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

Friday Midday Links: Pricing Debate Continues

Some of you might have noticed, on the top of the Samhain website page there is information and a link for the poll about the Sammie Awards this year. PGo vote for your   favorite Samhain titles in 2009.


Macmillan ratchets it up the debate by putting a full page ad in the NYTimes for Atul Gawande’s latest book and placing the text “Available everywhere but Amazon.”


Barry Eisler analyzes publisher position v. digital tides. Don’t be deceived by the narratives, he says, as they are all self serving. The digital tide, however, cannot be stemmed and publishers need to go on the offense

Earthworks are a static defense. Publishers can do a few things to make the walls marginally higher and thicker, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the force of the digital tide is always increasing. Eventually, a kinetic and ever stronger offense will overwhelm a static, finite defense


Hachette moves to the agency business model and in a letter to agents:

It’s important to note that we are not looking to the agency model as a way to make more money on e-books. In fact, we make less on each e-book sale under the new model; the author will continue to be fairly compensated and our e-book agents will make money on every digital sale. We’re willing to accept lower return for e-book sales as we control the value of our product–books, and content in general. We’re taking the long view on e-book pricing, and this new model helps protect the long term viability of the book marketplace.


This article suggests that the increased ebook prices will result in a boon to readers:

The economics of the agency model mean that everyone-’readers, authors, publishers, and Amazon-’will gain if trade paperbacks are sold at $9.99.

That would still leave room for front list e-books at $12.99 or $14.99, a great discount over the physical book price.

The article also says:

We also know that there is a very vocal faction of putative Kindle owners-’one suspects many are not actual owners of e-readers but simply Internet entitlement zealots-’who believe e-books must be significantly cheaper than physical books to garner sales.

Really? Only Internet entitlement zealots believe ebooks must be cheaper to get sales?


Washington Post says that Apple won in this battle between Amazon and Macmillan and I think they are right.

The Apple iPad isn’t even available yet, but already it is forcing Amazon to respond in a variety of ways to protect its competing Kindle eBook business….
Amazon cannot afford to lose this war. Not so much because of the potential revenue impact this year, but because as digital books become more popular they will become a bigger part of Amazon’s business than of Apple’s.

Bob Lefsetz, a famous music business consultant, wrote:

And if you think physical books are the way of the future, then you're unaware of the towns that no longer sport a bookstore, like Laredo, TX, you're unaware that library hours are shortening, that Borders is on the bring of bankruptcy and Barnes & Noble might soon be taken over. The publishers are too ignorant to even see what's going on. They're running into the arms of Apple to avoid Amazon.


The Wrap suggests the battle for higher ebook prices is already lost:

"I think Amazon has quite successfully burned the $9.99 price point into the brains of digital readers," said Jason Boog, editor of mediabistro.com's book industry blog, GalleyCat. "If people are actively organizing boycotts against a certain price point, for better or for worse, Amazon has already won the price war."

and

"Amazon has done a great job of marketing the illusion that an e-book should be $9.99," [Sarah] Weinman [of Daily Finance] said. "So how can publishers tell consumers, in clear terms, why $9.99 is bad and convince them that discount culture shouldn’t screw over the authors they profess to love?"


Australia’s federal court has issued a ruling that negates the responsibility for ISPs to engage in enforcement.

In a definitive defeat for film studios-’and in a first case of its kind worldwide-’Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that ISPs have no obligation to act on copyright infringement notices or to disconnect subscribers after receiving multiple letters. If copyright holders want justice for illegal file-sharing, they need to start by targeting the right people: those who committed the infringement.

Computerworld AU analyizes this further:

iiNet’s win in its civil case against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) in the Federal Court of Australia is just the start of a potentially long legal war, according to a Melbourne University copyright law expert.


D Packman, former CEO of eMusic says that publishers pricing ebooks higher are in for a sad reality:

Remembering your Econ class, you also know that most goods are elastic; as price lowers, demand increases. An optimum point exist that maximizes profit. I am pretty sure that the book industry, like the music industry before it, has not maximized profit by finding the optimum price. This is generally because the book publishers are not retailers -’ they have never forged a relationship directly with a customer. To optimize pricing (particularly on a per title basis), you need to conduct lots of tests and analyze lots of data. Amazon does this in near-real time and, I am told, is constantly optimizing pricing, page layout, merchandising, bundling, shopping cart path, and many other ecommerce variables.


