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Amazon Folds

Per the message boards at Amazon:

Dear Customers:
Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.

The onus will be on Macmillan to provide reasonable pricing. I have my doubts.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

88 Comments

  1. Amy
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 17:25:53

    I’m disappointed that Amazon folded so early. I assume they had to do so because of some contractual obligation to make the books available for sale. I think it is ridiculous to price ebooks at these rates.

    To authors who are with Macmillan: I am very sorry, but I need to vote with my pocketbook. Since owning an ereader, my per copy book purchases have increased each month (compared to my print copy purchases back in the pre-ereader days) because (1) I love the convenience and instant gratification and (2) I usually buy ebooks at some discount over paperback books (with coupons, promotions, etc.) so my money stretches farther. However, so long as Macmillan is going to force retailers to price ebooks at or close to the price of hardcover, same as print books, etc., I will need to shop for your books at the used bookstores or eBay or other online used bookstores; and I will start going to the library again to look for your books. I understand this will hurt your bottom line as well but I just cannot support such pricing for ebooks because, more importantly, it hurts my bottom line.

  2. hapax
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 17:39:35

    I looked to see if this was posted elsewhere and couldn’t find it, so I’m mentioning here a very interesting take on this whole kerfuffle by Tobias Buckell. He says much better than I could why the whole fight isn’t over the set price but over price flexibility.

  3. me
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 17:39:39

    What Amy said.

  4. Kerry D.
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 17:40:59

    John Scalzi had a very interesting post yesterday, discussing not the actually disagreement between the two, but the timing of Amazon’s foot-stomping. He predicted it would be resolved by Monday and hey look, it has. I find myself feeling his comments were probably spot on.

    It’s All About Timing

  5. CR
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 17:47:16

    Ditto Amy

  6. MariaESchneider
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:11:57

    J.A. Konrath has an interesting take on it as well over on his blog.

    I think Amazon got pricing into the public eye. And now, when they raise prices on many books, more consumers are going to know why–an entire weekend of bloggers told readers about this issue and who asked that ebook prices be set higher…

  7. Keishon
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:19:34

    Well played Amazon. Well played.

  8. Janet W
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:20:46

    @MariaESchneider — could you link to Konrath’s blog?

    Here’s what I did over this whole kerfluffle — and bear in mind that I buy tons of stuff from Amazon, new books, used books, music, DVDs … a LOT! So it REALLY pissed me off that they would insert an artificial barrier between me and a publishing house. Where do they get off? I marched off to my local independent bookstore and bought a Tor/Robert Jordan book from them and told them to throw up a Macmillan display right quick.

    That being said, I don’t own an e-reader and I have zero interest in buying anything I can’t share, own, is badly edited, whatever. But I believe in the marketplace of ideas and commerce — let Macmillan charge what they want and let consumers decide. Just don’t … Amazon, are you listening? Just don’t tell me I can’t buy anything I want on your website because that’s what I’m used to. If I don’t get it, I’ll go somewhere else. I have a brain, if I don’t like the price, I won’t press BUY. You do not have to decide for me.

  9. Ridley
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:22:02

    $14.99 for an ebook, how absurd.

    That’s why I don’t read NY pubbed erotic romance. It’s too much money for what I’m getting. They’re no better written than their MMPB cousins.

    Seeing as how I’m no skinflint – I just dropped $100 a few hours ago at Fictionwise (crazy sales going on!) – that’s gotta tell you somethhing.

  10. lorenet
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:24:59

    @Amy:
    I agree.
    It’s a sad day for consumers of reading material.

  11. valor
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:25:28

    The problem I have with this entire argument is that I have never paid more than $8 for an ebook, which I buy directly from publishers’ websites (occasionally ebooks.com). I generally pay less than $5 per book. Therefore, Amazon’s fixed price of 9.99 is at least 2 dollars more, and often more than twice as much, as I pay buying directly from a publisher. This has always struck me as exorbitant, and was one of the large factors in my purchase of a Sony ereader instead of a Kindle. So when Amazon is saying “we’re trying to provide for the reader,” I can’t believe them. So, I’m on Macmillan’s side here, because I’ve bought an ebook from them, so I believe that they want true flexibility, and not the chance to hike the prices beyond the pale.

  12. Katie
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:29:09

    Well, I haven’t bought (and I won’t) a MacMillan book in months because of there ridiculous MMBP ebook prices. So this hasn’t affected my purchasing. However, I’m afraid other publishers will follow suit, especially the ones Apple pointed out had already signed on to there new Ibook store…. For the sake of Authors I’m glad Amazon capitulated, but I wonder if this is just the first domino to fall? If so looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time at my UBS and a lot less with my ereader.

  13. Bianca
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:38:51

    @Ridley: Agreed. In a recession, too. It’ll give rise to more piracy, in my opinion.

    Also, I almost cannot believe that there are people are on Macmillan’s side. It’s like #logicfail to the nth degree, imo. Yay, let’s all pay exorbitant prices to prop up a dying business model! I’m no big fan of Amazon, but — seriously, guys. Let’s just hope Macmillan’s pricing doesn’t start a trend.

  14. Jane
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:41:36

    @Bianca A lot of authors are really invested in the traditional publishing model. If the current business model of advances against royalties stumbles, that means they’ll have to do a lot more work to sell their books. They’ll have to think more business and less craft or maybe just more business and many, many authors don’t want that to happen. Further, aspiring authors don’t want that to happen. They want to cash in on the traditional model of publishing as well hoping for the advance that allows them to quit their job and write full time. So there is a lot of personal investment in the vocal community of authors and aspiring to be published authors to preserve the status quo.

  15. angie
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 18:43:36

    I have not been reading nearly as much due to business obligations and night classes. I now have to be selective with my time and my new book purchases have gone way down. I have been relying on trading books or getting them at the library even more than ever. The exception to this is my list of auto-buy authors, but it won’t take much to push me not buy any new books. In fact economically it really doesn’t make sense to buy new books for me anymore.

    I like the convenience of the Kindle, but really don’t like paying that much money for a book that I don’t own or can’t share. There are so many books out there it would take a whole lot to convince me to pay $14.99 for a ebook. Even my auto buy authors are competing for my time like never before. How many people like me will just decide it is not worth it anymore?

