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

Dear Publishers: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

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Last week, IPG had all of the buy buttons pulled on the ebooks it sold through Amazon. The two could not come to agreement on terms. IPG wanted to have the same terms and Amazon wanted better terms. IPG took to the internet and sent out an email aka press release denouncing Amazon, encouraging its client publishers to stand firm, and asking that all future retail traffic be diverted from Amazon to other retailers.

Essentially IPG wants the 10 million plus Kindle owners to stop using their Kindles just to read IPG’s books. Do we think that is likely to happen? Oh sure, there is going to be some who will peel away, but not in major numbers. And yes, Amazon might relent.

The problem that I see is this. IPG is asking readers to make a moral decision with their wallet without providing a plausible alternative. Why not go DRM free and offer Mobi books to Kindle owners? This really strikes at the heart of Amazon because at the device prices, Amazon isn’t making money off device sales.

Why not sell direct to the consumer? Clearly the distribution arm is in place. It’s easier than ever to set up a marketplace on the internet. I doubt IPG would have the paypal problems of other distributors. We in the romance industry have seen internet retailers spring up virtually overnight.

Publishers have called on readers to be okay with their high priced ebooks, forego discounts, struggle with DRM, limit sharing, turned their backs on libraries, reject the money of our reading brethren outside of North America, but they want our help in shunning Amazon? What have you done for me lately?

Major print publishers have done what they could to slow 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 device or one retailer. DRM also impairs preservation of digital libraries, implementing a lease v. ownership system which instantly devalues the product for many readers. Many print publishers do not allow lending of digital books from reader to reader, not even Harlequin, even though the lending of digital books run by retailers works exactly the same way as a print book. Once that digital book is lent, the lender has no access until the book is returned by the recipient. Of the big six publishers, few will allow their books to be lent via library usage. Many, many books are not available outside the U.S. and Canada or are outrageously priced.

In sum, publishers are jacking readers over in regards to digital books but now we are supposed to act against our own financial interest or our own convenience to help publishers fight against Amazon?

We recognize that an Amazon as the exclusive vendor of books would be bad for us but what are publishers doing about it? Why is it the reader, the only party who does not make money in this equation, have to be the one to take the financial hit in the fight against Amazon? Why aren’t publishers making it easier for readers to move away from Amazon? Why aren’t they trying to appeal to our wallets instead of our morality? And what if we want to stay with Amazon for moral reasons such as that someone needs to compete with Apple and Amazon is the only one that is making an inroads there.

Here are some recommendations to win over readers. Eliminate DRM. Sell direct to Kindle owners using a mobi format. Remove agency pricing. Allow the return of readership rewards programs, loyalty programs, discounts as print readers are allowed. Wholeheartedly embrace the idea of lending and sharing of digital books. Allow discovery of books via libraries. Eliminate geographical restrictions. Encourage the concept of ownership to increase value of the digital books to the readers.

IPG could have taken the opportunity to announce sweeping changes that would enable the millions of Kindle owners leave Amazon behind. Instead, it made a moral call to action without any accompanying reciprocal action.

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

91 Comments

  1. Mike Cane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 20:02:07

    Bravo!

  2. readerdiane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 20:12:47

    Have you seen some of the Kindle ebook prices lately. One book was $.20 less than the print book. I am not an idiot. I think there is more than $.20 cost for a paper back than my ebook. I won’t be buying that book anytime soon. It ticks me off!!!

  3. Ros
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 20:30:31

    Amen, sister.

  4. Andrew Shaffer
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 20:51:52

    Excellent post. I, too, was wondering why IPG (and, hell, even Barnes and Noble) aren’t already selling .mobi files on their own. If DRM is really the only sticking point, they need to get over that ASAP.

  5. Gwen Hayes
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 21:07:38

    Great post. If *I* can figure out how to sell ebooks directly from my website without DRM or geographic restrictions, anyone can.

  6. Ros
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 21:19:43

    @Gwen Hayes: Exactly. And although I believe that Amazon own the mobi format, if books were sold in ePub format without DRM, converting them for Kindles through Calibre is no trouble at all.

  7. ElizabethN
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 21:37:21

    Yes! Totally agree.

  8. Jessa Slade
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 21:38:45

    So, so frustrating. I know change can be frightening, but asking other people to change so you don’t have to? Does that ever work?

  9. Laura P
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 21:57:06

    @readerdiane:

    I’ve come across several ebooks lately that cost several dollars more than the paperback version. There are several publishers doing this and I avoid purchasing their books as much as possible. I’m sure my opinion makes little difference to them; but they would get a lot more of my business if they were “ebook friendly”!

  10. Meoskop
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 22:03:39

    OMGYES. I will be the one in the corner swaying with a lighter held over my head.

  11. Mireya
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 22:07:18

    but but but if we remove DRM all the bogeymen will steal our books! You have no heart!

    Said with all due sarcasm

  12. Gwen Hayes
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 22:07:21

    @Ros: Don’t other outlets like ARe and Smashwords sell mobi files though?