Sidenote: Is this all a crazy ploy to get us readers to be happy about windowing (the delayed release of ebooks?)


Steve Axelrod who reps bigtime authors like Julia Quinn, Suzanne Brockmann, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (you know, big trade authors important to publishers) isn’t thrilled with the whole agency model because he, like Macintosh of Random House, isn’t convinced publishers know what they are doing in regards to pricing. He lays out 6 reasons why moving to the Agency model sounds like a mistake.


Kobo books has a post up about price elasticity at its blog.

Publishers have never done pricing without the safety net of retailers making adjustments to optimize consumer demand. Retailers spend a great deal of time on price analysis/optimization. As we work with publishers on agency, continuous review of price/purchase behaviour is going to be essential. Daily/weekly, not monthly/quarterly.

Books price $11 and on face a sad downward decline in sales numbers until it sort of flatlines. Kobo calls this “The Barren, Rocky Plain of Publisher Wishful Thinking.”

Kobo Sales Prices

I think this is Kobo’s “Danger, Will Robinson” call.


Dorchester Publishing has launched a new publicity campaign called the Publisher's Pledge program.

"Publisher's Pledge is a reaffirmation of the business model Dorchester has always prided itself on," stated Brooke Borneman, Director of Sales and Marketing. "Our strength has been identifying emerging voices and trends in the industry rather than chasing bestsellers. Our intent is to reestablish ourselves in the market as the publisher authors and agents turn to first to introduce new talent.

I thought the press release was a bit ironic given that it pointed to the names that they discovered and then sold recently to Avon. The books in the Publisher’s Pledge will be sold with a “money back guarantee”.

The first Publisher's Pledge title will be Barbara Monajem's Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil (April 2010), an erotically charged urban fantasy in the same vein as Charlaine Harris. Additional titles include Elisabeth Naughton's Marked (May 2010), a darkly sensual paranormal romance inspired by Greek mythology that will appeal to fans of Sherrilyn Kenyon; Christie Craig's Shut Up and Kiss Me (June 2010), a delightfully quirky romantic mystery that will appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich; and Erin Kellison's back-to-back debuts Shadow Bound (July 2010) and Shadow Fall (August 2010), the first two releases in a riveting post-apocalyptic series that fuses dark fantasy, science fiction, horror and romantic suspense.

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

40 Comments

  1. dunnettreader
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 14:26:57

    Glad you found that great Kobo price discussion. The terrific chart points out what I’ve believed throughout the Macmillan/Amazon kerfuffle. Amazon understands retailing and pricing books and Macmillan doesn’t. Amazon wants to create ebooks as a digital media experience that’s based on higher volume over a wider universe of books — ebooks as the equivalent of Netfix online movies. So it’s pricing them a bit below the “sweet spot” where the big volume lives. Macmillan is desperately trying to erect a Maginot Line to “protect” its “Barren Rocky Plain of Publisher Wishful Thinking.” LOL

    The Kobo piece also points out that charging a higher price for ebooks (that is, so the price differential isn’t as great vis a vis the hardback price) simply isn’t going to sell many more hardbacks. It will just result in a lot of lost sales on that book. The potential ebook buyer will buy something else instead, and when the ebook price finally drops, the marketing buzz will be long over so few folks who wanted to buy initially will even remember the book exists at a lower price.

    Amazon was trying to create a distinctive ebook market that meets the expectations of their ebook customers. Yes, they’ve got a hardware play going as well, but the strategy still works long-term even if iPad or another device manufacturer beats the Kindle in the ereader competition. By contrast, the big publishers are seriously impeding the emergence of an ebook industry that makes economic sense, but their defensive approach isn’t going to “save” the industry as currently structured.

    With Apple giving more publishers the incentive to shift to the agency model — where the publishers who don’t understand retail pricing set the prices rather than the retailer setting the prices — the winners aren’t going to be the ostrich big publishers. The winners will be publishers (large or small) who “get” ebooks, whether it’s pricing or DRM or format or exploiting backlists or innovative marketing. They’ll be rewarded by readers, even if the readers aren’t consciously aware of the different business practices of each publishing house.

