Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Retailers End Loyalty and Reward Programs

I’m not certain why but retailers are discontinuing all ebook loyalty and reward programs. Fictionwise put up a link (but did not make a front page announcement) that Buywise program has been discontinued.

The Fictionwise Buywise Club can no longer be renewed and new subscriptions are no longer available. All existing Buywise Club members may continue to use their benefits until their memberships expire.

- The Fictionwise Team

Terms of the Buywise club membership entitled a club member to a 15% discount on all Fictionwise eBooks for the entire length of the membership (picture). Thus, I have asked for a prorated refund of my Buywise membership. I had purchased a 5 year one and I have three years left on the membership.

KoboBooks pointed out that under this new Apple pricing scheme by publishers, loyalty programs, coupons and the like are not allowed:

We lose most of our ability to issue coupons, promotions, special discounts, kickbacks, buy-X-get-one-free. We could still do it for non-agency titles, but then we end up in a weird situation of "Get $1 off, but only on these books, and definitely not on these other ones." That's not fun. And worse, it's confusing to consumers. We're sad about that, obviously. Not just because they're a great way for us to drive sales, but because they help us focus attention on specific great books, reward our loyal customers, and celebrate the launch of new features, apps or services.

But you know, this really isn’t Agency pricing. As noted by the Smashwords pricing outline, Apple is determining a price range for books so publishers aren’t truly able to set their prices independently. What publishers are doing is engaging in retail price maintenance, forcing all retailers to price the books exactly the same. This won’t increase new entrants into the market because small competitors can’t afford host/serve the books themselves which is what they would have to do now that the “Agency 5″ are requiring the digital distributor and the retailer to share in a 30% commission.

Readers are just now seeing the ill effects of this Apple pricing scheme with the loss of all the discounts that we are used to. We get what the publishers have decided we should pay, not what the market deems appropriate.

How can readers fight back? I really don’t know. I’m frustrated today. I’m not sure why, unless the contracts disallow it, that publishers can’t continue a loyalty program that provides a kickback. After all the books would still be sold at the price set by the publisher. Readers are simply supplementing their money with money provided by a retailer much like a real estate agent might choose to reduce her commission so that the buyer doesn’t pay as much or the seller maintains the asking price.

On the upside, Harlequin and Random House books can be discounted so I guess I’ll be buying far more of those books.

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

102 Comments

  1. jmc
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:07:47

    Y’know, I feel like publishers don’t actually *want* me to buy their books.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jane
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:09:18

    @jmc: I definitely feel like I am getting pissed on here.

    ReplyReply

  3. Kait Nolan
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:12:54

    The publishing industry is simply shooting itself in the foot. Rather than choosing to UPDATE their ludicrously antiquated business model to take advantage of the digital age, it is making all the same mistakes the digital music industry made–and, it appears, then some. I feel incredibly sorry for authors who have their ebooks under this pricing scheme because I know that I, as a consumer, simply cannot afford to pay such high prices for ebooks. And what book buying bucks I’ve got will be going toward more reasonably priced books–whether they be from industry names like Random House or from indie authors with reads still reasonably priced less than $5.

    ReplyReply

  4. Keishon
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:13:24

    Like I said earlier I have enough books / ebooks to last me awhile and my plan is to give my discretionary funds to the publishers who still want my money.

    ReplyReply

  5. Jane
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:15:38

    @Kait Nolan: We need to have some way of highlighting these well priced books. @Keishon and I have talked about this a little. Maybe a monthly thread or something – if you wanted to read this book but don’t like the price, try these nicely priced alternatives?

    ReplyReply

  6. Janine
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:18:29

    Does this include the big chain bookstores as well? I’m wondering if my Barnes and Noble discount card will still be of use to me.

    ReplyReply

  7. Kait Nolan
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:18:56

    I absolutely agree. A friend of mine is starting an ebook review blog that will be highlighting some. A Taste For Ebooks (http://atasteforebooks.wordpress.com). But yeah a monthly thread…forum SOMETHING where when we find a good, inexpensive read, we can bring it to light. And maybe those of us who don’t usually review stuff on our blogs should start.

    ReplyReply

  8. anonymous
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:18:59

    At least Random House and Harlequin aren’t completely stupid. This looks like a good thing for indie authors though. Publishers are actively pushing readers away, but readers who prefer ebooks aren’t going to deconvert back to print. They’ll just find books that are reasonably priced… i.e. indies. It’s almost like mainstream publishers want indie authors to take over in a publishing free-for-all because they certainly aren’t acting like they want to stay in business.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:21:04

    @Janine: It’s for ebooks only that the loyalty/reward programs are being discontinued.

    ReplyReply

  10. Miki S
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:22:03

    So, how long before the other “money saving tips” are erased at Fictionwise?

    If the Buywise Club is truly being removed because of the “Agency model” of ebook publishing, how can they continue to offer 15% off for the first week the books are released, or the additional 5% off if you purchase the book the first day the book is released (or buy it in eReader format)?

    Will it still be possible to offer “coupons” to friends for books in your bookshelf?

    How can they offer some discounts at all?

    ReplyReply

  11. Gina Bernal
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:23:40

    I’m guessing you’re right about it being a contractual matter. From my experience with the book clubs I can say that there were always a handful of books that could not be priced below a certain amount and would thus not be eligible for special extra discount offers (and were always listed as exclusions in the fine print).

