Amazon.com removes Macmillan books from site!!

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LeslieB

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

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Right - I hear what you're saying, LeslieB.

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

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

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Still no 'Buy It Now' buttons on Macmillan books (as of 7:20pm Central)

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

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

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

book_55.jpg
 

san_remo_ave

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***MORE NEWS***

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

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

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

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

NicoleMD

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

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

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

Nicole
 

Deleted member 42

Bet their stockholders are thrilled. :evil

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

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

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

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

IceCreamEmpress

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I would only put $15 into a reference book that I knew I was going to use a lot and wanted fast searching capability. For fiction, not a chance.

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

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


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

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

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

Nicole


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

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

Deleted member 42

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

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

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

JulieB

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

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

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

NicoleMD

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole
 

Toothpaste

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It is sad. Having had a book judged by its cover and thus do extremely poorly I can attest to that.

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

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

James D. Macdonald

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It might just be that publishers can't expect their ebooks to be profitable for a few more years. The readership just isn't there yet, and there are so many alternatives for readers.

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

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

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

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

It's available for free on the web (free, that is, if you have a computer and an internet connection.)

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

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

MacAllister

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Jim, those hard-cover/softcover editions are POD editions, rather than offset-print runs of thousands, though, yes?
Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFaunu has been in the public domain for a long, long time.

It's available for free on the web (free, that is, if you have a computer and an internet connection.)

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

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

Stlight

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

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

Sigh
 
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HapiSofi

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I can't believe Amazon's being this stupid. I truly can't believe it. Why don't they just take a megaphone and a soapbox down to Wall Street, find a good streetcorner, and start shouting
WE'RE PANICKING!!! WE'RE DOOMED!!! WE CAN'T COMPETE WITH APPLE RETAILING PRACTICES OR THE iPAD!!! WE CAN'T COPE WITH FRUSTRATION!!! WE CAN'T EVEN HANDLE BASIC CORPORATE PR!!! AND BY THE WAY, THOSE OF YOU WHO'VE SUSPECTED THAT AMAZON IS BEING RUN BY FERAL NUTS HAVE BEEN RIGHT ALL ALONG!!!
Their stock price is already down 9%. It'll be interesting to see how low they'll drive it before they knock this off and go back to behaving like a sober, responsible, law-abiding business.
 

HapiSofi

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

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

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

MacAllister

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

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

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

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

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

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I sorta want an iPad now. With lots of gorgeous books on the iBookstore. With full-color, hi-resolution jpgs of coverflow. And I didn't, before this whole brouhaha, is the funny part.
 
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Greg Wilson

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

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

Terie

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My think is MacMillan just got a 30% increase in profit with this deal since Amazon is backing down from their 60%.

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

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

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

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

Amazon.failed.

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

HapiSofi

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

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

MacAllister

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

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

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

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

That used to be called slash-and-burn--and it's fatally short-sighted.
 
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