Apr 21 2010
This New Yorker article is one of the best articles I’ve read about the Apple pricing model, Apple, Amazon, and publishers. Pieces of interest include that Apple has agreed to this type of pricing model for only one year and only publishers believe that higher digital prices can be sustained.
No matter where consumers buy books, their belief that electronic media should cost less-’that something you can't hold simply isn't worth as much money-’will exert a powerful force. Asked about publishers' efforts to raise prices, a skeptical literary agent said, "You can try to put on wings and defy gravity, but eventually you will be pulled down."
Publishers Marketplace took exception (paid link) to the gossipy tone of the article and the suspect math (only a $1 left over for profit?) but the New Yorker article is great for the overview because it gives insight on the publisher mindset and how the retail rivals are shaping up. Obviously, Steve Jobs is in the I win/you lose school too. Witness the drama between Apple and Adobe or Apple and HTC or Apple and Google or Apple v. anyone who submits an iPhone App.
To borrow a word from the Auletta article, academics in Britain were incandescent over reviews left by Dr. Stephanie Palmer, a senior law lecturer at Cambridge University and wife to Dr. Orlando Figes, a history professor. Dr. Palmer, under the name “Historian” left scathing reviews of other historians’ works.
For some reason this led to one angry author to email 30 some other targeted authors and resulted in legal threats and ultimately Amazon’s removal of the reviews. I know that the UK has much stricter libel laws, but the reviews had to be removed? And were the subject of legal threats?
One author, the subject of a negative review by Dr. Palmer, said that the online reviews were “unpleasant personal attacks in the old Soviet fashion.”
So thus, the lesson is if you leave a negative review calling a book “dull” and “awful”, you are a communist. And, you will always be found out if you are anonymous.
One thing that our librarian did NOT do in “What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss” is have sex in the stacks but according to one library survey at least 20% of librarians find the stacks a perfect trysting place. I worked in my college library and the stacks were a musty, dusty place with a lot of dark corners. Plus, it totally enclosed in the middle of the library.
Amazon has sued for declaratory judgment in Seattle asking the court to clarify whether Amazon must turn over customer information requested by North Carolina. The State of North Carolina says that it must have this information to collect sales tax. Amazon has provided some information but has balked at providing the names and addresses of all residents who has bought anything from Amazon since 2003 arguing that it is an invasion of privacy. I have to agree with Amazon here. As long as they are providing sales data without identifying information, I don’t believe North Carolina is entitled to know what books each and every resident purchased.
The Impact of Free eBooks dissertation has been published and (PDF LINK) made available for free.
Conclusion: free ebooks appear to help print sales but there are a lot of variables and this may change as ebooks become a larger part of the market.
Mike Shatzkin blogs again about the danger of an internet purchasing world. The danger to print publishing is not just in digital books, but in online sales and the loss of brick and mortar retail power. Shatzkin argues that as many as half the book purchases could be online by the end of 2012 and the danger is that “inventory creates sales that wouldn’totherwise occur.”
how books are displayed and what clerks say (which is also affected by how books are displayed) -’ influences a lot of purchases. If we don't have retail locations with books merchandised to entice people to buy, I believe overall book sales will go down.
In another blow to independent booksellers, New York School system has decided to purchase its trade books directly from wholesale discounters instead of more than 100 small vendors selling fiction, non fiction, and supplemental textbooks.
The library services division of Ingram, the country's largest trade-book wholesaler, and The Booksource, one of its main competitors, outbid their rivals with guaranteed discounts of as much as 38 percent on single titles.
Someone at MobileRead noticed that Barnes and Noble is advertising the nook at a book file sharing site. I think its probably smart of BN but is it ethically wrong?
I bet Bob Sessions of Penguin Australia wishes he could have do over. Penguin Australia released “Pasta Bible” which had the phrase “freshly ground black people” instead of “black pepper.” The publisher pulped and reprinted 7000 copies but could not recall all the books on the shelves. Sessions then said that anyone who complained about the “silly mistake” would be given a new version. Sessions just didn’t understand why anyone would be offended.
I know race relations are very different in other parts of the world but still.