    ReplyReply

  12. Kait Nolan
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:24:23

    Maybe we could start a Twitter trend. Everybody knows about #followfriday or whatnot. Maybe we could start a weekly day to tweet about reasonably priced reads. Then somebody could make a transcript somewhere for folks to check, like the YALitChat folks do.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jane
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:25:14

    @Miki S I think after April 1, they won’t be able to offer any discounts on books from the “Agency 5″

    ReplyReply

  14. anonymous
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:27:13

    Why don’t these ebook retailers just discount books that aren’t following the agency model. What gets me is… this doesn’t affect the publisher. The publisher is paid based on suggested retail price. The retailer discounting a book has NOTHING to do with what they make.

    All of this is happening because publishers are trying to control the price readers feel ebooks are “worth.” But that sort of thing was already determined by places like Ellora’s Cave and Samhain. And most readers just aren’t going to pay the prices they’ve set.

    It only results in readers searching outside the box for reading material. Not in them capitulating and paying $12.99 for an ebook.

    ReplyReply

  15. anonymous
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:28:11

    @Kait, I think that’s a really good idea!

    ReplyReply

  16. Miki S
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:28:46

    Phooey. There must be certain scripts disabled here at work.

    @ Kate (#12)

    Not all of us are “Twitter-late”. (Sorry, my attempt to be clever and merge “Twitter” with “literate”).

    What’s “#followfriday”?

    ReplyReply

  17. Janine
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:29:50

    @Jane: Thanks. That is still a bummer, even if not quite as bad. I wonder though if this is just the beginning. The industry seems to be undergoing a huge upheaval. Who knows where this will end. :/

    ReplyReply

  18. Kait Nolan
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:31:46

    Miki, LOL, sorry, forget we’re not all on Twitter. Followfriday is one of the Twitter hashtags. On Friday’s everybody gives their recommendations for cool people to follow. The hashtags make it show up in trending topics. There are lots of assorted hashtags and it’s one of the ways folks follow things on Twitter. If we made one for Reasonable Reads and then did a transcript on a dedicated blog somewhere, then even those who don’t speak Twitterese will have access to the links.

    ReplyReply

  19. Melissa
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:45:36

    Yanno, I’m getting really sick of being treated by these pubs like I’m either stupid or unimportant bcause I’m a eBook consumer.

    It’s a shame, really. I know for a fact that I spend and read more ebooks than I ever did paper.

    I WILL NOT go back to paper because they want to overprice or delay the ebook. I don’t want the physical copies to deal with any longer. I also WILL NOT pay exorbitant prices for a digital version. I don’t have to.
    Like @Keishon, I have plenty of books in my TBR pile to hold out till this foolishness has run its course.

    At this point I think the only thing they’ll pay attention to is a significant change in consumer behavior. So, I’m voting with my dollars –Harlequin and Random House will get my money and the others can stuff it till they see reason. I just upped my eHarlequin monthly subscription for Historicals and may have to add a new line or two –I’m thinking Blaze and Spice will do nicely. Oh, and I’ve got the Carina Press ebooks to look forward to this summer, too!

    ReplyReply

  20. Kerry
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:52:10

    This whole thing just makes me very tired and very sad. At least it looks like I may finally make a dent in my TBR pile, because I’m certainly going to be buying less books. My discretionary income isn’t going to go up because book prices go up, so my buying will have to go down.

    I feel so sorry for the authors with those publishers. The publishers clearly have no respect for me and it’s leaving me with very little respect for them. If I don’t buy from them, the authors suffer. And with that, all readers suffer. It sucks.

    Like I said, sad and tired.

    ReplyReply

  21. Kerry
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:52:57

    And yeah, what @Melissa said.

    ReplyReply

  22. Camille
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:02:21

    This will shake out fine. ETailers still have to compete with one another, and they will find new ways to reward the customer.

    As I’ve said before, even though Fictionwise is phasing out Buywise, they can still have their rebate programs. I suspect that rebates may be the wave of the future, since with retailers like Fictionwise, it creates a loyalty program – money on account. Perhaps there will even be a new Green Stamps type program.

    And one of these days publishers will get it too. Those publishers that don’t will go out of business and be replaced by those that do.

    ReplyReply

  23. Miki S
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:13:27

    I’m actually curious to see how this shakes out in the first weeks of the “agency model”. When I think of all the McMillan titles that are currently available for twice the MMPB price, it is possible that if all those books are more reasonably priced, the “Agency 5″ might see an increase of ebook sales initially.

    I have quite a few 14 and 14.99 ebooks on my Fictionwise “wish list” that I’ve been waiting to see them drop to below $6.

    On the other hand, one blog I read specifically said they weren’t automatically pricing based on something “just lower than the print book price”. If I remember the wording, it was something along the lines of something between the hardback/trade paper and MMPB prices for the more popular books.

    I took that to mean that for the books many of us really want that are MMPBs, they’ll be priced around $9 for digital.

    ReplyReply

  24. Jane
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:15:58

    @Miki S: Macmillan already said that it’s low price point for paperbacks would be $6.99 and that price would vary. My guess is that the popular books will be priced higher and the not so popular ones will be priced more around the 6.99 price.

    ReplyReply

  25. Lynn
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:37:49

    Too bad about Fictionwise.

    Grrrr. It would have been a good business to inform all their buywise members, like me, about discontinuing the program BEFORE I found out on a blog.

    This just tosses a lot of my business elsewhere.

    ReplyReply

  26. Kerry
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:50:50

    @Lynn: Fictionwise suck at notifying their customers about anything. I’m so relieved my Micropay is currently close to zero. It lets me choose whether to buy with them again or not. Although I don’t know where I’ll go instead.

    ReplyReply

  27. Nicole
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 22:02:54

    Wow. I just joined the Buywise club less than a week ago. This is a really crappy action on the part of Fictionwise. And I’d only heard about them because of how much satisfied customers here and in the Twitterverse talked them up. What a horrible way to repay their customers’ loyalty and appreciation.

    ReplyReply

  28. Ridley
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 22:08:28

    Looks bleak.

    Now I’m REALLY hoping the iPad’s a bust.

    Before it was general Apple hate, but now they’ve messed with my books.

    I’m still not buying new hardbacks. Not that I ever have.

    ReplyReply

  29. library addict
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 23:00:25

    Wait I am confused. So Fictionwise is stopping their 15% off club (thankfully I only bought the 1 year deal). Any word on if they will continue with the 100% micropay on NYT Best Seller titles?

    The 15% and great micropay deals are what make me their customer. I will be sad to see the 15% go, but if the micropay goes what is the point of shopping there? I mean their site is hardly the easiest to use and the search feature only works if you know the exact title of the book you are looking for (or author name).

    If publishers really think this plan will make me buy more hc print books, they are sadly mistaken. And this is coming from someone who is a huge fan of hardcovers. But I only buy them for favorite authors.

    And thanks for the link to that announcement, Jane. Even knowing it is there somewhere, I couldn’t find it on the Fictionwise site. They really do need to revamp their site to make it more user friendly.

    ReplyReply

  30. kirsten saell
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 00:01:41

    I still think publishers who “get it right” and respect their customers will thrive under this new system. I mean, we all have a choice–pay more for books by publishers who act like asses, or pay less for books by publishers who know how to offer value for the consumer’s dollar.

    While the “agency 5″ may flounder and see diminishing sales as they try to force their own price-point on consumers, other publishers will benefit from their stupidity.

    I’d rather see that than have big NY pubs earn more $$ per book than the book actually sells to the consumer for, while retailers subsidize their product at the expense of smaller, smarter houses who aren’t trying to gouge anyone.

    I’d ask again, how was the old, heavily discounted system fair to the Samhains, the ECs, the Baens, the HQNs? Retailers used to swallow the loss so the products of price-gouging publishers could compete at the same price point as those other pubs, all while those price-gouging publishers were earning double or more per sale. The old system = more sales + more $$ per sale for the derfwads, and less sales + less $$ per sale for the good guys. Yup, sounds fair to me. /sarcasm

    I don’t think it was wise for the “agency 5″ to move to this model, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world for consumers, either. People are going to be more likely now to buy from publishers who are realistic about pricing. All you have to do is vote with your dollars, ffs. Do that, and eventually the market will dictate the price point it will bear.

    ReplyReply

  31. Allison
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 01:05:00

    I’m probably missing important details or something, but my general impression of the discussion I’ve read so far on this is: I feel very badly for fellow e-readers like myself. And, I would like to hear (more) from authors how this is affecting them (good and bad). And the publishers: do they care?

    ReplyReply

  32. Tabby
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 01:26:17

    @kirsten saell: “People are going to be more likely now to buy from publishers who are realistic about pricing. All you have to do is vote with your dollars, ffs.”

    It does seem that simple doesn’t it? I don’t think it’s going to play out the way you think it is though. Most people buy by author and the books they want to read–say, Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs since it’s on my mind. Do you really think people are going to settle for a Harlequin Super Romance or a short story menage in it’s place? Sure, some might. And others I’m sure will even happily pay the higher price too. But what about everyone else? They’re going to find a cheaper way to read the book which might include their library, a used book store or they might start googling for a cheaper price online. And do you know what they’re going to find? A place they can get the books they want to read free–I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

    Higher prices aren’t going to lead to people buying books they were never interested in reading in the first place. It’s going to lead to a decline in sales for the entire industry. The “good” publishers aren’t just competing with the “bad” publishers they’re competing with the library, the UBS and the pirates too. And that’s assuming ebooks and paper are still interchangable for most readers but that’s changing more every day. I’m not ready to say the sky is falling yet. But I don’t see anyone comming out a winner if 5 of the biggest publishers drive their customer base into finding cheaper souces for the books they want to read. Once those customers are gone and stop buying new books they’ll pay hell trying to win them back–everyone loses.

    ReplyReply

  33. tae
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 02:09:23

    I renewed my Fictionwise program last November, but as a Sony owner I’ve been using Books on Board – which I noticed started giving microrebates in the last year, so I appreciate that. I’ve started to give up on Fictionwise except for erotica.

    ReplyReply

  34. Bronte
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 02:44:09

    I stopped buying at fictionwise when geographical restrictions made it impossible for me to spend my money there.

    I was really cranky when I went to buy Silverborne yesterday. Couldn’t buy it at amazon on kindle (for $13) because I’m in Australia. Could buy it at mobipocket or diesel books for $25. Obviously it costs a lot more to ship an ebook to australia (insert sarcasm here). I ignored the many torrents that came up when I googled silverborne because I love Patricia Briggs books and want to support her and her writing. But for new authors that previous ly I would have given a chance – no longer. The discounts used to encourage me to try new authors. I will now only read those I know.

    ReplyReply

  35. alisa
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 04:22:23

    personally I’m inclined to not be buying any of the big five pubs in any shape or form–paper or E.

    I can only hope to find what I want at a UBS or library and that authors start jumping ship when contractual obligations are up, taking their backlists when rights revert and digitizing them at sane prices. The costs of making arguments only hold up so far.

    For a strictly digital release, yes arguments of editing, cover art etc hold a good bit of water. With a book released in paperback, or even paperback and hardcover–the argument of costs gets a little thin. Yes, there’s still editing, cover artist etc, but–that’s halved or a third if you’re going to be technical with paper/hardcover, if not already absorbed, factored into the price of the physical edition. Yes, formatting takes time but it is also not formatting each and every copy sold, but master copies of a handful of e-formats.

    Smaller pubs and maybe even self-pub authors will gain somewhat but all the way around, readers are losing and being screwed right and left. Authors too, especially midlist, many aren’t going to shell out that much cash when they feel they’re being gouged.

    I hope Carina has a strongly diversified catalogue and not just highly eroticized HQs or more of the same of Samhain or EC. Hope Samhain, or some/any/all of the tiny pubs get a bit more diversified or stronger catalogue of offerings. (EC I’ve hit way to many wallbangers personally to go near anymore. Not worth risking my money there.)

    With luck, we’ll see more of the small pubs growing, getting stronger and more diversified catalogues. But that’s a good way off, at least a year, realistically two to five years to really build up from acquisition to press runs. Basically this all just looks like the reader’s screwed again because the bean counters can’t figure out who their customer base actually are.

    ReplyReply

  36. LVLM
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 04:55:21

    I haven’t been reading every post about Apple’s deal with the 5 publishers so it’s probably posted somewhere. I’ve just missed it somehow.

    Can anyone tell me which 5 publishers have made this deal? It would be nice if there was a list posted somewhere easy to find.

    It’s easier to avoid buying their books if I know who they are.

    I’m so glad that most of what I read is put out by small epubs. And I’m also glad I’m not the type that needs to have a book the second it comes out. I can wait until they are in UBS or the library.

    ReplyReply

  37. Jayne
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 06:04:30

    Hmmm, my buywise member ship runs out this Friday and I had been debating whether or not to renew. Guess this settles that question.

    ReplyReply

  38. camille
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 06:45:23

    Tabby pointed out above that publishers have an advantage in that people will still buy their favorite authors, however…

    Publishers now have to compete with their author’s backlists. All of those earlier books that have been so hard to get a hold of are beginning to trickle back into print straight from the author or the author’s estate.

    While this won’t make much competition in paper, it will be a lot of competition in ebook pricing. Small press are also on a completely even playing field with ebooks.

    Actually I take that back. Given how the big publishers are behaving, the playing field is biased toward the small press. See, usually the big players get rid of smaller competitors by under-pricing them.

    This is going to be interesting, and the readers will benefit.

    ReplyReply

  39. Kathleen Dienne
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:04:12

    @Alisa – I have an erotic novella coming out with Carina this summer, and without talking out of school, the majority of the other launch authors aren’t writing erotica. Lots of contemporaries, lots of paranormals, some thrillers and sci-fi. Actually, looking at the list, there’s at least a few options in every possible category.

    I don’t claim to know the vision or the future plans, but I know for a fact you will have lots of options in June… even if I personally sort of hope you’ll want to buy erotica, too ;)

    ReplyReply

  40. Sandia
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:12:08

    I really do wonder what the authors who were bugging about Amazon’s “rebellion” against MacMillian by pulling all their books feel now? A brand new market of potential readers for them are going to never try their books because their publishers are going to this agency model to gouge the ebook reader.

    The other thing that really chaps my hide is that publishers are now saying ebook editions are available – and Amazon will pre-sale it. Then the day before the release date occurs, the publishers pull this. This happened with “A Local Habititation”, “Changeless”, and “The Mage in Black”.

    If you’re going to release the ebooks later – be honest about it and tell me upfront. Don’t go scheming by letting me pre-order so you can pad your new release sales numbers, then jip me when the books come out. A**holes.

    ReplyReply

  41. Rome Is Burning…Pull Up A Chair « A Taste For E-Books
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:12:18

    [...] pricing, publishing by saucybelle Just as I was getting ready for bed last night, I saw this post tweeted by Jane from Dear Author.  In a nutshell, retailers are being forced to end their loyalty [...]

  42. vuir
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:28:40

    Why would you cancel your fictionwise Buywise membership? They’re not open to new customers, but they seem to be honouring all valid memberships.

    ReplyReply

  43. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:31:15

    @vuir Because under the so called Agency model, retailers are not allowed to sell any book for under the publisher set price. The 15% might be available on other books, but not on all Fictionwise purchases. I purchased the Buywise membership with the understanding that every ebook in the Fictionwise catalog would be discounted that 15%.

    ReplyReply

  44. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:32:18

    @Sandia I wondered about that myself. Under the Apple pricing scheme, hardcover authors are actually getting less plus this removal of incentive to buy will reduce the willingness of readers to try new and unfamiliar books.

    ReplyReply

  45. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:33:48

    @LVLM

    Agency 5:

    • Hachette (Grand Central, Orbit, Forever),
    • Penguin (Berkley, Ace, Roc, Jove, Signet, NAL, Putnam),
    • Macmillan (St. Martin, Tor),
    • Harper (Avon, Avon A), and
    • Simon& Schuster (Pocket)
    ReplyReply

  46. Lisa J
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:34:16

    My budget won’t allow me to pay more for an e-book than the paper version. This new pricing will stop me from buying new authors and from buying backlists as e-books. I will probably continue to buy a favorite author’s new release in paper, which I really am trying to stop. I hate to give these publishers my money, so I may start using the UBS for my purchases.

    It makes me sad to think of the authors who will suffer and may not write as much because of this.

    This feels like price fixing to me and I won’t support it. I have some micropay dollars I will use to purchase some of the new books just coming out (if they’ll let me). Otherwise Target and Wal-Mart, both offer at least 25% off the cover price on new releases, and they will get my money.

    These 5 publishers just don’t get it – alienating your customer is not a good idea. It might be time for them to realise that the reader is their customer.

    ReplyReply

  47. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:34:31

    @alisa I agree, Alisa. I hope we see more diversity in offerings. Have you checked out Drollerie Press? They digitally publish fantasy books and their quality is quite high.

    ReplyReply

  48. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:36:45

    @Allison Publishers wanted control over pricing although that control is pretty illusory since Apple is clearly driving the pricing schemes here. They also don’t mind if ebook adoption slows down because it hurts their legacy publishing model built on many sales of hardcovers (ironically those are all discounted). Authors have been pretty mum. I’m guessing because some don’t understand and some are waiting to see if it actually adversely affects them.

    ReplyReply

  49. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:37:39

    @library addict From what I am reading from Kobo Books and Books on Board, no discounting will be allowed. Nothing. Nada. No buy 1, get 1 free. No buy 1, get the next one at a discount. No loyalty programs, kick backs, etc.

    ReplyReply

  50. Azure
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 08:11:27

    @Lisa J: And that’s what ticks me off the most. I don’t see publishers taking this fight to Walmart and the discounts people get on paper books there. Why? Because Walmart would crush them, that’s why. So the ebook reader gets screwed again. Bad enough we’re saddled with DRM and format restrictions–now this.

    I’m willing to pay a little more for ebooks because of the convenience of it for me–I live in a small town where the nearest decent book store is 70 miles away. But I’m not willing to pay double the price of a MMP for a new romance novel–and that’s what I’ve seen three of the Agency 5 do either on occasion or on a regular basis (Macmillan, HarperCollins, and S&S). If that’s where we’re headed, then I won’t be buying books from these publishers. Speaking of S&S, now that they’ve gotten their way as far as pricing goes, why don’t they ease up on the waiting-to-release-ebooks crap? Go ahead and release those ebooks they were holding back so as not to cannibalize the hardcover sales.

    ReplyReply

  51. Is that what I smell? « A Taste For E-Books
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 08:21:31

    [...] after Saucy links me to the DA article referenced in her post. Now I’ll admit that as much as I’ve read, I don’t really [...]

  52. Lisa J
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 08:31:24

    @Azure: I totally agree. It feels like they are punishing those of us who want to read e-books. Whether they want to belive it or not, we are customers BUYING their books.

    ReplyReply

  53. Barmy Belle
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 08:52:30

    What I find interesting is that retailers don’t seem to realise that ebooks are instant gratification.
    I live in a small city. This small city has one bookstore. A bookstore that does not hold much stock.
    I have bought more books than ever because I can download it in seconds instead of ordering through amazon. No shipping costs. I can read it right away.
    I sometimes buy before thinking. Which is not always the right choice for my pocketbook, but it profits publishers.

    ReplyReply

  54. Camille
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 08:53:15

    @Jane:

    Actually authors haven’t been mum, at least not among themselves. Many are wildly looking to retain or get their e-rights back from publishers so they can publish themselves at a better price.

    J.A. Konrath, who has books at all price levels, has published his stats several times, and quite frankly, very low priced books sell so many copies that they completely beat the pants off higher priced books, in terms of overall return. He has also found that cheaper ebooks don’t hurt his paper sales at all. (Baen books has been known to give away books for free – and has found that sales on those paper books soar when they do it.)

    ReplyReply

  55. LauraB
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:00:11

    Isn’t price-fixing monopolistic behavior? Would anti-trust laws apply?

    ReplyReply

  56. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:26:10

    After my lovely buying experience on Fictionwise this morning (which still isn’t done because I’m so frustrated I stopped to post this), I’ve decided it doesn’t matter.

    At all.

    Until there is one format, no DRM, and you don’t have to jump through a gazillion hoops to BUY the damn things and then another gazillion hoops to download and READ the damn things, they just aren’t going to be significant to most of the reading population (which is, in fact, not that significant).

    The minute the convenience of buying, downloading, and reading ebooks is directly analogous to buying, downloading, and listening to music, ebooks will explode. Not until then.

    #bitterhissingcrone

    ReplyReply

  57. Gwen Hayes
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:26:41

    Doesn’t Fictionwise have to honor the terms of the original agreement though? Wouldn’t we still get 15% until our membership term is up?

    I guess I better make sure I download all my books to my hard drive. I have a feeling that independent e-tailers are likely to fall off the face of the Earth first.

    ReplyReply

  58. BevQB
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:29:46

    And yet last night I received an email from Fictionwise that contained a link button that says

    NYT Bestsellers 100% micropay rebate

    Additional offers included:

    …now through April 4, every Suspense/Thriller MultiFormat eBook is discounted 25% while every Secure Suspense/Thriller eBook receives a 25% Micropay rebate when paying with a credit card or PayPal!

    100% MICROPAY REBATE TITLES!
    Each week we offer select titles with a 100% Micropay Rebate, which means that after you purchase the eBook with a credit card or PayPal, we add that amount back into your Micropay account to purchase more eBooks!

    And it then shows a list of books from Patricia Cornwall, Mary Higgins Clarks, etc.

    PLUS to get a 35% Micropay rebate on any of these authors’ other eBooks,click here!

    Now keep in mind that I haven’t renewed my BuyWise membership for a couple of years because I haven’t been buying ebooks (Oh, Microsoft Courier, where art thou?). Although, now that I think of it, I wonder if they’ve been auto-renewing me and not notifying me. Ruh-roh, must check this out!
    ~
    Anyway, my point (yes, I DO have one) is that, while I can understand why current Buywise members are justifiably feeling ripped off, it appears that Fictionwise is not discontinuing discounts and/or micropay completely.

    ReplyReply

  59. Camille
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:30:12

    @Gwen Hayes:

    It says right in their announcement that they will honor the terms of the agreement. They just won’t take on new Buywise customers or allow renewals any more.

    ReplyReply

  60. MaryK
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 10:04:03

    @Gwen Hayes:

    I guess I better make sure I download all my books to my hard drive. I have a feeling that independent e-tailers are likely to fall off the face of the Earth first.

    That’s what I’m worried about. I buy only epub ebooks, and I usually shop at Fictionwise, partly for the discounts (which I’m really going to miss!) but especially for the one-stop shopping and universal bookshelf.

    I don’t like the idea of handing out my financial information to each and every epub on the web. If e-tailers go down, I’m not going to switch to buying directly from epubs by default. I’ll be passing on more ebooks. Which will mean collateral damage to epubs from the new pricing scheme.

    ReplyReply

  61. Deb
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 10:15:24

    It’s rather ironic really. In the not too distant past, the publishers were expressing their concerns over the bookstore’s loss of sales, especially the independent bookstores, theoretically due to ebooks.

    Apple, Amazon, Sony, B&N & Kobo all have devices tethered to their bookstores. Although Sony, B&N & Kobo also provide ebooks in formats which are device independent. Books on Board, Smashwords, AllRomance/Omni are completely device independent. These bookstores are really going to hurt. Where is the concern here?

    I too believe Apple paved the way for this new model. After seeing the smirk on Steve Jobs face during an interview post iPad unveiling re: Amazon pricing vs. iBooks, I knew Apple is now driving the publishing bus. Very shortsighted on the publishers part. Apple doesn’t have to give a rat’s fried green ass whether or not ebooks survive. They’ve got a booming business known as iTunes.

    I did some pre-ordering on the weekend, although the titles are April releases, nothing beyond were available for pre-order. I’ll continue to buy from those publishers providing good books at reasonable prices, in a timely manner. I can wait this out without resorting to piracy. I will not support those publishers which do not value the consumer.

    ReplyReply

  62. Karenmc
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 10:16:49

    I searched Fictionwise.com for any announcement. The only place they have it is when you click on the Buywise link (as in wanting to sign up for it). I left them a message suggesting that they should send out an email to all participants, rather than let us find out from someone else. They replied with an email that had the announcement from the Buywise page pasted in it. How hard would it be for them to send a mass email, with an explanation of why it’s being discontinued?

    ReplyReply

  63. Anonymous
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 10:37:01

    First of all, I just want to say that I have never before contemplated downloading books from the piracy sites. In my mind, that’s just plain wrong. However, this idiotic pricing scheme by the publishers is actually driving me to consider it. Why? Well, let’s see. My choices here are to give in to their pressure and buy an ebook at an inflated price (I don’t really even own the darned thing, I’m just renting it since I can’t share it with anyone), or to give up and get the book in dead tree format from the library or a used book store. If I buy it used or get it from the library, neither the publisher or author benefits and I get it free or at a greatly reduced price. The only problem is that it is a DTB.

    But wait, there is another alternative ….I can go to the torrent sites, find the book, GET IT IN MY PREFERRED FORMAT (as an ebook) and again, neither the publisher or author benefits and I get it for free or a greatly reduced price. You see where I’m going here? Why wouldn’t I just go download the book (personal morality excepting). The publishers are being unbelievably stupid if they don’t realize how tempting this is. I’m even thinking that for every book that I download illegally, I can mail off a dollar or two to the author to compensate them for their lost royalty while at the same time ensuring that the publisher gets zilch.

    It’s a sad day when someone who loves books and admires authors as much as I do would be driven to consider illegal downloading. I most likely won’t do it because in the end, it is wrong, but I think what happened with music downloads makes it clear that many people out there will not be able to resist.

    ReplyReply

  64. Mireya
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 10:51:57

    I only have one word as a reply: Napster.

    Obviously these people are not willing to learn from past experiences from another mega industry. Only problem is that the publishing industry is not in the advantageous position the music industry was.

    Whatever.

    ReplyReply

  65. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 11:02:13

    @Anonymous:

    I'm even thinking that for every book that I download illegally, I can mail off a dollar or two to the author to compensate them for their lost royalty

    Even easier if the authors put “tip jars” linked to their Paypal accounts on their sites. “Dear Readers and Fans: You’re stuck. I’m stuck. Let’s keep it between us, shall we? You can have what you want and I can afford to write more stories for you. Love, Author.”

    ReplyReply

  66. Camille
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 11:13:53

    @Deb:

    “Apple, Amazon, Sony, B&N & Kobo all have devices tethered to their bookstores.”

    Actually Apple doesn’t. I have many reader apps on my iPod Touch – and the iPad is basically just a big Touch. While I haven’t looked for Kobo yet, my Touch acts just like a native reader for any of the other stores. Plus there are a couple of different apps for The Gutenberg Project (my favorite is Eucayptus).

    Some of these apps are tethered to individual stores (like the Kindle app) but the device can use any and all of them.

    Open competition is inevitable. (Just look at Steve Jobs’ refusal to use Flash on the iPod/iPhone interface – there are already apps to deal with that!)

    ReplyReply

  67. Tabby
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 11:24:23

    @Anonymous:
    “Why wouldn't I just go download the book (personal morality excepting).”

    I hate to say it but I’m pretty lazy and not a very moral person. Just last night I threw the spaghetti jar from dinner in the trash instead of walking the 10 steps to put it in the recycle bin on the porch–it was cold and rainy and I didn’t want to open the door. I know it’s wrong, hurts the environment and all but when it comes down to it I just did what was easiest for me. Now combine my innate lazyness with some righteous indignation? Riight. It’ll take about two seconds for me to go from spending $1,200 a year on print and ebooks to almost nothing. And as Mireya pointed out, we’ve been there and done this already with Napster. Why do publishers think it’s going to be any different if they refuse to sell ebooks in a timely fashion for a reasonable price? Boggles the mind.

    ReplyReply

  68. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 11:36:24

    From Fictionwise:

    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.

    Sounds like 15% will be available on all titles, but the Agency 5 books won’t be there. Am still disgruntled about my 5 year club membership.

    ReplyReply

  69. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 11:43:00

    So technically they haven’t broken their deal because it’s still 15% of all FW titles.

    That just sucks. So does 5 years of it.

    ReplyReply

  70. RStewie
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:16:45

    Until and unless I see ebooks at a price I am willing to pay ($6-7 for a full book, just like MMPB) I will not be buying books. I have a very busy lifestyle, and reading, while my favorite hobby, is not my only hobby. I will not bow to the demands of big publishers that I pay HC prices for ebooks. Not going to happen. I’m voting with my wallet here, and I will be looking into a library membership this weekend.

    Also, I’d hate to torrent, as well. It’s not right and I feel bad to do it. That said…my SO regularly torrents movies and we actually have a dedicated desktop for torrenting, so our laptops aren’t unindated with spam and viruses. I can see torrenting in my future if publishers continue to ignore and insult me.

    Someone mentioned tip jars for authors connected to Paypal? I’m down with that. The authors I like and buy I am MORE than willing to compensate directly.

    ReplyReply

  71. LauraB
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:29:53

    While I am not normally litigious– I do think that a lawsuit might very well be the answer. If working with Apple means that prices are going to be fixed and that other retails won’t be able to pursue different business models as they attempt to corner a share of the martket, then this sounds like a practice that is intended to manipulate the market in such a way that healthy competition will be squashed.

    Jane, you’re an attorney (I’m just an attorney’s wife). Would an anti-trust lawsuit be a possible course of action?

    I am sure that Fictionwise and others must have considered this. I wonder why it’s not being pursued? Is the legal definition and standard for a trust too difficult to attain?

    ReplyReply

  72. Carly
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:32:13

    @Moriah Jovan:

    But this excludes so many vital people in the publishing process: editors, cover art designers, etc. Piracy hurts more than just the author!

    ReplyReply

  73. Maili
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:38:01

    @library addict:

    If publishers really think this plan will make me buy more hc print books, they are sadly mistaken. And this is coming from someone who is a huge fan of hardcovers. But I only buy them for favorite authors.

    Agreed. Incidentally, I tried to buy Carolyn Crane’s Mind Games from Diesel Books and they wouldn’t let me because of geographical restrictions. I refuse to buy a print copy, so it’s a lost sale.
    There are some digital books priced so high that I can’t even want to buy them. Books (digital/print) are, considering the economical climate, a luxury after all.
    I’ve been buying more from Mills&Boon (and its divisions) and independent publishers these days. Yeah, Agency Five’s strategy is actually pushing me towards independent publishers. How ironic is that? :D

    ReplyReply

  74. Maili
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:41:35

    @RStewie:

    Also, I'd hate to torrent, as well. It's not right and I feel bad to do it. That said…my SO regularly torrents movies and we actually have a dedicated desktop for torrenting, so our laptops aren't unindated with spam and viruses. I can see torrenting in my future if publishers continue to ignore and insult me.

    Ouch, but what did film production companies do that they make you feel ignored and insulted enough to warrant torrenting films, though?

    Edit: I’m not judging or such. That question is asked out of curiosity.

    ReplyReply

  75. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:44:38

    @Carly: I initially read your comment as sarcasm (that I appreciated!), but on second reading, I’m not sure it is. Regardless, it’s an excellent point.

    But the authors are the content creators and the only name in the end credits.

    And lowered book sales (piracy* or not) hurts the same people in the same way. If the publisher’s business model is the thing hurting everyone in the process, it still hurts everyone in the process.

    *Disclaimer: I am NOT advocating piracy. At all. I’m a content creator of books and craft patterns that I want to be paid for–and I go to great lengths to make sure it’s EASY for someone to do so (in their preferred formats, even). For my own sanity, I have to assume that those who pirate my work wouldn’t have paid for it anyway.

    ReplyReply

  76. FD
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:57:03

    Like so many other commenters, I’m about at boiling point. I love books, I adore books, I spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds a year on new books, and borrow as many from libraries (thankful for the PLR). I have no shelf space left for paper books, so I buy digital.

    Just this last month there have been at least a dozen books that I wanted, and could not buy because of either geographical restrictions, format issues, or delayed e-releases. Upon googling, illegal sites for every single bloody title show up in the first damn page. It is definitely now harder to buy a legal copy of many book than to obtain an illegal one.
    I’m still grinding my teeth in frustration, but I bet a lot of people aren’t and it’s only going to get worse.

    ReplyReply

  77. Deb
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 13:13:19

    @Camille, I should have specified, Apple with their iBooks app.

    ReplyReply

  78. Ridley
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 13:17:18

    Would downloading a book be okay if I bought a used paper copy as well? I’d say it comes out about the same.

    ReplyReply

  79. RStewie
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 13:24:37

    @Maili: Honestly, it’s not me, it’s my SO. We buy most films, but we torrent occasionally… based on his preference. Most of our stuff is legit–we’re both movie buffs and see most everything in the theater first. I think, really, he just likes to do it to see all his stuff integrating and working wirelessly.

    Not my thing, really. I prefer the movies and the huge screen.

    ReplyReply

  80. DS
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 14:50:57

    I have been looking for independent writers/small presses to buy my ebooks from– as long as I can find them on Amazon or pay for them with paypal that is. I’ve bought quite a few books from backlists and I’ve been watching some promised ebooks from writers I have enjoyed.

    I would be happy to participate in a thread to get the names of authors who are offering good books at good prices.

    And if EC and their owners ever get their finances straightened out- they have Roberta Gellis’ backlist from the 70′s- 80′s that I would love to be able to buy as ebooks. But, sorry Ms Gellis, I won’t pay $9.99 each. I’d easily rebuy them all if they were $5.99 or so.

    My experiences with the only new EC books I have read have not been good.

    Interesting that wallbanger still gets applied to ebooks. But it’s such a satisfying term.

    ReplyReply

  81. Are Penguin Kindle Books the Next Casualty of the Apple Pricing Model | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 15:10:01

    [...] 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 [...]

  82. Mireya
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 15:52:10

    And I just got the lovely email from Sony Reader Store:

    >>The publishing industry is turning a page and so are we.

    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.

    Starting a new chapter can be a good thing. With this change, you may see more of your favorite books available in eBook format at the same time they're released in print.<<

    If they think that I am going to spend more in an ebook than I would for a print equivalent in mass market paperback format… they better grab a very comfortable chair.

    ReplyReply

  83. Kerry
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 16:41:06

    While my club discount is still there, a whole bunch of books have disappeared from my Fictionwise Wish List in the last couple of hours.

    There are interesting days ahead.

    ReplyReply

  84. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 16:46:46

    @LauraB: I wrote about it here and basically I think that the law, as it currently stands, probably allows pubs to do this.

    ReplyReply

  85. Jayne
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 16:47:33

    @Kerry: There are about 15 that have disappeared from my wish list since this morning when I bought a lot to use up my micropay account.

    ReplyReply

  86. Gwen Hayes
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:12:13

    http://www.booksonboard.com/index.php?F=ebooks-agencypricing

    Fictionwise has removed all the agency books for sale. Books on Board is offering them on sale as a last chance buy. I was ready to buy a bunch from FW. Lost sales, dude.

    Also…sales tax on ebooks now?

    ReplyReply

  87. DS
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:35:26

    @Gwen Hayes:

    Also…sales tax on ebooks now?

    In states where the publishers have a significant connection. One of the links Jane listed in a prior post had that particularly delightful twist.

    ReplyReply

  88. Mireya
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:58:18

    Sales tax on ebooks … this just keeps getting better and better.

    ReplyReply

  89. Ivy
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:47:57

    It’s truly sad they’ve felt the need to do this. The publishers are only hurting themselves & their authors. Makes you wonder who they’re listening to. It certainly isn’t readers.

    ReplyReply

  90. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 22:25:33

    @Camille: I don’t know if you have been over to Fictionwise lately but the 100% micropay rebates no longer work on those “Agency” books. Click on them and it says “no longer available”. So yeah, I think getting one’s money back for the buywise club makes a lot of sense. I understand you can do a chargeback via Paypal so that is what I’ll be doing.

    ReplyReply

  91. Kaetrin
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 22:57:34

    does anyone know how much the sales tax will be? Is it better to be in one particular state than another?

    ReplyReply

  92. Kaetrin
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 23:49:28

    I emailed Books on Board about whether their rewards programme would continue and this is the reply I received:-

    We will continue rewards, exclusive of the 5 Agency Pricing publishers, who no longer allow rewards, promo or discount promotions for their titles.

    Regards,

    BooksOnBoard

    ReplyReply

  93. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Lost in the linkity again
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 02:04:36

    [...] the Fictionwise Buywise Club has been discontinued! Members will continue to get Buywise Club prices until memberships expire, but will not be able to [...]

  94. alisa
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 07:07:42

    @Kathleen Dienne definitely going to be checking out Carina’s offerings. What I buy of romance and erotica is in e.

    @Jane I’m going to check out Drollerie. My daughter is voracious reader, my oldest son will read fantasy & sci fi & I love fantasy myself. Thanks :)

    ReplyReply

  95. Industry Asshattery « Shadow and Fang
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 07:52:55

    [...] no longer allow retailers to continue their buyer loyalty programs.   As a consumer, I had to hear about Fictionwise discontinuing their Buywise Club memberships [...]

  96. Chicklet
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 08:54:23

    Naturally, I bought a Sony Pocket Edition on Saturday, just in time to be affected by this latest round of fuckwittery from the big publishers. *sigh*

    ReplyReply

  97. Shay
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:00:13

    Have to say I am not feeling the warm and fuzzies for the five publishers right now. I buy the majority of my books in e-book form, and these antics could put a serious crimp in my book budget.

    Fortunately, Diesel’s Diesel eBook Store is not affected. It’s free to join, and offers points which can be applied (with the exception of the five obnoxious publishers) to lower the costs of e-books.

    ReplyReply

  98. Will
    Apr 12, 2010 @ 14:30:14

    Good to know Random House can still be discounted. I’m really upset about HarperCollins, though; they seem to claim most of my favorite authors. (On the upside, HarperCollins books are now available again on Booksonboard. Well, kind-of an upside. If I can say there’s an upside to this whole ordeal.)

    This entire thing has really upset me. I agree with some of the comments earlier, that it’s like the publishers are trying to drive us off (after they’ve sucked as much out of us as possible). Aaaugh, greed.

    ReplyReply

  99. Link spree | Solelyfictional
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 05:25:38

    [...] signed up for, including the impending price battle, what’s going to happen to discounting, the end of loyalty programs, and the disappearance of books from [...]

  100. eBook Hide-and-Seek (Roundtable: 4/8/10) | Digital Book World
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 02:41:41

    [...] Retailers End Loyalty and Reward Programs, Jane Litte [...]

  101. The Agency Model (Roundtable: 4/1/10) | Digital Book World
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 08:10:14

    [...] Retailers End Loyalty and Reward Programs, Jane Litte [...]

  102. Erik Robert Nelson - Fantasy/SF Author
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 05:32:50

    [...] down the adoption of ebooks. In adopting agency pricing, the major print publishers have helped to eliminate discounts and reader reward programs for digital books. Most print publishers have adopted a DRM policy, locking customers into one [...]

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: