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Are Penguin Kindle Books the Next Casualty of the Apple Pricing...

Update: Wall Street Journal reports that Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins have struck deals with Amazon. Most books will be priced at $12.99 to $14.99 but bestsellers will be priced at $9.99.   Just like Apple!

Update x 2: Books that are sourced by Ingram may no longer be downloadable until new agreements are struck even if you already purchased them.

A couple of readers tipped me off that the Kindle versions of Penguin books are no longer available for books beyond yesterday’s release date. In doing a search of my own it appears that all April books and forward have no Kindle availability. For some, the Kindle link shows up on the search page: Kindle link   no longer shows up.

Lisa Valdez Search Page

But not on the main book page as an alternative format:

Passion Print Page

When clicking on the Kindle link, it brings up a page but does not allow you to purchase the book.

Patience Kindle Page

The buy buttons for the physical books are still up.   I checked out the following books (among others) and the results were the same:

It occurs to me that for the Agency 5 books (Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon&Schuster, Penguin, and Hachette) that almost all retailers but Apple won’t have agreements in place by tomorrow rendering the iBookstore the only place where many of these digital books can be bought until new agreements are put in place.   Sony sent out an email to its readers stating the following:

Beginning April 1st some major publishers will be instituting a change in the pricing of eBooks, which puts decisions on eBook pricing firmly in their hands. As a result, prices of bestsellers and new releases from these publishers will be changing on the Reader Store, and during the transition time, some titles may be unavailable. Although most of these eBooks will be priced from about $12.99 to 14.99, there will  not be a broad pricing change across the Reader Store. In fact, new releases and bestsellers from other publishers will still be priced at $9.99.

Fictionwise said to me in response to a support query about the content it would be supplying in the future:

Yes, you will continue to receive your 15% discount.

Due to industry changes, our content suppliers are currently unable to offer certain titles from several large publishers. We are working with our content partners to resolve this.

Some retailers won’t be willing or able to come to those agreements.   At least in the short term, Apple and the publishers have effectively made Apple the only place to go for some books. Right now that appears to be just limited to Penguin books as it there are Kindle versions still available for pre order for Avon and Macmillan books.   I’m unsure about S&S and Hachette as I couldn’t remember off the top of my head what titles are releasing in April.   As I said on Sunday, this is going to get uglier before it gets better.

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

56 Comments

  1. Kristine Goetsch
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 15:27:10

    This is very discouraging news. As a Kindle owner, it is disheartening to think that I will no longer be able to purchase certain books from certain publishers. I know that the whole DRM issue is one of contention for many ereader owners. I was willing to accept it as long as books were available in multiple formats for various ereaders. I was able to purchase most of the books I wanted in a Kindle format up until recently.

    I am a big fan of Apple products but am not happy with their maneuvers regarding their new iPad. Their device is expensive and is not primarily an ereader but has many other functions. I am not interested in such a device; I want a simple device on which I can read books – period. I am probably in the minority with that line of thinking as most people seem to want one device that can do EVERYTHING.

    I continue to be baffled by publishers who are trying very hard to alienate people who read ebooks. Making a book available to only one store is not good business; that would be like saying that they will only sell their books at Borders and not at B & N, Amazon, or any other bookstore. Makes no sense to me. I don’t think their tactics will succeed in the long run; at least not with me. A reader is a reader; why cut some of us out of the market.

  2. Bonnie
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 15:37:53

    Well, let’s see…. my Kindle might make a nice coaster. Or maybe a hot-pad.

    What a mess.

  3. Karenmc
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 16:02:13

    Laura Kinsale tweeted on the 29th that the Kindle buy button at Amazon for Lessons in French was gone and she didn’t know why. If this Apple thing is the reason, no one told her. She deleted the Kindle link from her website.

  4. Deb
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 16:25:06

    I pre-ordered 5 books last weekend through Amazon, including the Karen Noble book, as well as the next Nora Roberts book in her Brides series. Of the 5 pre-orders, 1, Jill Shalvis’s Instant Temptation is available. I will have to check my bank account to see if I’ve been charged yet. I’m sure Amazon will take care of the charge issue, but it still makes me furious, obviously. eta; I haven’t been charged yet.

    I thought I add, no Nora Roberts unless you buy an iPad? Sorry Nora, I guess I have to give up reading your books. Am not going back to paper.

  5. Ridley
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 16:52:20

    @Kristine Goetsch:

    I don’t think you’re in the minority on not wanting a reader that does many things. The nature of technology is divergent. The only time convergence is profitable is when it is pocket size. Since an iPad can’t replace an iPhone in pocketbooks, it’s not going to be the killer people think it will be. Why buy a $500 gadget that doesn’t do much more than your iPhone if you’ll have to carry both anyway?

  6. Sandra
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:07:42

    “Patience” is gone from my pre-order Kindle queue on Amazon. I’m running out of patience with the whole mess.

  7. CathyKJ
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:17:37

    I pre-ordered Hell Fire (the new Ann Aguirre book, due out 4/6) for my Kindle. The Kindle page is gone, and earlier today it was still in my pre-order queue, but I just checked now and it’s gone. Very frustrating.

  8. Statch
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:21:56

    I have enough unread ebooks to last me quite some time. I’m not paying the new prices, and I’m not going back to buying print, so if I run out of ebooks before they come to their senses, I guess I’ll be using my local library.

    Did Fictionwise happen to comment about the Micropay accounts? I have a substantial amount in mine, and at least some of it are Micropay dollars that I purchased with a credit card because of the discount for large purchases. (That is, they’re not discounts; they’re money that I spent to buy Micropay dollars directly.) I’m assuming they will honor the Micropay accounts, but it makes me a little nervous..

  9. Stephanie Newton
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:30:23

    I have to agree. I love my Kindle because it’s a reader. I didn’t want a device that would do everything and look like a computer screen (albeit a really pretty one)–I already stare at one all day.

    I’m very disappointed that Apple’s (and the publishers) maneuvering is making it more difficult for me as a reader.

  10. Sarah
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:00:17

    I absolutely completely hate Apple for doing this to all of us dedicated readers. People who have Kindles/other ereaders are the people who spend hundreds of dollars a year on books. I won’t be buying anything from these 5 houses, not even to support my favorite authors/series. I will just wait to read them through the library or make some time to read them at the bookstore, as of tomorrow.

    I think we would have to do something drastic to show our displeasure with the new model. I have some ideas, but I don’t know if anyone would actually do it. I don’t think this will go away any time soon

  11. Sammy
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:01:53

    I am so disgusted. I just went to check on my pre-orders (30 books) and all but 5 remain (HQ Titles). I’m not searching for them again, while I’m sorry those Authors will miss my sale I refuse to hunt them down again. Thank You Publishers I did the math and decided a day at the Spa was a better way to spend my money.

  12. Rosie
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:07:23

    Ohhh, this is aggravating! I don’t understand how it makes sense to alienate a large consumer pool. Call me crazy, but I like it when a company, you know, tries to win my business. Not so keen on the Let’s Make It Unavailable method and Sucks to Be Them philosophy.
    I was really looking forward to reading The Summer of You on my Kindle. Until I can, no money from me!

  13. Mireya
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:33:54

    I see a couple of issues about doing anything: first, hype. iPad will sell like hot cookies, despite its price. Then there is the fact that supposedly, most buyers of ebooks are not romance fans. Add to that the fact that many readers that buy ebooks do not necessarily go online for anything else and much less keep up to date with electronic media.

    This has me seriously pissed off. I guess I will have to resort more to print book rentals. I can’t count on the public library. They have a horrible selection (even the New York Public Library SUCKS royally. The romance selection there makes me want to cry). Like others have pointed out, I do not have the physical room to store my book purchases any longer. This is one of the main reasons why I love ebooks.

    Boy is this getting ugly really fast.

  14. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:56:06

    The thing is that publishers really felt like they had to gain control over pricing and revenue. Apple gave them the illusory leverage to do so (I say illusory because Apple has significant pricing requirements based on the print prices of books). Publishers don’t care about pissing off readers because a) readers are not their customer and b) the ebook market is so small that your complaints don’t matter right now. We are not making a big enough impact on their bottom line. BISG told publishers at the Tools of Change that about every six months, the ebook market grows by a third.

    The goal is to slow down the growth of the ebook market and indoctrinate new ebook readers to a higher price point. Those of us “early adopters” of digital books are simply collateral damage.

    If you want to make a difference you have to change your buying habits. We have to make a dent in their bottom line. Otherwise, it’s no loss for them.

  15. Debbie
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 19:16:30

    I am a book addict, I spend $200-$300 a month on books, although even I have cut back over the last year. I own a Kindle and choose to buy the Kindle book instead of the paper version much of the time.

    I also have been selling some of my used books (paper)on E-Bay for years. I will go back to buying the Kindle books that are available, and the books with unreasonable and unrealistic publishers will be purchased in the paper format and resold-at least those books I HAVE to have. Also, I tend to wait a few days or weeks to purchase these other books.

    I wish the publishers would realize that if they want to sell me books, they have to provide what I want to read, in the format I want for a fair price. Oh well, more money to spend trying out new authors/publishers.

  16. Darlynne
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 19:45:03

    I just went to fictionwise for my daily search for Gail Carriger’s Changeless. Not only is the book not there (not a surprise), but Soulless is no longer available, and it was up until now. The publisher is Orbit and I can’t imagine this is a coincidence. Whatever, it’s nuts.

  17. Maureen
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 19:51:41

    I have been buying MORE books since I got my Kindle. It has been way too easy to read a review and then just go to Amazon and click buy. If anything,the publishers are making more money off of me since I started reading books electronically.

    I love not having to deal with all the space paper backs take up. Today I just went through boxes and boxes of books and donated over 400 books to my local library. I would have liked to have kept many of them, but I just don’t have the room. That is why I like Kindle so much.

    This past week I went to Amazon and pre-ordered several books. They were still there yesterday but this evening, those orders are no longer listed. I am irritated with Amazon though. They could at least notify me that my orders have been canceled.

  18. library addict
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 19:58:20

    Just checked my wishlist at Fictionwise and more than two-thirds of it has just disappeared. They were there this morning as I had planned to use up the rest of my miropay today. Guess I took too long deciding which books I really wanted :(

    I knew they would be more expensive starting tomorrow. I did not expect they wouldn’t be for sale at all today!

    And you gotta love how there’s no announcement or notice about what is going on with this on Fictionwise’s main page…NOT!

  19. L
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 20:46:11

    @library addict: Most of my FW WishList has vanished as well.

    This is not good.

  20. Darlynne
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 21:12:29

    @L and library addict: My fictionwise wish list is also empty now.

  21. Phyl
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 21:30:56

    My Fictionwise wish list is still mostly intact because it was full of Harlequin titles. But I can tell that there are some missing books. So if I want to read a non-HQ book I guess it’s the library or not at all.

  22. Amy
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 21:59:54

    @Jane: If it is not too much trouble, could you and other reviewers here identify the name of the publisher for each book review? I would like to go out of my way to support Random House, Harlequin, Samhain, and the like. Having the publisher identified in the reviews would help me make a faster purchase (or not purchase) decision.

  23. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 22:19:51

    @Amy: Yes, I think we can do that. When I have remembered to do this in the past, I put it in the tags. Would that be sufficient?

  24. Amy
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 22:28:43

    That would work for me! Thank you.

  25. Anthea Lawson
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 00:00:37

    Kensington, being another bastion of independence (as in not held by a multi-national conglomerate), still has all its Kindle titles available. Don’t forget Dorchester and Sourcebooks, too – (despite the baffling lack of Kinsale linkage, Sourcebook’s other titles are Kindle available). Support smaller publishers! :D

  26. Deb
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 05:59:13

    Interestingly enough, I still have Nora Roberts “Savor the Moment” in my pre-orders on my Kindle account. Isn’t Berkley Trade an imprint of Penguin?

    Maybe the Kindle store hasn’t completed their removing of Penguin yet. It would be a nice thought that Nora’s books won’t be removed due to her popularity with All of her fans.

  27. brooksse
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 06:41:36

    I purchased a few backlist titles before the discounts went away. I’ve decided that’s it for the “Agency 5″ for the remainder of this year. And maybe next year, too. Between publishers like Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks & Dorchester, and my TBR pile, I should have enough ebooks to keep me happy for a couple years.

  28. Azure
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 06:43:55

    You’d think, knowing this change was coming, that the bookstores would have a few more ducks in a row than they appear to have today. Either that, or this is their dumb idea of an April Fools’ Day joke.

  29. Jane
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 06:47:16

    @Azure Given that we just started seeing blogposts about it earlier this week, I wonder if retailers weren’t caught off guard by publishers. I just don’t know.

  30. Jane O
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 07:10:57

    Or why many people don’t want to invest in an ereader.

  31. Shannon Stacey
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 07:53:02

    There are still Berkley books available for Kindle, and they’re Penguin.

    I’m so confused.

  32. Bonnie
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 07:58:07

    @Shannon Stacey:

    I saw that, too. Very confused here.

  33. Shannon Stacey
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 07:59:57

    I wonder if they could sign the agreement separately for each imprint individually and signed it for Berkley. Decision could be based on how many HCs/bestsellers an imprint puts out?

  34. Sandra
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 08:27:22

    @Sandra:

    I sent an email to Amazon to see if they would give me any information on why “Patience” was pulled. (At this point that is the next book on my “must read” list so I’m focusing on it.) This was my response:

    Quote from Amazon email:
    “I’ve investigated and found that, the Kindle version of the book “Patience” by Lisa Valdez has been made temporarily unavailable by the publisher due to some reasons that are beyond our control. I apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused you.”

    Take that info as you will. I assume that the answer would be the same for other books whose Kindle version has disappeared. They go on to suggest emailing the author and publisher and clicking on the “I want this in Kindle version” button.

  35. Helen
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 09:32:18

    Hey, I thought Apple was all locked up regarding “adult content” with their apps, (no pornish downloads on the i/phone) etc…NOT that I consider most romances porn…but what if Apple makes deals with these publishers and then shuts out half (or 7/8 !) of the darn authors for what it deems unacceptable content?

  36. Lynn
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 10:56:25

    @Darlynne: My Wishlist is back, except it isn’t mine. I’m NOT ‘wishing’ for any Hannah Howell books and I have 10 of them in there. Plus some free ‘samples’ of reference books I have no need for.

    This must be a April Fool’s joke.

    I’m glad my public library has started ebook lending finally.

  37. Castiron
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 13:54:28

    @Jane: b) the ebook market is so small that your complaints don't matter right now.

    This.

    A coworker was talking with an employee of a large publishing house and learned about a recent book that had sold over a million copies in paper — and eight thousand copies on Kindle. And yes, the Kindle edition costs less than the paperback from Amazon.

    (To put that proportion in terms of a smaller press — if we had a book that sold 2000 copies in paper and 16 in e-format, we wouldn’t immediately retool our entire publishing structure for the benefit of the ebook readers.)

    Now, that’s an extreme example, given that the general stats are saying ebooks make up quite a bit more than 0.8% of book sales (though now that I think about it, what percentage of ebook sales are e-only books, and what percentage books with pbooks available too?). And it’s almost certain that ebook sales will become a significant percentage of book sales within the next few years.

    But right now, using the DA readership as a gauge for how many book readers are strictly ebook readers — well, it’s like using my coworkers as a gauge for how my state is going to swing in a federal election.

  38. GrowlyCub
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 14:07:57

    @Castiron:

    But good and successful business practice does not stop at dealing with the status quo but includes extrapolating into the future and even trailblazing.

    I’d have to argue that publishing is not only refusing to consider the future, they are actively trying to roll back technological evolution rather than making use of it.

  39. Castiron
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 15:04:10

    @GrowlyCub: But good and successful business practice does not stop at dealing with the status quo but includes extrapolating into the future and even trailblazing.

    Oh, 100% agreed. I don’t expect to see trailblazing from a publisher that’s part of a huge corporation, though. (Though one could argue that the agency model IS trailblazing, just blazing a trail that’s led into a swamp and may lead right off a cliff. We’ll have to see what pans out.)

    I'd have to argue that publishing is not only refusing to consider the future, they are actively trying to roll back technological evolution rather than making use of it.

    I vehemently disagree, but mainly because you didn’t say “big NY publishing”.

    Publishing includes Baen as well as MacMillan, Samhain as well as Penguin, Harlequin as well as Hachette. Publishing includes university presses, textbook publishers, big scientific publishers, e-publisher, small regional houses….

    Are the big NYC houses digging their heels in about changes in publishing? Sure. Are a majority of publishers digging their heels in? I’d say no. Certainly in the publishing area I’m in, the publishers are all aware of tech changes and okay with them in principle, even if we have no clue where we’re going to come up with money to implement said changes.

  40. GrowlyCub
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 15:28:28

    @Castiron:

    Yes, you are right! I omitted that, but that’s whom I referred to.

    Btw, doesn’t one of the big NY houses own Baen now? Fortunately they’ve left them mostly alone to do their thing.

  41. Amy
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 22:37:54

    For those who have not purchased from Books on Board (and do not receive its emails): this afternoon’s email says it is having a 20% reward deal for all books from Random House. Deal expires this Sunday 11:59 pm CT. Does anyone know of any recent romance releases by Random House that is worth getting (that has not yet been reviewed on DA)?

  42. hapalochlaena
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 06:35:54

    @GrowlyCub:

    AFAIK Baen Books is an independent publishing house with links to two major publishing houses:

    1. Baen’s paperbacks are distributed by Simon & Schuster, and

    2. Tor Books founder Tom Doherty (or maybe his company Tom Doherty Associates) was one of the original investors in Baen books. TDA is now a division of Macmillan.

  43. A Book Splurge « Me and My Books
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  44. Maria63303
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 13:33:45

    I don’t understand why the NY Publisher’s choose to do what they have done. Why don’t they take a good look at how they are running their own businesses to figure out where their real problems are. Piracy took place a long time before ereaders came along. Yes Amazon has made money on the sale of the Kindle..so what…the publishers make money of the kindle sales too because it’s so easy to shop with one that I end up buying a ton of books that I would never try out on paper. I won’t be buying an Ipad for several reasons, first the name is damn stupid, it is not a notebook/netbook as they tried to first push it off, and it’s overpriced for what it does. I’ll go back to paper long before I buy another ereader to replace a Kindle and I’ll start using my library more and when the publishers start to bleed from lack of sales, it will be all their fault and I won’t cry if they go under!

  45. Erin
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 08:33:42

    I got a message on Saturday that my pre-order of Lion’s Heat had been cancelled because it was no longer available on Kindle. Amazon offered the paperback “at a significant discount,” but unfortunately they, and the publisher, have lost this sale. I bought a Kindle because I want to read eBooks and eBooks are the medium on which I am spending my money. As far as Lion’s Heat goes, I’m on the reserve list at my public library. That will hold true for any other books the publishers decide to no longer make available for Kindle.

  46. Jane
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 10:53:29

    @Erin Ugh. I am so sorry to hear this. I guess the publishers really think we won’t care about the pricing.

  47. Erin
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 13:20:12

    @Jane: The publishers are morons. I noticed today that several books I had in my wishlist had gone up from $6.39 to $7.99. (Amazon made sure to note that the publishers set the price.) Why do they think I would pay “list price” for any book, eBook or otherwise? I could A. borrow it from the library B. buy the paperback at Wal-Mart at a 15% discount off of the retail price C. wait a few days/weeks and buy it at my local used bookstore.
    Look, I’m not asking for a deep discount on the eBooks I want to buy. I just want to be treated fairly. If Wal-Mart can sell the paperback with a 15% discount, then I see no reason the eBook shouldn’t be offered for the same price. The publishers are basically telling eBook readers: we want your money, but we’re going to punish you if you buy it in eBook format.
    Sure I love the convenience of my Kindle, and I’m dedicated to eBooks, but I am not a sucker. It makes me very angry that the publishers obviously think I’ll pay whatever price they want me to pay for their product in my format of choice. They are sadly mistaken. Until they stop trying to stick it to me I’ll be exercising option A.

  48. Amy
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 13:29:43

    If anyone knows of an online listing of all libraries that would allow non-residents to borrow ebooks (even if the library would charge a reasonable nonresident fee), could you please post the link? (If a fee were required, I’d want the ability to search the available ebook database before committing to a membership.) I would be particularly interested in libraries with good romance ebook selections. I have access to local libraries’ online database, but I’d like to know what options are out there when ebooks I want are not available locally.

    I’m also planning to go sign up with another nearby library this week to expand my print book checkout options.

  49. Amy
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 13:32:13

    @Erin: I also like shopping at Target for discounted print books.

  50. Shelley
    Apr 06, 2010 @ 21:41:26

    I sent an email to the CEO of Penguin letting them know that I purchased more books at full price via my Kindle than I ever did in paperback. Those I collected via used books stores, Goodwill, garage sales, etc. Now, I’ll just head off to my local Barnes & Noble, get a cup of tea & spend a couple of hours reading there for anything that I must read. I’m not very happy with publishing…in fact, it will likely force me to check out more new authors at e-publishers and skip the big guys unless it’s something I CAN’T live without.

  51. Jane
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 07:01:13

    @Shelley I think that is so smart. We do need to let them know that we matter in terms of sales.

  52. Link spree | Solelyfictional
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  53. janetc
    Apr 26, 2010 @ 14:47:57

    I don’t get it. It can’t cost a publisher but a few dollars to get an electronic version of book posted. A one time cost, no? Yet they’d get paid on each and every purchase of the electronic version, needing to sell like what, 20, to get break even? I’m going to dust off my library card.

  54. Melissa
    Apr 28, 2010 @ 21:25:59

    I have also purchased a large amount of ebooks for my Kindle over the past year, so it is very frustrating for me that new books are not available on the Kindle. Unfortunately, this decision by these Publishers ultimately hurts the authors who put a lot of time and effort into creating these great books that we are so eager to have.

    For those discussing Apple’s iPad, I have been a recent crossover from the PC world to Apple. Unfortunately, my iTunes account was hacked into a little over a month ago and Apple, who very clearly recognized that my account was hacked into for over $1200, stated they are not responsible for resolving the problem with Paypal. (PayPal is saying it is Apple’s problem and Apple is saying PayPal needs to credit them). So, I won’t be purchasing anything through Apple’s online stores since they do not have appropriate controls in place to protect my account, nor to resolve a situation when their controls have failed.

  55. Linda
    May 27, 2010 @ 17:13:58

    I wanted to pre-order Linda Lael Miller’s McKettricks of Texas: Austin (A HQN book) today for my Kindle and it is not available. This is the last book in the trilogy and the first two were available in Kindle format. I understand that’s it’s the publishers that are making this difficult but I also believe that the author’s need to make some noise if they want the continued support of their loyal readers! Like Nora Roberts…what is she thinking? I believe she should have enough clout with any publishing house to make a few demands of her own.

  56. Industry Asshattery | Kait Nolan
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