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View Full Version : Urgh. Amazon really IS taking over the world.



kaitie
10-12-2011, 04:23 AM
http://movies.yahoo.com/news/penny-marshall-book-deal-amazon-com-142358395.html

Sorry if this is mentioned elsewhere, but my brief perusal didn't notice it. Anyway, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Actually, no. That's not true. I know exactly how I feel about it. I feel like this is all a plot of Amazon's to dominate the publishing field and put everyone else out of business so they can make more money. Conspiracy theoryish? Maybe, but seriously.

I'm also curious, if anyone knows, what the publishing world's opinion of this whole Amazon thing is. I don't just mean in terms of putting people out of business, but in terms of professionalism. Are they qualified to be someone's publisher? What level of quality do they have? Are their books stocked in stores as well as on their website?

Do they really think they can sell enough copies to make up for the offers they're putting out, or is this sort of like selling kindles at a loss to crowd out the competition?

I'm just looking to see what everyone else's opinions are on this. I'm also curious--if Amazon offered you a deal would you take it?

VTwriter
10-12-2011, 04:31 AM
I'm just looking to see what everyone else's opinions are on this. I'm also curious--if Amazon offered you a deal would you take it?

Yes.

leahzero
10-12-2011, 05:44 AM
He declined to offer financial details, but said that Amazon's offer was "a lot" and that it also agreed — as it usually does — to a much higher royalty on e-books than the 25 percent traditionally given by publishers.

This is good for authors.

It is troubling that the world's largest bookseller/distributor is now becoming a major player in the publishing game, but better contract terms for authors is something I can't complain about.

kaitie
10-12-2011, 06:36 AM
That's what makes me nervous, though. One could argue that getting 70% self-publishing is better contract terms as well. And I agree that higher royalties is awesome.

At the same time, there seem to be some potential conflicts of interest and I don't think Amazon being the only game in town is a good thing. I know that's a slight exaggeration, but they already have more influence than any one company should have, IMO.

It's possible that Amazon will force publishers to start offering better deals to authors to be competitive, which could benefit us.

gothicangel
10-12-2011, 12:06 PM
if Amazon offered you a deal would you take it?

No, because I want my book available at more outlets than just Amazon. I want to see it in the bookstore windows in Newcastle, I want to see it in the gift shops at Historic Scotland, National Trust and English Heritage sites . . .

goldmund
10-12-2011, 12:16 PM
No, because I want my book available at more outlets than just Amazon. I want to see it in the bookstore windows in Newcastle, I want to see it in the gift shops at Historic Scotland, National Trust and English Heritage sites . . .

So would I, but then again I'd also like to live in the 80s and use a typewriter. Some things are ending and there's no going back.

I'm of two minds about this piece of news.
BAD: It's not OK for a distributor to be a publisher, because they might select works with only profit in mind, think a parade of Stephenie Meyers.

GOOD: The other publishing houses, to stay in the business, might have to raise the royalties, too. And let's be honest, the cut that the authors got so far is ridiculous. Compare it with how much a screenwriter gets for one script.

areteus
10-12-2011, 01:10 PM
I'm always wary of potential monopolies and am suspicious of a company levering into 2 of the arms of publishing - publication and distribution.

I also agree with gothicangel - I want to see my book in book shops!

KTC
10-12-2011, 01:26 PM
I'm just excited to read Penny's memoir. (-:

waylander
10-12-2011, 02:40 PM
Interesting to see they are starting a SF/F/H imprint

Alitriona
10-12-2011, 03:24 PM
They are offering good terms to get authors on board but this sounds vaguely familiar, a little like selling books at a 99c introductory price. As soon as the book has an audience the price gets wacked up.

I'm thinking out loud here and this is just my opinion. If Amazon manage to gain the monopoly in publishing and ebooks there will be dramatic shifts in royalty rates for authors signed by Amazon and self-pubbers. Amazon is in the business of making money and they will benefit themselves in the long run. Terms will be significantly less than authors get from publishers now.

willietheshakes
10-12-2011, 03:58 PM
So would I, but then again I'd also like to live in the 80s and use a typewriter. Some things are ending and there's no going back.

I'm of two minds about this piece of news.
BAD: It's not OK for a distributor to be a publisher, because they might select works with only profit in mind, think a parade of Stephenie Meyers.

GOOD: The other publishing houses, to stay in the business, might have to raise the royalties, too. And let's be honest, the cut that the authors got so far is ridiculous. Compare it with how much a screenwriter gets for one script.

As opposed to those numerous publishers who don't have profit in mind?

gothicangel
10-12-2011, 04:01 PM
So would I, but then again I'd also like to live in the 80s and use a typewriter. Some things are ending and there's no going back.



Oh dear, this isn't going to turn into one of those threads is it?.

Book shops are doing fine, if you have evidence to the contrary please provide links.

goldmund
10-12-2011, 04:25 PM
Oh dear, this isn't going to turn into one of those threads is it?.

Book shops are doing fine, if you have evidence to the contrary please provide links.

I don't really know those threads, so I cannot answer. I don't wish any harm be done to bookshops, rest assured, yet nostalgia -- which I feel, too -- tends to skew the perspective.
When I get grouchy over The New Times, I remind myself of one story by Thurber in which an old Royal Astrologist rushed into the throne room:
"Woe on us! The stars are disappearing!"
Turned out he was going blind.

willietheshakes: well, I trust that publishers still feel some kind of allegiance to The Literature, unlike them dirty peddlers! ;-)

gothicangel
10-12-2011, 05:43 PM
I think that anyone who worships before the altar of Amazon as the author's-best-friend are going to find themselves drinking from a poisoned chalice.

Personally, I never like typewriters, anyway. ;)

Namatu
10-12-2011, 06:08 PM
I think that anyone who worships before the altar of Amazon as the author's-best-friend are going to find themselves drinking from a poisoned chalice.This.

Amazon as distributor and publisher is a conflict of interest.


Personally, I never like typewriters, anyway. ;)I was fond of typewriters while they lasted, but modern day contraptions are so much more convenient! :D

Alitriona
10-12-2011, 06:23 PM
Personally, I never like typewriters, anyway. ;)

Very bizarre dream last night. I was being chased by the enormous cream and brown metal monstrosity that used to sit on the wide shelf at the end of my bed. My fingers ached after one page on that thing.

I don't miss typewriters.

gothicangel
10-12-2011, 06:32 PM
I don't miss typewriters.

I think because I was born in 1981, by the time I came to use them, it was the dawn of the internet age. I did have buy one once, it went straight back to the shop!

strictlytopsecret
10-12-2011, 06:35 PM
Maybe I'm missing something here. How is it a "conflict of interest" to distribute/directly sell a product a company has itself produced (or has hired someone else to produce)? How is this different than, say, an outlet or factory store (e.g., Nike store, J Crew Outlet) where a given company is selling its own wares?

~STS~

Phaeal
10-12-2011, 06:39 PM
I think that anyone who worships before the altar of Amazon as the author's-best-friend are going to find themselves drinking from a poisoned chalice.

Personally, I never like typewriters, anyway. ;)

Ack. I don't miss typewriters either. Not one little bit. Word processing beats sliced bread to soggy, gritty crumbs and then spits on the sad remains.

To paraphrase a favorite saying: Writers shouldn't fear their publishers -- publishers should fear their writers!

;)

kuwisdelu
10-12-2011, 06:41 PM
Because it's worked so well when cable providers/ISP's also became content providers...

Yes, I'm sure a book distributor becoming a publisher will work out great.

:sarcasm

jazzman99
10-12-2011, 06:41 PM
Meh, I'll get more worried if somebody on the level of Stephen King or George R. R. Martin or James Patterson--a name-brand author whose new releases actually get people into bookstores who otherwise don't go there regularly--suddenly makes all their books Amazon exclusives. And that's not happening for a long, long time, if ever. Marshall's book might be terrific (as celebrity memoirs go), but it's not likely to be a must-read for a lot of people.

Toothpaste
10-12-2011, 07:39 PM
Maybe I'm missing something here. How is it a "conflict of interest" to distribute/directly sell a product a company has itself produced (or has hired someone else to produce)? How is this different than, say, an outlet or factory store (e.g., Nike store, J Crew Outlet) where a given company is selling its own wares?

~STS~

Because a Nike store will only sell the Nike brand. Up until Amazon started as a publisher it was a store that sold everyone's brand. Books are promoted on Amazon either because they are selling very well, or the publishers have paid Amazon to promote the work.

What happens now that Amazon is publishing its own books? Do its own books now get choice placement above all the other products it promotes? Does this mean the competition (other publishers) will not even have a chance at promoting their stuff on Amazon if it would take the place of one of their books?

Amazon currently is one of the few places you can get books these days (especially with chains like Borders going under). If all the chains fail, then Amazon might become the go to place for books. And if Amazon has it's own imprint, will that mean that unless you are published with them, they won't advertise you?

These are questions worth asking. I'm not saying that Amazon has shown any sign of doing this, but monopolies are monopolies. And people let power get to their head.

However, on the other side, as a writer, if Amazon offered me a deal, and it was the best one on the table, of course I'd take it. The person in charge of their publishing division seems like he knows what he is doing, and the woman in charge of marketing was my old publicist at my former publisher, and I can tell you she was great. So they've gathered a quality team together. A team, I should point out, that likely has nothing to do with Amazon the store, and has little knowledge of the long term goals of Amazon the monopoly.

Manuel Royal
10-12-2011, 08:04 PM
Miss my typewriter. (Pictured in avatar.)

Don't want to sign a contract with Amazon.

kaitie
10-12-2011, 08:21 PM
This.

Amazon as distributor and publisher is a conflict of interest.

I was fond of typewriters while they lasted, but modern day contraptions are so much more convenient! :D

Not to mention the fact that they also do self-publishing. We've seen the backlash commercial publishers get when they start a self-publishing arm. Amazon already has practically a monopoly on self-publishing at the moment, but generally speaking it's considered a conflict of interest when a publisher offers both. It's met with an awful lot of skepticism.

Essentially, what makes this dangerous in my mind is that our (writers and readers) well-being is dependent on the people in charge of Amazon being benevolent. If Amazon is really concerned about writers and offering them a fair shake, and if they're really trying to reach a wider audience, and so on and so forth, then this could all be great. The thing is, I have a feeling that they're more concerned with their bottom line than authors or readers. Hell, the fact that they have such a wide reach implies that they can't be all that concerned.

My worry is that while this might look good now, once they're the only game in town (or have limited the competition) they can dictate prices and advances and royalties that are more beneficial to them. And considering their past, this seems like exactly what would happen.

We've seen them lower hardcover prices to ridiculously low, unprofitable for anyone else prices to screw people over. We've seen them sell kindles for less than they're worth to edge out the market on other ereaders. They're trying to do it now with the fire. They've intentionally priced hardcovers lower than ebooks to make readers angry over what they viewed as ebook prices that were "too high."

Amazon has been strong arming the industry for years now. And an awful lot of what they've done has shown no concern whatsoever for the authors (Macmillan anyone?). I guess what this comes down to for me is I don't trust them. I want to trust them, but I think history has shown it's probably better to take every move they make with a grain of salt.

strictlytopsecret
10-12-2011, 08:32 PM
Amazon currently is one of the few places you can get books these days (especially with chains like Borders going under).

Nah. There are plenty of places to buy books that have nothing to do with Amazon.com.

If Amazon-the-Publisher consistently and exclusively puts out low quality material, Amazon-the-Publisher will fail. People won't buy books from Amazon that they do not want to read. Especially not when other options are readily available.

On the other hand, if Amazon-the-Publisher is putting out high quality, easily accessible material produced by well-paid authors, they will thrive. Isn't that the goal of every publisher? Of every author?

If Amazon promotes their own brand/imprint over those of others (understandable), other publishers could drop Amazon altogether and instead elect to sell their books at their own website or via brick-and-mortar outlets. Bookstores and libraries aren't going to disappear because Amazon wants to try its hand in the publishing business.

Competition is a beautiful thing. If Amazon is paying their authors better than the Big 5, the Big 5 may need to change their strategies accordingly. Adding another publisher to the current mix holds a lot of promise. The more, the merrier.

Amazon is a for-profit company with its hand in more than just books. It is not in their best financial interest to annoy or inconvenience their customers (end consumers and publishers) to the point where those customers walk away to greener pastures, wallet in hand.

Whether Amazon-the-Publisher succeeds will hinge on whether they can manage to put out a quality product produced by well-paid authors. Bring it on, Amazon. Let's see what you've got.

~STS~

kaitie
10-12-2011, 08:33 PM
Meh, I'll get more worried if somebody on the level of Stephen King or George R. R. Martin or James Patterson--a name-brand author whose new releases actually get people into bookstores who otherwise don't go there regularly--suddenly makes all their books Amazon exclusives. And that's not happening for a long, long time, if ever. Marshall's book might be terrific (as celebrity memoirs go), but it's not likely to be a must-read for a lot of people.

I was talking to my boyfriend about this yesterday, and there are a lot of ways this can be potentially bad. Let's say, for instance, that rather than going after all of the really big Stephen Kings of the world, Amazon goes for the midlist.

Amazon is backed by a massive company making such huge profits that it can afford to take some pretty big hits if it benefits them in the long run. Publishing companies don't have quite the same degree of flexibility.

Let's say Amazon starts bidding on midlist authors, offering them thousands more than the big six can offer. How many authors, particularly midlist authors who don't make a ton, would turn them down? I don't even know 100% that I would. I want to, but if they offered me a lot of money and I could pay off my student loans and afford health insurance, it would be incredibly tempting. And I'm sure an awful lot of authors out there feel the same way.

So Amazon starts siphoning off authors by offering much bigger advances. Now whether or not they're able to really provide the same kind of quality product in this case, but let's say it happens. It's conceivable that in order to keep authors, publishers are going to be forced to start offering higher advances and higher royalties. If that's the case, they're taking more risk. The more risk they have to take, the more they're going to want to take that risk on known sellers that they think will be big.

In this kind of scenario, the whole situation could actually be a negative because it could force the other big publishers to take on fewer authors and to drop more new authors who don't sell big. This is already a problem, but it could be exacerbated. This could actually make it harder for a new author to get published (or stay published).

I'm not psychic so I can't say whether this will happen or not. I just see a lot of ways that this could be bad for authors in general.

Cyia
10-12-2011, 08:52 PM
It's the standard maneuver for a company squeezing out the competition. Lower the price, using your existing profits as a buffer, until the competition folds. Once the market's empty, then raise the price to whatever you want. Make the terms whatever you want.

Anytime you get into a situation where companies release devices that are touted as "XXX-killer" (As in the Fire is an iPad-killer, etc), they aren't looking for a cooperative or competitive market. They're cornering the market.

Amazon's great at surgical strikes against the competition because they've got the capital to pull it off.

strictlytopsecret
10-12-2011, 08:56 PM
If Amazon wants to hand me a Kindle for free, I'd probably consider buying a few songs or books from them. I'm definitely not planning to shell out $200 for one, though, especially given its stark limitations.

I'm sure the bean-counters @ Amazon have figured out average consumption per user will far offset any hits they are taking on the price of the consumption device.

I wonder how long it will be until educational textbooks move to an electronic-only format. Is that already happening?

I'm curious - anyone know with reasonable assurance just how much of a hit Amazon is taking on its consumption devices? ETA: looks like a little over ten bucks: http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/586544/201109301407/Amazon-Selling-Kindle-Fire-At-A-Loss.aspx

~STS~

Cyia
10-12-2011, 09:27 PM
Actually, kindles now cost $79, not $200, which significantly undercuts nook.

Fire is set to retail for $199, taking a swipe at iPad.

PrincessofPersia
10-12-2011, 09:45 PM
I wonder how long it will be until educational textbooks move to an electronic-only format. Is that already happening?

Yeah, it is. My ex-girlfriend's cousin is going through it. Her school handed out notebooks loaded with all her textbooks. The students don't have a single physical book.

strictlytopsecret
10-12-2011, 09:54 PM
Yeah, it is. My ex-girlfriend's cousin is going through it. Her school handed out notebooks loaded with all her textbooks. The students don't have a single physical book.

Interesting! Is this a high school (public or private?)? A college?

~STS~

Namatu
10-12-2011, 09:54 PM
And if Amazon has it's own imprint, will that mean that unless you are published with them, they won't advertise you?

These are questions worth asking. I'm not saying that Amazon has shown any sign of doing this, but monopolies are monopolies. And people let power get to their head.But aren't they doing this with the Kindle? You can only buy your ebooks through Amazon if you want to read them on the Kindle (unless you engage in a workaround). Maybe I'm wrong or that's changed. If it hasn't changed, then Amazon has, in essence, a trapped consumer audience in everyone who owns a Kindle.


I wonder how long it will be until educational textbooks move to an electronic-only format. Is that already happening? Textbooks now are largely available in both print and electronic format. Professors want the ebook option to offer to their students, but the vast majority of textbook sales are still in print. So students faced with the choice of buying a print or an etextbook are still largely choosing print. Ebooks and online platforms for classes will continue to grow, but print isn't going away from the classroom any time soon, though as PrincessofPersia's post attests, there may be some exceptions.

thothguard51
10-12-2011, 10:05 PM
Not everyone has online access...

Thus by publishing with Amazon, you limit your audience...IMHO.

Of course is the author does not care and only cares to see their name somewhere... then so be it. Who am I to complain if there is more room for my future books at the library or on book store shelves.

Toothpaste
10-12-2011, 10:19 PM
Of course is the author does not care and only cares to see their name somewhere... then so be it. Who am I to complain if there is more room for my future books at the library or on book store shelves.

As far as I know, the only reason an Amazon published book wouldn't appear on a bookstore shelf is because the bookstores don't want to help Amazon while it systematically undercuts them. But that might change, especially if more big name authors go with Amazon and those bookstores don't want to lose out on those sales. Libraries, as far as I know, don't have the same kind of horse in this race so I don't see why they wouldn't shelve Amazon books.

(btw, in case my post didn't make it clear, Amazon is planning on printing books too, not just distributing them as ebooks)

kaitie
10-12-2011, 10:26 PM
That's one of the questions I had asked. It makes sense for Amazon to make those books exclusive on certain levels (screws over the competition), but I'm not sure if that's actually the case. For all I know the hardcovers will be available anywhere. Does anyone know what their distribution on the print books is like?

thothguard51
10-12-2011, 10:26 PM
For small mom and pop operations, they have to have a return policy from the publisher. While Amazon has its own return policy, I doubt they will offer this for every writer they publish, or for every book store that wants to stock their books...

Its about economics for the small booksellers...

Namatu
10-12-2011, 10:29 PM
Return policies are a standard practice though. I can't imagine they wouldn't have some kind of return policy for the print books they publish.

thothguard51
10-12-2011, 10:37 PM
Return policies are a standard practice though. I can't imagine they wouldn't have some kind of return policy for the print books they publish.

If Amazon is doing mass runs, they perhaps they will have a standard return policy.

But if Amazon continues to do Print on Demand runs, they more than likely will not. Besides, unless the return policy specifies the whole book, all they are going to get back is a cover torn off for credits. That makes for a very expensive Operation if its PoD...

ios
10-12-2011, 10:53 PM
I feel like this is all a plot of Amazon's to dominate the publishing field and put everyone else out of business so they can make more money. Conspiracy theoryish? Maybe, but seriously.

I don't think Amazon can do it. Rather, I hope it will be a good thing. In general, I see new competition amongst big business as beneficial to others, in this case, from readers to writers to even employees.


I'm just looking to see what everyone else's opinions are on this. I'm also curious--if Amazon offered you a deal would you take it?

Not sure. I'd have to look it over and if I had the money, I'd probably have a lawyer look it over too. But if what I hear is true--that the contracted book's ebooks can only be sold on their site--then I don't know. Maybe if I had a one-off book, just to increase exposure, but not a good thing for every book.

Jodi

kaitie
10-12-2011, 10:53 PM
It sounds like they're talking mass print runs. That was the impression I was under, anyway.

PrincessofPersia
10-12-2011, 10:55 PM
Interesting! Is this a high school (public or private?)? A college?

~STS~

It's a public high school. Colleges still require you to pay 500 bucks for books. :D

Bubastes
10-12-2011, 10:57 PM
I wonder how far things will go before antitrust law kicks in?

kaitie
10-12-2011, 10:59 PM
I don't think Amazon can do it. Rather, I hope it will be a good thing. In general, I see new competition amongst big business as beneficial to others, in this case, from readers to writers to even employees.



Jodi

The problem here is that this isn't fair competition. This isn't people on about the same level playing the same game. Amazon has massive amounts of capital from all of the other ventures they're undertaking. They can afford to offer goods and make deals at rates that vastly undercut the competition in order to eliminate it. In much the same way Wal-mart moving into an area kills all of the local businesses, you have a corporation that is so huge and powerful with enough wealth to intentionally undercut the competition.

The less competition there is, the better for Amazon. They get a bigger share of the market. Healthy competition is a good thing, and in the short run this could have a few benefits to authors (better royalties, better advances, etc.), but long-term this could cause massive problems. We could start seeing more publishers go under, or unwilling to take risks on unknowns. Amazon could get a big enough piece of the cake that they are then able to change their policies so that instead of losing money, they're making a fortune--which would be at the author's expense.

There's a reason why monopolies are illegal.

kaitie
10-12-2011, 11:02 PM
I wonder how far things will go before antitrust law kicks in?

See, I've wondered this as well. Now, it seems like a lot of massive companies are breaking antitrust laws and getting away with it at the moment (Monsanto, anyone?) so I'm not sure what it would take to get it prosecuted, but I've actually posed this question to people before and been told that Amazon would be very hard to prosecute because of the online nature of the business. I have no idea if that's true or not, but has anything like that ever been done?

Namatu
10-12-2011, 11:30 PM
I wonder how far things will go before antitrust law kicks in?I've been wondering the same.

CrastersBabies
10-12-2011, 11:40 PM
I feel like until Amazon finds a way to give me more accurate book/title ratings, I have no desire to wade through 2 million entries of ebooks from people who get all off their friends to post about "how amazing" the book is.

It seems like it's saturating the market and in the long run, I do believe that readers will simply stop accepting crap that just anyone can publish online.

But, who knows.

strictlytopsecret
10-12-2011, 11:47 PM
For Amazon to have a monopoly, they'd have to be the only game in town. They aren't. Not by a long shot.

What constitutes 'unfair competition' in the publishing/book selling arena?

If the criteria for "unfair competition" in the publishing industry is a company which both publishes AND sells directly to the public, then RandomHouse, Penguin, and many other publishers are also competing "unfairly".

Why demonize actual publishing competition (i.e., those with enough financial backing to make it count)? If the only "fair" competition for existing HUGE publishing houses are tiny presses with tiny distribution capacity, that's really no competition at all.

~STS~

kaitie
10-12-2011, 11:48 PM
Well this is beyond CreateSpace. This is Amazon working as an actual, advance paying commercial publisher and doing everything a commercial publisher would do. They're trying to branch beyond the self-publishing market.

thothguard51
10-13-2011, 12:11 AM
It sounds like they're talking mass print runs. That was the impression I was under, anyway.

The article does not say they are doing mass runs. What the article states...

"to make this book available to any retailer that would like to carry it in physical or digital format."

PA, Lulu, and even Createspace can make a book available to any retailer who would like a copy. This does not sound like mass run marketing to me...

The mass market run for Penny Marshals book might make sense, but I doubt seriously that Amazon is going to do Mass Market runs for every author it signs. This would require them to be selective...you know, just like a real commercial publisher.

I am wondering about editing and cover designs...

Edited to add...Does anyone have a link to Amazons publishing new SF&F imprint? I would be interested in what they have to say, especially about editing and submissions.

strictlytopsecret
10-13-2011, 12:21 AM
It's a public high school. Colleges still require you to pay 500 bucks for books. :D

Thanks for the heads up!

I'm betting there is HUGE money for a company that can provide both reasonably priced content and a reasonably priced media consumption device for public school students. One stop curriculum shopping at a deep discount.


If a public school is finding it more fiscally wise to provide every kid with a laptop (and digital versions of textbooks) than to purchase print media for those same students, big change must be on the horizon for that segment of the publishing industry.

~STS~

PrincessofPersia
10-13-2011, 01:17 AM
If a public school is finding it more fiscally wise to provide every kid with a laptop (and digital versions of textbooks) than to purchase print media for those same students, big change must be on the horizon for that segment of the publishing industry.

~STS~

This could probably be split into its own thread. But, her school isn't the only one doing it. There are a number of them around here, both private and public.

And at my university, you didn't have to purchase the physical texts if you could find them online. I saved a boatload of money by reading my books online. I majored in English, and most of the novels we read were in the public domain and easily found.

Toothpaste
10-13-2011, 01:36 AM
For Amazon to have a monopoly, they'd have to be the only game in town. They aren't. Not by a long shot.

What constitutes 'unfair competition' in the publishing/book selling arena?

If the criteria for "unfair competition" in the publishing industry is a company which both publishes AND sells directly to the public, then RandomHouse, Penguin, and many other publishers are also competing "unfairly".

Why demonize actual publishing competition (i.e., those with enough financial backing to make it count)? If the only "fair" competition for existing HUGE publishing houses are tiny presses with tiny distribution capacity, that's really no competition at all.

~STS~


No, I think you misunderstand the concern. The concern is not for what is, but what could be.

At the moment, I don't see anything wrong going on. And I already said I'd accept a deal with Amazon the publisher. But I can speculate. I can worry. After all, this is an entity that just decided in one fell swoop to de-list any title that had gay/lesbian references as "porn". Ditto anything about sex-ed.

However, as you say, the public has a great deal of control, and the moment that happened, after a fierce Twitter campaign, that decision was overturned by the people.

So that's a good thing.

Still, that incident shows the power Amazon has. It can make decisions over what books are available and how, and it requires a massive outcry by a lot of people to change it. You say there will always be competition, but if bookstores continue to fold (not because of Amazon, but because of ebooks, which Amazon sells), and there become fewer venues to buy books, there will be less. If let's say the Kindle someday becomes the go to device for book reading, like Blu-Ray is the go to device for playing HD movies at home, then that means all ebooks will have to come from Amazon and so on and so on.

Now I'm not saying this is where we WILL go. I'm just saying it is a possibility of where we MAY go, and that that is something to be wary of. I think it's important for us to keep a close watch on what's going, and to try to take preventative measures if we have to.

But right now, this very moment, no. They don't have a monopoly. Here's hoping they never do.

Torgo
10-13-2011, 01:46 AM
If all books come via Amazon, we're all screwed. Because they're a middleman, they get to be both a monopoly (they're the only place readers can buy books) and a monopsony (they're the only buyer for authors and publishers) - and the net result of all that is that they can squeeze everyone as hard as they like on terms and prices.

Right now, it's in Amazon's interest to sell ebooks cheaply (to increase Kindle's market share), squeeze publishers on terms (to maintain/increase their profit margin) and to offer attractive terms to authors as a publisher in its own right (to take a share of the publishing as well as the retail/distribution end). These things could change at any time.

willietheshakes
10-13-2011, 02:24 AM
willietheshakes: well, I trust that publishers still feel some kind of allegiance to The Literature, unlike them dirty peddlers! ;-)

"Allegiance to The Literature" and profit motive aren't mutually exclusive, but you're living in a fool's paradise if you think publishers aren't in this to profit...

gothicangel
10-13-2011, 10:48 AM
There is an inquiry into Amazon's purchase of the Book Depository by the OFT [UK]. A decision is due 24 October.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/oft-decision-amazon-merger-due-late-october.html

goldmund
10-13-2011, 12:13 PM
"Allegiance to The Literature" and profit motive aren't mutually exclusive, but you're living in a fool's paradise if you think publishers aren't in this to profit...

Sure, they want to give their kids something to eat like the rest of us.
But don't you think that when you have a respectable name as a publisher you'd feel a bit stupid putting out a 2938234th clone of Twilight? Whereas a huge warehouse doesn't have to worry about it's brand image save for customer support.

Namatu
10-13-2011, 04:35 PM
But don't you think that when you have a respectable name as a publisher you'd feel a bit stupid putting out a 2938234th clone of Twilight? Whereas a huge warehouse doesn't have to worry about it's brand image save for customer support.Depends on the publisher and the types of books in their catalog. If they publish YA paranormal and a book has the potential to sell to that market, what's stupid about it? It doesn't undermine "The Literature." More "literary" novels will also continue to be published because of a demand in the marketplace. One doesn't have to undermine the other, or make the publisher look stupid. It's not about The Literature. It's about what the publisher thinks will sell and make everyone some money.

Soccer Mom
10-13-2011, 05:21 PM
"Allegiance to The Literature" and profit motive aren't mutually exclusive, but you're living in a fool's paradise if you think publishers aren't in this to profit...

This. Any publisher which doesn't pay attention to profit will fail. Publishing is a business.

richcapo
10-13-2011, 05:31 PM
Typewriters? Seriously? The advantages of modern word processing beat the heck out of those things. I'm constantly editing, revising, inserting new chapters, taking out old chapters, and so on -- pain in the ass on a type writer.

Might as well be carving my manuscript into stone.

richcapo
10-13-2011, 05:41 PM
As for Amazon: Sure it'd be great to see my book in all sorts of stores, but it'd be more great if I got published first, so I'd suck it up and sign with Amazon if I had to. Who am I Stephen King? No, I'm some nobody who writes too many pages of insane sex, rapists gods, and children getting mauled -- whose chances of getting published are slim to none in other words.

I'll take what I can get and bitch about it afterwards. I have my family to feed and my masculinity to regain.

One positive about the Amazon thing: Might light a fire under other publishers' assess to bring more new blood into the game. I'd sure like that.

Amadan
10-13-2011, 06:22 PM
I was talking to my boyfriend about this yesterday, and there are a lot of ways this can be potentially bad. Let's say, for instance, that rather than going after all of the really big Stephen Kings of the world, Amazon goes for the midlist.


Wow, that would be awful -- a publisher promoting midlist authors instead of exclusively focusing on bestsellers.

Seriously, I am not a huge fan of Amazon, but the concerns in this thread range from overheated to ridiculous. Publishers only concerned about making a profit? Say it isn't so! "Conflict of interest"? Umm, no, not in the way that phrase is used in the world of Earth-logic.

"Monopoly"? No, not in any legal sense. Amazon has plenty of competition. It's the biggest player in town, yes, but when you have a giant in an industry that is constantly trying to increase its market share, that's not inherently monopolistic.

Most of the concerns seem to boil down to: "What if Amazon is wildly successful, becomes the only publisher in the universe, and then turns EVIL and destroys all books forever?!?!"

This is very unlikely, not because I think Amazon is good and noble and has the best interests of the publishing industry at heart, but because nobody can completely dominate publishing the way you are imagining, and some of your worst-case scenarios make no sense from a business sense. Even if Amazon became much bigger than it is, it's never, ever going to be the only publisher or even the only big publisher. It could possibly become the biggest publisher (I think that's unlikely) but that wouldn't mean it's a monoply or has no competition or that writers can't go anywhere else and readers will have no choice but to buy from Amazon.

Yes, any big player bears watching for the impact its actions can have on the industry. But people have been saying stuff like this about Microsoft for years. At one point, Microsoft was going to rule the world and destroy all non-Windows computers. And it's still a huge player and dominates the market and that has a huge impact, and sometimes a negative one, and yet other operating systems and other software companies have not gone away.

gothicangel
10-13-2011, 06:36 PM
I'll take what I can get and bitch about it afterwards. I have my family to feed and my masculinity to regain.



Which your publisher is going to love you for. Publishing is a small industry, and talks . . . to everyone.

Mr Flibble
10-13-2011, 06:51 PM
"What if Amazon is wildly successful, becomes the only publisher in the universe, and then turns EVIL and destroys all books forever?!?!"



Then the Terminator will be an author, not a robot! Kewl.

I think the situation bears watching. I also think it's waaaay to early to tell anything.

Namatu
10-13-2011, 06:55 PM
Then the Terminator will be an author, not a robot! Kewl. A robot author? Can we have one of those? http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sw003.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)

willietheshakes
10-13-2011, 06:59 PM
Sure, they want to give their kids something to eat like the rest of us.
But don't you think that when you have a respectable name as a publisher you'd feel a bit stupid putting out a 2938234th clone of Twilight? Whereas a huge warehouse doesn't have to worry about it's brand image save for customer support.

You're really not familiar with how publishing works, are you?

goldmund
10-13-2011, 08:11 PM
You're really not familiar with how publishing works, are you?

True. :-(

After having 4 books published, being interviewed several times on the national TV and having reviews in all the major papers in my country, I really need you to explain it all to me. I came to AW in need. I knew that only willietheshakes can help me in my misguided career.

If only you could distribute your expertise more generously, in bigger crumbs than the sentence above...

Soccer Mom
10-13-2011, 08:18 PM
Stop it right now. RYFW or go elsewhere.

richcapo
10-13-2011, 09:34 PM
Which your publisher is going to love you for. Publishing is a small industry, and talks . . . to everyone.It was sarcasm, my friend. Having a laugh.

kaitie
10-13-2011, 09:36 PM
I'm not meaning to imply that publishers aren't in it for a profit, or even that there aren't concerns with other publishers. I am a little concerned in this regard, though, and think there are enough elements to make it potentially worrisome.

Amadan, I'm not trying to say it's going to be all doomsday and evil. What I'm saying is that there are various things that could come of this that aren't good or beneficial and that makes me nervous. Amazon in particular makes me nervous because we've already seen such major shakeups in the past as they try to wield an extraordinary level of control on the publishing industry. And I still stand by what I say--no one business should have that kind of power.

And again, if any major publisher suddenly decided to open a self-publishing (well, vanity) line, it would be hotly debated here. A lot of people would say it was a conflict of interest and a potential problem. Amazon is essentially doing the opposite, but shouldn't that still be up for debate?

The other questions I've asked were legit things I'd want to know about anyone--what level of quality do they have, how are they distributing, what do other industry professionals think of the situation (if anything)?

Yes I'm using extreme examples, but I haven't boycotted Amazon yet. I haven't even said 100% that I would turn down a contract, even though I'd like to think I would. I just feel that the "Everything's fine and you shouldn't worry about it because it's all good for us" is worthy of debate. And I still think it's worthy of debate.

If other people think I'm being irrational or alarmist or whatever then we don't have to have the discussion, but I guess I just see it as important.

Williebee
10-13-2011, 09:52 PM
Caution is rarely irrational.

Amadan
10-13-2011, 10:00 PM
And again, if any major publisher suddenly decided to open a self-publishing (well, vanity) line, it would be hotly debated here. A lot of people would say it was a conflict of interest and a potential problem. Amazon is essentially doing the opposite, but shouldn't that still be up for debate?


Maybe I am being pedantic here, but the "conflict of interest" argument is what bugs me the most because it's just abusing the term. If I sell something that other people make, and then I decide I am also going to manufacture that product myself and sell it, that is not a conflict of interest. I'm not an agent for the other manufacturers representing their interests, I am just a wholesale customer and they can choose to deal with me or not. Likewise, if I then decide to stop selling anything that I didn't make myself, it's not a conflict of interest. It may cause harm to those other guys because rather than buying from them, I'm now in competition with them, but it's not a conflict of interest because I had no obligation to look out for their interests.

Since a conflict of interest implies unethical if not illegal business practices, I find it annoying to see that term tossed around as if debating whether or not Amazon's move is wise and/or potentially harmful to the industry needs an extra dose of overreaction.

Now, trying to monopolize the industry would certainly be harmful and possibly unethical and/or illegal, but a bookseller deciding to open up a publishing line isn't inherently a bad and evil thing.

gothicangel
10-13-2011, 10:19 PM
It was sarcasm, my friend. Having a laugh.

The internet isn't the best medium for conveying such idiosyncracies.

richcapo
10-13-2011, 10:34 PM
Correct. It's not a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is when a public defender is on the DA's payroll, or when a surgeon works for an organ swapper. Or when we Stone Cutters preach universal harmony while conspiring to bring about a fascist New World Order.

(It's coming, people ... and then you'll HAVE to publish my fiction, damn it!)

Amazon starting a publishing line isn't a conflict of anything -- no more than Safeway selling Apple & Eve side by side with its own brand of juice is, which it isn't.

richcapo
10-13-2011, 10:37 PM
The internet isn't the best medium for conveying such idiosyncracies.So mote it be.

kaitie
10-13-2011, 10:43 PM
It's a potential conflict of interest. Let's say a publisher rejects people and then sends them to their vanity publishing arm. That's a problem.

Essentially, the publisher stands to benefit from people going to their self-publishing branch and paying to be published. I know with Create Space you can do it for free, but they also have payment options, and Amazon makes money from any books sold. The publisher can benefit from rejecting people and then encouraging them to use the self-publishing arm to make money.

That's a potential conflict. When Harlequin announced a self-publishing branch, people were up in arms over it (to the point that they had to change the name of the branch).

Now, maybe Amazon is going to be perfectly ethical about the situation and there will be no problems, but the reason other professions have ethics clauses is to prevent anything from becoming a conflict before it has the chance.

Is there a conflict of interest in being a major bookseller as well as publisher? Perhaps. We've never really seen anything like this done on this scale before so it's impossible to tell. Yes, Random House sells books (Interestingly, they have links for other sellers at the same location), but they're only selling their books.

Here's a potential conflict: Amazon makes more money selling their own books. They don't have to take a discount and can thus make more profit on a book that they've sold themselves rather than books that are published by others. Amazon starts publishing their own books and can discount them or put them in special promotions or make sure that the "Also bought" lists are mostly other Amazon books. Is that illegal or wrong? I don't know, but it would strike me as potentially unethical.

Similarly, Amazon could refuse to sell their books to any other seller, making themselves the only alternative. I'm not sure if that's legal or not, either, but it's also potentially unethical in my book.

There is a reason why authors are told to be cautious about any publisher that has a self-publishing arm and a commercial publishing arm. There are reasons we're told to be on the look out for potential conflicts. I personally think these things should be considered.

As far as I'm aware, there hasn't been anything quite like this in publishing before, and I think we're better off looking at ramifications than just dismissing them. It's not inherently bad or evil. It does have the potential to cause problems.

And considering some of Amazon's actions in the past, I don't particularly trust them.

I feel like I'm repeating myself so I'm just gonna stop.

kaitie
10-13-2011, 10:45 PM
Amazon starting a publishing line isn't a conflict of anything -- no more than Safeway selling Apple & Eve side by side with its own brand of juice is, which it isn't.

Amazon already has self-publishing services. They are now offering commercial publishing alternatives. That alone is a potential conflict. I'm not sure why people are overlooking that. Amazon is much more than a bookseller already.

Torgo
10-13-2011, 11:17 PM
Amazon starting a publishing line isn't a conflict of anything -- no more than Safeway selling Apple & Eve side by side with its own brand of juice is, which it isn't.

Judging by my admittedly folk understanding of economics, it's a problem to the extent that Amazon is powerful. In the UK, Amazon is overwhelmingly dominant in ebooks; we don't even have the countervailing effect of B&N over here, as Waterstones is a basket case when it comes to digital. So to take your example it's like there's a supermarket with 90% share of the juice market, and thus you get all the potential problems related to a monopoly. Juice suppliers get, ha, squeezed because the supermarket can dictate terms; if the supermarket introduces their own-brand juice, the other suppliers get put out of business or restricted to specialist niches in the market. And the consumer ends up with shitty OJ, because there isn't the competitive incentive to make the product better.

The analogy isn't really perfect because books aren't a commodity - even in a single marketplace you can still get authors competing against each other to sell better and more varied products. But then with only one buyer for authors' books, it's easy for Amazon to cut advances and royalties to the bone, because nobody is in a position to offer them better terms.

kaitie
10-13-2011, 11:27 PM
Also, what's the term for what Wal-mart does? While not a monopoly in the strictest sense, they buy products to sell at extremely reduced rates that are not competitive for others and are thus able to sell their goods for less. It's related to monopoly but different.

richcapo
10-13-2011, 11:34 PM
Also, what's the term for what Wal-mart does?Excellent business.

Torgo
10-13-2011, 11:34 PM
Also, what's the term for what Wal-mart does? While not a monopoly in the strictest sense, they buy products to sell at extremely reduced rates that are not competitive for others and are thus able to sell their goods for less. It's related to monopoly but different.

Loss leader? What Amazon do with Kindle and ebook pricing - price stuff at a loss to increase their market share.

A monopsony is where you're the only buyer of a product, so you can screw the supplier (as opposed to a monopoly where you're the only seller, so you can screw the customers.)

richcapo
10-13-2011, 11:35 PM
The analogy isn't really perfect because books aren't a commodity - even in a single marketplace you can still get authors competing against each other to sell better and more varied products. But then with only one buyer for authors' books, it's easy for Amazon to cut advances and royalties to the bone, because nobody is in a position to offer them better terms.Still not a conflict of interest.

Torgo
10-13-2011, 11:37 PM
Still not a conflict of interest.

I can't see how it is, either. I can see how it's a conflict of interest if an agent becomes a publisher, though.

goldmund
10-13-2011, 11:41 PM
But then with only one buyer for authors' books, it's easy for Amazon to cut advances and royalties to the bone, because nobody is in a position to offer them better terms.

On the other hand, when they cut advances and royalties, what would stop another company from making a better offer, thus luring the best authors to them in turn?

It's not like you need a nuclear reactor to sell ebooks.

kaitie
10-13-2011, 11:44 PM
Yeah, I think monopsony is the one I was thinking of.

kaitie
10-13-2011, 11:46 PM
On the other hand, when they cut advances and royalties, what would stop another company from making a better offer, thus luring the best authors to them in turn?

It's not like you need a nuclear reactor to sell ebooks.

I think the point is that if they are able to put others out of business with predatory tactics, then there won't be anyone there to do so. Sure you could see startups or the few businesses left standing trying to recover at that point, but the idea is that once you have a monopoly they can do what they want because there is no other company to make a better offer.

Again, I'm not saying Amazon is guaranteed to put other publishers out of business. I'm saying that I think they're trying and if they succeeded that's not good for anyone (unless you've invested in Amazon).

Torgo
10-13-2011, 11:47 PM
On the other hand, when they cut advances and royalties, what would stop another company from making a better offer, thus luring the best authors to them in turn?

It's not like you need a nuclear reactor to sell ebooks.

But you need a distribution network. Amazon has massive hardware penetration (fnarr) - their readers are already in millions of pockets - and thus a massive market share in ebooks. You are forced to go through Amazon to sell your book if you want to make any real money in that market.

So what would stop another company making a better offer is: Amazon get to dictate terms to their suppliers. So the suppliers end up selling their books to Amazon at a massive discount. And that eats up a lot of the margin that they could be passing on to the author to entice them to come to them in the first place.

gothicangel
10-14-2011, 12:06 AM
Excellent business.

Capitalism/consumerism at its most violent and aggressive.

strictlytopsecret
10-14-2011, 12:09 AM
I suspect there is a *major* disconnect regarding the phrase "conflict of interest" going on in this thread.

The OP seems deeply concerned that Amazon's foray into (traditional?) publishing will be detrimental for authors and/or the public in general in some way. Though "conflict of interest" probably wasn't the best phrasing, maybe moving past the verbiage to discuss the crux of her concern would be fruitful.

It sounds like the crux of the OPs concern is that Amazon, by its very nature (i.e., financially well endowed bookseller/business), may at some point be in a position to unethically or illegally "stick it" to authors, to competing publishers or to the general public if it succeeds in publishing.

On a side note: does Amazon sell *anything* of its own making besides their Kindle products (and self-published Kindle books)? It seems like Amazon selling its own "brand" of books is the equivalent of Sears selling its own brand (e.g., Kenmore, Craftsman) in its stores alongside competing brands.

~STS~

richcapo
10-14-2011, 12:18 AM
Capitalism/consumerism at its most violent and aggressive.Like when the Brits raped Burma for its rubber trees?

Sorry, don't see it.

richcapo
10-14-2011, 01:29 AM
Stop it right now. RYFW or go elsewhere.What does RYFW mean and who was it addressed to? If it means something bad, I hope it wasn't addressed to me. Sorry if I offended you in any way.

Namatu
10-14-2011, 01:43 AM
What does RYFW mean and who was it addressed to?Respect your fellow writer.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-14-2011, 01:54 AM
They are recruiting hard it seems. It will be interesting to see where this leads.
Perhaps one of the bigger IT players will work out a nifty way to make piracy a lot harder. It could change the game for the better for all. Heck, we can dream can't we.

gothicangel
10-14-2011, 02:09 AM
Like when the Brits raped Burma for its rubber trees?

Sorry, don't see it.

I really don't think you ought to start playing those games. Kettle. Black.

richcapo
10-14-2011, 02:22 AM
I really don't think you ought to start playing those games. Kettle. Black.Don't follow you, sorry. You seem to be getting a bit hot under the collar, though, so I'm saying good day for now.

Be well.

richcapo
10-14-2011, 02:23 AM
Respect your fellow writer.Thanks.

Namatu
10-14-2011, 02:55 AM
Posting link (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111012/09100416324/does-amazon-want-to-monopolize-entire-publishing-chain.shtml)because it's discussion related.

kaitie
10-14-2011, 07:45 AM
I just had to quote this from that link. It both made me giggle and makes me say, "So true it's not really funny."


Above all, the trade publishing houses seem to lack Amazon's ambition: it looks like it doesn't just want to make money from the entire publishing chain, it wants be the entire publishing chain.

Momento Mori
10-14-2011, 01:54 PM
Amadan:
"Monopoly"? No, not in any legal sense. Amazon has plenty of competition. It's the biggest player in town, yes, but when you have a giant in an industry that is constantly trying to increase its market share, that's not inherently monopolistic.

I agree in that I don't think that Amazon is or will be a monopoly in terms of being an on-line retailer. However, so far as the European market is concerned, it is rapidly becoming the dominant on-line retailer for books and other sources of merchandise. When you add the fact that they are now going into publishing in a big way, then sooner or later the competition authorities are going to want to know what the terms of supply are as regards those publishing activities and whether Amazon's retailing arm is getting a better deal than other on-line or bricks and mortar retailers. That's when you start getting into anti-competitive behaviour and that's what will trip them up if they are not careful (although I am quite sure that Amazon has a horde of competition lawyers pouring over this to make sure it doesn't happen).

What interests me is that it's offering physical books in addition to electronic. I'm wondering if companies like Waterstones in the UK will look to stick it hard with discounting in the same way Amazon's been doing to other publishers.

MM

Old Hack
10-14-2011, 05:25 PM
This is good for authors.

It is troubling that the world's largest bookseller/distributor is now becoming a major player in the publishing game, but better contract terms for authors is something I can't complain about.

Just because Amazon is offering high advances and/or royalties doesn't automatically mean that they're offering better contracts. This is a dangerous attitude to take.


The other publishing houses, to stay in the business, might have to raise the royalties, too. And let's be honest, the cut that the authors got so far is ridiculous. Compare it with how much a screenwriter gets for one script.

The screenwriting business is not the same as the publishing business: you can't reasonably compare the two like this. And if you consider how much publishers invest in preparing a book for publication and promoting, distributing and selling that book, you might consider the author's cut a little more fair.


Amazon has been strong arming the industry for years now. And an awful lot of what they've done has shown no concern whatsoever for the authors (Macmillan anyone?). I guess what this comes down to for me is I don't trust them. I want to trust them, but I think history has shown it's probably better to take every move they make with a grain of salt.

I think you're right to be suspicious, Kaitie. You're not alone.


No, I think you misunderstand the concern. The concern is not for what is, but what could be ... After all, this is an entity that just decided in one fell swoop to de-list any title that had gay/lesbian references as "porn". Ditto anything about sex-ed.

Yep. And the entity which tried to make all POD publishers print any books sold through Amazon through Amazon's POD presses. Controlling, much?


I suspect there is a *major* disconnect regarding the phrase "conflict of interest" going on in this thread.

~STS~

I agree. The issue under discussion here is Amazon, and whether its spread into trade publishing is a good thing or not. Let's try to remember that.


What interests me is that it's offering physical books in addition to electronic. I'm wondering if companies like Waterstones in the UK will look to stick it hard with discounting in the same way Amazon's been doing to other publishers.

MM

I will be watching that with great interest.

And just in case I've not made my feelings clear, I am very concerned by Amazon's move into trade publishing. It's spreading its tentacles into every side of the book publishing and book selling business, and I don't think that in the long run that's going to be healthy for readers or authors. There are so many potential problems here that I'm not even going to begin to list them (and many of them have already been discussed in-thread already).

As others have already stated, Amazon is a business. It's not in this to publish wonderful books: it's in the business to make money. Despite what many people believe, most publishers I know are budget-bound but still go out of their way to bring the very best books that they can to the market. If Amazon can carry that sentiment into their trade publishing deals I'll be happier--but I'll also be very surprised.

ios
10-14-2011, 11:28 PM
One positive about the Amazon thing: Might light a fire under other publishers' assess to bring more new blood into the game. I'd sure like that.

That would be a wonderful benefit: new blood, new voices. I haven't bought anything but Jim Butcher off the shelves in a while (and it has been a while), and I used to buy about 5 fantasy books a pop when I went to B&N.

Jodi

thothguard51
10-15-2011, 03:05 AM
One of my concerns with the Amazon = publisher is the terms of any agreement, especially since they can keep a book in print or e-book available forever.

I would also like to see how selective Amazon is going to be before I would consider signing with them. We all know anyone can self publish on kindle or Createspace, talent be damned. But if Amazon is going to get books into bookstores, I think they are going to have to be selective. Bookstores are not going to just stock their shelves with anything Amazon throws at them, IMO...

Does anyone recall where Amazon stood during the whole Google Books settlement lawsuit?

Old Hack
10-15-2011, 10:48 AM
I don't remember, I'm afraid. But I would advise anyone signing up with Amazon's trade publishing arm to make sure that they have a very good agent representing them if they want to get a decent contract out of it.

kaitie
10-17-2011, 08:18 PM
Here (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/technology/amazon-rewrites-the-rules-of-book-publishing.html?_r=3)'s a new article on the topic I found linked on Nathan's blog this morning.

Torgo
10-17-2011, 08:37 PM
One positive about the Amazon thing: Might light a fire under other publishers' assess to bring more new blood into the game. I'd sure like that.

Anecdotally, the children's fiction team here's acquired about six debut novels over the last six months. The picture books team, probably more.

We're constantly bringing new blood in, and we never get any credit for it. As ever. You buy ONE book by Katie Price, though, and watch the 7-page threads spring up... (You know that old joke about the guy who gets no respect in his village?)

strictlytopsecret
10-17-2011, 08:47 PM
Here (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/technology/amazon-rewrites-the-rules-of-book-publishing.html?_r=3)'s a new article on the topic I found linked on Nathan's blog this morning.

Great article.

Loved the following quote from it:

“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”

~STS~

Torgo
10-17-2011, 08:57 PM
“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,”

Enjoy your brave new world, people! Don't come crying to me when it isn't quite what you expected...

Phaeal
10-17-2011, 10:01 PM
:Soapbox:

What I took away from the NYT article:

If ONE MORE PERSON publishes a book titled "The Blankety-Blank's Daughter (Wife/Mother/Aunt/Other Female Relation)," I'm going to...to...well, I'll think of something. Or I'll ask my father/brother/uncle/son.

If Jane Austen were alive today, I guess we'd be reading, "Mr. Woodhouse's Daughter" instead of "Emma." Or, even better, "The Annoying Old Invalid's Daughter."

:Soapbox: off.

Hmm, what? Amazon? Just keep following Mulder's Law: "Trust no one." The ethics of running commercial and self-publishing concerns side by side do deserve some examination.

Old Hack
10-17-2011, 10:23 PM
Anecdotally, the children's fiction team here's acquired about six debut novels over the last six months. The picture books team, probably more.

We're constantly bringing new blood in, and we never get any credit for it. As ever. You buy ONE book by Katie Price, though, and watch the 7-page threads spring up... (You know that old joke about the guy who gets no respect in his village?)

I know. It is so frustrating.



“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”

Empty rhetoric. Again, frustrating.

kaitie
10-17-2011, 10:31 PM
Agreeing on empty rhetoric. I could go into why but I'm working on a migraine right now and functioning is limited.

In any case, it brought up some new interesting facts I hadn't been aware of, none of which made me feel any better about it.

Did anyone else think it very odd that Amazon had a non-disclosure clause in their contract? Or that they won't discuss how many editors they have or how many books they're planning to release? Or that the self-published person Amazon picked up wasn't paid an advance?

Should we take that to mean the advances are only offered to the people big enough to justify luring away from their publisher? I think considering most of us are in the low ranks, it's worth paying attention to that little detail.

Final thought: I also find it very interesting that Amazon was picking up self-publishers. I guess the idea is that if the self-published person does well enough Amazon is considering offering them a "real" contract and editing services and what not.

Here's my question (not that it can be answered because of that pesky non-disclosure clause): If a person makes 70% of profits on a book and Amazon gets 30% when they self-publish, and then Amazon is able to go and pick off those people who are succeeding and selling better, is Amazon then getting a higher percentage of the cut? Let's say, oh, 75% (didn't the contract just signed agree to 25% royalties for the author?), isn't that something authors should be seriously looking into and considering?

James D. Macdonald
10-18-2011, 12:00 AM
A monopoly only benefits the monopolist.

Charlie and Candy Mountain (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5im0Ssyyus) is still a great metaphor.

Manuel Royal
10-18-2011, 03:15 AM
Great article.

Loved the following quote from it:

“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”

~STS~Those are the only two people necessary, unless the reader likes his books properly edited, with some assurance of professional quality before he buys. I kind of like that.

bearilou
10-19-2011, 11:16 PM
Of the entire discussion, and some very good points raised, this is what sticks out in my head the clearest.


And considering some of Amazon's actions in the past, I don't particularly trust them.

Indeed. They've pulled some seriously bone-headed decisions, decisions that had gone on to cause quite the stir.

I am skeptical, will continue to be so and will wait patiently to see the 'quality' of product they provide. Considering we know nothing of their editing staff and their qualifications or their process or if there is even a process... :Shrug:

kaitie
10-19-2011, 11:48 PM
That's part of what makes me uncertain. They aren't releasing any information about any of that, including the number of editors that they have. It also sounds like they've ramped up production to be considered on par with other publishers. I'd like to see the quality they are able to provide.

speakinghands
10-20-2011, 11:45 AM
It's not like Nike stores where they sell their own Nike sneakers or the grocery store selling its own cheap generic apple juice. Books are not just physical or consumptive items; they also contain information and ideas.

I'm up absurdly late so I hope I articulate this okay, but where this is potentially scary is... it's like what happened with news in the nineties. During Clinton's/Gingrich's tenure, the law forbidding companies from owning different types of media was overturned. The piss-poor echo chamber we have today - where news items are commonly ignored or made up to suit particular political agendas - is largely a result of that. News outlets don't have to be nearly as careful because there aren't a butt ton of other sources ready to call them on it, since now they're all owned by the same four or so companies. (Like, if you watch Fox News and you read WaPo, how do you find out when they report something false? Or don't report something that's newsworthy? You don't.) Information integrity has suffered tremendously. A book seller that is also the distributor that is also the publisher smacks of potential problems like those. The only potential saving grace is that people are so much more wired today that the consumer has a lot more control.


If ONE MORE PERSON publishes a book titled "The Blankety-Blank's Daughter (Wife/Mother/Aunt/Other Female Relation)," I'm going to...to...well, I'll think of something. Or I'll ask my father/brother/uncle/son.

If Jane Austen were alive today, I guess we'd be reading, "Mr. Woodhouse's Daughter" instead of "Emma." Or, even better, "The Annoying Old Invalid's Daughter."

GAH where does this COME from? My guess is that it's a marketing ploy of publishers to appeal to certain demographics: "The ____'s Daughter/Wife/Mother" says "This is a novel with women in it, and it is about relationships. But not romance."

rainsmom
10-20-2011, 09:05 PM
It may be inappropriate for me to post this link here. Mods, feel free to delete, if I've broken a rule.

I wrote a long blog post about my feelings toward this Amazon publishing venture. I'd love your thoughts.

http://melissa-c-alexander.com/2011/10/is-amazon-publishing-good-for-writers/

Cyia
10-21-2011, 01:26 AM
http://aardvarknow.us/2011/10/19/really-new-york-times/


Publishing folk remember that over a year ago Amazon punitively stopped selling all books, print or electronic, from Macmillan Publishing when Macmillanwas the first to change its selling terms to stop Amazon from pricing e-books below cost. Amazon was choosing to lose $2-5 per copy on the most popular books it sold, which gave it a virtual monopoly on e-book sales. No other book retailer could have afforded to lose so much money on e-books, so Amazon was on its way to becoming the only player in the game. Until Macmillan did a little David vs. Goliath act of its own—and Amazon blinked.

The point is: Amazon is so big it can afford to take losses on certain segments of its business as long as the overall business is healthy. They are brilliant strategists. They were very smartly willing to take a loss on some e-book sales to offer great prices and cement their place with consumers as the only e-book store worth visiting. Sadly for the publishing industry, no other retailer of books has such deep pockets and can afford to do what they do. Everyone else needs positive income from the books they sell to stay in business. And the same is true of publishers.

speakinghands
10-21-2011, 02:20 AM
Publishing folk remember that over a year ago Amazon punitively stopped selling all books, print or electronic, from Macmillan Publishing when Macmillanwas the first to change its selling terms to stop Amazon from pricing e-books below cost. Amazon was choosing to lose $2-5 per copy on the most popular books it sold, which gave it a virtual monopoly on e-book sales.I just don't understand how this is possible. I remember before Amazon's war with publishers, e-books were roughly 2/3 to 3/4 the price of a physical copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, except for hardback bestsellers, which were a little over 1/3 the listing cost but between 1/2 and 2/3 the discounted price customers paid for physical copies at the large bookstore chains. But e-books don't have to be typeset, printed, bound, shipped, inventoried, distributed, etc. They don't have to sit in heated and cooled bookstores with employees being paid to ring them up and buildings incurring property taxes and insurance and maintenance to house them.

I have a really hard time believing all the above variable costs don't amount to 1/4 to 1/3. If Amazon was losing money on its new bestseller e-books, then all the large bookstore chains have been losing money - probably more than $2 to $5 - on new bestseller hardbacks for years. Come to think of it...

Xelebes
10-21-2011, 03:11 AM
I just don't understand how this is possible. I remember before Amazon's war with publishers, e-books were roughly 2/3 to 3/4 the price of a physical copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, except for hardback bestsellers, which were a little over 1/3 the listing cost but between 1/2 and 2/3 the discounted price customers paid for physical copies at the large bookstore chains. But e-books don't have to be typeset, printed, bound, shipped, inventoried, distributed, etc. They don't have to sit in heated and cooled bookstores with employees being paid to ring them up and buildings incurring property taxes and insurance and maintenance to house them.

I have a really hard time believing all the above variable costs don't amount to 1/4 to 1/3. If Amazon was losing money on its new bestseller e-books, then all the large bookstore chains have been losing money - probably more than $2 to $5 - on new bestseller hardbacks for years. Come to think of it...

A lot of it is overhead. If you only sell 10 000 copies but it cost 50 000 dollars of editing and marketing, that's 5 dollars per book. There are also other fixed costs including the holding of the digital copy, holding the digital copy for sale and the whole storefront.

kaitie
10-21-2011, 09:03 AM
I just don't understand how this is possible. I remember before Amazon's war with publishers, e-books were roughly 2/3 to 3/4 the price of a physical copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, except for hardback bestsellers, which were a little over 1/3 the listing cost but between 1/2 and 2/3 the discounted price customers paid for physical copies at the large bookstore chains. But e-books don't have to be typeset, printed, bound, shipped, inventoried, distributed, etc. They don't have to sit in heated and cooled bookstores with employees being paid to ring them up and buildings incurring property taxes and insurance and maintenance to house them.

I have a really hard time believing all the above variable costs don't amount to 1/4 to 1/3. If Amazon was losing money on its new bestseller e-books, then all the large bookstore chains have been losing money - probably more than $2 to $5 - on new bestseller hardbacks for years. Come to think of it...

Here's a couple of good links to read on the subject. Printing, etc. only costs about $2.00 per book. Also keep in mind that in it's place ebooks have to be formatted for various electronic formats and stored, even if it is on a server as opposed to a warehouse.

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/02/what-should-e-book-cost.html

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03/why-some-e-books-cost-more-than.html

Terie
10-21-2011, 10:11 AM
Also keep in mind that in it's place ebooks have to be formatted for various electronic formats and stored, even if it is on a server as opposed to a warehouse.

And tested for quality assurance. In multiple formats on multiple devices.

People seem to keep forgetting that e-books are software and require the same rigorous testing that software does before release into the wild. It might not take all that long to properly test a single e-book, but publishers have multiple releases every single day, not just a single book every few weeks or months. And that's not counting the backlists they're trying to get out the door at the same time they're working on current releases.

Torgo
10-21-2011, 01:59 PM
I just don't understand how this is possible. I remember before Amazon's war with publishers, e-books were roughly 2/3 to 3/4 the price of a physical copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, except for hardback bestsellers, which were a little over 1/3 the listing cost but between 1/2 and 2/3 the discounted price customers paid for physical copies at the large bookstore chains. But e-books don't have to be typeset, printed, bound, shipped, inventoried, distributed, etc. They don't have to sit in heated and cooled bookstores with employees being paid to ring them up and buildings incurring property taxes and insurance and maintenance to house them.

I have a really hard time believing all the above variable costs don't amount to 1/4 to 1/3. If Amazon was losing money on its new bestseller e-books, then all the large bookstore chains have been losing money - probably more than $2 to $5 - on new bestseller hardbacks for years. Come to think of it...

Remember that Amazon works on a reseller model, so that the price they sell ebooks for is not the price for which they buy them from the publisher. The publisher sets a recommended price, and sells them to Amazon at a discount from that. So, Amazon might buy a book at a 50% discount from £9.99, paying out about £5.

Amazon then decide that they want to sell the book to customers at around £5. They want to keep their ebooks cheaper than the competition by selling them at cost or even at a loss. This encourages the takeup of their Kindle platform, which now dominates the market.

The costs of ebook publishing are very different yes, but only after the point at which the book is typeset. You make the ebook from essentially the same file that gets sent to the printers. All the costs that the publisher has incurred in getting it to that point apply equally to both editions, including editing, marketing, etc.

After that, the print book incurs per-book costs. Each copy has to be printed, freighted, warehoused etc - the more copies you print and schlep about, the more you pay. The ebook incurs one-off, or plant costs - the conversion of the file, then quite possibly another proofread to check it's come out OK. These are all paid by the publisher, and impact on their profit margin.

I should also point out that with ebooks in the UK at least, the consumer has to pay 20% VAT, a cost that gets eaten by the publisher, and the author is quite likely to be on twice the royalty percentage for the same book in print. So there's quite a lot of margin going elsewhere. What all this means is that although ebooks can be pure profit for a publisher, requiring no printing or distribution, that's only after you've sold enough to cover all the setup costs. They don't represent a risk-free bonanza any more than print books do.

EDIT: I hope that makes sense. Sorry, kind of fuzzy this morning; drinking tea and trying to compose paragraphs to finally get my brain started.

kaitie
10-21-2011, 07:31 PM
And tested for quality assurance. In multiple formats on multiple devices.

People seem to keep forgetting that e-books are software and require the same rigorous testing that software does before release into the wild. It might not take all that long to properly test a single e-book, but publishers have multiple releases every single day, not just a single book every few weeks or months. And that's not counting the backlists they're trying to get out the door at the same time they're working on current releases.

Is this a one-time or ongoing sort of expense? It seems like every couple of months there's a new device, and I wonder if publishers have to do more checking or formatting for each one, or if the file stays pretty much the same and it's the reader's job to play it correctly.

Torgo
10-21-2011, 07:38 PM
Is this a one-time or ongoing sort of expense? It seems like every couple of months there's a new device, and I wonder if publishers have to do more checking or formatting for each one, or if the file stays pretty much the same and it's the reader's job to play it correctly.

The latter, really. Multiple formats was a problem in the early days of ebooks but now everyone's really coalesced around the EPUB format. It's the only one we still produce. Amazon use a flavour of Mobipocket but we just send them the EPUB and they do the conversion, I believe.

Still, annoying issues do crop up. I did some illustrated books a while back that looked fine in Kindle Previewer, but when you looked at the file on an actual Kindle a bunch of pictures showed up as negative versions. (Some GIF compatibility issue, I think.) I had to pull them from Amazon and redo them; the lesson I learned was, test everything on as many different platforms as you can.

kaitie
10-21-2011, 07:38 PM
Remember that Amazon works on a reseller model, so that the price they sell ebooks for is not the price for which they buy them from the publisher. The publisher sets a recommended price, and sells them to Amazon at a discount from that. So, Amazon might buy a book at a 50% discount from £9.99, paying out about £5.

Amazon then decide that they want to sell the book to customers at around £5. They want to keep their ebooks cheaper than the competition by selling them at cost or even at a loss. This encourages the takeup of their Kindle platform, which now dominates the market.

The costs of ebook publishing are very different yes, but only after the point at which the book is typeset. You make the ebook from essentially the same file that gets sent to the printers. All the costs that the publisher has incurred in getting it to that point apply equally to both editions, including editing, marketing, etc.

After that, the print book incurs per-book costs. Each copy has to be printed, freighted, warehoused etc - the more copies you print and schlep about, the more you pay. The ebook incurs one-off, or plant costs - the conversion of the file, then quite possibly another proofread to check it's come out OK. These are all paid by the publisher, and impact on their profit margin.

I should also point out that with ebooks in the UK at least, the consumer has to pay 20% VAT, a cost that gets eaten by the publisher, and the author is quite likely to be on twice the royalty percentage for the same book in print. So there's quite a lot of margin going elsewhere. What all this means is that although ebooks can be pure profit for a publisher, requiring no printing or distribution, that's only after you've sold enough to cover all the setup costs. They don't represent a risk-free bonanza any more than print books do.

EDIT: I hope that makes sense. Sorry, kind of fuzzy this morning; drinking tea and trying to compose paragraphs to finally get my brain started.

While we're mentioning the pricing thing to get people to buy kindles, there's a side-effect that is also mentioned in Nathan's blog and is very noticeable if you look at the informal surveys he's done--it makes people expect an ebook to cost less.

Nathan did a survey two years apart while discussing these issues, and the first time he did it the majority of people said an ebook should cost around ten dollars, and the second it was around five (if I remember correctly). Not a truly scientific survey, but this was an audience of writers and people who should, theoretically, know better. Especially if they'd read his blog. But in one year the amount that the average random person thought an ebook should cost dropped by several dollars.

The big problem here, of course, is that when it drops too much, the publishers aren't able to make enough money to turn a profit.

Something else that just occurred to me is that with print runs, the more books are printed the cheaper it is to print. So if you think about it, while some massive bestsellers might still bring in a lot of sales in ebook form, it's possible publishers are also not getting that bit of hidden savings. I'm not sure if it's enough to really matter or not (I'm just speculating).

I don't remember where, might be in one of those links, but someone did a workup a year or so ago of what an ebook would have to cost in order to just break even for publishers and it was definitely more than most people were saying they thought it should be.

kaitie
10-21-2011, 07:39 PM
The latter, really. Multiple formats was a problem in the early days of ebooks but now everyone's really coalesced around the EPUB format. It's the only one we still produce. Amazon use a flavour of Mobipocket but we just send them the EPUB and they do the conversion, I believe.

Still, annoying issues do crop up. I did some illustrated books a while back that looked fine in Kindle Previewer, but when you looked at the file on an actual Kindle a bunch of pictures showed up as negative versions. (Some GIF compatibility issue, I think.) I had to pull them from Amazon and redo them; the lesson I learned was, test everything on as many different platforms as you can.

That's sort of what I thought. So basically the only time it might be an issue is if they went to a completely new format, but even then the seller could convert it themselves. Thanks for the answer. :)

Torgo
10-21-2011, 07:47 PM
While we're mentioning the pricing thing to get people to buy kindles, there's a side-effect that is also mentioned in Nathan's blog and is very noticeable if you look at the informal surveys he's done--it makes people expect an ebook to cost less.

Yes, that's a major reason that a lot of publishers advocate the agency pricing model - it means that they can control the price and try to keep people's perception of ebook value up. I fear the damage has already been done however. I think it's also been counterproductive to try to peg ebook pricing to the price of the print edition - it's undeniable that when you buy an ebook, you're getting a somewhat lesser product in various ways - so that hasn't helped with the public image.


Something else that just occurred to me is that with print runs, the more books are printed the cheaper it is to print. So if you think about it, while some massive bestsellers might still bring in a lot of sales in ebook form, it's possible publishers are also not getting that bit of hidden savings. I'm not sure if it's enough to really matter or not (I'm just speculating).

Yeah, books do get cheaper the more you print, up to a point - then it levels off. Though with bestsellers it's quite usual for there to be a royalty escalator clause in the contract - sell over 50K books, your royalty rate goes up, that sort of thing.


I don't remember where, might be in one of those links, but someone did a workup a year or so ago of what an ebook would have to cost in order to just break even for publishers and it was definitely more than most people were saying they thought it should be.

It is definitely more, though once you get over that bar it's all gravy.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-21-2011, 10:27 PM
Recent measurements on e-book piracy frequency might have some relevance to the discussion. A Financial Times article claims that ebook piracy is more than double the rate of music piracy for women over 35. (Not sure why the statistics focused on women and that range only. Perhaps it is related to the recent drop in sales in certain publishing categories. Also, rates are less than I would have expected). The article gives a download frequency for the top 10 books.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/607a1922-f00d-11e0-bc9d-00144feab49a.html#axzz1bRRJWi1o

kaitie
10-21-2011, 11:51 PM
Thanks, Torgo. :)

Torgo
10-22-2011, 08:54 PM
Recent measurements on e-book piracy frequency might have some relevance to the discussion. A Financial Times article claims that ebook piracy is more than double the rate of music piracy for women over 35. (Not sure why the statistics focused on women and that range only. Perhaps it is related to the recent drop in sales in certain publishing categories. Also, rates are less than I would have expected). The article gives a download frequency for the top 10 books.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/607a1922-f00d-11e0-bc9d-00144feab49a.html#axzz1bRRJWi1o

Ebook piracy is amazingly easy and quick; you can d/l hundreds of books in the time it'd take to d/l an album. So I'd expect that ebook pirates are pirating more books each than music pirates.

Also worth pointing out that the piracy monitors I've come across basically watch the web and torrents - the highly visible stuff that I suspect is only the tip of the iceberg.

Namatu
10-22-2011, 10:15 PM
it's undeniable that when you buy an ebook, you're getting a somewhat lesser product in various waysHow so? I can see it in some cases, like an ebook with maps in it. Hard to see the details if you can't magnify the image, but I haven't found any of the other ebooks I've read to be a lesser product than the print. Maybe it's just what I've been reading.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-22-2011, 10:26 PM
Ebook piracy is amazingly easy and quick; you can d/l hundreds of books in the time it'd take to d/l an album. So I'd expect that ebook pirates are pirating more books each than music pirates.

Also worth pointing out that the piracy monitors I've come across basically watch the web and torrents - the highly visible stuff that I suspect is only the tip of the iceberg.

The situation is not unlike the wild west where you could put a stake in the ground and claim it as yours. Internet/information traffic has the same romantic connotations of total freedom and adventure. It also shares the flip side of that coin. Companies and individuals loose to piracy of software, gaming, video and of course books. People simply mention they have illegal copies of books, even to authors. It seems almost second nature now to download books for free. Tighter regulation may be needed.
It depends in the end on what society decides is worth saving.

Torgo
10-23-2011, 11:46 PM
How so? I can see it in some cases, like an ebook with maps in it. Hard to see the details if you can't magnify the image, but I haven't found any of the other ebooks I've read to be a lesser product than the print. Maybe it's just what I've been reading.

OK - this is just from my perspective but to me there are two big factors:

1. Most importantly, you don't get the same kind of rights as an ebook buyer. A paperback can be lent or resold or passed on to your grandchildren. An ebook can't. Really, you're buying a license to the content - you don't own anything.
2. A book is a physical object on which many craftsmen and women have lavished a great deal of care. It's not just the illustrations you miss out on with an ebook - it's the design, typography, and production values.

Now, I love ebooks, and they have some unique benefits - mainly, convenience. But (1) there is, on its own, a big deal for me, and warrants a discount on the equivalent print edition.

Torgo
10-23-2011, 11:48 PM
Tighter regulation may be needed.
It depends in the end on what society decides is worth saving.

I disagree that tighter regulation is the answer, because short of completely pulling the plug on the internet, there's nothing enforcement can do about it. When you can share books in bulk by email, what's the answer - monitor everybody's email?

Anyway, that's a derail, and I've rehearsed my views on this too often around here already!

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-24-2011, 01:38 AM
I was imprecise in my comment Torgo, I was thinking of the potential for more fundamental changes of the internet, regarding traceability and security. Better organization ("regulation" at the most basic level of the internet) as opposed to government regulation. But it's a derail indeed from this thread and a very big nut to crack in any case.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-25-2011, 01:29 AM
Ok, after Torgo's thread derail chastening, back to the main topic.

Amazon versus publishers... a call for one e-book format that may be of interest

http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/how-do-you-do-it-amazon-vs-publishers-i/

Namatu
10-25-2011, 02:24 AM
OK - this is just from my perspective but to me there are two big factors:

1. Most importantly, you don't get the same kind of rights as an ebook buyer. A paperback can be lent or resold or passed on to your grandchildren. An ebook can't. Really, you're buying a license to the content - you don't own anything.
2. A book is a physical object on which many craftsmen and women have lavished a great deal of care. It's not just the illustrations you miss out on with an ebook - it's the design, typography, and production values.

Now, I love ebooks, and they have some unique benefits - mainly, convenience. But (1) there is, on its own, a big deal for me, and warrants a discount on the equivalent print edition.All good points. I like the Nook's LendMe feature, but it's not available on most books.

Rolling Thunder
10-25-2011, 03:44 PM
http://movies.yahoo.com/news/penny-marshall-book-deal-amazon-com-142358395.html

Sorry if this is mentioned elsewhere, but my brief perusal didn't notice it. Anyway, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Actually, no. That's not true. I know exactly how I feel about it. I feel like this is all a plot of Amazon's to dominate the publishing field and put everyone else out of business so they can make more money. Conspiracy theoryish? Maybe, but seriously.

I'm also curious, if anyone knows, what the publishing world's opinion of this whole Amazon thing is. I don't just mean in terms of putting people out of business, but in terms of professionalism. Are they qualified to be someone's publisher? What level of quality do they have? Are their books stocked in stores as well as on their website?

Do they really think they can sell enough copies to make up for the offers they're putting out, or is this sort of like selling kindles at a loss to crowd out the competition?

I'm just looking to see what everyone else's opinions are on this. I'm also curious--if Amazon offered you a deal would you take it?

Sure, I'll work with Amazon. Once upon a time a writer sent his or her MS to a publishing house. They either bought it or rejected it. If bought, it was published. If rejected, the writer moved on.

Then the publishers decided to change the business and subcontracted that phase to agents. They either accepted it or rejected it. If accepted a new catch appeared --there was no guarantee a publisher would buy it.

Now the publishing business is changing again. Depending on one's position in the industry it's either good or bad, but that doesn't matter in the end. Change is inevitable.

Torgo
10-25-2011, 04:39 PM
All good points. I like the Nook's LendMe feature, but it's not available on most books.

There was a moment a while back when I got all excited about the Kindle lending feature, because I thought they'd just broken the whole industry. There was a site called Lendle, that essentially hosted catalogues of everyone's Kindle libraries and matched up people who wanted to read books with people who owned them and could lend it to them.

The endgame of that, it seemed to me, was that you had a hand-cranked BitTorrent for books. Get enough catalogues together and you cover everything anyone could be looking for, which is then shared P2P instantly. And that's exactly what it would have been, except I'd missed the very important point that you can only ever lend a Kindle book once.

Still, any ebook lending system needs to be very carefully restricted or it will be mercilessly gamed and exploited. Perhaps you should only be able to share ebooks by close physical proximity - via Bluetooth or something. But even then I envisage tube trains and buses turning into ebook swap parties. So it's tricky. I think that's one of the reasons publishers are really not keen on enabling books to be shared in any way.

kaitie
10-25-2011, 07:40 PM
Sure, I'll work with Amazon. Once upon a time a writer sent his or her MS to a publishing house. They either bought it or rejected it. If bought, it was published. If rejected, the writer moved on.

Then the publishers decided to change the business and subcontracted that phase to agents. They either accepted it or rejected it. If accepted a new catch appeared --there was no guarantee a publisher would buy it.

Now the publishing business is changing again. Depending on one's position in the industry it's either good or bad, but that doesn't matter in the end. Change is inevitable.

I'm not meaning to sound obtuse, but I don't understand how your argument is one in favor of using Amazon's commercial publishing service.

I'm also not certain that the fact that an agented manuscript still may not get a publisher is really a negative. I could see an argument for something like having agents as middlemen might mean that some manuscripts are lost that might have a chance otherwise, but just the fact that it can still be rejected doesn't strike me as a particularly negative element of the process. Aside from the fact that it might be a little more stressful emotionally, I mean.

kaitie
10-25-2011, 07:42 PM
There was a moment a while back when I got all excited about the Kindle lending feature, because I thought they'd just broken the whole industry. There was a site called Lendle, that essentially hosted catalogues of everyone's Kindle libraries and matched up people who wanted to read books with people who owned them and could lend it to them.

The endgame of that, it seemed to me, was that you had a hand-cranked BitTorrent for books. Get enough catalogues together and you cover everything anyone could be looking for, which is then shared P2P instantly. And that's exactly what it would have been, except I'd missed the very important point that you can only ever lend a Kindle book once.

Still, any ebook lending system needs to be very carefully restricted or it will be mercilessly gamed and exploited. Perhaps you should only be able to share ebooks by close physical proximity - via Bluetooth or something. But even then I envisage tube trains and buses turning into ebook swap parties. So it's tricky. I think that's one of the reasons publishers are really not keen on enabling books to be shared in any way.

Oh good lord. This makes me so sad. See, it's people doing things like this who ruin it for the rest of us who just want to be able to hand this book to a good friend and say "OMG you have to read this!"

Torgo
10-25-2011, 08:02 PM
Oh good lord. This makes me so sad. See, it's people doing things like this who ruin it for the rest of us who just want to be able to hand this book to a good friend and say "OMG you have to read this!"

I've heard people on this very board who would berate you for depriving the author of sales!

Amazon were clearly a bit spooked by Lendle - I believe they revoked API access.

kaitie
10-25-2011, 09:00 PM
I'm sure there are people who might, but as a reader, I have to say if people came up to me and told me "I borrowed this book from my best friend and loved it!" I'd be okay with that because I love the enthusiasm. I also know that if I borrow a book from someone and I really do love it, I want to buy it and tell more people about it. (WWZ is a good example for me).

The thing is, a person just lending it to a friend is only going to lend to a few people (unless you're my boyfriend, but he buys multiple copies for lending purposes if he loves something lol). And most lending isn't done for the purpose of getting out of buying something.

The really stupid thing is that there are libraries. If people really want a free book, they can go to a library and read it for free.

Namatu
10-25-2011, 09:57 PM
The really stupid thing is that there are libraries. If people really want a free book, they can go to a library and read it for free.This, for me, has been one of the greatest things about the Nook. I got in the habit of buying my books and completely ignored the library, even though I knew better. Now I'm constantly using the library. In fact, I haven't read a non-library book on my Nook for over a month now. In theory, I should be saving money, but since I no longer need to figure out where to store all the books I buy, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

strictlytopsecret
10-25-2011, 11:51 PM
<------- Has frequent flyer card for library :)

gothicangel
11-09-2011, 12:45 PM
Deepak Chopra has signed to Amazon . . . much to the surprise of his current publisher!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/nov/08/amazon-book-deal-deepak-chopra

This comment summed it up for me:



So, in the end its just about overpaid authors squeezing more from publishing deals and using Amazon to do it. Game changer? I think not....

Isabella Amaris
11-09-2011, 11:00 PM
Not that I ever considered Amazon a monopoly... in fact, I think they're just a very creative business (as a business) in their own right...

But as to their owning the market, the recent partnership between Japan's Rakuten and Kobo (http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/amazon-faces-serious-international-competition-from-japan/) should allay such fears ... or increase them... depending on your point of view:) (ie Kobo's influence might grow more than Amazon's internationally, but not domestically in the US since Amazon has had a bit of a head start in the US)...