Amazon.com removes Macmillan books from site!!

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HapiSofi

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Greg Wilson, Ms. Hamilton is wrong on a surprising number of facts, slickly, and all in the same direction.
 

Medievalist

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

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

NicoleMD

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

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

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

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

Nicole
 

Medievalist

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I want an iPad desperately. Even more, I want to make multimedia books on the iPad, with images, and audio, and annotations, and video.
 

MacAllister

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

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

HapiSofi

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

eqb

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

Somebody's going to have to eat it.

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

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

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

Medievalist

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It's going to be a brilliant medium for publishing comics.

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

Dave.C.Robinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twizzle

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

Haven't seen it mentioned yet-fascinating interview with someone who loves himself some book piracy.
 

Sevvy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twizzle

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

*hangs head in shame*

I don't. I go to the library.

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

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

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

It all scares me a bit.

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

ChristineR

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

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

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

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

Amazon.failed.

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

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

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

Lauretta

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

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

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

Lauretta

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

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

NicoleMD

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



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

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

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

Nicole
 

IceCreamEmpress

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That's just it. I'm not going to wait for the price of the e-book to come down. I'm just going to buy a different e-book at the price that meets my needs.

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

And you'll buy it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Momento Mori

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

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

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

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

MM
 

Unimportant

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

And you'll buy it.

Yup. That's it in a nutshell.

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

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

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

Gillhoughly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hmmm. This thread has been very informative. Thanks especially to Medievalist, HapiSofi, James D. MacDonald, Mac and company.

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

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

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

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

What do I hope for? What do I do?
 
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