02-2010, 08:09 PM
And see, here's the thing. Just like you probably don't buy many hardbacks but wait until the paperbacks come out, you'll be able (under the windowing model Macmillan proposes) to wait for the e-book until the price comes down. And no one will begrudge you that. So it's all good.



*hangs head in shame*

I don't. I go to the library.

I worked as a librarian for years and I'm a rabid reader, so to be honest, I rarely bought books for a long time. I was like an addict with unlimited access to their drug of choice. I'd bring home armloads at a time and we got first dibs on new releases. I still don't buy physical books unless I'm attending a signing or collecting. And I still download all our audiobooks onto my iPod via the library.

But my e-book buying has spiked tremendously since my Kindle came to live with me. I found it completely fed my addiction-I want a book now-even driving to the library takes too long now. It's just what I'll buy...um. Like I said, I've realized I'm all about the cheap and immediate.

The thing is, I won't wait to buy it, esp at a higher price. Either I've gone to the library and begged a physical copy or gone without and just downloaded something else. As a writer, I absolutely hate that about myself. I am, however, thrilled with all the new writers and books and publishers I've discovered, and I am buying more than I ever did.

It all scares me a bit.

My concern is I'm actually pretty stereotypical of the regular consumer. I just have guilt. And I wonder how this will all shake down.

ChristineR
02-02-2010, 08:32 PM
From what I've been reading (and those who know more can correct me if I'm wrong), what Amazon decided to do was price e-books artificially low at $9.99. They weren't making much profit on that, maybe even a loss on some books, so they tried to make the supplier lower the wholesale price so they could make more profit at the lower retail price.

That is, Amazon unilaterally decided on a low price (probably to sell more Kindle devices), then tried to make the suppliers lower their prices.

Which means, if I'm reading it right (no pun intended!), that Macmillan didn't get a 30% price increase. It just means that they stuck to their guns on the wholesale pricing (which a supplier has a right to do), and now Amazon can choose whether to keep the lower price or make more profit. Just like any other business.

If I owned, oh, say, a bakery, there's certainly wiggle room for getting deals on flour and sugar and yeast in bulk. But if a loaf of bread costs £1 to make (taking raw materials, labour, utilities, rent, depreciation of equipment, and so on into account), then I need to charge a little bit more to make a profit...let's say £1.30. If I decide that, to undercut my fellow bakers, I want to price that loaf at £.70, that's certainly my prerogative, but I'll take a loss, and I can't reasonably expect the flour, sugar, and yeast suppliers to lower their prices by 30% just to accommodate me. That's essentially what (I think) Amazon tried to do.

Amazon.failed.

(Disclaimer: I made the numbers up in the bakery example. I don't actually have a clue about how much it costs a bakery to make a loaf of bread. :))

Actually, that's not quite what was happening. Amazon was selling e-books at a loss, but that still was a problem for Macmillan because no one would want to buy a $29.95 hardcover when they can get a $9.95 e-book. Publishers wanted to hold back the release of their e-books until the paperbacks came out. I assume that there was a fair amount of backroom drama where Amazon tried to get Macmillan to drop the price and to release the e-book early.

Amazon's plan was to make the Kindle the industry standard and then raise all the e-book prices and rake in profits. Apparently they didn't notice that there was nothing in this plan for the "book monopoly."

Lauretta
02-02-2010, 08:39 PM
I love the kindle. I bought it last Christmas and never thought I could fall in love with it. I read in bed too, on the bus, on the tram. It's so handy, light, easy to use, it fits in my hand-bag. I can read for hours without my eyes getting tired, I can stop reading for any reason and I don't have to be worried to bookmark the page, because the Kindle does it automatically. I don't even have to carry a dictionary around as I can look up new words with the internal dictionary.

I have downloaded thousands of e-books, and many samples for free, and I'm not willing to pay more than 9.99$ for a new one. If I still want to get that particular one, I'll wait until the publisher readjust the price. If they won't, it's their loss and the writer too, I guess.

For the record, I have a netbook, a Macbook, a laptop, a blackberry, an iPod, an iTouch and the last thing I need is an iPad. What I need is something that allows me to read what I want where I want. That's the Kindle.

Rhoda Nightingale
02-02-2010, 08:53 PM
Apologies if this has been posted already, and it's obviously a bit biased, but for a lowly consumer like me it was both entertaining and made things a lot clearer:

All the Many Ways Amazon So Very Failed the Weekend (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/01/all-the-many-ways-amazon-so-very-failed-the-weekend/)

Lauretta
02-02-2010, 08:55 PM
Actually, that's not quite what was happening. Amazon was selling e-books at a loss, but that still was a problem for Macmillan because no one would want to buy a $29.95 hardcover when they can get a $9.95 e-book.



That would make a lot of sense if every single person in the world had a kindle. It doesn't seem to be the case, though.

NicoleMD
02-02-2010, 09:47 PM
But remember the very next thing Jim said in that same post:



Early adopters who buy hardcover, because they want hardcover, because they can't wait, already pay a higher price. Those who can't or don't want to pay that much wait for the cheaper MMP. The same will happen with e-books.

That's just it. I'm not going to wait for the price of the e-book to come down. I'm just going to buy a different e-book at the price that meets my needs. There're thousands and thousands of books to choose from, and if the publisher wants to lose the sale, then so be it. Yes, I'm just one person, but from what I've read, there are lots of people who feel the way I do. If 75% of people won't buy an e-book for over $9.99 except maybe in a few rare cases, then Amazon and big publishers need to respect that if they're going to make the e-book market work. They need to find a way to make it work. If they don't, there are plenty of small publishers who will.

But maybe this new pricing model will work. Who knows. Yes, I want publishers and authors to see the biggest profit for their books, but higher book prices definitely do not equate to higher profits overall, and just as easily could cause the opposite.

Nicole

IceCreamEmpress
02-02-2010, 09:57 PM
That's just it. I'm not going to wait for the price of the e-book to come down. I'm just going to buy a different e-book at the price that meets my needs.

And eventually, once the people who REALLY WANTED this particular title THE MINUTE IT CAME OUT have paid their $14.99, and the title has come out in paperback, the e-book price will drop to $9.99 or $7.99 or $5.99 or whatever.

And you'll buy it.

You're not going to refuse to ever buy an e-book at a price that seems appealing to you just because it cost $14.99 in the first six months after its release.