  16. MariaESchneider
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:19:26

    @Janet W: Here’s the link to his blog.

    http://jakonrath.blogspot.com

    Maria

  17. FD
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:24:45

    I’ve been watching this with interest (from the UK) since the Net Book agreement was ruled illegal here by the OFT in ’97 and generally, price-fixing laws here are quite restrictive.

    I can’t see how this one is going to fly really, as this appears to be a clear attempt to force a price on the market.
    I’d love a UK legal take on this as I have to wonder if the proposed ‘agency’ relationship with Amazon (which might get them around the price-fixing accusation) would be considered a legal fiction by the OFT if Amamzon continues to provide all the services currently associated with the ebooks for sale at their site.

    In the meantime, until Macmillan follows through on their ‘variable pricing’ and finds a model that I consider to be reasonable pricing, I will not be buying new Macmillan books from anyone, in any format. I’ll buy secondhand, or borrow from the library. And as for Amazon – I quite like the book depository, and I’m getting used to the lack of tracking!

  18. hapax
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:25:08

    They'll have to think more business and less craft or maybe just more business and many, many authors don't want that to happen. Further, aspiring authors don't want that to happen.

    Hey, you know what? I’m a reader, and I don’t want that to happen either.

    When I read a book, I want the author to be thinking one hundred percent about craft. The more time s/he has to spend on marketing and price points and distributor discounts is the less time spent on writing books.

    If you read what Macmillan has stated, there wasn’t anything about jacking ebook prices up to $15 permanently. What they were looking for was *flexibility* — to sell the ebook for, say, $15 when the book is new and hot, and drop the price to maybe $5 when the mmpb comes out, maybe give it away for free when it the fifth or sixth book in the series is published to promote the new title.

    While what Amazon is demanding is the ability to set prices, period.

    If you accept the premise (and not everybody does) that most people who buy ebooks are not buying other formats, what determines book profits is volume. Right now, sales of hardcovers are at least an order of magnitude greater than sales of ebooks; sales of trades are an order of magnitude greater than hc; and sales of mmpbk are an order of magnitude greater than trade.

    Since the physical costs of producing a print book are (depending on how you figure it) between 5 – 15 % of the cost, it’s easy to see why an e book is actually MORE expensive than a hc for a publisher to produce, on a per book basis.

    Right now, Amazon is losing money on those 9.99 e-books — they are selling them for less than the publisher charges.

    But if Amazon retains a stranglehold monopoly over distribution, and e-book growth over the next decade is sufficiently great that a, say, 4.99 price point is feasible on a per book basis, does anyone think that Amazon will drop their price accordingly?

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    I’m not saying that the publishers are playing it all that smart here. But by working for the flexibility of the agency model, rather than the wholesaler / retailer monopoly that Amazon is angling for, I suspect that they have a better chance of maintaining viability than does Amazon.

  19. Ridley
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:30:43

    @MariaESchneider:

    I like his thoughts on piracy. He seems to actually get it, unlike many authors.

  20. Jessica G.
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:41:14

    I won’t be buying MacMillan books at least for a while. If I’m interested in one of their books, I’ll just look to see if there’s an older book by that author through another publisher.

    I’ll still be spending the same amount of money on ebooks I do every month. Except now, more of my money goes to smart epublishers like Harlequin, or Smashwords (which I’m loving right now, had a few good reads from there).

  21. anon
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:49:17

    “$14.99 for an ebook, how absurd.

    “That's why I don't read NY pubbed erotic romance. It's too much money for what I'm getting. They're no better written than their MMPB cousins.

    “Seeing as how I'm no skinflint – I just dropped $100 a few hours ago at Fictionwise (crazy sales going on!) – that's gotta tell you somethhing.”

    As a longtime e-book author, and a consumer, I’m glad to hear this. And thanks for posting this, too. I hope the public ultimately makes the decision for Macmillan.

  22. Naomi
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 20:10:33

    From the publishers view point, I can understand their price flexibility to about 15$ with the way Amazon goes about it. J.A Konrath nails it. But from a readers view point, there would be, of course, skeptical and outrage. Who wants to pay for virtual property the same price as a hardcover? Our choices for reading are physically holding the book in our hands (price range is about right with shipment/material/cover) and the book we are reading from our kindle/e-reader/computer (which suddenly rises up to the same price as a physical copy with no material/manufacturing/etc). Ebooks reduces the cost compared to a physical copy. Although, people will buy more reasonable price ebooks than hardcover price ebooks.

    But I guess Amazon loses the reins in this. Ah well, I don’t mind being patient when an book of mine (I’m a ebook/kindle reader) comes out till the price comes out. If not, I’ll buy a used copy instead or the library instead if I’m desperate. I’m not adjusting my budget when it comes to books. And I rather like review blogs (like Dear Author/Book smugglers) so they can weigh in on the book before its released. I sometimes don’t buy any books (no matter if I’m fan) if its price range is high and I don’t hear a bit of feedback from any readers. With this change in prices, I’m 100% weary. Quality counts with that price.

  23. Jane
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 20:20:54

    @hapax I don’t think one party – Amazon – being in control of the ebook market is a good thing. I think competition is a good thing. But RPM’s do not encourage competition. It creates artificial price floors and that’s bad for the consumer.

    What I don’t agree with in all of this is that the 9.99 price point is not sustainable even with all the costs that go into creating an ebook. (One major cost is DRM!) The 9.99 price point can be profitable but it cannot sustain the current traditional business model.

    I absolutely understand why many authors want to preserve the existing model. The lure is too wonderful. Who wouldn’t like to get six figure advances and be able to just write and nothing else? It’s completely understandable.

    However, from a consumer point of view, I don’t have to accept the claim that I am not sufficiently supporting an author’s position by desiring lower priced ebooks particularly when the value of the ebook is so much lower (no resale, trade, sharing).

    It’s one of those areas in which I think there is an inherent conflict between a reader and an author. It’s easy to see why readers side with Amazon and want lower prices even with the dangers of Amazon creating a dominant ebook market share and it’s easy to see why authors want to leverage the prices of books upward.

