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Thread: Amazon.com removes Macmillan books from site!!

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  1. #10
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Brian, you are a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, wherein "people who have little knowledge think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge.”

    I'm a licensed Apple developer. I'm certified as a Microsoft Document specialist. I've been using and supporting users on computers since punch card days. I've worked in commercial ebook publishing since 1989, and commercial publishing, academic and consumer, since 1992. You can go into stores or shop online and buy books and software that I've worked on. I've been a Programmer Analyst III with responsibility for servers at UCLA. I was on the Open E-Book Standards committee, and served on TEI.

    I'm a professional; you sound very much like someone who thinks wanting something makes it true. Because you blithely suggest that I am "someone with absolutely no awareness of technology," I'm going to be a little more explicit about why I do know what I'm talking about, than I am accustomed to being.

    Also? I'm tired of people who think that figs want to be free.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post

    The above is completely misleading. Sure, there are costs to a publisher associated with producing any book, but they are one-time costs, not per-volume costs, and so do not matter where pricing is concerned. As long as the price of the book pays back the per-volume costs with a reasonable profit beyond that, and it sells well, the one-time costs will be recouped, and it will sell better -- thus repaying those one-time costs more quickly -- if it's priced more reasonably.
    The point is that book pricing for consumer mass market and trade (and yes, hard cover) is reasonable. Do you even know what the work-flow is for a book? How many people are involved in getting on a shelf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    What's more, with e-books there's no time-pressure the way there is with books placed in brick-and-mortar bookstores. No returns, right? If a book in a physical bookstore doesn't sell within a month (or whatever it is), it's a failure. An e-book could take six months or a year to hit its stride and still be a success.
    The time pressure for a publisher is less often about when a book hits the shelf, than it is about coordinating the many steps. Keep in mind that most publishers don't own the presses; they reserve slots. If they miss a deadline, they may lose a slot. It's true that there are points in the season where a particular book will sell more, but that's really a matter of juggling all the process steps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    The per volume production cost of an e-book is virtually zero. Every cent that the buyer forks over goes either to the distributor or to the publisher. An e-book could be profitably priced at any level above free, if it sells well. The claim that publishers have to set it at a certain level to be profitable is a flat lie.
    No, actually it isn't. The costs for an ebook right up to the fork where it goes to the printer are identical. Acquisition, advances, editorial, copy editing, proofing, design, cover art, typesetting--those all happen first. Those are the principal costs of a book, not printing or distribution. Those costs are the same for the ebook.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Pshaw. No, it's not. Only someone with absolutely no awareness of technology and how it works could buy that load of bull.
    Really? And you know this how? Where can I buy your books? Where can I find your software? Are you a registered developer? I worked for The Voyager Company. I worked for Calliope, I worked for Night Kitchen. My ebooks are published by U.C. Press, University of Chicago Press, and Random House, where I worked on ebooks in The Modern Library, and typeset books like Walden, Plutarch's Lives and Les Miserables.

    Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have hired me as a consultant on digital text.

    Have you even worked in licensing? I have; licensing images, content, fonts, software and audio. I've done rights work for software and printed books.

    Software licensing is a one-time cost, not per volume.
    No, dude, it's not. They charge a per unit fee for a lot of things. Like licensing CODECs. Like licensing fonts (a number of ebook standards use embedded fonts. Those have to be paid for, even if they're Web standard fonts). Image compression software is a per unit license. DRM is a per unit license. Image licensing is a per use fee in digital or print. So is audio.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Not sure about DRM -- but as you say, DRM isn't a good thing, and in any case it's not more than about a dollar per volume.
    See? You say you are "Not sure," but then you pull a figure out of your ass. I've done the licensing. I am sure. Unlike you, I am not guessing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Server and software costs, tech support, multiple file formats, all that's overhead and when divided by the number, not only of e-book titles issues but by number actually sold, comes to next to nothing, especially when you realize that for most of them the dividend in the equation should also include all print volumes the publisher produces, plus office activities.
    Yeah, you've never worked in corporate finances either. You realize that the publisher carries the costs for six months to a year? That the author is paid an advance before the publisher has made any money? That all those people who work on the book, as well as the support staff, have to be paid? Those are all costs of publishing a book. And in ebook publishing you have additional server costs, and tech support costs, and additional QA costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    Look. People self-produce and self-publish e-books all the time and offer them for free. (No, no one makes a profit doing that, of course.) With one computer, two software programs (a word processor and a Web browser) and Internet access. That's all you need to produce an e-book for the premium outlets such as Amazon.
    Yeah. I know. This is harsh, but most of those books are what we call text dumps. The text is dumped from a word processor into a digital shell--often .pdf or Kindle. Amazon is not a premium outlet. Depending on who made the Kindle, and whether or not they use the internal Amazon work flow tools, the book is poorly made. Most of the time, the books are not what I'd call professional.

    As a piece of writing, frankly, an awful lof of those self-published books are crap; many are barely in English. (I should probably mention that in addition to working in the production side of publishing, I've been a reader and editor. I also have a Ph.D. in English.)

    Most of those books are not professional ebooks. They're really not. And I wouldn't buy them. Most publications don't even review them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    . . . then they're lying or being misleading, as that guy is.
    "that guy" is Bob Miller; editor and publisher of Harper Studio.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Miller
    I agree that e-books should be priced lower than physical books. But I don’t agree that being profitable at $27.99 translates to being profitable at $9.99. It only costs us about $2.50-$3.00 less for us to publish the e-book, not $18.00 less. The right price is certainly one that a consumer will pay, but we won’t have books for them to buy if authors and publishers can’t make any money. So we need to find the right pricing somewhere between the hardcover list price and the money-losing $9.99 that Amazon is teaching consumers to expect.
    From here.

    Great so you think he's "lying or being misleading" and I am "someone with absolutely no awareness of technology."

    Dude, did I mention that I'm one of the two people who admins the server you're posting on?

    You go on about corporations, and teh evil. But while I am cognizant of the problems inherent in corporations, having worked for them and as a stock owner, I see it differently than you.

    I know the peopl who work in publishing. I know them. I know publishers, editors, designers, typesetters, sales, PR and marketing folk. I know agents. I know these people as colleagues and friends. They are there, even the marketing folk, because they love books. I've seen them go to bat for a book that they think people need to read, even if it's not going to make a lot of money. I also know artists and authors. Who are paid based on a percentage of cover price.

    You are talking about "your impressions." You're entitled to have your opinion, of course--and certainly, you shouldn't buy something you don't want to buy. However, you're yet another person who is not informed about how publishing works spouting off about how it's broken.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    My impression of the big publishing houses at this time is that they are too set, too fixed on trying to preserve the broken brick-and-mortar model of bookselling, to adapt well to the new circumstances.
    I suggest that before you set out to fix something (and no, it's not broken) you should learn how it actually works. The fact that you can't get the publisher's name right--it's Macmillan--is probably indicative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rush View Post
    So although I do think Amazon is being bloody unreasonable here, I have no sympathy for McMillan, either. In terms of where e-book pricing should be set, Amazon is right (which doesn't excuse their behavior of course), and McMillan is wrong. As it and other big publishers are about a lot of other things.
    Here's what Macmillan, via John Sargent, has proposed:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Sargent of Macmillan
    Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.
    Last edited by Medievalist; 09-24-2013 at 02:04 AM.

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