  13. LG
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 22:42:07

    That second to last paragraph could be summarized like so: Quit being so freakin’ afraid of your customers.

  14. Annabeth Albert
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 22:55:23

    Yes. This. All of it. Absolutely.

  15. Miki S
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 23:18:46

    Yes, yes, yes, yes AND YES!

    (I tend to thing our government gets into too many things that are none of their business, but I’d personally like there to be a law that publishers can’t limit library access to digital content!)

  16. readerdiane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 23:28:47

    @Laura P:
    Well if all of us start doing that maybe we can make a difference.

  17. Ridley
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 00:06:19

    I miss the days of Fictionwise memberships and micropay. The pre-agency days were full of bulk ebook shopping. I’d buy 10-20 books at a go every time they had a rebate sale.

    On the plus side, I spend far less on books now. (Though I read less too.)

  18. SAO
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 00:17:50

    Absolutely YES to all of that!

    As a side point, I have a credit card with a billing address in Russia, established my Amazon account in England at Amazon.co.uk and almost always log in from Russia, but my Kindle’s country of residence is set as the US (you can change this somewhere in Amazon’s manage my account or manage my Kindle menu) so I get prices and availability as if I lived in America. It might have helped that I set up my Kindle in America. But, my guess is that anyone willing to navigate the nooks and crannies of the Amazon menus can claim US residence for book buying.

    Barnes and Noble was much more diligent at checking what country you were in, which is why I abandoned them as a source of e-books long ago. (They may have changed their policy).

  19. Anthea Lawson
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 00:28:19

    Amazon does not have a lock on the .mobi format. You can buy .mobi versions of books at Smashwords and AllRomance, as well as individual author’s sites.

    Here’s my big question though: Why do publishers need a ‘distributor’ to ‘distribute’ their digital books? Another middle-man who takes yet another bite out of the pie…

    Formatting, pasting in data, and uploading is easy enough for even the unpaid interns at the houses to do. Or is this another example of “but we’ve always had distributors — it’s how things are done in publishing”?

  20. library addict
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 01:29:45

    If only publishers would do this.

    I also miss the heyday of fictionwise. But my wallet doesn’t hate me as much now.

  21. Meri
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 03:00:13

    Well said.

    Make it easier for me to buy outside of Amazon and I will – in fact, where possible, I already do. But it should be up to the publishers to offer me a viable alternative; I’m not going to do all the legwork to help their bottom line.

    And seriously, geoblocking needs to stop. If I can order a print book to my address, I should be able to order an e-book, too.

  22. Mikaela
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 03:58:31

    THIS. All of it, but for me especially the publishers attitude to libraries and the georestrictions. I read a lot, but I cannot really afford to buy all my books. Even though the prices are 50 % cheaper than the print books my local bookstore sells ( I live in Sweden). So for me, the library was a way to sample new authors. ( Overdrive forced the Singapore library to close their loophole).

    I am really hoping that Afictionado opens this year.

  23. Fangs for the Fantasy
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 05:47:09

    “Publishers have called on readers to be okay with their high priced ebooks, forego discounts, struggle with DRM, limit sharing, turned their backs on libraries, reject the money of our reading brethren outside of North America, but they want our help in shunning Amazon? What have you done for me lately? ”

    Agreed so much with this. Now I have several issues with Amazon, I do, they’ve messed up epicly in the past – but I can’t even remotely picture these publishers as having anything remotely like the moral high-ground.

    I don’t see how they can expect reader loyalty when they pull so many shenanigans all the damn time

  24. anon
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:11:11

    …and furthermore, publishers, stop treating writers like idiots. What have you done for THEM lately? Sure, most of them still are putting up with archaic payment systems, lowly 25% net on ebooks, and the inane pricing of ebooks that pisses their readers off. But one by one, writers are realizing that they can do without you.

  25. Danielle D
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:25:16

    Ditto to what Michael Canine posted — Bravo!

  26. Merrian
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:35:48

    Big yes from geo restricted Australia!

  27. Karen Scott
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:52:57

    There’s nothing in this post that I don’t agree with. I’m loyal to one thing and one thing alone, my own pocket, and anything that doesn’t help enhance it in some way is pointless to me. Times are hard. IPG can just suck it.

  28. kara-karina
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 07:38:40

    Amen, sister! As an international reader I confirm that geographical restrictions for ebooks is one of the most stupidest mistakes they’ve ever made in publishing industry. I’ll keep buying from Amazon no matter what because in the end of the day if they sell me a book or ebook for £2.99 with free postage – that’s financially savvy for me and leaves me more money for other expenses like food or bills, and that’s what I or average reader care about.

  29. Sarah Tanner
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 07:51:59

    What Karen said. I’m sick of being told it’s my duty to pay more, shop at brick-and-mortar stores, support indie, etc. Why? What do I get out of it? Geo restrictions, DRM, disdain for the romance genre, and the accusation that I’m an entitled reader (or a potential pirate) because I have the temerity to want to purchase digital editions of books over print, and the publishers place geo restrictions on them. As a customer, I expect competitive prices, and I purchase where I can get the best deal.

    I don’t care about the IPG books being removed from the Kindle store. Most of the small presses and indie publishers are ruthless about geo restrictions, so they never wanted my custom in the first place.

  30. Richard Adin
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 07:55:26

    IPG ebooks aren’t agency priced and the wholesale discount to Amazon is already high. What Amazon is really asking for is for authors and publishers to underwrite and pay for Amazon’s losses that Amazon is incurring as a result of its monopolization attempts. In this particular dispute, it is IPG that is in the right.

  31. Meri
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 08:15:16

    @Richard Adin: Are IPG books DRM free? Are they available globally? As Jane noted, removing DRM would make it possible for Kindle users to buy the books without going through Amazon, and removing geographical restrictions allows more readers to buy. But if IPG isn’t willing to make it easier for readers to get their books, why should I be willing to make any extra effort for their benefit?

  32. April Books & Wine
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 08:54:14

    I have no idea who IPG is, but I will take the appeal to my wallet over the appeal to my morality EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    I mean, if I notice an ebook costs more or the same as it’s mass market counterpart, I don’t buy the ebook or the NEW physical book. I usually end up borrowing the book from the library or buying the one cent plus shipping used copy and I imagine I am not the only person to do so.

    Just wanted to say I agree with ALL of the sentiments of this post!

  33. Mandi
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 09:09:09

    Here are some recommendations to win over readers. Eliminate DRM. Sell direct to Kindle owners using a mobi forma. Remove agency pricing. Allow the return of readership rewards programs, loyalty programs, discounts as print readers are allowed. Wholeheartedly embrace the idea of lending and sharing of digital books. Allow discovery of books via libraries. Eliminate geographical restrictions. Encourage the concept of ownership to increase value of the digital books to the readers.

    YESSSSSSSS. Thank you.

  34. greengeekgirl
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 09:15:36

    I have been toying with exactly how to say this, so thank you for writing this post. I don’t want to dog IPG because I love independent books, but at the same time, there are a lot more issues at play than “Oh, Amazon is picking on the little presses and trying to strongarm them!” You’re right, alternatives are needed–and wanted! I *just* bought a Kindle and it makes me angry that they’re asking me now not to use it.

  35. J.K. Harper
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 09:32:18

    Perfectly stated. Post, comments, all of it. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I have Kindle, I love Kindle, I shop Amazon. I read indie/small press/small distributor books, I buy them, I love them. Aaaaand, same as others stated: frankly, my wallet nearly always trumps my morals/ethics for the fact that my wallet just happens to be the smaller of the two, and so be it. I’m a consumer who likes deals and easy, simple access to the books I want. Pander to me, please.

  36. Lisa J
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 09:35:15

    It amazes me a publisher can remember the reader is their customer when THEY have something to lose, but can’t when they are setting up policies that make it difficult for the reader (pricing, DRM, geo restrictions).

  37. Darlynne
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 10:26:08

    Jane, you rock. Thanks for summing up what’s wrong with publishing so clearly.

  38. Jennifer
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 10:35:35

    omg. yes. this. times a thousand. thank you!

  39. Lynnd
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 10:45:41

    AMEN! I agree with everything you said. Now, how do we get publishers to actually listen to us?

  40. Maili
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 11:08:15

    Nice one, Jane! I agree with all you said there. Ditto for the others’ responses, especially @Sarah Tanner‘s ->

    Geo restrictions, DRM, disdain for the romance genre, and the accusation that I’m an entitled reader (or a potential pirate) because I have the temerity to want to purchase digital editions of books over print, and the publishers place geo restrictions on them. As a customer, I expect competitive prices, and I purchase where I can get the best deal.

    (I cannot be the only one who had to find out what ‘IPG’ was? Independent Publishers Guild, it turns out.)

  41. Cara
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 11:41:40

    This is why, over the past almost-two years that I’ve had my e-reader, I’ve gotten really picky and savvy about my ebook buying. I give zero money to B&N and Amazon – I use them both for free reads and that’s it (I softrooted my Nook, which gives me the Android marketplace and lets me run the Kindle reader on it). I only purchase my ebooks from Books on Board, ARe, and Samhain (although it’s been a long time since I’ve bought from them, I don’t even know what their storefront is like anymore). When I purchase from them, I find myself hesitating to buy books published by agency publishers – more often than not, those are delegated to my wish lists until I have the ebook bucks to get them for free, or when I’m really desperate. I review enough books online that I read a number of NetGalleys.

    In short, the big pubs and agency pricing have lost me as a customer, yet I have a mile-long TBR list. And I know I’m not the only one.

    Also? You better bet your bum that I strip the DRMs from all my ebooks. Is it legal? Nope. Tough cookies. I paid for it, it’s my file. Plus, that’s the only way I can keep them all in one Calibre library. It’s streamlined and tagged and backed-up. So until they get their acts together, the big publishers can go get bent. I’m happy to give lesser-known talent my money and reviews in the meantime.

  42. Carolyn Jewel
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 11:55:04

    THIS!!!!! Absolutely, yes.

    Thank you, Jane.

  43. Laura Hunsaker
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:07:32

    My publisher (New Concepts Publishing) sells in all formats directly from the website, but NCP has also made the books available at ARe, fictionwise, B&N, Kobo, amazon, etc. I think it’s sucky to have a middleman, sure. But I love the availability of the books.

    I usually send readers to fictionwise for the fantastic coupon codes. I love discounts, so I share them every time I get one.

  44. Finrael
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:30:00

    Higher priced ebooks as well as being poorly edited and badly formatted. They should be ashamed of the poorly edited part.

  45. DS
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:37:59

    Teddypig on his blog mentioned that one of the books being advertised by IPG as a book that I would not be able to purchase in ebook form on Amazon is I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie. His description of the book is hilarious but true. Why would anyone want to pay $9.91 (Barnes & Noble Nook) for an ebook version of a book originally published in 1987 and widely available used for pennies. Why would any publisher ask a reader to do that?

  46. lauras67
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:40:27

    some of these publishers are driving their customers away. th ey claim to be so worried about piracy….. but if u ask me, what they are doing about it is going to backfire on them. i doubt many ereader owners are going to give their devices up and return to paper books. i dont support piracy, but i think they are going to drive more people to doing just that.

    i try to find alternate sources for books as much as possible and avoid buying from publishers that price their ebooks higher than paperback versions.

  47. Wahoo Suze
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:53:19

    Has anyone ever actually calculated the cost of doing all the anti-piracy DRM geo-restrictions that publishers do versus books actually stolen? I remember reading a LONG time ago that Denmark figured out that it cost less to just provide ambulance and medical services for everybody in every situation than it would to check and charge back services to insurance companies. It also pretty much eliminated medical insurance fraud.

    My point being that the cost of all these anti-theft practices are more than zero, and are remarkable ineffective, and make for very bad customer service. Which is somewhat off-topic, but it’s Sunday morning where I am, and I can’t focus yet.

  48. MarieC
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:59:25

    Truer words were never spoken! Thank you, Jane!!

  49. Teri P.
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 13:27:19

    What have the publishers done for writers? What have they done for their loyal readers? I don’t see one thing the publishers have done in the last two years that would buy them any reader loyalty. Some of our favorite authors have lost their contracts. Some of them that have been forced in to the self epub business have done quite well, and eliminated the middle man in the process, aka: the publisher. I can honestly say that I do not follow any author published by IPG, and if I did, I would stop buying their books. As a customer, I go where I can get the best deal. Whether IPG likes it or not, that is Amazon. And to think, they have the gall to ask us not to use our Kindles. Seriously, are they nuts or what?

    We have suffered at the hands of the publishers for going on three years now. All they keep doing is shooting themselves in the foot. Usually change forces the competition to become better in their quest for success, and keeping their heads above water. Oh no, that’s not the case here at all. Bookstores have closed, B & N is on the verge of bankruptcy, incentives to readers to buy books are a thing of the past. I guess if we listen to the pubs griping for long enough, we readers are supposed to cave and pay the higher prices. Why is the reader taking the financial hit anyway? Because of bad business decisions from the publishers, who have failed us on every front.

  50. Karen Scott
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 13:35:26

    My publisher (New Concepts Publishing) sells in all formats directly from the website,

    Wait – New Concepts Publishing still exists???

    Bummer….

  51. Edward
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 13:37:30

    @April Books & Wine: IPG is Independent Publishers Group. This is their website: http://www.ipgbook.com/

    They also have an article, What Should an E-book Cost?, in response to the Amazon matter: http://www.ipgbook.com/why-ipg-has-not-been-able-to-agree-on-terms-with-amazon-news-32.php I read it and I’m not convinced. Their numbers… are rather sketchy for some reason.

  52. Glossaria
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 13:48:37

    First sale doctrine, too! We can no longer donate our (e)books, pass them on to our kids, sell them to used bookstores… exactly when did they decide THEY had the right to take that away??

    And this whole mess with shunning libraries… ARGH. It boils my blood.

    Sing it, sister. ALL of it.

  53. Estara
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 14:10:40

    As a starting point, not having read the other comments:

    Small Publishers who don’t put DRM on their ebooks and never have and offer Kindle format to sideload:

    Author-co-op Book View Café – some backlist, some new books, a lot of sf&f, but also romance – contemporary as well as historical

    BAEN ebooks – they also do ebooks for some other publishers, like Nightshade books, you can see the other publishers on the left in their navigation
    Weightless Books – they publish Ginn Hale, for example, whose books have been reviewed here and also other small press ebooks

    I’m trying to list publishers here who do not only release backlist books – although those are great, too, like Belgrave House or Backlistebooks – but publishers who put out new material as well.
    These are mostly sf&f with the occasional romance or paranormal romance, admittedly.
    BAEN and Weightless have an option of sending ebooks directly to your kindle if you enter that special email adress.
    None of them have georestrictions either.

    And then of course there is AllRomanceebooks or Smashwords. AllRomance at least shows you all the file options so you don’t have to buy DRM – and Smashwords has no DRM and all kinds of file formats. However they don’t publish the books usually, they are just shopfronts.

  54. Karenmc
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 14:29:22

    @Ridley: Yes. Almost all of my early ebook purchasing was at Fictionwise. Everything worked just fine, even after B&N bought them out, until Agency pricing.

  55. Alicia
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 16:18:41

    I love this post so much. I was just ranting about this the other day. The cost of ebooks are generally outrageous, period. I cannot count the number of ebooks I’ve found on Amazon, B&N, etc. where the ebook is priced significantly more than the print book. It’s insane. You don’t even have the same rights with an ebook you paid just as much if not more for than a physical book. Then I have to pay for both the physical book and the ebook (and I’ll just throw out there that I don’t remember the last time I didn’t get a free digital copy with a DVD purchase).

    Publishers want to screech about piracy and what it’s doing to them (and blame everything on it). I’m not defending piracy at all, but how long exactly did they think they were going to blatantly screw consumers before they got fed up with it? People don’t have to pirate books to read them. Look how many comments in this post say they refuse to buy when ebooks are ridiculously priced so they go to libraries or borrow from friends (or there’s book swaps, yard sales, ebay, etc.). Yet publishers refuse to change. And I feel bad for the authors, they’re getting screwed alongside their readers.

  56. T
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 16:51:29

    SAO, I don´t know how you do it, but really, for me it is not at all easy to buy US amazon books. They detect IP and country where credit card was issued. It might help if your kindle was shipped to a US address, but mine wasn´t so for me, I got “free delivery through whispernet” but they saw my IP and added 2, 3, 4 dollars or something to the price I see, I never understand their logic. I do not buy from them ebooks. Even when it´s the only source and I really really want it, I take a good look at my TBR pile and try to not think of that book. Maybe I will break down one of these days, but so far, hidden charges for delivery of a book through the WWW and my home wi-fi? I will spend my disposable income elsewhere.

    Publishers and sellers are pushing as many arbitrary, stupid restrictions on clients as they can, because they can and because they are stupid. And it might end up being detrimental do them. I think all these conditions, these prices, these stupid stupid restrictions (6 devices for a lifetime!!) and the way we can mentally compare it to our rights when buying other things, oh sooner or later this is going to came crashing down on their heads.

  57. Charming
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 17:35:49

    @Edward:

    I am not convinced by IPG’s cost estimates either. For one thing, a huge percentage of print books (something like a third, I think) are not sold in the bookstore but are sent back to the publisher and pulped. That makes me think the appropriate cost of an ebook is around $5, and not IPG’s $10.

  58. Anthea Lawson
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 18:24:01

    @Charming: Actually, 50% “sell through” has been the standard target in Mass Market paperback format for years. That’s right – publishers hope that half of what they print actually gets sold. 70% is considered a fantastic sell-through. I’m hearing that recently, publishers are only seeing 30-40% sell-through on a lot of titles. Sickening, if you do the math. And one of the HUGE costs that ebooks don’t carry…

  59. MandyM
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 20:27:57

    Great post! I completely agree with your suggestions to the big publishing companies.

  60. Edward
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 21:21:11

    A round of an applause for you. <3

  61. SAO
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 22:33:07

    @T
    I found somewhere in the Manage your Kindle/Manage your Account file menu in Amazon a place where you can change your Kindle’s country. Since my Kindle was preset to the US, I didn’t change it, but I suspect it can be changed with no more than a click of the mouse.

    I know my internet discloses that I’m in Russia. On many US websites, I get ads in Russian, often for obtaining a Green Card. Google automatically switches to Google.Ru, which is really irritating since Yandex is a far better search engine for Russia.

    I suspect Amazon doesn’t have a vast interest in carefully enforcing geo restrictions. As long as it can say it tried, it’s probably fine. It might work harder at making sure Brits buy from Amazon.co.uk not .com, but not at avoiding selling books to people in countries where they don’t have a presence.

  62. Janine
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 23:18:29

    Loved every word!

  63. Xhara
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 05:15:49

    @Wahoo Suze: That’s exactly the point. At the moment we have a shitty and restrictive copyright law and georestrictions. Instead of adopting to the new possibilities of the internet the content industry just tries to conserve a overaged distribution system. One of those attempts is the ACTA treaty which we in Germany and all over Europe are at the moment fighting against. If this law comes to terms the content industry won’t even have to cover the costs of investigation etc. anymore but the governments … all the while the music industry f.e. claims that a large amount of their gains comes already from lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders – which are seldom in proportion to the actual “delict”. For the film industry f.e. are studies made that show piracy can be effectivly diminished if the release date for non-american countries doesn’t so much differ. And Switzerland had a study recently done on which it decided to not increase the amount of money it spends to fight against online piracy because it doesn’t stand in a usefull relation to the actual damage. Yeah I know the publisher etc are claiming big losses but this is based at the assumption that every piracy related download would be otherwise a sold item, which it isn’t. How many of us got to know an author/musician by recommendations from a friend and ended up bying a book/cd by him/her later on? So please publishers & Co cut the DRM and let us lend and share. It’s no loss for the creatives but a win in the long run.

  64. Sue Lange
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 08:08:14

    Here’s Book View Cafe’s scorecard:

    Eliminate DRM. Check.

    Sell direct to Kindle owners using a mobi format. Check.

    Remove agency pricing. Most books are less than $4.99.

    Discounts. Check.

    Allow discovery of books via libraries. Working on it.

    Eliminate geographical restrictions. Check.

    Encourage the concept of ownership to increase value of the digital books to the readers. Check.

    There are publishers doing what you want. Book View Cafe is one of them. Ball’s in your court: http://www.bookviewcafe.com

  65. Anon
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 08:44:05

    Do your research. IPG does make their books available directly to the consumer: http://www.ipgbook.com/browse-all-titles-pages-30.php

    IPG is not trying to get people to leave Amazon. They are trying to make deals with Amazon in their contracts so they don’t screw over their publishers, authors, and directly violate contracts with publishers and authors by meeting new and ridiculous terms Amazon is asking for.

    About DRM protection, that is not the distributor’s fault. Many (I’m sure, including IPG) would love to get rid of DRM, but you see, those authors are terrified that everyone in the world is going to pirate their books, so that is impossible. They don’t understand how the e-book world works any more that you do…and that’s saying something.
    Clearly you don’t understand the e-book market. How about you read this gorgeous explanation from the CEO of IPG before you make ignorant claims about what this company is trying to do http://www.ipgbook.com/why-ipg-has-not-been-able-to-agree-on-terms-with-amazon-news-32.php

  66. Anon
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 08:48:44

    @Anthea Lawson: Because most publishers/authors have NO IDEA what to do when it comes to e-books. Believe it or not, many will submit a poorly formatted word document and expect it to be up on all the major sites the following day. They need distributors to deal with the vendors for them and make sure their files are usable enough to be sent out.

  67. Anon
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 08:50:11

    @Mireya: Exactly. And I’m sure any publisher will agree with you. So how about you talk to your beloved author who is refusing to make this negotation in their contract. THAT is where the problem is.

  68. A case of the Mondays: Thinky thoughts about book stuff | Suzan Butler
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 09:05:21

    [...] Wow, it’s been quite a week in Romancelandia. Lots of drama, lots of everything. This past week has been somewhat tramatic for the romance community. A well-loved member of the community was found to be a plagiarizer, the worst sin a writer can commit. A reviewer wrote an open letter to the Publishers asking them what have they done for the reader lately. [...]

  69. Jane
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 09:39:45

    @Anon Actually I did do my research. IPG has an online catalog but you cannot purchase directly from them. The most that you can do is send the title name to a friend and give a Facebook “Like”. When you select one of the titles with an ebook option it says “Available from local and national retailers throughout the US.” That is not selling direct. In fact, it doesn’t even generate a direct link for purchase unlike other publisher websites.

    DRM protection is instituted by publishers but I’m sure that IPG could use its consortium muscle to say “hey, we aren’t going to accept books that don’t have a DRM free ebook for sale.”

    I understand that IPG is arguing that it can’t come to agreement with Amazon because of the margin (although I disagree with the margin and cost. Michael Hyatt stated that at $9.99 per ebook, the publishers are making close to the same margin as a hardcover at a regular hardcover price). However, understanding why IPG won’t come to terms with Amazon doesn’t explain why it won’t do the other things I’ve recommended.

    As for geographical restrictions, we’ve actually discussed that ad naseum here at dearauthor. In fact, we know that is controlled to some extent by the rights that the author sells although many authors sell global rights and those rights are sat upon by publishers. Further, while it is true that some authors are pro DRM, many authors are not.

  70. Kaethe
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 09:40:17

    Thank you for writing this. I’m more pissed about the cutting off libraries than about the direct cost of ebooks, but together the decisions just scream “we don’t know what the hell we’re doing but we’ll screw you out of every penny possible while we figure it out.”

  71. Publishers have called on readers to be okay with their high priced ebooks | The Passive Voice
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 10:00:28

    [...] DRM. Sell direct to Kindle owners using a mobi format. Remove agency pricing.Link to the rest at Dear AuthorClick to Tweet/Email/Share This Post wpa2a.script_load(); Amazon, PricingNo Comments to [...]

  72. Pati Nagle
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 10:14:27

    Book View Café is an author-owned cooperative that publishes its members’ books as DRM-free ebooks. Our members include Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, and Patricia Rice. Check us out:

    http://bookviewcafe.com

  73. Charming
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 10:25:13

    @Sue Lange:

    You have an awful website though. If anyone finds anything they aren’t specifically looking for, it is a weird coincidence.

  74. Ela
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 12:37:41

    About the high price of e-book: I work in a company (outside of US) which in the past also published books and as I see it, the main problem of publishers isn’t that producing an e-book is expensive, but that producing a print version is so cheap. 2$ per unit at the +10.000 units (check at your local printing company and add the discounts that long term partners have). And now with ebooks where cost of the book is still the same, minus those two bucks and plus the cost of formatting, with authors demand higher royalty rates and readers lower price… well, let just say this isn’t working for them and so they yell: making ebooks is costly since they will never admit that producing print books is cheap. IMO

  75. Bibliophile
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 16:13:22

    @Jane: I agree wholeheartedly with @Anon. I looked through IPG’s website after hearing so many discussing this story and not only does it look like they sell e-books but it seems they sell them internationally as well as long as they have the rights to sell in that country. I don’t think they can legally sell “Kindle” files to people (AMAZON RESTRICTS THAT) if that’s what you looked into but I was able to buy other formats directly off of their site no problem. I think you’re right in that readers are being hurt but publishers sound like they’re hurting as well. Sounds to me like IPG is trying to protect what little margins are allowing these publishers to create culture and the beloved classics we want to pass on to our children. I’ve read up on DRM and it sounds standard among most distributors aside from maybe O’Reilly, Smashwords and a handful of other self-publish sites. After how badly and painfully the music industry suffered from piracy at the advent of their digital revolution, its no wonder publishers and authors are terrified to strip that meager layer of protection away. Agree with you that readership and loyalty programs are a good option to encourage me to buy and making books available to libraries is also of the utmost importance. Looking further through IPG’s site, it looks like they do have connections with Overdrive, where my library gets its ebooks as well as tons of others around the world http://www.ipgbook.com/e-book-vendors–detail-pages-205.php Sounds to me like IPG is just the first domino fighting not to tip over in the face of Amazon’s unsurvivable demands on publishers, authors, and the book world. It’s up to readers and customers now to decide how we want to read and I for one, want to keep little publishers alive by supporting alternative outlets aside from Amazon.

  76. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 16:22:28

    @Bibliophile:

    I don’t think they can legally sell “Kindle” files to people (AMAZON RESTRICTS THAT) if that’s what you looked into but I was able to buy other formats directly off of their site no problem.

    .mobi and .prc files are native to the Kindle, so as long as you know how to sideload your Kindle, you can use it to read those two file formats. Amazon only has a lock on the Whispernet.

  77. Bibliophile
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 16:35:09

    @Moriah Jovan: Awesome to know. I heard that it’s super easy to “sideload,” so to speak, the Kindle fire through e-storefronts apps like Indiebound too, so you can still get IPG books and other small press publishers’ ebooks that way.

    I just wonder what will happen if no one stands up to Amazon on this front. If like so many wonderful and quirky bygone bookstores, insightful and independent publishers and authors may soon disappear…

  78. Jane
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 16:41:38

    @Bibliophile I am not surprised you agree with Anon. You are anon yourself and it appears that for both of you, this is likely your first visit to DA. Starting backwards:

    1) The lack of DRM is not what did the music industry in. Users wanted digital files and began to create them from CDs. Music industry was slow to adapt. When they did adapt, the music was being sold by song and not by album leading to decline in sales. Now, the music industry is just as robust by large record companies aren’t making the same profit. None of this had anything to do with DRM. DRM penalizes paying customers. Those are the only ones that are affected by DRM.

    2) THere are no loyalty programs in place at IPG that I can see.

    3) It’s great that IPG is still lending. Is their entire catalog available?

    4) International rights – Maybe there are some titles available worldwide, but many are not. At least one commenter has indicated that one IPG distributed book is not available worldwide.

    5) IPG’s “direct to consumer” website. First, you cannot tell that there is even a bookstore. It’s hidden under “Browse All Titles”. Second, not all the titles are available for sale and download directly.

    I.e. I Remember Bo is available only in the US and not for direct purchase digitally even though it is available through other retailers. The same appears to be true for almost every Triumph book I clicked on at IPG. Or how about 1-2-3 Magia which is also only available in the US and not for purchase digitally at IPG. Going through the first 30 epub titles at the IPG’s hidden bookstore leads me to conclude that books are available to the US and not for purchase digitally at IPG. Sure, there are a few titles interspersed where you can buy an ebook here or there but it is certainly not widely available.

  79. Bibliophile
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 17:28:24

    @Jane: Having a different opinion from the majority of those expressed here does not make me the only one expressing a different view so to answer your accusation, no I’m not Anon at all. I came across your blog when I googled this topic because I saw it on the NYtimes and was hoping to find more in depth info about what was going on. I commented because your post and your thread really did raise some interesting points and when I looked at the IPG website, I had a different experience than what some comments stated here that’s all.

    iTunes does, or at least did, put DRM on songs downloaded and I was simply pointing out that piracy was a huge and disastrous issue when the music industry went digital so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why the movie and book industries are so scared of it and doing potentially self-destructive things like locking books up with DRM, to stop it. I didn’t see a loyalty program either, just thought that was a really good suggestion on your part and could help save these kinds of sites and publishers, or at least encourage more return customers. As for direct to consumer, I clicked on the first book they had displayed, “Queen Elizabeth in the Garden,” and saw both EPUB and PDF versions and an “Add to cart” button. I also clicked on “Boardwalk Empire” and saw multiple ebook formats there. Maybe some books aren’t available in other formats like how when Amazon says “Tell the publisher” when Kindle copies aren’t available.

    Also don’t publishers and authors decide distribution rights? Distributors just have to follow those rights outlined by contracts don’t they? I’m out of my depth on that one. I just saw that many of the books I clicked had “WOR” for rights on the IPG site which I’m guessing means world.

    Debating whether this blog is really the place for me after all… Appreciate that you’re a romance review site though, as I’m always looking for my next read. Thanks anyways.

  80. Gavin
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 01:43:03

    @Estara — thanks for the mention.

    We started Weightless as an indie press ebooksite to address a lot of these points: I hate DRM’d files, I like books being available to everyone everywhere (in every format provided: usually epub, mobi, and pdf). And I really don’t want our books held hostage by anyone.

    Readers can re-download files if their ereader dies. We have at least one IPG publisher, Tachyon, who are very happy to have their .mobi files available on the site. We do sales (i.e. http://weightlessbooks.com/welcome/) and are working on a loyalty program. We’re tiny, but growing—Ginn Hale’s serial and various magazines are very popular—and very much enjoying the ride.

  81. T
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 03:19:19

    SAO, “I suspect Amazon doesn’t have a vast interest in carefully enforcing geo restrictions”

    LOL. No, not in my experience! I know where one can set country (and they check addresses to see if those are correct), but seriously, it´s not so easy. I suspect since your country was already set to US, or you have things physically shipped to the US, that was set. For the rest of us, believe me, take my word, no, not so easy. And there are plenty of things they will just not sell (That Anne Stuart book for example) and they always add a fat markup to what they deign to sell.

  82. Meri
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 03:33:08

    @Bibliophile:

    Also don’t publishers and authors decide distribution rights? Distributors just have to follow those rights outlined by contracts don’t they? I’m out of my depth on that one. I just saw that many of the books I clicked had “WOR” for rights on the IPG site which I’m guessing means world.

    Publishers, maybe. Authors don’t get a lot of say, as far as I know – not unless they self-pub. And my experience has been that self-pubbing authors usually avoid DRM.

  83. DS
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 03:57:07

    @Bibliophile: You are new at this aren’t you. I expect someone will explain to you smetime how Jane connected your posts.

  84. Reading Rage Tuesday: Ebooktroversy! | Insatiable Booksluts
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 04:17:18

    [...] You guys know the library still has free books, right? And what have you done for me lately? [Great article over at Dear Author that I highly suggest you read, if you haven't [...]

  85. greengeekgirl
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 04:36:33

    @Edward: I found it rather sketchy, as well. I blogged about it over at Insatiable Booksluts, but to try to sum it up succinctly, they’re basically demanding privileges from Amazon that the rest of the business world doesn’t have. 50% on wholesale may be out of the ordinary for books, but it’s definitely not out of the ordinary for BUSINESS–perhaps publishers need to look at their own business models more carefully to see if they can make themselves more profitable.

  86. greengeekgirl
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 04:44:26

    @Bibliophile: Psst–if Jane says you’re the same person, it’s because she has access to your information behind the scenes. Things like IP addresses, which are like a location signature and will match up if people post under two different names. Cheers!

  87. Quack, quack, quack | madgeniusclub
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 07:40:49

    [...] more on this, check out Dear Author has to [...]

  88. Derek
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 18:19:30

    @SAO: It is easy to change your Kindle’s registration. You just go to Manage Your Kindle > Country Settings (a list item down on the left hand side) Then click on “Change” beside the country they have you listed in. You need to have / know an address in America, with phone number etc. but if you’ve got friends or family there, that shouldn’t be a problem.

    A great post, and a lot of interesting comments too. Thanks for both, and for the ideas as to where to find non-geoblocked e-books.

  89. Erik Robert Nelson - Fantasy/SF Author
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 05:25:01

    [...] Dear Author puts it quite well: [...]

  90. 800lb Gorillas and Uncomfortably Small Rooms « Blog | Dan Eshleman
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 19:01:02

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  91. Romy Sommer
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 08:44:20

    Well said, Jane!

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