  24. Chrissy
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 20:30:34

    MacMillan is stupid to charge those prices, but frankly… they can if they want. And consumers can refuse to pay it.

    I’m sick of Amazon being so damned dictatorial. And frankly, the response used loaded language that looked pretty sulky and unprofessional.

    On a positive, though unrelated note, OMG THAT SAMHAIN AD IS GORGEOUS.

  25. Tina
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 20:36:32

    Wait, is this is the same company that had 14.99 as the list price for the ebook version of a Lisa Kleypas mass market paperback book that never came out in hardcover.

    Cuz, yeah, stuff like that will seriously have me throwing my money at them. Sorry. I have a personal threshold over which I will not walk to pay for certain non-essential goods. 14.99 is more than I will ever be willing to pay for an ebook.

    The shame of it is, I was one of those people whose buying patterns changed with the purchase of my e-reader. Prior to the e-reader, I bought all but my very favorite authors used.

    With the e-reader, the price points were so comfortable that I bought more new in the last year than I had in the whole past ten years.

    This whole mess will make me very, very careful about where and with whom I spend my money.

  26. joannef
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 20:44:33

    “Since the physical costs of producing a print book are (depending on how you figure it) between 5 – 15 % of the cost, it's easy to see why an e book is actually MORE expensive than a hc for a publisher to produce, on a per book basis”

    Huh? You just lost me. When you factor in storage, printing (and the manpower involved), materials, transport, etc; exactly HOW is the production of an ebook MORE than a hc? I've never heard an explanation of this that makes any sense. This is one argument I have never believed; and since an ebook is a computer file that requires practically no physical materials to produce, store, or deliver to customers, I doubt I ever will. Editing costs? Please! Do they not edit the hc & pb?

    I'm just thankful that I've never bought a kindle. Until they lower the price of the device and books to something remotely reasonable and shake out all the legal, pricing, and technical issues, I'll be perfectly happy with my archaic, low-cost, tradeable, shareable, sellable, donateable paperbacks. It just isn't worth spending a couple hundred bucks for the privilege of paying more for something I don't really even own, than I'm currently paying for something that has the exact same content and is mine to use as I wish. The convenience of the kindle is far outweighed by all the related costs and general BS, IMHO. My paperbacks may be sensible and uncool, but so are my shoes – just how I like them.

  27. joanne
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 20:52:58

    @Chrissy:

    On a positive, though unrelated note, OMG THAT SAMHAIN AD IS GORGEOUS.

    I’ve been thinking that same thing all week! An absolutely gorgeous ad for Samhain and incredibly sexy without the usual in-your-face.

    Sorry, now back to your regularly scheduled program.

  28. Bonnie
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:04:38

    Well, at least we have a choice now.

    Nice knowing you, Ms. Kleypas. Hope to see you again sometime. :)

  29. anon
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:06:10

    It’s a shame Amazon couldn’t find a big enough pair of pliers to pull Macmillan’s head out of its ass.

    Maybe a brutal lack of ebook sales will accomplish that?

    I hope enough readers will find those prices as regrettably untenable as I do. There are plenty of more sanely priced ebooks in this world. I guess Macmillan will be learning that the hard way.

  30. Ridley
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:07:00

    @Chrissy:

    It is a lovely ad.

  31. CC
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:09:12

    There is no law that says a publisher has to produce an ebook – period.

    If I make a dress, I want to set the price for it, to cover the expensives of it and make a profit. If the middleman doesn’t like my price I sell it somewhere else. The middleman doesn’t tell me I have to charge X or not sell the dress. The middleman tells me I have to charge X to sell through him.

    Even if Amazon thinks it’s the only game in town, it isn’t.

  32. Victoria Dahl
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:41:29

    I absolutely understand why many authors want to preserve the existing model. The lure is too wonderful. Who wouldn't like to get six figure advances and be able to just write and nothing else? It's completely understandable.

    I’d say maybe 5% of authors I know make anything close to this amount, and usually those kinds of advances are paid for several books at a time, meaning the releases might stretch over 2-3 years. Hardly a matter of writers being lured in by the easy life. Frankly, I’m happy to have finally started earning a living wage.

    It’s still not your or any reader’s concern, but it does allow authors to be paid for the work as they are putting it in. Not that my opinion of the advance model will extend its life, but I’d argue against any assertion that it’s a luxury. A dinosaur, *maybe*, but not a golden ticket for most of us. I’d just hate for readers to think of authors taking sides because they’re worried they’ll have to switch to a lower quality of caviar.

  33. Victoria Dahl
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:43:16

    Ack! Can’t get back in to edit and my font is so ugly! Sorry, everyone.

  34. Jane
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:46:06

    @Victoria Dahl: Of course the number of authors getting six figure contracts is tiny. That’s why I call it the “lure”. To many authors, keeping that dream viable is very important and I understand why.

    And I do think the advance model is a luxury because you are paid in advance for sales that have yet to occur. Yes, you have put work into it, but it hasn’t made a sale to the consumer yet. It has been sold, though, to the publisher.

    I wonder if this advance system is why so many authors view themselves as employees.

  35. Jane
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 21:59:45

    @Victoria Dahl Actually luxury is not the right word. I shouldn’t have used it. The advance system is an interesting one and, generally speaking, it’s not a wrong business model. I think that way that it has been employed by publishers in a sort of reckless gamble has created a very tenuous position for them and thus pressure is working its way down the supply channel to the readers in a negative fashion.

  36. brooksse
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 22:03:21

    If you read what Macmillan has stated, there wasn't anything about jacking ebook prices up to $15 permanently.

    No, they don’t state it explicitly. But Macmillan’s current pricing has some ebooks listed at double the list price of the concurrent mass market paperback version. And the head of Macmillan is on record as not liking ebooks. So I don’t have any faith in Macmillan that this battle is just about hardback prices.

    Here are some of the current prices listed on Macmillan’s website.

    Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – Susan Donovan
    - mmpb list $7.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Out of the Deep I Cry – Julia Spencer-Fleming
    - mmpb list $7.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Loves Me, Loves Me Knot – Heidi Betts
    - mmpb list $6.99 / ebook list $14.00

    The Heir – Barbara Taylor Bradford
    - mmpb list $7.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Wickedly Ever After – Michelle Marcos
    - mmbp list $6.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Between their fear of piracy and their belief that ebooks are cutting into hardback sales, I don’t have much faith in any of the NY pubs when it comes to ebooks.

  37. Ann K
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 22:04:44

    Charles Stross (an author who has books published with Tor) has an interesting take on the whole issue:

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsiders.html

    His belief is that it’s not about pricing at all. It’s about control of the supply chain:

    This whole mess is basically about duelling supply chain models.

    Publishing is made out of pipes. Traditionally the supply chain ran: author -> publisher -> wholesaler -> bookstore -> consumer.

    Then the internet came along, a communications medium the main effect of which is to disintermediate indirect relationships, for example by collapsing supply chains with lots of middle-men.

    From the point of view of the public, to whom they sell, Amazon is a bookstore.

    From the point of view of the publishers, from whom they buy, Amazon is a wholesaler.

    From the point of view of Jeff Bezos’ bank account, Amazon is the entire supply chain and should take that share of the cake that formerly went to both wholesalers and booksellers. They do this by buying wholesale and selling retail, taking up to a 70% discount from the publishers and selling for whatever they can get. Their stalking horse for this is the Kindle publishing platform; they’re trying to in-source the publisher by asserting contractual terms that mean the publisher isn’t merely selling them books wholesale, but is sublicencing the works to be republished via the Kindle publishing platform. Publishers sublicensing rights is SOP in the industry, but not normally handled this way — and it allows Amazon to grab another chunk of the supply chain if they get away with it, turning the traditional publishers into vestigial editing/marketing appendages.

    The agency model Apple proposed — and that publishers like Macmillan enthusiastically endorse — collapses the supply chain in a different direction, so it looks like: author -> publisher -> fixed-price distributor -> reader. In this model Amazon is shoved back into the box labelled ‘fixed-price distributor’ and get to take the retail cut only. Meanwhile: fewer supply chain links mean lower overheads and, ultimately, cheaper books without cutting into the authors or publishers profits.

    Amazon are going to fight this one ruthlessly because if the publishers win, it destroys the profitability of their business and pushes prices down.

  38. brooksse
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 22:50:20

    Even if Amazon thinks it's the only game in town, it isn't.

    I don’t think this will apply to just Amazon: “I gave them our proposal for new terms of sale for e books under the agency model which will become effective in early March.” Since it’s their new policy, they must be planning to apply it to all ebook retailers across the board. If retailers don’t accept Macmillan’s new ebook policy, they will face “extensive and deep windowing of titles.”

    Macmillan can set whatever prices they want, it’s the not letting retailers discount those prices that irritates me. And it makes me wonder how long before the other NY pubs who’ve jumped on the Apple bandwagon start to follow suit.

    It also has me wondering about Books on Board & Fictionwise who offer reward dollars & micropay rebates and if Macmillan considers those discounts, even if purchasers have to pay list price before receiving credits. And if reward dollars & rebates won’t be considered discounts, then I hope Amazon starts offering “deep and extensive” rebates on Macmillan ebook titles.

  39. Amy
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 23:14:13

    @brooksse:

    Macmillan can set whatever prices they want, it's the not letting retailers discount those prices that irritates me. And it makes me wonder how long before the other NY pubs who've jumped on the Apple bandwagon start to follow suit.

    This is really the key reason why I was rooting for Amazon. I also agree that having Amazon control the ebook market is not a good thing (and that belief drove my purchase decision when I decided to buy a Sony reader instead of the Kindle). Further, Amazon’s pricing practice has no real effect on me because I prefer my Sony and I don’t want to mess with trying to change the codes of Kindle books. Since I started using my Sony. Amazon has lost hundreds of my book purchase dollars as they went to fictionwise, booksonboard, eHarlequin, etc. for compatible ebook files. But I was nevertheless happy to see Amazon’s move on Friday because it seemed like MacMillan needed a smack down so to speak. I have long been irritated at how MacMillan has been pricing its ebooks, and I didn’t buy a few of my previously favorite authors’ books last year because the ebooks were priced ridiculously higher than the print versions.

  40. mary beth
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 23:15:44

    I understand traditional publishing’s fear. They’ve got to be looking at the struggling newspaper and magazine industry and wondering how an earth they can keep from heading down that same no one wants to pay for the content path.
    I think Amazon ended up keeping the reader informed, even if it took a few hours for that to happen.
    Hopefully Macmillan and any other publishing house that goes this route won’t always keep their e-prices higher than print prices. I have no problem paying the hardcover price for a new book published in hardcover also, but if I’m asked to pay that hefty price for an older book or a book released as mass market or trade, I’ll just find a different book, or wait and check it out at the library.
    It’s extremely important for all publishers to realize the days of paper products are limited. A handful of years ago, I’d have never believed that to be the case, but the writing’s on the wall.All publishers need to embrace digital publishing and the readers there already AND figure out a way to still pay their authors.
    They should not be punishing those of us who choose to read electronic formats.
    Thanks Jane for the great post and keeping us posted on the updates. I totally didn’t get what the big deal was when it started, but you’ve carefully and concisely explained the issues.

  41. kirsten saell
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 23:48:34

    @valor:

    The problem I have with this entire argument is that I have never paid more than $8 for an ebook, which I buy directly from publishers' websites (occasionally ebooks.com). I generally pay less than $5 per book. Therefore, Amazon's fixed price of 9.99 is at least 2 dollars more, and often more than twice as much, as I pay buying directly from a publisher.

    This!

    It is not a sad day–not by a long shot.

    I’ve purchased exactly one ebook that was more than $8, and it was nonfiction. What’s so horrible about letting McMillan set the price it wants and letting the market choose not to buy? They’ll figure it out eventually (when other, more rational publishers outsell them like crazy) and lower prices to something sane.

    I honestly think this is a good thing. What McMillan chooses to do with it could be good or bad, but the way I look at it is now a publisher has a deal where they set the price and they only give up 30% of it (instead of 50-65%) to the middle man. The publisher netting a higher percentage of cover price (and the author also raking in a percentage of that higher net), means that they have the flexibility to lower prices as well as raise them.