This is the thing. This is how the book market works. Before e-books existed, publishers calculated that a certain percentage of people are willing to pay extra for quick access to a title, and that represented the overwhelming bulk of hardcover sales (market research is very clear that only a vanishingly small percentage of people prefer hardcovers because of the form factor--the most common reason people buy hardcovers over paperbacks is "I wanted the book right away, not a year from now.")

So what Macmillan is doing is saying "Let's keep that structure in e-book pricing as well--the e-book of the brand-new Dan Brown costs $14.99, and the hardback costs $24.99. Then, six or eight months later, the paperback will cost $8.99 and the e-book will cost $7.99."

This works for everyone--the people who want the new Dan Brown right away have a choice, and the people who want to wait until the price drops have a choice.

So if you go to Amazon and don't buy the new Dan Brown because it's $14.99, you might instead buy the Stephen King from last year, because it's $7.99.

Then, a year later, when you go to Amazon and don't buy the new Charlaine Harris because it's $14.99, you might buy the Dan Brown from last year, because it's $7.99 now.

Momento Mori
02-02-2010, 10:32 PM
NicoleMD:
I'm just going to buy a different e-book at the price that meets my needs. There're thousands and thousands of books to choose from, and if the publisher wants to lose the sale, then so be it.

Maybe if the new J. K. Rowling or Dan Brown or [insert name of your favourite ever author here] has a new book out and the price is $14.99 in ebook format, then you're the type of person who will decide not to buy it because of the price and you go and buy a James Patterson or Patrick Ness or [insert name of alternative author you like here].

I'd suggest that most people won't because there isn't a substitute for reading the new Dan Brown, Rowling whatever. They can only read that book and if they want to read that book then that's the price that they're going to have to pay for it (unless a seller decides to reduce the price themselves to make it a loss-leader for other merchandise - which it is perfectly possible for them to do).

Books are not interchangeable like cans of baked beans - no two are alike.

MM

Unimportant
02-02-2010, 11:00 PM
And eventually, once the people who REALLY WANTED this particular title THE MINUTE IT CAME OUT have paid their $14.99, and the title has come out in paperback, the e-book price will drop to $9.99 or $7.99 or $5.99 or whatever.

And you'll buy it.

Yup. That's it in a nutshell.

I would guess, too, that Macmillan and Co have borne in mind the fact that there are many many millions of readers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and other countries, for whom e-books are more appealing because they don't come with shipping costs.

For me here in arse-end-of-the-world New Zealand, shipping on a trade paperback generally costs almost as much as the book itself. (I recently went to order an anthology from Apex: the book was $19.95 and the shipping was about $15.) This means the brand new e-edition of a book at US$15 ends up being cheaper than buying the paperback (plus shipping) when it comes out two years later.

I haven't yet bought an e-book reader because I don't want to be stuck with a single format or locked into buying books from a particular store, but I'm guessing I'll be getting one sometime this decade.

Gillhoughly
02-02-2010, 11:17 PM
I'm picking up, in a dim and distant way, that this thread has shifted to discussion of what's a fair e-book price, speculation on their production costs, who loves their Kindle and who won't touch one.

I'm still stuck on the fact that Amazon arbitrarily shut down all sales of my Macmillan titles last Friday.

Oh, look--they're STILL shut down.

I just checked. They said they'd relent, so why are their thumbs still up their collective arses on this? Why are they not selling my books again?

Macmillan has 41 imprints (http://us.macmillan.com/) in the US, representing hundreds of writers with millions of readers and not one book is moving through the Amazon US system unless it's a used copy (and Amazon STILL takes a cut of that sale with ZERO royalties going to the writers).

I don't care what format you prefer to read a book or what price you choose to pay.

I do very much care that their actions are costing ME earnings.

If my sales numbers dip, then down the road the publisher can and will either not buy a new book from me or offer a much lower advance than before. Doesn't matter that the dip was clearly not my fault, bean counters look at numbers, not the causes behind their drop.

Don't think Macmillan will cut their own writers a break on this. If they can get away with trimming down advances they will. It's what publishers DO.

I don't give a rat's patoot about Amazon's fight with Macmillan. Both are arguing complicated financial matters I neither know or care to know about, but the bottom line is quite simple: Amazon is not making me money today.

I will continue to do my best to direct buyers to their competition, reminding my readers why other online sellers and indies are better for them. I rather think a large number of other writers will do likewise. Certainly I won't be shopping Amazon ever again.

One of the big kids pissed on us, but we have long and evil memories.

Perks
02-02-2010, 11:26 PM
Hmmm. This thread has been very informative. Thanks especially to Medievalist, HapiSofi, James D. MacDonald, Mac and company.

Now I have a bit of a moral dilemma. See, I got a Barnes & Noble Nook for Christmas. (I didn't actually get it until two weeks ago, but that's okay, it was still two weeks earlier than they said I'd get it.) I absolutely love it. (I have set up both a Kindle2 and my Nook and I think the Nook is much better - better organized and no fiddly joystick.) I don't care about the feel of the paper or the smell of the binding, or rows of read books taking up space in my house. I just want the words and the story taking up space in my head. The Nook, for me, is a very pleasant way to carry and read books. One of the big draws for me was the price of the ebooks. The price of books is a deterrent, especially considering there's no guarantee I'll like it. (Same reason I don't go to the movies much.)

Now that I understand that ebooks really aren't cheaper for the publisher, I feel guilty. I do want to support publishing. I don't want to be part of the slide. But $35 for 'Under The Dome' is a lot, while not for a moment saying that it's not worth $35. So far, it's really a very fun read.

What I've been hoping these ereaders and cheaper digital book pricing would do for the industry is increase volume. I've bought three books in three weeks. With one income, two children, mortgage and yadda yadda, these prices make it much more worth the risk of purchasing a book that might disappoint.

If ebooks came out at the same price as their hardcover equivalent, I'll be back in the tight spot of buying fewer books.

What do I hope for? What do I do?

Cyia
02-02-2010, 11:55 PM
I think publishers should mimic the DVD/BluRay model Disney uses. If you shell out the $$$ for the BluRay, you get a DVD and digital download in the deal. That way you don't have to shell out extra cash for the other formats. If you don't like the film, you can give the DVD to someone else (or the download code) who might enjoy it.

If you buy a hardcover, then you should get a code that allows you to download the ebook version when it's available. That way, even if they put off the ebook availability for 6 months or so, readers don't have to shell out the extra cash for the digital copy. They can give the hardback as a gift and keep the digital or just keep both.

I've yet to see someone stand in line to have an e-book signed by the author.

IceCreamEmpress
02-02-2010, 11:56 PM
If ebooks came out at the same price as their hardcover equivalent, I'll be back in the tight spot of buying fewer books.


Macmillan isn't suggesting it's going to do that. It's suggesting that Amazon's artificial limiting of the top manufacturers' list price to $9.99 doesn't work for them, because they'd rather introduce a tiered pricing system similar to the hardcover/mass market paperback system, where people who want immediate access to a given title pay a premium for that, and that titles that have been on the market longer reflect that with lower prices.

So maybe you'd choose to buy more older books, rather than so many new releases, if the new releases were $14.99 rather than $9.99. Which is still significantly cheaper than the hardcover equivalent.

Or maybe Amazon would slash the prices of new-release e-books from the list price of $14.99 to $9.99 as a loss leader. Macmillan isn't going to stop them from charging less than $14.99--they just aren't going to let Amazon set the manufacturers' list price at $9.99.

Remember, Macmillan isn't saying that Amazon can't sell an e-book with a list price of $14.99 for $9.99 or $8.99 or whatever Amazon wants to do. But Amazon was trying to say that Macmillan couldn't set a list price of $14.99.

Gillhoughly
02-02-2010, 11:57 PM
Perks -- I got a Barnes & Noble Nook for Christmas.

FWIW--if I ever went in for e-books, I'd prefer a Nook over a Kindle. I read the reviews, and it just seems like a better product.

But I don't dare get one. Put things in my hand--books, food, pointy objects, pricy e-toys--and I'll forget they're there and drop them or make a wild gesture to illustrate a point and slam my hand into walls. Or people. I had a near-miss with a salad fork once that increased my body space by a full yard for decades.

Those times when I've dropped a book, it doesn't just hit the floor with a slap and pick up a scrape. It hits edge on and, by some fluke of gravity going neutral in that point of the space-time continuum, goes galloping across the floor, sometimes bouncing up and down like a gazelle in full rout from a peckish predator.

Add insult to injury, it suddenly stops in its flight, I accidentally kick it in my chase, and it skids like a hockey puck (across carpeting!??) until slamming into furniture (or the foot of the bookstore manager and I feel honor bound to buy the damned thing). The final result is still readable, but looks like it went a few rounds with a blender and lost.

If that happened to my shiny new 259.00 + S&H Nook...:cry:

Twizzle
02-03-2010, 12:27 AM
If that happened to my shiny new 259.00 + S&H Nook...:cry:

QFT. I'm on my third Kindle. Third. In eight months. And my warranty is almost over.

ChristineR
02-03-2010, 01:04 AM
Plus there are stories out there of people who dropped their Kindles in the sink and had Amazon refuse to give them books they've already paid for, people who returned their Kindles for replacement because their battery was bad and so lost all their books, and even a guy who returned three items and had Amazon remotely turn his Kindle off forever and ever because they decided he was some sort of crook.

I assume some of these got resolved, but it doesn't make Amazon look good.

amergina
02-03-2010, 01:04 AM
Those times when I've dropped a book, it doesn't just hit the floor with a slap and pick up a scrape. It hits edge on and, by some fluke of gravity going neutral in that point of the space-time continuum, goes galloping across the floor, sometimes bouncing up and down like a gazelle in full rout from a peckish predator.

Add insult to injury, it suddenly stops in its flight, I accidentally kick it in my chase, and it skids like a hockey puck (across carpeting!??) until slamming into furniture (or the foot of the bookstore manager and I feel honor bound to buy the damned thing). The final result is still readable, but looks like it went a few rounds with a blender and lost.

If that happened to my shiny new 259.00 + S&H Nook...:cry:

My propensity for dropping books while reading in the bathtub is a big deterrent against buying an e-reader. *sploosh*

At least with paper, I can fish the thing out, and stick it by a heating vent/sunny spot to dry with a metric ton of other books on top (to keep the warping down). It might not be quite the same after its dunking, but it still is readable and it still works. If I really like the book and want a non-water-damaged copy, I'm out at most ~$25, if I happened to drop a hard cover.

Unimportant
02-03-2010, 01:04 AM
I'm picking up, in a dim and distant way, that this thread has shifted to discussion of what's a fair e-book price, speculation on their production costs, who loves their Kindle and who won't touch one.

I'm still stuck on the fact that Amazon arbitrarily shut down all sales of my Macmillan titles last Friday.

Oh, look--they're STILL shut down.

Yeah, sorry (hangs head in shame) -- I got sidetracked. Because I divorced Amazon in one of the previous AmazonFails (the Teh Gay Ranking fiasco), so authors aren't losing sales to me, at least -- Amazon's hijinks might tick me off but they have zero effect on my book-buying choices.

Twizzle
02-03-2010, 01:19 AM
Plus there are stories out there of people who dropped their Kindles in the sink and had Amazon refuse to give them books they've already paid for, people who returned their Kindles for replacement because their battery was bad and so lost all their books, and even a guy who returned three items and had Amazon remotely turn his Kindle off forever and ever because they decided he was some sort of crook.

I assume some of these got resolved, but it doesn't make Amazon look good.

Amazon can shut off your acct, yes-not your Kindle. You can't order squat thru Amazon but the Kindle itself still works. Also, your book purchases are stored on your Amazon acct and you can download them to your computer, etc. So you don't lose anything you've purchased when it dies. And when you receive your replacement, your books are already on there in the archive. They deregister the old Kindle for you.

I've been through it three times now. Grrrr.

But I'm digressing again. I'm sorry, Gilloughly. There's no news?

Claudia Gray
02-03-2010, 01:21 AM
I think publishers should mimic the DVD/BluRay model Disney uses. If you shell out the $$$ for the BluRay, you get a DVD and digital download in the deal. That way you don't have to shell out extra cash for the other formats. If you don't like the film, you can give the DVD to someone else (or the download code) who might enjoy it.

If you buy a hardcover, then you should get a code that allows you to download the ebook version when it's available. That way, even if they put off the ebook availability for 6 months or so, readers don't have to shell out the extra cash for the digital copy. They can give the hardback as a gift and keep the digital or just keep both.

I've yet to see someone stand in line to have an e-book signed by the author.

I totally agree with this proposal and can't think why publishers aren't trying it. Also, the keycode could allow you to DL whichever version you needed (Nook, Sony Reader, Kindle).

JulieB
02-03-2010, 01:31 AM
All the Macmillan links I checked at Amazon are still down as of a few minutes ago.

CEtchison
02-03-2010, 01:32 AM
I'm still stuck on the fact that Amazon arbitrarily shut down all sales of my Macmillan titles last Friday.

And that is exactly why I'll never go back to Amazon, no matter when the fair market value for an e-book is determined. Amazon is playing the corporate bully game, and I, as a consumer, can and will punish them for it.

I've also shared this news with all my friends and family who dislike this kind of corporate behavior. We have long memories and hold grudges. Keep in mind none of them own a Kindle. They don't download e-books either. But this "our way or the highway" mentality has made them very angry and they have vowed to never buy anything from Amazon again, be it a movie, a toy or a book.

Anaquana
02-03-2010, 01:42 AM
I usually spend several hundred dollars a year at Amazon on books. Not any more. I'll take my money to Borders.

Slushie
02-03-2010, 02:21 AM
The buy button for Macmillan books may not return until the new agreement takes effect on March 1st. Pure speculation, but it doesn't seem too far-fetched. Hope I'm wrong.

Deb Kinnard
02-03-2010, 03:14 AM
Those times when I've dropped a book, it doesn't just hit the floor with a slap and pick up a scrape. It hits edge on and, by some fluke of gravity going neutral in that point of the space-time continuum, goes galloping across the floor, sometimes bouncing up and down like a gazelle in full rout from a peckish predator.

Add insult to injury, it suddenly stops in its flight, I accidentally kick it in my chase, and it skids like a hockey puck (across carpeting!??) until slamming into furniture (or the foot of the bookstore manager and I feel honor bound to buy the damned thing). The final result is still readable, but looks like it went a few rounds with a blender and lost.

If that happened to my shiny new 259.00 + S&H Nook...:cry:

Gil, we'll get you a neck strap. What color would you like?

happywritermom
02-03-2010, 03:26 AM
A good friend of my sister's (and a virtual friend of mine) is caught up in all this. Steve Hamilton's The Lock Artist was just released and now Amazon has pulled it. I don't know how I feel about the whole business side of this mess, but I feel horrible for him. The authors are the ones who are suffering in this. For some, esepcially debut novelists, these sales can make or break their careers. Fortunately, he has plenty of novels to his name and solid fan base, but I'm sure that's not the case for all those Macmillan authors.

Gillhoughly
02-03-2010, 03:38 AM
Gil, we'll get you a neck strap. What color would you like?

Better make it purple. The last time I used one it caught on a door knob and I danged-near strangled myself.

Calla Lily
02-03-2010, 03:40 AM
I had a near-miss with a salad fork once that increased my body space by a full yard for decades.



Gill, you owe me a keyboard. :roll:

LeslieB
02-03-2010, 03:59 AM
I think publishers should mimic the DVD/BluRay model Disney uses. If you shell out the $$$ for the BluRay, you get a DVD and digital download in the deal. That way you don't have to shell out extra cash for the other formats. If you don't like the film, you can give the DVD to someone else (or the download code) who might enjoy it. That's why for the few ebooks I've bought over the last few years, I've gotten pdfs. I can use them on any computer, and if I ever get around to buying an ereader, capability to read pdfs will be a major factor in my choice.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 04:04 AM
I note that if you buy a Baen hardcover, inside it you will find a CD-ROM with all the Baen e-books, in multiple file formats.

One of the things we learned in 1992 with ebooks was that at least for early adapters, they tend to be book lovers and geeks.

They wanted the printed book and the ebook, and we worked with Douglas Adams to provide Last Chance to See both as a CD-ROM double set, and as the printed coffee table book.

I would guess that 40 to 50% of my ebooks I've also bought a printed book too, and for some, I have multiple copies of the printed book.

At the same time, I'm really interested in seeing a lot more quality control being built into ebooks. I think ebooks could be a lot better than they are in terms of readability and features.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 04:07 AM
Amazon can shut off your acct, yes-not your Kindle. You can't order squat thru Amazon but the Kindle itself still works. Also, your book purchases are stored on your Amazon acct and you can download them to your computer, etc.?

Actually, if Amazon chooses, they can bork your purchased Kindle books, (even the back up copies, as soon as you join the network again) and the Kindle itself, just as cell phone makers and registrants can bork your cell phone (and yes, that includes Apple who can bork cell phones) or software companies can bork applications or OSs.

I'd really like to see ebooks treated as "movables," not software. Right now ebooks are seen as software that you license. I hate that.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 04:14 AM
Macmillan isn't suggesting it's going to do that. It's suggesting that Amazon's artificial limiting of the top manufacturers' list price to $9.99 doesn't work for them, because they'd rather introduce a tiered pricing system similar to the hardcover/mass market paperback system, where people who want immediate access to a given title pay a premium for that, and that titles that have been on the market longer reflect that with lower prices.

Before Amazon entered the fray this is how it worked. Books had day and date release, or awfully close (sometime, accidentally, the ebook was released a few days early, sometimes a few after). If the release was a hardcover, the ebook price was very close to that hardcover cover, but more often than not there would be a discount.

When the paperback was released, the price of the ebook was adjusted to be at or under (usually a buck or so under) of the paperback cover price.

And when an author had a new book, the back list was often reduced, especially for series. I bought series that way sometimes, usually just before going on a west to east coast trip.

MacAllister
02-03-2010, 04:16 AM
I'm really not an early adapter, so I've been sort of waiting to venture much more heavily into ebooks because the QA just isn't there, yet.

Calla Lily
02-03-2010, 04:23 AM
It's both financial and tactile for me. Frankly, I can't afford an e-reader. And also I love holding a book in my hands. Love the feel, the smell, the sounds.

Gillhoughly
02-03-2010, 04:33 AM
Amazon's post-purchase control over downloads reminds me of a former friend.

When he gave something to anyone, after they thanked him, he'd say, "Consider it a permanent loan."

Meaning he could take it back anytime he wanted.

I did mention he's a *former* friend.

JulieB
02-03-2010, 04:33 AM
They wanted the printed book and the ebook, and we worked with Douglas Adams to provide Last Chance to See both as a CD-ROM double set, and as the printed coffee table book.

I still have that CD-ROM set. I can't let go of it, even though it probably wouldn't even run on my system.

And yes, I have the book as well.

And am looking forward to Stephen Fry's update of Last Chance to See.

kuwisdelu
02-03-2010, 05:23 AM
I think publishers should mimic the DVD/BluRay model Disney uses. If you shell out the $$$ for the BluRay, you get a DVD and digital download in the deal. That way you don't have to shell out extra cash for the other formats. If you don't like the film, you can give the DVD to someone else (or the download code) who might enjoy it.

If you buy a hardcover, then you should get a code that allows you to download the ebook version when it's available. That way, even if they put off the ebook availability for 6 months or so, readers don't have to shell out the extra cash for the digital copy. They can give the hardback as a gift and keep the digital or just keep both.

I've yet to see someone stand in line to have an e-book signed by the author.


I note that if you buy a Baen hardcover, inside it you will find a CD-ROM with all the Baen e-books, in multiple file formats.

One of the things we learned in 1992 with ebooks was that at least for early adapters, they tend to be book lovers and geeks.

They wanted the printed book and the ebook, and we worked with Douglas Adams to provide Last Chance to See both as a CD-ROM double set, and as the printed coffee table book.

I would guess that 40 to 50% of my ebooks I've also bought a printed book too, and for some, I have multiple copies of the printed book.

At the same time, I'm really interested in seeing a lot more quality control being built into ebooks. I think ebooks could be a lot better than they are in terms of readability and features.

I love this idea.

I wish more music companies would include a digital download with vinyls, too.

Slushie
02-03-2010, 07:30 AM
I love vinyls; I love the physical act of flipping to side b. It's a mental gear shift. Money is the perfect flip from The Great Gig in the Sky; Here Comes The Sun is a perfect change from I Want You. The continuity on my itunes library just doesn't match the actual act of getting off my lazy ass and flipping the record. I loves it. Plus, I think vinyls sound better than mp3; flac is good, though, but a little too perfect, if that makes sense.

It's like turning a page.

/ back to your regularly scheduled thread

CEtchison
02-03-2010, 07:33 AM
Looks like Rupert Murdoch is wanting to renogitate HarperCollins' deal with Amazon as well.


"We don't like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99," Murdoch said when asked about electronic books during a conference call with analysts on Tuesday.

"They pay us the wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge," he said. "But I think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hard cover books."

Link to full story is below.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100203/tc_nm/us_newscorp_amazon

Perks
02-03-2010, 08:41 AM
I'm really not an early adapter, so I've been sort of waiting to venture much more heavily into ebooks because the QA just isn't there, yet.
Ha! Me neither - usually. I resisted getting a phone with a camera in it until this latest upgrade. The Nook is the first early edition thing I've bought. Wait. Except for the Dodge Neon and the Pontiac Vibe. They were both fine, but I seriously want a cooler car.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 09:01 AM
Ha! Me neither - usually. I resisted getting a phone with a camera in it until this latest upgrade. The Nook is the first early edition thing I've bought. Wait. Except for the Dodge Neon and the Pontiac Vibe. They were both fine, but I seriously want a cooler car.

Prius. With in iPod Touch . . .

Perks
02-03-2010, 09:24 AM
Prius. With in iPod Touch . . .You know, I like the Prius. It's viability in the mountains is in question, but if that electric motor can get me up my hills without the gas assist (thereby ruining its higher purpose) I might well consider. I was just talking about this tonight.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 09:40 AM
You know, I like the Prius. It's viability in the mountains is in question, but if that electric motor can get me up my hills without the gas assist (thereby ruining its higher purpose) I might well consider. I was just talking about this tonight.

New Hampshire and Maine in snow, you need the gas engine going up hill.

You need gas going uphill for long high hills, but downhill, you're charging the battery, especially every time you brake.

No smog check ever. I think there's still a federal tax break; not sure. Many states give you one, and a free sticker for tolls, in some places, parking in others, and automatic use of the carport lane in some places, even with only one in the car.

Khanada
02-03-2010, 08:48 PM
Any news on your books, Gillhoughly? I'm a bit afraid to check in. I was a VERY good Amazon customer (though I stopped buying books there - that's been close to a year now, I think), and I'm not sure I want to tempt myself just yet while going cold turkey like this.

Thanks for that link, SummerSpring. I'm enjoying seeing stuff like that in the news. Some of those Amazonians seem to really believe Macmillan is the only one unhappy.

And Slushie -- it's been a long time since I've listened to my records, but somehow, I refuse to allow my husband to move the turntable down to the basement.

James D. Macdonald
02-03-2010, 09:40 PM
Any news on your books, Gillhoughly?

My Tor books still lack a Buy Now button.

Gil's books from St. Martin's are likewise unavailable.

See also:

Amazon Capitulated My Ass (http://charles-tan.blogspot.com/2010/02/amazon-capitulated-my-ass.html)

But! Now Harper (Rupert Murdoch) wants to renegotiate those low prices for Amazon Ebooks. Is Amazon going to de-list all of News Corp? If they do ... well, in about six weeks they'll be out of the book-selling business.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 09:57 PM
I really don't expect Amazon to start re-listing books until March 1, when the new terms proposed by Macmillan kick in.

I think it's interesting that Amazon seems to have only attacked the print and kindle Macmillan consumer books--as far as I can see, they haven't de-listed textbooks.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-03-2010, 10:00 PM
Trying to hit them where it hurts the most. I imagine the consumer books account for more sales than textbooks.

amergina
02-03-2010, 10:13 PM
I think it's interesting that Amazon seems to have only attacked the print and kindle Macmillan consumer books--as far as I can see, they haven't de-listed textbooks.

Do you know if the terms for selling textbooks are different than for consumer books?

I also note that Amazon doesn't seem to hold to the $9.99-or-bust ebook rhetoric when it comes to textbooks.

Of course, there's a captive audience there. You don't buy a textbook generally because you *want* to. You buy it because you have to have *that* textbook. So it's not like a reader can forgo that book or wait until the price drops.

Medievalist
02-03-2010, 11:24 PM
Do you know if the terms for selling textbooks are different than for consumer books?

I also note that Amazon doesn't seem to hold to the $9.99-or-bust ebook rhetoric when it comes to textbooks.

Of course, there's a captive audience there. You don't buy a textbook generally because you *want* to. You buy it because you have to have *that* textbook. So it's not like a reader can forgo that book or wait until the price drops.

I don't know. It's a good question--and I suspect fairly complicated. Printing/licensing costs for textbooks are actually higher, but yeah, they know they've got a captive audience. Also, wrt pricing textbooks, as odd as it seems many faculty have no idea at all what students pay for a textbook. The faculty member gets free copies.

Here's what little I do know:

I know that the textbooks I've worked on as me, vs. as a ghost writer for a Big Name Prof, I receive a fractional royalty based on the percentage of total words and my total words.

I do know that big bookstores can negotiate with textbooks sales folk--UCLA's bookstore is owned / operated by the ASUCLA, a student corporation, and they do negotiate about texts for large lecture classes and that they know will be used in more than one such class. They also pass those discounts on to students, but I honestly don't know whether author royalties are based on the negotiated price or the reduced price.

Academic publishing, whether textbooks or scholarly, is outside of the ordinary mainstream publishing in a lot of ways. Most academic authors, scholarly or textbook, don't even have agents. Scholarly books for a non Big Name don't have advances, and sometimes, don't even have royalties.

Scholarly journals rarely pay anything. Some may charge a set up fee for images or difficult typographic stuff.

Copyright is usually not assigned to the author, though academic presses publishing scholarly books, and scholarly journals are usually cooperative about reassigning copyright some time after the initial publication.

Gillhoughly
02-04-2010, 12:59 AM
Bloody hell (on Amazon dragging their heels).

What annoys me (among other things) is that while no one makes anything from the new book sales disabling, Amazon STILL GETS MONEY FROM 3RD PARTY SALES.

I don't know why they're willing to shoot themselves in the foot by continuing this nonsense. They lose 10 points on the stock exchange, piss off 1000s of writers, and continue to lose money daily from the new sales.

What's this delaying thing? Holding their breath until they turn blue?

Does anyone have a current fax number for Jeff Bezos? I tried to send him a few thoughts today, but 206-266-7010 doesn't work, so is 206-622-2405 viable?

Gakked from a letter (http://www.kinshipcircle.org/letter_library/pdf/1669.pdf) I found online that has nothing to do with this issue.

James D. Macdonald
02-04-2010, 06:48 AM
Elsewhere on the web: Dear Crazy Paranoid People... (http://barbarienne.livejournal.com/312385.html)

Pass it on.

I wonder if Bezos ever heard the saying, "Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel"?



What's this delaying thing? Holding their breath until they turn blue?


Yeah. It's like they're all two years old over there in the Amazon boardroom.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-04-2010, 07:18 AM
My chinchilla has more maturity.

JulieB
02-04-2010, 08:00 AM
John Scalzi is my hero (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/03/why-in-fact-publishing-will-not-go-away-anytime-soon-a-deeply-slanted-play-in-three-acts/).

Please move beverages away from the keyboard, folks.

san_remo_ave
02-04-2010, 10:17 AM
John Scalzi is my hero (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/03/why-in-fact-publishing-will-not-go-away-anytime-soon-a-deeply-slanted-play-in-three-acts/).

Please move beverages away from the keyboard, folks.

The ending is awesome. I heart John's wife.

James D. Macdonald
02-04-2010, 05:08 PM
SFWA removes Amazon.com links from website (http://www.sfwa.org/2010/02/sfwa-removes-amazon-com-links-from-website/)


Due to Amazon.com’s removal of many of our authors’ books from its ordering system, we are removing Amazon.com links from our website. Our authors depend on people buying their books and since a significant percentage of them publish through Macmillan or its subsidiaries, we would prefer to send traffic to stores where the books can actually be purchased.

To that end, our volunteers are in the process of redirecting book links to indiebound.org (http://www.indiebound.org/), Powell’s (http://www.powells.com/), Barnes and Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/), and Borders (http://www.borders.com/online/store/Home).

Many authors are being hit hard by this, so we encourage you to seek out new places to find their books.

Edited to add: It is worth noting, that if a book is only available on Amazon, we are leaving the link in place. Our goal is to make sure that it is possible to order our members’ fiction. Hurting authors to make a point about a publishing model is bad business, for anyone.

Twizzle
02-04-2010, 05:31 PM
I don't know. It's a good question--and I suspect fairly complicated. Printing/licensing costs for textbooks are actually higher, but yeah, they know they've got a captive audience. Also, wrt pricing textbooks, as odd as it seems many faculty have no idea at all what students pay for a textbook. The faculty member gets free copies.



Um, hmm. Trying to remember where I saw it. But the last few days while these two have been feuding, didn't Apple lock in something regarding textbooks?

ETA-sorry, yes. ScrollMotion. I saw it on PW Lunch and WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703338504575041630390346178.html?m od=WSJ_hpp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection). off topic again, sorry.

Bubastes
02-04-2010, 05:54 PM
John Scalzi is my hero (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/03/why-in-fact-publishing-will-not-go-away-anytime-soon-a-deeply-slanted-play-in-three-acts/).

Please move beverages away from the keyboard, folks.

:roll:

Momento Mori
02-04-2010, 06:00 PM
Mrs Scalzi's views intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to her newsletter or journals. :)

MM

Calla Lily
02-04-2010, 06:34 PM
John Scalzi is my hero (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/03/why-in-fact-publishing-will-not-go-away-anytime-soon-a-deeply-slanted-play-in-three-acts/).

Please move beverages away from the keyboard, folks.

:ROFL:

Shadow_Ferret
02-04-2010, 08:53 PM
OK. I'm always a little slow on the uptake with these things, but whose side was I supposed to be on? Amazon didn't want to raise the price of eBooks from $10 to $15.

To me, that's good for readers. I don't want to pay that much for an eBook. It's ELECTRONIC for gosh sakes! Can't tell me the cost of production has gone up nearly 50%. Frankly, I think $10 is outrageous to pay for a bunch of electrons.

And the extra $5 ISN'T going to raise how much the writer gets. It's all going into the publisher's coffers.

So from my standpoint, Amazon was in the right.

Am I misunderstanding this?

willietheshakes
02-04-2010, 09:07 PM
Am I misunderstanding this?

Yes. :)

I would check out the Scalzi links above for a pretty thorough (and surprisingly even-handed, considering) overview of the issue.

ChristineR
02-04-2010, 09:44 PM
OK. I'm always a little slow on the uptake with these things, but whose side was I supposed to be on? Amazon didn't want to raise the price of eBooks from $10 to $15.

To me, that's good for readers. I don't want to pay that much for an eBook. It's ELECTRONIC for gosh sakes! Can't tell me the cost of production has gone up nearly 50%. Frankly, I think $10 is outrageous to pay for a bunch of electrons.

And the extra $5 ISN'T going to raise how much the writer gets. It's all going into the publisher's coffers.

So from my standpoint, Amazon was in the right.

Am I misunderstanding this?

Once Amazon has made the Kindle the e-book standard and is able to force all e-book publishers to pay licensing fees and release their books in Kindle format, they intend to raise the prices to an amount that will cover the publisher's expenses, the Kindle license, and of course, profit. If you'll recall, the expenses for an e-book are only a dollar or two less than the expenses for a paper book.

Slushie
02-04-2010, 09:55 PM
I thought this has already been covered? It's not about the production costs; it's about timing. Price the e-book to the hardcover when that's the only physical version available; price the e-book to the paperback when that version becomes available.

Shadow_Ferret
02-04-2010, 10:29 PM
Yes. :)

I would check out the Scalzi links above for a pretty thorough (and surprisingly even-handed, considering) overview of the issue.

I did read it. I couldn't make any sense of it. Maybe he should have skipped the cutesy dialogue and just written it like a straight opinion piece.

Terie
02-04-2010, 10:45 PM
To me, that's good for readers. I don't want to pay that much for an eBook. It's ELECTRONIC for gosh sakes! Can't tell me the cost of production has gone up nearly 50%. Frankly, I think $10 is outrageous to pay for a bunch of electrons.

You're paying for electrons? When I buy a book, regardless of format, I'm paying for content. If you want good content, you need to pay a fair price for it. This really has been thoroughly hashed in this thread though. Go back and read posts from the likes of Medievalist and Uncle Jim.

Gillhoughly
02-04-2010, 10:59 PM
People will either get what this is really about or they won't.

What I get is that, here and now, Amazon has cut into my sales.

I get that it is trying to control the e-book market, claiming they're only looking out for the readers, when it is the readers they will eventually shaft down the road when Amazon sneaks the prices up. I needed a beverage alert when I saw them accusing Macmillan of being a monopoly for their own books.

I get that they're freaking out that the much cooler iPad might tempt away Kindle buyers.

I get that Jeff Bezos will disable sales for the NEXT publisher if he can get away with this stupid stunt. Apparently he has, because my titles are still disabled.

Get your head out of your arse and smell the coffee, Jeff. You aren't the big dog any more and you just bit the wrong bunch of people.

And BTW, one can get Macmillan e-books from B&N (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?FMT=EBOOK&SZE=10&WRD=the+moon+is+a+harsh+mistress) for 9.99. NO DISABLING.

YAY to SWFA for their stand on this!!!

Perhaps this writer's explanation of overhead costs and production efforts (http://www.jlake.com/2010/02/04/writingpublishing-what-my-publisher-does-for-me-and-why-i-wont-just-quit/) for a single book will make the issue more clear. Bolding is mine.

"It’s also been suggested that I leave Macmillan in protest of their business practices in the Amazon ebook pricing dispute, and go elsewhere. First of all, it’s not the least bit clear to me that Macmillan has done anything unprincipled in the ebook pricing negotiations. Amazon clearly has behaved in an unprincipled manner with delisting the print titles that come under different contracts and distribution channels and are thus completely unrelated to ebooks in a business sense, but that’s been my point all along — the delisting really isn’t Macmillan’s responsibility in any way that I can see, as it was a unilateral decision by Amazon. The rest of the negotiation issues are, frankly, just business."

HapiSofi
02-05-2010, 02:44 AM
I just saw Gillhoughly's comment #174 go by on Twitter under the heading, "What authors really think."

Gillhoughly
02-05-2010, 03:54 AM
Hee! I'm honored!

Still in the same mood.

AMAZON IS NOT MAKING ME MONEY TODAY.

But has anyone noticed that Booksamillion (http://www.booksamillion.com/)is letting the world know in their "Yes, We Have That Book" that they're all Macmillan titles? :D

Take THAT, Jeff Bezos. :evil

willietheshakes
02-05-2010, 03:59 AM
And in the latest news:

Hachette follows suit (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/agents/breaking_hachette_book_group_to_transition_to_agen cy_model_151128.asp) and
Macmillan goes on the offensive (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/bookselling/macmillan_nyt_ad_available_at_booksellers_everywhe re_except_amazon_151071.asp) and
A new release from Macmillan (http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=58735)

Slushie
02-05-2010, 04:12 AM
I wonder how Amazon's stock is doing? (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=amzn)

Point of reference: AMZN valued at ~$130 on 1/29

Gillhoughly
02-05-2010, 04:34 AM
A 15 point drop.

Way to go, Bezos. Bet the stockholders are even more thrilled with you today. They can join with the Macmillan writers. We're considering a visit to Seattle.


http://community.invisionpower.com/uploads/1247519429/gallery_49404_3_93898.jpg

MacAllister
02-05-2010, 04:36 AM
Susan Piver has a smart, informed, and clearly-written take (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-piver/the-macmillan-vs-amazon-t_b_444879.html) on the whole mess.

HConn
02-05-2010, 04:56 AM
OK. I'm always a little slow on the uptake with these things, but whose side was I supposed to be on? Amazon didn't want to raise the price of eBooks from $10 to $15.

To me, that's good for readers. I don't want to pay that much for an eBook. It's ELECTRONIC for gosh sakes! Can't tell me the cost of production has gone up nearly 50%. Frankly, I think $10 is outrageous to pay for a bunch of electrons.

And the extra $5 ISN'T going to raise how much the writer gets. It's all going into the publisher's coffers.

So from my standpoint, Amazon was in the right.

Am I misunderstanding this?

Yes, you're misunderstanding this.

The physical printing and shipping of the book doesn't cost very much at all. A couple of bucks, tops. Most of the cost of a book, including those 26 dollar hardcovers, is the writing, editing, designing, copy editing, marketing, art design, etc etc.

It's the <i>content</i> that costs so much. If you think ten bucks is too much to pay for all the work that goes into a book, you're misunderstanding the process of making it.

Also, making a viable ebook--that looks professional in several formats and is up to date on the latest OS--costs money.

I recommend cruising around Scalzi's blog and reading the other threads. Read this one, since you seem to have skipped to the end to reply. There's a lot to learn.

eqb
02-05-2010, 05:09 AM
Cat Valente has another great post about the subject here (http://yuki-onna.livejournal.com/563086.html).

dragonjax
02-05-2010, 05:31 AM
I get that Jeff Bezos will disable sales for the NEXT publisher if he can get away with this stupid stunt. Apparently he has, because my titles are still disabled.

I blogged about this yesterday -- the next publisher growling is none other than HarperCollins, by way of Rupert Murdoch. He, too, doesn't want to keep the $9.99 price point. And I promise you this: If Amazon disabled the buy buttons on HarperCollins titles, that would be all over Fox News. (Got to love News Corp.)

Ah, yes, I see it now: the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck all screaming about how Amazon is greedy and evil. (And then you know that MSNBC, CNN, and The Daily Show would all have to pick up on the story.)

Which would be utterly brilliant.

I say, go ahead, Bezos. I double-dog dare you to disable HarperCollins buy buttons.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-05-2010, 05:37 AM
I blogged about this yesterday -- the next publisher growling is none other than HarperCollins, by way of Rupert Murdoch. He, too, doesn't want to keep the $9.99 price point. And I promise you this: If Amazon disabled the buy buttons on HarperCollins titles, that would be all over Fox News. (Got to love News Corp.)

Ah, yes, I see it now: the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck all screaming about how Amazon is greedy and evil. (And then you know that MSNBC, CNN, and The Daily Show would all have to pick up on the story.)

Which would be utterly brilliant.

I say, go ahead, Bezos. I double-dog dare you to disable HarperCollins buy buttons.

Oh good, so I'm not the only one hoping he'll be that stupid and do it. I would love to see the downfall that'll cause.

thothguard51
02-05-2010, 05:45 AM
I like the new release from MacMillan, in which it clearly states they are ready to give authors a higher royalty base on this new agency model. Agents should be happier too, and willing to work harder to get this new higher royalty.

OR am I still missing something?

dragonjax
02-05-2010, 05:49 AM
I like the new release from MacMillan, in which it clearly states they are ready to give authors a higher royalty base on this new agency model. Agents should be happier too, and willing to work harder to get this new higher royalty.

OR am I still missing something?

Don't forget that Amazon would **make more money per book** with the agency model.

willietheshakes
02-05-2010, 06:20 AM
I blogged about this yesterday -- the next publisher growling is none other than HarperCollins, by way of Rupert Murdoch. He, too, doesn't want to keep the $9.99 price point. And I promise you this: If Amazon disabled the buy buttons on HarperCollins titles, that would be all over Fox News. (Got to love News Corp.)

Ah, yes, I see it now: the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck all screaming about how Amazon is greedy and evil. (And then you know that MSNBC, CNN, and The Daily Show would all have to pick up on the story.)

Which would be utterly brilliant.

I say, go ahead, Bezos. I double-dog dare you to disable HarperCollins buy buttons.

Well, Murdoch has been growling, but Hachette beat News Corp. to the punch, informing agents today that they are moving to an agency model for their ebooks.

dragonjax
02-05-2010, 06:36 AM
Well, Murdoch has been growling, but Hachette beat News Corp. to the punch, informing agents today that they are moving to an agency model for their ebooks.

I missed that! Link?

willietheshakes
02-05-2010, 06:38 AM
I missed that! Link?

Top link, post #233.

dragonjax
02-05-2010, 06:39 AM
Never mind, found it!

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/agents/breaking_hachette_book_group_to_transition_to_agen cy_model_151128.asp

HapiSofi
02-05-2010, 06:39 AM
Susan Piver has a smart, informed, and clearly-written take (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-piver/the-macmillan-vs-amazon-t_b_444879.html) on the whole mess.
Susan Piver's piece is brilliant. Everyone should read it.

MacAllister
02-05-2010, 06:59 AM
I can't take credit for finding the link - I got it from the Twitter-river about #amazonfail.


Susan Piver's piece is brilliant. Everyone should read it.

Making Light (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012162.html) has a LOT of terrific discussion, commentary, and links to related stories and posts in the comments threads of the Macmillan/Amazon related posts, too -- and the signal-to-noise ratio in the comments thread is much better-than-average.

Khanada
02-05-2010, 08:04 AM
OK. I'm always a little slow on the uptake with these things, but whose side was I supposed to be on? Amazon didn't want to raise the price of eBooks from $10 to $15.

To me, that's good for readers. I don't want to pay that much for an eBook. It's ELECTRONIC for gosh sakes! Can't tell me the cost of production has gone up nearly 50%. Frankly, I think $10 is outrageous to pay for a bunch of electrons.



Hi Shadow Ferret --

Cost is just one consideration in setting prices for a product. Slushie mentioned the timing -- if you want something when it first comes out, you pay for that. If you wait, the price comes down.

Another consideration is -- well, how much are people willing to pay for the thing?? What will the market bear?

Let's say I make Super Cool Gadget. It costs me $5 to make. But I do all this market research, and I learn that people will pay me $15 for it. So I price it at $15, and they pay me! So why should I only charge $7? At $7, it's going to take me a long time to be able to hire more people to help me make more Super Cool Gadgets, their accessories, and it will take me far longer to have the money to make Really Super Cool Gadget 2.0. If I don't want to expand my business, $7 is probably fine. But if I want to grow, I'd better consider charging what people will pay.

So the publishers are experimenting some here. They think people will pay $15, so they're going to try it. Maybe you won't pay. You're not getting as much as a paper book, you say. And for you, you're absolutely right.

But I say -- well, I'm getting my book the instant I press "buy". I don't have to leave my warm comfy chair. I don't need to wait 2 or 3 days for my friendly UPS man. I don't need to clear off my bookshelves to try to find a place to store this book. When my friend who never returns things asks to borrow my book, I can say, "Sorry! It's an ebook that I can't lend out. But I really would lend it if I could." (wink)

So for me, it's totally worth $15. I buy it at $15. Depends on the book, of course. But I buy.

So the publishers are hoping there's enough people like me out there to make up for the people who won't pay $15. If there's not, the price will change. Again and again.

Does this help any, or does it just make it worse??? Really, we can't hope to fully understand. People go to school for this for years, and they get out and work to become experts, and even they argue with each other as to how this all shakes out.

MacAllister
02-05-2010, 08:18 AM
I've been wondering sort of idly (since Hapi mentioned a sneaking suspicion that Amazon isn't run by book people, and they may in fact be a bunch of feral nutbars) how much of this kerfluffle is due to a persistent and fundamental misunderstanding on Amazon's part.

That is, I'm suspecting that they think books are interchangeable -- sort of like bags of peanuts, or types of apples. Publishers, in that model, really resemble brand names or heirloom types....but there are perfectly good small growers of peanuts (or apples) and if they can just train their consumers to stop being such brand snobs, then those consumers will learn to be just as happy with CreateSpace offerings.

I would have thought that the abortive Amazon Shorts program would have cured them of that notion, though.