    I also think authors who can be “choosy” about publisher will want to sign with the ones who understand where the ebook business is headed. If I were an author who could choose, Macmillan would be on my black list. It’s not just what sort of capabilities the publisher offers for producing, marketing, distributing and pricing a single title — which Macmillan is showing it doesn’t understand — but for how the author’s whole “oeuvre” will be managed for higher long-term value. And that doesn’t appear to be anywhere in Macmillan’s thinking — their screwball pricing and windowing of the ebooks of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is a perfect example of total lack of understanding of how to build and maintain a base of potential customers. It screams “I’m gonna milk my customers for every penny I can. Screw them.” They claim they’re sacrificing current revenue for the long view, when they’re being terribly short-sighted.

    ReplyReply

  2. Ridley
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 14:35:30

    That Kobo graph is amusing, and it mirrors my own shopping.

    I’ve just read Meghan Hart’s Broken the other day, after it was effectively marked down from $14.99 to $8 or $9 at Fictionwise. Now I want to read all of her books, but I’m still not going to pay full price for them.

    I guess it will all work out in the end? If they keep books priced high, they won’t sell, and they’ll have to regroup, rationally. I do wonder, though.

    ReplyReply

  3. Liz M
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 15:10:18

    Wow. Who knew I was an IEZ. It’s like Pez, but my head doesn’t dispense candy.

    All week I’ve been wondering how they got the focus so strongly on hardcovers and $9.99. Consistently thrown out of the discussion is mass market book pricing. Do hardcovers outsell paperback? I don’t think so – so I’m not at all sure why so many are failing to point out that the $9.99 price model fails for the paperback title consumer, and raising that isn’t likely to improve the situation.

    I’ve started a log of books I had on my purchase list that I did not buy because the e-book was priced higher than the paperback or the book is being withheld/windowed. I think it will be interesting, at the end of the year, to see what sort of sales loss it represents. I’m already at 9 and we’re six weeks in.

    ReplyReply

  4. Kalen Hughes
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 15:11:29

    And if you think physical books are the way of the future, then you're unaware of the towns that no longer sport a bookstore, like Laredo, TX, you're unaware that library hours are shortening, that Borders is on the bring of bankruptcy and Barnes & Noble might soon be taken over.

    Didn't we already pop the myth that Laredo couldn't support a bookstore? They closed the tiny one, yes, but they are in the process of building a larger one. There are just going to be a couple of months of lag time. Yes, it's sad that a town that size only had the one, but it's a bit disingenuous to use this as an example in this manner.

    Library hours are shortening because state and city budgets are too far in the red to keep them open, NOT because people aren't using them. Last thing I heard, library use was way up, which makes perfect sense as many people's income is way down.

    Also, the issue is NOT that physical books are on the way out. The issue is that where we shop for them is changing. Big Box Stores and the internet have eaten the bookstore's lunch.

    ReplyReply

  5. Janet W
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 15:23:57

    Are you allowed to share the six reasons Steve Axelrod is not impressed with the agency model? Since I’m not a subscriber to the closed website where his remarks were published (that you linked to).

    ReplyReply

  6. anion
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 15:39:36

    @Liz M:

    All week I've been wondering how they got the focus so strongly on hardcovers and $9.99. Consistently thrown out of the discussion is mass market book pricing. Do hardcovers outsell paperback? I don't think so – so I'm not at all sure why so many are failing to point out that the $9.99 price model fails for the paperback title consumer, and raising that isn't likely to improve the situation.

    That’s because all week no one has been writing about how under Macmillan’s pricing plan, the cost of the ebook drops the longer it’s been on the market, and–although they haven’t given definite dates etc.–their lowest price point is $5.99 (if memory serves). One assumes that price will be hit when the mmp has been released.

    The $12-14.99 is the price point for hardcovers, not mass market paperbacks. Sargent was fairly clear on that.

    ReplyReply

  7. Chicklet
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 15:43:22

    Looks like the big publishers will have to get into a retailer mindset PDQ, if they want to survive.

    ReplyReply

  8. Samantha
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 15:45:57

    Macmillan has priced Mass Market paperbacks at 12 and 14.99 on Amazon for Kindle books. Kleypas and Kenyon were two that I saw with that price tag.

    ReplyReply

  9. anion
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:03:04

    @Samantha:

    Well, they’re not at that price now (I just looked), and if it was before last week, it was Amazon setting those prices, not Macmillan.

    (Remember, that’s what this is all about? Macmillan wants to set the prices instead of Amazon?)

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:14:06

    @anion: Macmillan sets the list price and Amazon discounted. Under the agency model, Amazon would not be permitted to sell the product for anything BUT the list price.

    Further, Macmillan nor has any other publisher indicated that they want to price mass market paperbacks lower than hardcovers. Instead Macmillan and all other publishers indicated that they want to use dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing could very well be pricing popular authors at high levels (because again, publishers want us to by physical books) and lesser known authors at lower levels. Dynamic pricing does not mean lower pricing for all books not hardcovers. It means pricing each individual book separately based on separate demand (if publishers know how to do that given that they have zero market data).

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:28:25

    @Samantha: There was a commenter on a previous thread that had a whole list of Macmillan super premium pricing for mass markets. I saw a livejournal article that was tracking these high prices too. I’ll have to look for it.

    Here’s the LJ post

    and by brooksse here at DA

    ReplyReply

  12. library addict
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:29:29

    This is not going to be fun for consumers. I’m all for breaking Amazon’s dominance in the marketplace but as a customer I want to be able to comparison shop. So I don't like the idea of retailers being unable to discount ebooks.

    There's a reason Borders issues those 25-40% coupons every week. And there's a reason Wal-Mart and Target sell all of their print books at a % off every day. Publishers are dreaming if they think anyone likes paying retail for ebooks when most people won't for print. Especially because when you buy a print book you have the right to loan it out, sell it, etc, all of which one cannot do with ebooks.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jane
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:36:23

    @library addict What might totally ironic is, if no discounting, retailers will compete on service to readers. What ebook store offers the best CS to readers?

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:39:56

    @Janet W: No, I didn’t feel like I could share them bc it felt like I would be stealing content from PM.

    ReplyReply

  15. Janet W
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:10:51

    When I clicked on the link, this is what I got: “Publishers Marketplace: Log In” — I went back and checked to see if you mentioned in the post that Mr. Axelrod was sharing his thoughts in Publishers Marketplace — but no worries. It’s not like this hasn’t happened to me a lot recently when I’ve clicked on tweets.

    I suppose it’s a slippery slope when it comes to “stealing content”. Hopefully, he’ll choose to share his thoughts more widely on an open channel at some further point.

    ReplyReply

  16. Janet W
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:15:41

    Sorry about the BOLD … I guess html and I are not a match made in heaven!

    ReplyReply

  17. DS
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:38:43

    There was a poll on Lifehacker about How Much WOuld You Pay for an Ebook that is closed but does track Kobo’s Unit Sales by Price Point. http://lifehacker.com/5463270/how-much-would-you-pay-for-an-e+book

    ReplyReply

  18. liz m
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:47:14

    @ Jane – this dynamic playing out (trusting the publishers to price fairly) against a consumer’s own interest is exactly what’s confused me all week. Why are so many consumers so quick to defend a publishing house that’s already shown it wants to price gouge on the MMP front?

    Interestingly, MacMillian has dropped the price of the recent Kleypas book in the last few days and the Hawkins link I had for her new release is now MMP only with the high priced ebook no longer offered at all. Wonder if Victoria Alexander’s reprint Believe is still a victim of skyrocket pricing via her publisher?

    ReplyReply

  19. Jane
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:53:45

    @liz m: I don’t really know. I guess because readers want to support authors and so many authors were saying Macmillan is in the right here. I don’t even know if authors will win out here. Macmillan and Hachette have both acknowledged that they will receive less under the agency model which, of course, means less for authors and yet, you see few authors thinking the agency model is a bad thing.

    ReplyReply

  20. liz m
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:58:11

    @anion – Since Macmillian has lowered the price of the Kleypas ebook to match paperback, I checked their web site and multiple vendors to see if they were correcting their ebook pricing or if that one just got enough publicity to make it noticeable.

    Of the 9 ebooks on my list, 1 was price adjusted, 2 were pulled from offering, 3 were still at elevated pricing, (under $7 for the mass market paperback, $14 for the ebook) and then I lost interest.

    If a Julia Spencer Fleming book from 2002 is priced at twice paperback in ebook form, why do you think Macmillian cares about keeping pricing for ebook consumers rational? Especially when that book is very available used for far less than the MMP price?

    ReplyReply

  21. Jessica G.
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 18:23:08

    There’s a lot in this post that makes me burn, but nothing that hasn’t been said by many in the past week. All I wanted to say was the section where it’s pointed out library hours are getting cut – that’s purely state funding. I’m pretty sure library usage has increased (and that was part of the frustration here in PA – they were lobbying to keep their funding since more and more people were using the library).

    ReplyReply

  22. kirsten saell
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 18:30:41

    @anion – Since Macmillian has lowered the price of the Kleypas ebook to match paperback, I checked their web site and multiple vendors to see if they were correcting their ebook pricing or if that one just got enough publicity to make it noticeable.

    Of the 9 ebooks on my list, 1 was price adjusted, 2 were pulled from offering, 3 were still at elevated pricing, (under $7 for the mass market paperback, $14 for the ebook) and then I lost interest.

    That may not be Macmillan’s doing. I had my name misspelled on the listings for one of my titles on a few retail sites once (which screws up anyone’s ability to call up all my books on one page), and it took over a month for the changes to be made on one of those sites–even with me and my publisher’s retail liaison guy working on it.

    The books not on offer might be in the process of undergoing a price change on the same feed. Often the publisher notifies the retailer, and the retailer leaves them waiting.

    Not saying that’s what happened, but my experience with making changes to a book’s listing at retailers is that sometimes it happens right away, and sometimes it takes forfreakingever…

    ReplyReply

  23. Samantha
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 19:00:16

    Thank you Jane for the links.

    Just on a side note the only thing Sargent was clear on was his disdain for consumers that choose to read books electronically. It was also clear that he has no idea who the E-book buyers are and how they spend their money. Same goes for all the other publishers jumping on the same band wagon.

    ReplyReply

  24. liz m
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 19:00:19

    @ Kirsten – Why not? Seriously? I hear you, I do, but Macmillian is on record making the statements they made. They have a history that stretches a few years of wanting double for ebooks vs mass market paper when released together. Macmillian has pulled many ebooks from their own site. They just aren’t selling them today, where they were last week.

    So faced with them making statements about not wanting ebooks out there, charging double for years, and now pulling them completely – it might not be Macmillan’s fault?? It’s all the other retailers together? In a big misunderstanding but still somehow doing exactly what Macmillian said they wanted to do?

    I’m really not jumping you, I just don’t understand why we e-readers are so desperate to convince ourselves we just walked into a door.

    ReplyReply

  25. Edie
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 19:15:08

    Maybe some readers have slightly more faith in publishers than Amazon?

    One thing I do not understand is everyones blind faith that Amazon would keep the 9.99 low price point once they had established enough dominance in the market place? Lack of competition does not keep prices down.

    I guess I don’t like either player and wish I could fast forward the adjustment stage.. and then fast forward to no geo-restrictions..

    ReplyReply

  26. Jane
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 21:21:41

    @Edie I think Amazon would have a tough time raising prices. It is in it for the volume sales. I think price could have gone up if DRM came off but not without some perceived value. i.e akin to iTunes. Still selling the .99 song after all these years and the digital market dominance. The retail relationship is too close to the customer.

    ReplyReply

  27. brooksse
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 21:59:45

    @library addict:

    I'm all for breaking Amazon's dominance in the marketplace but as a customer I want to be able to comparison shop. So I don't like the idea of retailers being unable to discount ebooks.

    As an ebook reader, this has been my main concern as well. I bought 10 to 12 ebooks one week last summer when Books on Board had some great discounts (many at less than half price). I also took advantage of Fictionwise’s December specials. Some of those were favorite authors of mine, but most were new-to-me authors or ebooks I’d been on the fence about. It was the discounts that motivated me to buy.

    A lack of discounts from specific publishers will mean I’ll buy fewer ebooks from those pubs. I’ll still buy my favorite authors’ ebooks. And I’ll probably buy more Harlequins, since they seem more ebook-savvy. And from epubs, too. But those new-to-me and hit-or-miss authors whose ebooks I can’t get at a discount, I won’t buy those or will be much more cautious about buying.

    ReplyReply

  28. brooksse
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 22:13:54

    @Jane: Many of the mmpb vs. ebook prices I listed were ones I might have considered buying had the ebooks been priced the same as the mmpb. And those prices came from Macmillan’s website. I realize retailers may be slow to drop prices, that’s why I check the publisher’s website.

    It seems to me Macmillan is waiting 6 mos, a year, or more before dropping the price on some of their more popular authors. I won’t buy an ebook at double the mmpb price, not when I know I could get it from a used book store for 1/4 that price. And by the time they get around to dropping the price, I won’t remember wanting to buy the ebook in the first place.

    ETA: which is probably why I have very few Macmillan titles in my ebook collection.

    ReplyReply

  29. Maili
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 01:44:07

    Regarding the pricing debate, we are still talking about Macmillan and Amazon’s Kindle, right? The bottom line: Macmillan wants to decide what’s the right price for Amazon’s Kindle ebooks?

    I’m asking because I want to know how this Macmillan vs Kindle debate would affect non-Kindle ebook sellers and readers.

    As far as I can see, prices for non-Kindle ebooks across the board are inconsistent, ranging from $1.99 (Gabaldon’s Outlander at Diesel eBooks, for instance) to $36 (a Stephen King book at Fictionwise) with the average price being roughly $5.99. Some with discounts and some without. I recently bought a digital copy of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker** – priced roughly $3.99 – for roughly $1.50 after a discount, for example.

    **Published by Tor Books, which is part of the Macmillan outfit via St. Martin’s, I think?

    So, what exactly does the Macmillan vs Kindle debate mean for non-Kindle ebook readers, in short and long runs?

    (I don’t use Amazon.com and its Kindle at all, so please excuse my ignorance.)

    Edit: Oh, wait. I think I finally got it — it’s about the prices of hardback and ebook releases between Macmillan and Amazon/Kindle?

    ReplyReply

  30. stevie
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 07:22:28

    @Jane:

    But if it’s losing $3-4 on those e-books then all that volume does is ratchet up the losses still further. You cannot seriously believe that there is a bottomless pool of money to let Amazon do that.

    Admittedly a CEO who is prepared to refuse to sell Harry Potter books is a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but that doesn’t excuse the rest of us from actually engaging our brains and doing some elementary mathematics…

    ReplyReply

  31. Jane
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 07:54:58

    @stevie actually, amazon was only selling a small percentage at a loss and said somewhere that it was making money selling ebooks.

    ReplyReply

  32. Jane
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 07:58:00

    @Maili Macmillan and others are all moving to the agency model so there will be no price differential. The publisher plans to set one list price and, under the agency model, the retailers are not allowed to sell the product at anything but list.

    How this affects rewards/royalty programs depends on the contract between the parties but it occurred to me yesterday, if the price of the ebook is the same no matter the retailer, then what are retailers competing on?

    They will compete on the strength of their software ebook reading program (Stanza is the best there, imo) and they will compete on service to the customer: ease of use, browsing, availability. Hmm. Wonder who would win in that battle?

    I’m wondering, in the long run, if this move does ANYTHING to move readers away from Amazon.

    ReplyReply

  33. DS
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 08:46:02

    @Maili: We’re still talking about Macmillan v. Amazon–mostly. However, I think Macmillan is going to spread the agency model across the board and other companies are intending to follow. I’ve heard Murdoch and Hatchette mentioned.

    I’ve been taking note of various authors now who are offering or planning to offer their own books on web sites– C. J. Cherryh, Jane Fancher and Lyn Abbey at Closed Circle.

    I saw a mention of Aaron and Charlotte Elkins– their backlist seems to be in the hands of a company that is specializing in publishing OOP mysteries in digital editions, Westlake Press. I checked them out on Amazon and they were offered at a very reasonable $3.99.

    Scott Nicholson is touting a company formed with the English group, Ghostwriter Publications, to publish the backlist of established horror authors.

    I haven’t seen anything new about romance backlists although I know that I’ve heard of some publishers offering OOP regencies. Of course most of all I would love to see the work of some authors like Doris Sutcliffe Adams (Grace Ingram), Florence Stevenson, and Marian Cockrell in ebook form. Both Adams and Cockrell’s used books are selling for outrageous amounts.

    I would also add that there are some English authors of mysteries and historical fiction whose books never made it to the US market that I would love to have available without having to run them down on eBay or the used sites.

    ReplyReply

  34. Industry News: 2/10/2010 | RWA-WF
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 11:49:38

    [...] more articles in this vein, I’m referring you to Dear Author’s Friday Midday Links post, which includes 9 links on e-books and the pricing [...]

  35. Samantha
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 11:50:36

    It’s ridiculous that Macmillan thinks it can raise the prices on ebooks so much when it costs them nothing after making the first ebook copy. Also charging more for the ebook than the paperback or hardback version of a book is just arrogant. I will not be buying anything from Macmillan, ebook or paper. My loyalty is to Amazon and as much as I would like to support the authors it is not worth giving my money to their publisher. It’s just as easy to find their book at Goodwill for a dollar.

    ReplyReply

  36. brooksse
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 11:53:20

    @Maili:

    So, what exactly does the Macmillan vs Kindle debate mean for non-Kindle ebook readers, in short and long runs?

    I shop mostly at Books on Board and Fictionwise. But I also comparison shop and will buy from other retailers when they have an ebook I’m looking for at a good price. While there, I might buy one or two other titles that aren’t on sale. But when there’s very little difference in price, I tend to stick with BoB and Fictionwise.

    So in the long run, I think we could end up with fewer places to buy ebooks. Others could argue that it will level the playing field. But I think having no price variance might make it harder for small retailers or new retailers to compete against the ones who have already established a strong online presence. Especially if the existing retailers have good customer service. Under the agency model, if I’m already doing business with one or two retailers and have no complaints with them, what incentive would there be to shop at other retailers when the prices are all the same?

    Under the current model, new or small retailers might offer an ebook I’m looking for at a very good price. It might be part of a short-term sale, but it gets me to their site. And if I like doing business with them, I might start shopping there more often.

    I think the agency model could also benefit the device manufacturers who have their own bookstores. If you start out doing business at the device manufacturer’s bookstore and have no complaints about selection or customer service, what’s the incentive to seek out independent retailers if the prices are all the same? Especially when your device offers wireless connectivity to the manufacturer’s bookstore.

    ReplyReply

  37. Maili, Who's Finally Enlightened
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 14:10:35

    @Jane @DS @brooksse

    Thank you so much for clarifying and explaining as well as sharing your opinions.

    I wonder how it’d affect the general working relationship between retailers’ book buyers and publishers’ salespeople? It sounds as if the agency model will put salespeople in a better position, negotiation-wise? Time will tell, I suppose.

    ReplyReply

  38. SAO
    Feb 07, 2010 @ 02:21:44

    I think publishers are so busy protecting the hardcover crowd that they don’t realize there’s a huge used book/library crowd. I get a significant portion of my leisure reading from used book stores and libraries. The convenience of an e-reader would have me buying the ebooks for somewhere around 3$ for a used book and 2$ for a library book.

    If the publishers can pick up most of the used book market, that’s a significant chunk of money that they’re currently not getting.

    ReplyReply

  39. My eBook Resolution: Just Saying No to the Ebook Tax | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Feb 07, 2010 @ 04:01:30

    [...] Do you expect ebook prices to increase?  What do you anticipate dynamic pricing will mean for publishers and readers?  Do you plan to make any changes in your buying plans?  Will you keep a log like liz m? [...]

  40. brooksse
    Feb 07, 2010 @ 18:42:20

    @Jane:

    How this affects rewards/royalty programs depends on the contract between the parties but it occurred to me yesterday, if the price of the ebook is the same no matter the retailer, then what are retailers competing on?

    They could also compete on how many ways they can think up to get around the price restrictions. Such as having sales or rebates on the purchase of gift certificates (get a $25.00 gift certificate for $20.00, or buy a $25 gift certificate and get $5.00 in reward dollars). Or rewarding repeat customers (for every $100 spent in a six-month period, get $10.00 in rebate/reward dollars). Things like that. A contract might not allow rebates or rewards for a specific ebook purchase, but I don’t see how they could prevent retailers from rewarding customers if the rewards are not tied to specific ebook titles.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

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

%d bloggers like this: