Amazon.com removes Macmillan books from site!!

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AnneMarble

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Now I have a bit of a moral dilemma. See, I got a Barnes & Noble Nook for Christmas. (I didn't actually get it until two weeks ago, but that's okay, it was still two weeks earlier than they said I'd get it.) I absolutely love it. (I have set up both a Kindle2 and my Nook and I think the Nook is much better - better organized and no fiddly joystick.)

I bought a nook as a Christmas present to myself. :D By the way, have you installed the new firmware update? It improves the issues with bookmarks and lets you sort the My Documents folder (the sideloaded content). :)

I don't care about the feel of the paper or the smell of the binding, or rows of read books taking up space in my house. I just want the words and the story taking up space in my head. The Nook, for me, is a very pleasant way to carry and read books. One of the big draws for me was the price of the ebooks. The price of books is a deterrent, especially considering there's no guarantee I'll like it. (Same reason I don't go to the movies much.)

I wound up buying books I wouldn't have bought because they were available for $9.99. I might have waited for the paperback, or just as likely, I would have forgotten to buy them when the paperback came out. ;) For example, I bought a "Nordic Noir" thriller set in Finland (because I'd read reviews on blogs and elswhere). I'm also thinking of buying Murder on the Cliffs: A Daphne Du Maurier Murder Mystery -- despite mixed reviews. I even considered buying the new Robin Cook novel because it was $9.99, even though I never bought him in hardcover before. Especially as I was trying to cut down on my hardcovers. (I'm going to have to scale back on e-books, in fact, now that I've seen my credit card statement. :p) Anyway, I really hope readers aren't going to be made to feel guilty for buying books at lower prices. Especially when they wouldn't have bought those books as hardbacks to begin with.

It reminds me of my book buying when I owned a membership to one of those discount warehouse chains. "Ooh, this new thriller is $26, but their price is barely $13, so I'll give it a try." I'd add it to the cart, along with the grapefruit and cheee sticks. Yet at Borders, I would have ignored the hardcover unless it was by an author I was really familiar with. (This was before Borders started putting out all those 30% off coupons.)

On Fictionwise, I have bought e-book editions for $15 to as much as $26, but only when there was some special offer -- such as a rebate that gives part of the price back to me in store credits. Sometimes I'll decide to get the Fictionwise edition instead of the $9.99 edition just to get the special offer.

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

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

What do I hope for? What do I do?

It was because of the price that I bought Eric Flint's 1632 as an e-book when it first came out. I know that not all publishers can use Baen as an example because Baen is smaller -- but they should at least pay some attention to what Baen has been doing.

And by the way, I would be happy if the publishers would actually discount the e-books once the paperback edition came out. There are tons of Macmillan e-books on Fictionwise that are still stuck on hardcover prices. For example, there's a J. V. Jones fantasy novel on Fictionwise from 2003 that is $19.95, but of course it's been available in mass market since 2004. Heck, the Kindle edition is $9.99 -- more than the paperback. I know that a lot of these prices got "stuck" because the e-book readership levels so low that publishers didn't think it worth their while. But at the same time, prices like that (and DRM and other issues) helped keep the e-book readership levels low.

The few people who wanted to spend $17 and more for e-books were customers who lived outside the U.S. because those prices were so much cheaper than the hardcover prices they had to pay. And now they're being told they can't buy e-books in the U.S. because of geographical restrictions -- and yet they often aren't being given an equivalent storein their own countries.
 

Medievalist

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And by the way, I would be happy if the publishers would actually discount the e-books once the paperback edition came out. There are tons of Macmillan e-books on Fictionwise that are still stuck on hardcover prices.

Yes. I'd write tech support. What's weirder still is I've found the same ebook (down to the ISBN) on Fictionwise, eReader, and B and N for three different prices.

These are all B and N companies.
 

the_Unknown

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And the first thing I think of for that ploy is Amazon convincing newbies that self-pubbing through them will turn them into rich and famous writers.

When I said 'exclusive content' I was thinking more along the lines of limited edition tins, graphic novels/comics, guidebooks, interviews, posters/art books, and perhaps even audio dramas. Basically anything they can package together for fans that they can't get elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure all of the big guys know that the money is in gathering around the big names.
 
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Gillhoughly

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Indeed on the big names.

But Amazon can keep their exclusive content. That used to mean something once, but wait long enough and it's free on a pirate site or you find some moron selling bootlegs on Ebay or it turns up at a used bookstore.

I might shop at the used store; at least at some point the writer got a royalty. When my publishers start paying me like the big names I might get the extras.

But I won't get them through Amazon.

Bezos cut into my earnings this last week, and the only exclusive content I'm interested in is what color his lungs might be after I CONTENT DELETED BY GILLHOUGHLY'S KEEPER

:evil
 

Terie

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When I said 'exclusive content' I was thinking more along the lines of limited edition tins, graphic novels/comics, guidebooks, interviews, posters/art books, and perhaps even audio dramas. Basically anything they can package together for fans that they can't get elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure all of the big guys know that the money is in gathering around the big names.

But if your point is that the 'big guys' grab all the rights from the authors who then make no money from their own creations, you're wrong. Contracts stipulate how much (as a percentage) the author gets from licensing. For example, my contract stipulates 50%. So if my books took off (hahahaha) and my publisher decided to bring out, oh, say, action figures of my characters, I'd make 50% on the licensing.
 

Salis

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My biggest issue with all of this, aside from the obvious problems you have stated, is the following:

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

Bad form, Amazon. Bad form.

Pretty sure they don't care about having bad form, they're trying to establish themselves as basically the default publisher (not in name, but you get the drift) of the world.
 

Gillhoughly

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Apparently the Kindle links to my Mac titles are active again, but too little, too late.

All other online booksellers will get my support and business, but not Amazon.

Unless the other ones ALSO do something extremely stupid and unprofessional.
 

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So if my books took off (hahahaha) and my publisher decided to bring out, oh, say, action figures of my characters, I'd make 50% on the licensing.

Your publisher doesn't do action figures unless they are indeed a comic book or graphic novel house, and even then they license those items to a third party.

You can adjust your contracts to strike out those clauses and keep 100% of anything you can negotiate from the company offering to license stuff.

I had the 50% thing for film options on my first contract. (I didn't know it was a bad deal.) So when a production company made an offer I got only half, the publisher got the rest, and did NOT negotiate for a higher amount. They were into books, not films.

Now I get 100% and can ask for more money from the start.

Of course, back then the company offered $100.00 to option my work for one year. They came back two more times. I would rather have had 300$ than 150$, though!

AND if anything had come of it, and they made a *real* offer for the film rights, the publisher would have walked off with half of what should have been mine had I been sharper about contracts.

Next time out on a contract, you KEEP 100% of those other rights. Film, comics, action figures, and T-shirts can keep you in beer and skittles or buy you your own island, depending how things progress.
 

BenPanced

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Pretty sure they don't care about having bad form, they're trying to establish themselves as basically the default publisher (not in name, but you get the drift) of the world.
But how many more PR disasters do they need to suffer before they start caring again?
 

Terie

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Next time out on a contract, you KEEP 100% of those other rights. Film, comics, action figures, and T-shirts can keep you in beer and skittles or buy you your own island, depending how things progress.

For me, it's only worth keeping rights I can negotiate. If I couldn't negotiate a film deal (and trust me, I could sooner built a rocket launcher to the moon!), there'd be no point in hanging on to those rights. 100% of nothing = nothing, while 50% of something > nothing! (OMG! Maths!!!)

Now I have an agent who can handle all that stuff, but back then I didn't and couldn't get one to sneeze in my direction, even with a four-book offer in hand. :D
 

Gillhoughly

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Great news on the agent front!

I got one a couple years after landing my first contract, but he screwed up, and I had to fire him. Yes, in a 10-year period he got me a few good deals, but one memorable occasion he did the exact opposite of what I specifically said NOT to do and screwed things up beyond all repair on an otherwise done deal, costing me and another writer a chunk of cash. After that I didn't trust him and started looking for a better fit! (Found one, and she's great!)

For those of you who think a big publishing house takes *everything*--um, no, they don't. Not unless you let them.

You have negotiating power in your contract. Maybe not a lot at first, but if they really want to buy your book, then get the best deal for it that you can.

As a writer you are a small business producing a product of value, and your best course of action is to learn how to run your business to your best advantage. Getting a few books on negotiating literary contracts will help.

I read a few while shopping my first book, and they kept me from making some truly costly mistakes. It's not rocket science, and you don't need a law or business degree. You learn the right questions to ask, which is what I found to be most important.

If I couldn't negotiate a film deal (and trust me, I could sooner built a rocket launcher to the moon!), there'd be no point in hanging on to those rights.

You don't have to negotiate a film deal, just keep the rights to them.

How it works: the film company first *options* the rights to film your book. They put down earnest money for an exclusive for a set period of time. It is usually a token amount for one year. I've had it as high as 250 bucks and as low as one-dollar.

*IF* the production company gets a green light to move forward--and this usually comes from a different company--then they start talking real money. I want 100% of that, not sharing half with the publisher. They don't hold it against me, it's just business. (If the movie is released, they WILL sell more books, after all.)

The third stage is when they actually have a go-ahead and a film budget, a portion of which you will get.

Make sure you're paid out of the budget, not the profits from the film. I think we're all aware that once the bean counters got through with the income of Forrest Gump that it didn't show a "profit" for years.

But most of the time you just get option money and nothing happens. Take it. Take ALL of it.

Years back one of my pals got a film deal for one of her excellent books. She insisted on doing the script herself, wanting to make sure no one screwed it up. Some writers have that kind of clout, which she did at that time.

That was in 1995.

She has 58 different versions of her script, hasn't finished any new books, the production company is out $250,000.00 to her, and there's no movie. The people so hot to make the film have moved on to other, more profitable projects.

Better believe that if a deal like that came to me I'd want to do the script, but after turning one in I'd grab the money and run, and leave it to the movie people to make more for us all. I figure they're going to screw it up from the get-go, but if they pay me enough I won't care!

John Steakley HATES what they did to his book Vampire$, but I've never once heard him complain about the money it still brings in for him. It's a danged well-done book, the movie screwed things up hugely, but everyone made cash. I expect the same thing will happen with Werewolve$, but John won't be complaining. :D
 
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Dave.C.Robinson

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I've just come to the realization that there are some people who not only don't understand what just happened with Amazon but actively refuse to understand it.

They talk about the evils of big companies: Meaning Macmillan, and don't seem to remember that Amazon is a big company too.

They think authors should side with Amazon regarding the dispute, and when it is explained that Amazon is the one who kicked them in the nuts as a negotiating tactic in a dispute they were having with someone else they blame the removal of the buy button from Macmillan books on Macmillan.

They keep talking responsibility and it's always the responsibility Macmillan should take for Amazon's actions. They seem to think provocation equals absolution.

It's making me wish I did not own an ebook reader, just because I don't want to be associated with them.
 

the_Unknown

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But if your point is that the 'big guys' grab all the rights from the authors who then make no money from their own creations, you're wrong. Contracts stipulate how much (as a percentage) the author gets from licensing. For example, my contract stipulates 50%. So if my books took off (hahahaha) and my publisher decided to bring out, oh, say, action figures of my characters, I'd make 50% on the licensing.

You're really getting the short end of the stick if you are letting that sit in your contract. 3rd Party Licensing is what made people like George Lucas and J.K. Rowling boatloads of cash (and continues to in many cases).

Publishing should only be given the right to publish (and e-pub) because that's what they actually do.
 
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Terie

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You're really getting the short end of the stick if you are letting that sit in your contract. 3rd Party Licensing is what made people like George Lucas and J.K. Rowling boatloads of cash (and continues to in many cases).