    Assuming Amazon’s discount used to be 50% and it’s now a 30% commission per sale, that $15 ebook (marked down to $9.99) used to net them $7.50. Now that $15 ebook will earn them $3 more, but a $9.99 list price ebook that used to net them $5, now gets them just 50 cents less than the $15 one used to. And an $8 ebook that used to net them $4, will now earn them $5.60, a 40% increase in revenue.

    With some publishers, Amazon takes 65% (which is insane). That $15 ebook (discounted to $9.99) that used to net this publisher $5.25–if they used this agency model with these terms, they could price that ebook at $7.50 and make the same money.

    Even if their commission was higher–say 40%–they’d still only have to price the book at about $8.75 to keep earning that $5.25 per copy. And an $8 ebook would earn them $4.80 instead of $2.80, upping their per copy revenue by 70%.

    And Amazon may end up making more money in the long run, with a straight commission based on cover price and no need to use their profit margin and swallow losses on so many titles in order to fix prices.

    All consumers have to do is buy or not, as they see fit. I do this all the time now, because no matter how many people insist $9.99 is a great price for an ebook, I still haven’t bought that line of bullshit. I’ll either wait until the price comes down (which it might if publishers had the freedom to drop prices without their revenues being cut in half or more over a few dollars list price), or I won’t buy and eventually the industry will come around on its own.

  42. Camp
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 03:23:50

    *whistles* I thought that piracy was bad now, but this move is gonna raise the tide even more. I do wonder, however, that Macmillan states that the price ranges will be 11-15$, does that mean that paperbacks (8.99$/9.99$) are going to be cheaper than the ebook version (ex: minimum 11$)? Are they going to be reasonable in that area or still insist with their ridiculous amount of money to be paid for? Likewise, Amazon bent over fast, hopefully publishers won’t follow suit. Then again, if they want book X to be XX$, then whose to say they’re wrong? If it’s their choice, then let them be; customers don’t have to follow suit – I’m certainly not following MacMillan in their terms of upping the prices. Do they think the higher prices on ebooks outweighs the amount of buyers purchasing the 9.99$ ebooks and the overall amount? Around the blog sphere, the answers seems to be leaning towards ‘yes’. Even for my favorite series, I’d take the right price and not any higher. I’d rather wait for the price to go down or probably forget it and go for another book. In the end, it’s just business.

  43. pooks
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 06:44:03

    @Janet W:

    Here's what I did over this whole kerfluffle -’ and bear in mind that I buy tons of stuff from Amazon, new books, used books, music, DVDs … a LOT! So it REALLY pissed me off that they would insert an artificial barrier between me and a publishing house. Where do they get off?

    Exactly.

    Just put the books on the site and let me decide how much I’m willing to pay. I’m a big girl. I don’t need somebody else deciding for me.

    And btw, Macmillan? You’re insane if you think I’m paying 14.99 for an ebook, but you’ll figure it out when they don’t sell.

    I’m glad that amazon’s (bezos’) little tantrum is over. Now, maybe I can snag Wolf Hall, like I intended to over the weekend.

  44. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 06:52:14

    I think this alarmist notion that higher-priced ebook books lead to piracy is sheer nonsense. After all, my books are NOT DRMd and I don’t have one for sale that is more than $7.99. Fictionwise has them discounted for 45-65% off and has had them so since before Christmas, and guess what, my books are still pirated.

    The market will do what it does. There are people who want what they want when they want it. They’ll pay $100 for an ARC, or double the price for whatever the latest gadget etc… Because they like the immediacy of it. I think we forget sometimes that the people online reading blogs and kvetching about these issues is a tiny percentage of the reading public. Most people see their favorite author’s latest and they buy it or not depending on what they want to spend.

    As for authors being lured by the prospect of six-figure advances, well, that varies too. Having seen any number of my friends lose their contracts last year, (none which were anywhere near that range) personally I’m more comfortable with the e-pub model. Some would say “nobody will take a percentage over an advance.” Some will, some won’t. The market does what it does.

    My opinion on this issue has nothing to do with the prospect of advances, or being a fat, lazy author trying to gouge the unsuspecting public. After all, I’m not with a NYC publisher and have little or no chance of being with one. Thus, I have no dog in this fight. I simply believe that the $9.99 price set by Amazon has more to do with selling Kindles than it does with selling e-books. Seeing as how MacMillan gets no benefit from that I don’t know why anyone would expect them to help Amazon sell Kindles.

  45. Heather
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 07:50:26

    Here’s an interesting blog from Gravitational Pull on how the big publishers view eBooks: http://gravitationalpull.net/wp/?p=1243

    (Found of JA Konrath’s blog on “Selling Paper.”

  46. RStewie
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 08:30:44

    I can understand both sides of this equation: Amazon wants to be able to sell at a low price-point, Macmillan wants to be able to continue dictating prices to resellers, and consumers want a reasonable price point established for e-books.

    I don’t buy ebooks from Amazon. I don’t have a Kindle and am not interested in installing conversion software on my laptop. All my ebook purhases are either with BOB, the ebook presses directly, or sometimes one of the print publishers directly (although their prices suck eggs, generally). I don’t pay more than $7 for an ebook.

    What I find distressing about this scenario, though, is that Macmillan is purposely pricing themselves out of the ebook market. That means no Macmillan authors for me, and I haz a sad about that.

    When are publishers going to accept this new format and really put some effort into making it work? Macmillan is only one of several print publishers that haven’t wrapped their head around ebooks, and this is only another instance of a forward thinking entity (Amazon–who I think is one of the only major retailers out there to embrace and really TRY to get ebooks to work for them) butting its head against a brick wall (Macmillan–who is on the record for being against ebooks and whose actions are explicit evidence of this stance).

  47. Sandia
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 08:48:12

    I still don’t see that any Macmillan books are available for sale on Amazon – paper or e-versions.

    Personally – I believe in the retailer’s right to set prices. If Macmillan wants to go the agency route for pricing, it should be that way for all their paper and e-versions, not just their e-books. I feel like the publishers are choosing to punish me for the way I want to consume books. And if they keep doing it, I just won’t consume their books.

    For me, I was going to purchase the newest Julia Spencer-Fleming book, but now, I’m probably going to just borrow it from the Library.

  48. stevie
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 09:04:29

    I personally have no time for a business which believes its customers are too stupid to understand the definition of the word ‘monopoly’.

    But clearly others take a different view…

  49. DS
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 09:33:27

    I went to check out Kage Baker’s books after hearing about her death this morning– sad loss for sf– and the only one available directly from Amazon is a non-Tor book.

  50. MariaESchneider
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:19:45

    @roslynholcomb: Re: Piracy and higher prices. You might want to check out mobileread.com forums and some other forums on the subject. I was shocked to find out how many people post that high prices and DRM are their reason (or excuse) for pirating. I had…no idea. Whether these same people would continue to pirate if the prices were lower or not—well, it’s hard to say. But there were an alarming (alarming to me) number of people that used high prices and/or DRM as their reason/excuse. The other most quoted reason was books such as J.K. Rowling’s which have no legal ebook available.

    Most of the posters seemed to feel that 4 to 6 dollars was a fair price for an ebook–that site has done a poll or three on the subject.

    @Ridley, Konrath does have some interesting ideas, and he is outspoken about them. I thought his take on this particular situation was one of the better write-ups. Of course, he’s doing very well with his self-published titles on Kindle–and he has traditionally published titles and a following to help that process. He has the best of both worlds from an author standpoint.

    Maria

  51. Jody W.
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:20:07

    >>If the current business model of advances against royalties stumbles, that means they'll have to do a lot more work to sell their books. They'll have to think more business and less craft or maybe just more business and many, many authors don't want that to happen.

    Shame on us for not wanting to do MORE work! It’s so easy to sell our books now and rake in the dollars. Lazy bastards, all of us.

  52. Janie
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:42:20

    @Jody W.: OMG! I almost choked on my tea. Shame. Shame. Shame. Laughing. We authors only THINK ABOUT MONEY. Not trolling. but some of this is so…so comical. THINK ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE.

  53. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:44:04

    @MariaESchneider: I’ve seen those forums and I’ve actually had people tell me the same thing, and maybe if I didn’t have a background in criminal justice and know quite a bit about criminal behavior I might actually believe it. People pirate for the same reason people with thousands of dollars shoplift shoelaces and lipsticks: Because they can and there’s little likelihood of being caught.

    As I’ve said, my books aren’t DRMd, there are no geographic restrictions, and most of them can be had for less than $3, and yet there are folks on all the pirate sites asking for them. I don’t care what the price is, pirates are going to pirate. For them, no price beats free and the opportunity to “stick it to the man.” There’s an anti-social pathology at work here, and there’s not a whole helluva lot anyone can do about it. Those people are not readers, and thus aren’t even worth worrying about.

    Note: In this sense I’m not talking about the casual pirate who might download a book or two if she comes across it, and I’m certainly NOT talking about people who might share a book with a few friends, (I don’t even consider those people pirates), I’m talking about the people who upload dozens of book and spout nonsense rhetoric like “information wants to be free.”

  54. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:47:16

    @Jody W.: Well, Jane’s made it clear she doesn’t want us here. Presumably there’s a method to the madness.

  55. Janie
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:52:20

    Here’s a good link.

    Everyone check it out.

    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012156.html#012156

  56. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:52:33

    @Jody W. I’m not saying it’s shameful. I totally acknowledge that the current advance system is better for the author if it can be achieved. But, as a reader, I don’t have to want to support that in higher prices. I don’t think authors are lazy bastards and I’m sorry if I conveyed that to you.

    What I do believe is that if the digital market achieves a 30% market share, it is much easier for authors to sell direct. This will require more work on their behalf but also more profitability. If authors don’t want to go that route, there will no doubt be other options, but I would like to see more reasonable pricing in ebooks for what I am getting in terms of value (my perceived value).

  57. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:54:06

    @roslynholcomb Really? I’m sorry that you feel that way. My viewpoints and interests may not mesh with yours and you may find that because of that this site doesn’t represent you as well as you would like, but I wasn’t aware that I was telling you not to read or participate here.

  58. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 10:57:04

    @Jane: Jane, you said you wish there weren’t so many authors on this blog. I would think that by definition that would mean you don’t want us here.

    I have no problem with the fact that our goals and interests don’t mesh, but this thread has demonstrated a level of animosity and antipathy toward authors that I don’t think the situation warrants. After all, authors don’t set the prices and have little to do with the sale of e-books. I totally get that readers want lower prices, hell, I’m a reader too.

  59. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:03:36

    @Janie I do think about the big picture. The big picture for Macmillan is that they need to preserve the hardcover and at a certain price point in order to make their business profitable. Their actions are designed to promote the hardcover sales. Thus when they say that the 9.99 price point isn’t sustainable, it is because Macmillan is concerned that the 9.99 price point reduces the value of the hardcover. The 9.99 ebook price point is sustainable but not under their current business model.

    John Seargent, the CEO of Macmillan, acknowledges in an interview that is available online, that the growth in the publishing market is almost zero. Thus, any amelioration of the existing business model, any movement away from hardcover purchases, decreases the already small profit margin. Macmillan has no desire to experiment with ebook pricing for the benefit of the digital market. The pricing experimentation will be designed to further print book sales, particularly hardcover print book sales.

    I understand all this but I don’t have to agree with it because essentially, as an ebook reader, I would be subsidizing the traditional hardcover print market.

  60. Janie
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:03:54

    I love this one and have to share it. Why don’t you lovely ladies at DA analyze it.

    http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/?p=2138

  61. Victoria Dahl
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:04:57

    @Jane:

    It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something here… I’m so tired I just posted something to Twitter about being addicted to “heroine.” But I don’t get how the advance model affects e-book pricing. I do understand how the advance model doesn’t work for small pubs, but I don’t see any conflict between releasing books in e-format, even exclusively, and still paying on an advance model. An advance is just advance on royalties, whether it’s print or e-royalties.

    (And, Jane, I’m horrified when authors think of themselves as employees of the publisher. I think you may be correct about why.)

  62. Ridley
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:07:44

    @roslynholcomb:

    The casual pirate is the one to pay attention to. The info anarchist is a rare bird and isn’t a lost sale, since he wouldn’t have bought anything in the first place.

    It’s the casual downloader who eats into sales, although it’s hard to gauge by how much, because she buys the things she downloads, if they appeal to her. She’ll download when prices and DRM make downloading faster and easier, and buy when prices are reasonable and files clean of DRM.

    It’s how music and movie pirating went and it’ll be how books go.

    Book pirating is low right now. I don’t know anyone who does it, but I knew dozens of music and movie piraters pre Netflix, Pandora and DRM-free Amazon mp3. I downloaded obscene amounts of music myself.

    I can tell you, as a weak person, I’ll pirate books if prices go high and the DRM becomes oppressive. Right now it’s pretty easy to strip DRM and most ebooks are $5-6. If that changes, I’m reacquainting myself with the file sharing sites. Others will just not buy those overpriced products. In the end, we’ll have the same effect on sales.

  63. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:07:55

    @roslynholcomb I’m sorry that you feel that way. It’s true that I wish for more readers on the blog. I didn’t realize that was a bad thing.

  64. Victoria Dahl
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:10:40

    But maybe you’re just referring to the hardcover issue and e-books cannibalizing hardcover releases for big authors? My career is full-on paperback, so it’s possible I’m only thinking in those terms.

  65. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:12:32

    @Jane: But that’s not what you said, you said you wish there were fewer authors here, not more readers. Presumably all bloggers want more readers, I know I do. You specifically said you wished there were fewer authors here, as though authors aren’t readers as well. After all, I’m here for the same reason other readers are; book reviews and information. Your house, your rules. You don’t want authors here, and the comments you’ve made on this thread makes it abundantly clear. I’m not sure if it’s because you’ve had one too many encounters with batshit crazy authors or what, but your animosity is plain.

  66. Ridley
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:14:14

    @roslynholcomb:

    Find another blog if your feelings are hurt, and stop derailing this to be about you.

  67. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:15:49

    @Ridley: Actually Ridley, no pirate is a lost sale. I write the best book that I know how to write. My publisher makes it available at a price that will allow them to make a profit and pay me a reasonable royalty. Given those circumstances if people still want to steal them, hey, c’est la vie. But no price, no price will ever beat free for a certain segment of the population. There’s not a lot I can do about those people who’ve decided that my books aren’t worth $3.00

  68. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:15:52

    @Victoria Dahl I don’t know if I can explain it any better than I have. Maybe I’ll have to ask someone else to come in and do it for me.

    1. Hardcovers comprise the lion’s share of the profit for traditional trade publishers who have an advance paying, consignment selling based business model.

    2. The 9.99 price point which was started by Amazon resulted in no loss to the publisher (note Macmillan’s CEO saying that under the old model Macmillan earned more)

    3. The 9.99 ebook price point moves people away from buying the hardcover at retailers and discounters

    4. Macmillan believes (and could be totally correct) that the 9.99 price point for ebooks begins to devalue the hardcover in the eyes of the consumer.

    5. A reduction of hardcover sales or a reduction in the value of hardcover sales would result in a loss for the publisher.

  69. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:17:04

    @Ridley: Unless you’ve become one of “The Janes” it’s not your responsibility to police this blog.

  70. Ridley
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:21:40

    @roslynholcomb:

    I clicked on this thread to read about Amazon, Macmillan and publishing, not to read about some author turning the thread around to her and her feelings.

    I’m not policing it, I’m telling you you’ve moved on to annoying.

    You stated your case, Jane apologized, let it go or move elsewhere.

  71. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:21:46

    @Janie I do think that what is going to happen is that there will be really big advances for the biggest names and really small advances and that the middle list authors, the authors that always get the shaft, will have to seek out new publishing models.

    And no, I don’t think that as readers our whole goal should be to subsidize the traditional hardcover print but I understand where you are coming from even if I don’t agree with it.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “pick your battles carefully”. I love books. I do. But I’m not going to subsidize the hardcover print business model with my money. I’ll just have to find other means of entertaining myself.

  72. Victoria Dahl
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:25:38

    @Jane:

    Yes, my sleepiness made me think of it as a big picture question… how do advances make e-book prices go up overall… I admit I was thinking of the issue of e-books being priced HIGHER than their paperback versions. Admittedly, as a reader, I have no problem with an e-book at $14.99 when the hardcover is $24.99. So is the upset at pricing just the entire idea of hardcover releases at all?

    So let me ask this… still sleepy though. Just warning you. Amazon is selling books for $9.99 at a loss. What happens long-term? Presumably they plan to make a shitload of money at some point. *g*

  73. roslynholcomb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:26:25

    @Ridley: Well Ridley, you’ve been both annoying and obnoxious on pretty much every thread on this topic. I could’ve told you a long time ago to move on, but I’m not your mother and you’re not mine. It’s not my place to police your behavior and I’m not going to tolerate you trying to police mine.

    You can either read my posts, or not, that’s your call. And you’ll note, I didn’t say anything to Jane until she addressed ME. And btw, she did not apologize, nor do I want or expect an apology. She said what she felt, and I did the same. Presumably as adults we can do that without you trying to impose kindergarten rules.

  74. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:27:26

    @roslynholcomb I think that we get more authors commenting than readers although I get quite a few reader emails. Authors are readers but their points of view is primarily as authors and that point of view informs their comments.

    I don’t have animosity toward authors but I do have strong opinions. If my strong opinions on a topic have made you feel as if I have animosity toward you or any specific author, I apologize for that.

  75. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:31:15

    @Victoria Dahl What I am saying is that Macmillan (not all publishers) are trying to get people to buy hardcovers. To do that, you make ebooks less attractive.

    One of the reasons that publishers are beginning to window ebook releases is to force readers to buy the paper. Instead of windowing, publishers are saying, “we’ll charge you more for ebooks” in hopes that they buy more hardcovers.

    It’s not an easy issue. There are other things like driving consumer expectation, creating “value” for an ebook, and so forth that is all coming into play here.

  76. Victoria Dahl
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:39:08

    @Jane:

    I get what you’re saying now. But I do think the issue is less about the advance-paying model, and more about the SUPER-advance model. Would that be fair to say?

  77. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:40:54

    @Victoria Dahl I think it’s an advance paying model for hardcovers and trades. Mass markets aren’t even considered part of trade publishing by the business.

  78. joanne
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:46:00

    @roslynholcomb:

    People pirate for the same reason people with thousands of dollars shoplift shoelaces and lipsticks: Because they can and there's little likelihood of being caught.:

    This is off topic too but my thoughts on that have always been that the consequences of book pirating are almost, or maybe completely, nil.

    Like the person with a great deal of money who steals small priced items, the cost if caught pirating a book is relatively small and the social consequences even less since someone -or many someones- will think the thief should be defended.

    Until something changes that fact the pirates will continue on and the only real policing will be done by the authors.

  79. kirsten saell
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:56:47

    Ain't Too Proud to Beg – Susan Donovan
    - mmpb list $7.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Out of the Deep I Cry – Julia Spencer-Fleming
    - mmpb list $7.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Loves Me, Loves Me Knot – Heidi Betts
    - mmpb list $6.99 / ebook list $14.00

    The Heir – Barbara Taylor Bradford
    - mmpb list $7.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Wickedly Ever After – Michelle Marcos
    - mmbp list $6.99 / ebook list $14.00

    Under the previous system, lowering list price from $14 (effectively $9.99) to $6.99 or $7.99 would have reduced McMillan’s cut from $7 to $3.50 or $4.

    Customers would see only a $2 or $3 reduction in price, but McMillan would lose $3 or $3.50 on each sale.

    Lowering the list price to $9.99 would reduce McMillan’s cut from $7 to $5–and consumers would see no effective reduction in price because Amazon was selling the book for $9.99 anyway. Why would McMillan lower list price from $14 to $9.99 when the one taking the hardest hit is McMillan and consumers would see no benefit at all?

    Under the new system, they could net $7 on a $9.99 list price, and almost $5 on $6.99. I think it’s much more likely we’ll see lower list prices under the new system than the old. It might take a while for McMillan to wake up to the fact that consumers will buy at $8 what they wouldn’t at $15, and if they don’t, well, that’s their loss. But you can’t expect them to lower prices when it means cutting their profits in half–especially when Amazon was all too willing to swallow the loss for them.

  80. Jane
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 12:00:38

    @kirsten saell: That is simply not true. Why is this viewpoint being promulgated?

    Amazon pays Macmillan off the list price not what Amazon charges the customer. It is clear in the letter that Macmillan paid to be published that under the old system, it would be making more money because Amazon absorbed the loss.

    Please, please, please, stop promulgating this untrue information, at least here.

  81. kirsten saell
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 12:15:14

    Amazon pays Macmillan off the list price not what Amazon charges the customer. It is clear in the letter that Macmillan paid to be published that under the old system, it would be making more money because Amazon absorbed the loss.

    You’ve clearly misunderstood what I was saying because what you’ve written is my whole point.

    Under the old retail system where Amazon paid McMillan 50% of list price, why would McMillan lower list price to $9.99, and be paid 50% of $9.99 ($5), when they could be paid that same percentage of a $14 list price ($7) and have Amazon swallow the loss and sell the book for $9.99 anyway? That system was a disincentive to McMillan lowering list prices, because they’d only lower their profits and increase Amazon’s.

    The newer system is more flexible. It may not provide McMillan an incentive to lower prices, but at least it doesn’t provide a disincentive.

  82. Deb
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 12:15:44

    After thinking about this since Sat., I wonder if the higher price point (@ double in some cases) for the ebook version of original release mass market pbbs, is to help cover the ever increasing cost of remaindered hard covers, and returned ppbs. That right there is a money dump.

  83. kirsten saell
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 12:22:18

    ETA: But a 50% discount becoming a 30% commission means McMillan will earn more dollars and cents on books listed at less than $9.99 than they used to.

    To me, that makes it more likely that they’d be willing to experiment with lowering prices below the $9.99 price point–if they’re earning $5.60 on an $8 book now, when before they’d have had to list that book at over $11 to earn the same $5.60.

  84. cheap r4i
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 12:35:55

    New copies of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Andrew Young’s The Politician and other books published by Macmillan have been unavailable since Sunday on Amazon.com after the retailer pulled the titles in a surprising reaction to the publisher’s new pricing model for e-books. Amazon wants to hold down prices as competitors such as Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Apple line up to challenge its dominant position.

  85. Maili
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 13:16:36

    @Ridley:

    Book pirating is low right now.

    I certainly agree that illegal distribution of existing digital books is low.

    However, the current rate of pirated books (OCR-scanned print books that aren’t yet available digitally) is clearly on a rise. And rapidly.

    From October 2009 to January 2010, it’s assured that there’s about 60% rise from Oct 2007 to January 2008. The figures aren’t reliable, though, as gathering data is still inconsistent (different methods), but regardless, no matter how many turns we make on this: there is a definite rise.

    There’s a structure emerging among book scan teams, too – they are more organised and systematic now. Very similar to music and film teams. Their focus is largely on – as always – current editions of university textbooks and out-of-print books (fiction and non-fiction).

    With this in mind, authors and publishers ARE having ‘lost sales’ — by not having their backlists and current releases digitally available, and at reasonable prices.

    IMO, publishers should seriously consider right-clearing, digitalising and selling their catalogues ASAP. Preferably before book pirates make them available online, thus devaluing those out-of-print books.

    Sorry for derailing this thread as it shouldn’t be about piracy. Just wanted to back Ridley up on this.

  86. Estara
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 13:35:57

    on-topic: A reaction to this from author Laura Anne Gilman on her LJ:
    Laura Anne Gilman's insta-response

    ~

    RE: audience at this blog – one of the biggest attractions to me of this blog and Smart Bitches is that you get to hear readers and authors having opinions on stuff to do with all kinds of books, not just their own promo.

    I thought this was a lovely mixture… maybe the authors are just more articulate and we readers often just consume?

    My two cents ^^

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  88. Monday Motivation - thoughts on Amazon and MacMillan | Solelyfictional
    Feb 08, 2010 @ 14:11:34

    [...] So, there’s been a bit of a  kerfluffle between Macmillan and Amazon (documented, well, everywhere: DearAuthor falls broadly on Amazon’s side, PubRants broadly on [...]

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