Publishing should only be given the right to publish (and e-pub) because that's what they actually do.

A signed contract is a signed contract. I'm not 'letting' it sit there. (rolls eyes) When you're offered a contract of your own, you'll be free to try to negotiate the terms. You might find that, without an agent, it's more difficult than you think. 'Til then, maybe don't lecture others who made the best decisions they could in the circumstances they were in at the time.

Also? As I said above, 100% of nothing = nothing.
 

the_Unknown

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A signed contract is a signed contract. I'm not 'letting' it sit there. (rolls eyes) When you're offered a contract of your own, you'll be free to try to negotiate the terms. You might find that, without an agent, it's more difficult than you think. 'Til then, maybe don't lecture others who made the best decisions they could in the circumstances they were in at the time.

Also? As I said above, 100% of nothing = nothing.

Nobody is lecturing on the decisions you've made.

I was clearly referring to unsigned contracts and anyone who might sign one. This is a message board, not a professional consultation.

I've just come to the realization that there are some people who not only don't understand what just happened with Amazon but actively refuse to understand it.

Readers are also sales customers and so when a vendor is claiming that X Company is responsible for a price increase they naturally feel miffed.

Publishing is also involved with manufacturing and consumers in general have been ripped off for some time with cheap, foreign goods. Products are being downsized and digitized while people are being laid off and the prices are only going up.

Vendors are usually king too. Walmart (the top vendor overall right now?) is well known for pulling products that are not cheap enough.
 
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willietheshakes

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Nobody is lecturing on the decisions you've made.

I was clearly referring to unsigned contracts and anyone who might sign one.

Actually, no, you weren't. You were responding to -- and quoted --Teri saying "my contract stipulates 50%". It is impossible to read your response as anything but a direct reply to her, considering the presence of the quote, and the use of the word "you".

You may have been attempting to make a general point, but the way you proceeded did not accomplish this.
 

Gillhoughly

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Chill pill, folks. We've veered off topic, and I apologize for my part in that.

The enemy here is Amazon's attempt to tell our publishers how much they may sell our books for, then arbitrarily yanking our books when the publisher said no.

Macmillan is not the only house involved in this. All the others have been paying close attention to things, and the fact that Macmillan held their ground is to our benefit. Amazon failed, Macmillan won, writers benefit.

Yes, some readers won't like it or ever get why Macmillan's position is a good thing for all, but they can go to the library the way I do. Some libraries offer ebook downloads for hot new titles, same as the hard copy books.

The good thing about this is that prices will come down given time, and perhaps come down BELOW Amazon's 9.99 price.

Amazon is not at all pleased about that prospect. They wanted a monopoly and Macmillan said no. (I'm still snorting over Amazon accusing Macmillan having a "monopoly" over the pricing of their own books.)

Will the writers get a smaller royalty on books priced below 9.99? Maybe. But that's balanced out by more sales.

As I've stated before, my e-book sales account for .0335% of my total book sales. NOT a lot!

I'll take every penny I can get, but last week I wasn't getting squat because of Amazon. I don't forgive that kind of stupidity.
 
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Medievalist

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It's going to be a few years for ebook sales for consumer publishing to make noticeable numbers on royalties.

One of the things that has enormous potential for readers and authors is that while it is not trivial to keep an ebook "in print" (file formats are not durable; many ebooks will need to be "republished" every few years because of changes in devices) it is lower in cost over the long term than new print runs to reprint a book.

So those books in a back list that a publisher is going to say we can't really afford to print 5k can still be available for download.

Which means less haunting of used bookstores for backlist titles, and more royalties for authors. I like that.
 

willietheshakes

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It's going to be a few years for ebook sales for consumer publishing to make noticeable numbers on royalties.

One of the things that has enormous potential for readers and authors is that while it is not trivial to keep an ebook "in print" (file formats are not durable; many ebooks will need to be "republished" every few years because of changes in devices) it is lower in cost over the long term than new print runs to reprint a book.

So those books in a back list that a publisher is going to say we can't really afford to print 5k can still be available for download.

Which means less haunting of used bookstores for backlist titles, and more royalties for authors. I like that.

The flipside to that is also true, and somewhat troubling -- the possibility of keeping a book "in print" indefinitely, though only available electronically, means that rights don't revert, and can't be resold, either individually or packaged with a new book...
 

Gillhoughly

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The flipside to that is also true, and somewhat troubling -- the possibility of keeping a book "in print" indefinitely, though only available electronically, means that rights don't revert, and can't be resold, either individually or packaged with a new book...
I've had concerns about that as well. My agent knows to negotiate for either a time limit or an earnings limit, which she gets.

She got four of my back list titles released from the original publisher, resold them to a smaller house, then resold them again to four European houses. They're all hard copy books, but there's no reason why e-versions can't get the same deal.

I think the e-book rights for those titles are mine, but I'm reluctant to release them in that form. There are already PDF versions on the pirate sites cutting into my publisher's sales. Every week I play Whack-a-Mole when my Google alert leads me to an illegal upload.

But that's a whole OTHER thread!
 

thothguard51

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I read today on an AOL news feed that the IPAD, (I hate that name and the image it invokes), is already in tech trouble because of its limitations right out of the box. But, the is also good news as they are talking about Apple is going to have to lower the price to get sales rolling. Then when they bring other versions out with updated and expanded features, they will be able to increase the price. This is the same crap they did with the Iphone, overpriced the initial version and then had to give customers credits to upgrade to a new version in less than a years time.

I think we may be in for a price war between Apple and the Kindle. Yes? No?
 

Sheryl Nantus

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I think we may be in for a price war between Apple and the Kindle. Yes? No?

I'd be happy to see BOTH the Kindle and the iPad go down in price- but I'd be more worried about Apple having a monopoly on their iBooks. If I get a Nook or a Kindle, I can buy books elsewhere and put them on those readers - if I buy an iPad, unless I'm wrong, you're stuck with buying from the iBook store. The format the iBook is using isn't going to be available at other stores, as far as I know. So I'll *have* to buy from one specific store if I get an iPad.

talk about a monopoly.

;)
 

thothguard51

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You don't buy a new Chevy from a Ford dealer, and no one cries monopoly.

I don't see where Apple is going to have a monopoly unless they lock publishers in to publising only on the Ipad and I don't see what the advantages would be for a publishers to allow that, even if unhappy with Amazon.

It will be more like coke and pepsi offering specials here and there that you can only get from a certain vendor during a certain time period. You can still get a coke or pepsi elsewhere, but not at the advertised price of the other vendor.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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You don't buy a new Chevy from a Ford dealer, and no one cries monopoly.

I don't see where Apple is going to have a monopoly unless they lock publishers in to publising only on the Ipad and I don't see what the advantages would be for a publishers to allow that, even if unhappy with Amazon.

It will be more like coke and pepsi offering specials here and there that you can only get from a certain vendor during a certain time period. You can still get a coke or pepsi elsewhere, but not at the advertised price of the other vendor.

sorry, I didn't make myself clear.

I believe, and I could be wrong, but you will only be able to buy iBooks from the Apple store FOR the iPad. For example, you can buy Kindle books from other publishers and sites other than Amazon. You don't have to buy all your books from Amazon.

but you will have to buy from the iBook store if you get an iPad. Thus, my use of the word monopoly.

I apologise for the bad wording.
 

Chasing the Horizon

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but you will have to buy from the iBook store if you get an iPad. Thus, my use of the word monopoly.
Do you have an actual source on this? Because I've heard the iPad will be able to read a variety of formats. My current (very small) collection of e-books is in .pdf format, so as to be universally compatible with everything. I would have a very hard time believing the iPad will be unable to read .pdf files (though it may use a different program to open them than e-books from the iBookstore).

ETA: I'd assumed iBooks would be like iTunes, which links directly with the iTunes store but is also capable of playing any .mp3 file downloaded from anywhere.
 
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