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And The Hammer Falls...

Humorous: Gear Diary Exclusive: The Rough Draft of Macmillan’s Letter to Their Authors

Scary New eBook Prices Ahead; How Do We Fight Back?

Macmillan's publishing buddies (three of the Gang of Six) joined in blackmailing Amazon. It's only a matter of time before the rest smell blood in the water and sign on. Now the consumer is screwed - just like we used to be when we went to record stores, and all the new albums were all the same inflated price.

Oh, but it's isn't price fixing, you all assured me, it's just a different business model, "agency" and it's just one publisher. It's legal and fair and right, Amazon's just being a petulant bully. BULLSHIT!

Forcing a retailer to accept an agency model for content to read on a device that they invested the time and money in is fucking blackmail. The fact that the Gang of Six are planning on doing it to all ereader vendors/retailers just makes it worse.

More Links

The real agenda of Apple’s ebook partners: death to ebooks by Aaron Pressman

Hey, John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Books, Screw You!

Is There a Dark Side to the iPad?

Amazon Folds Like A Lawn Chair to Macmillan eBook Pricing Demands

Stop thinking only of the authors, people! If the public can't afford the books, the authors are screwed. If I can buy a book club edition in hardcover for $10.50, or a paperback for $7.99, I'm not going to cough up $14.99 for a DRM contaminated ebook.

These stupid publishers are doing to themselves what the music labels did, and are still whining about. The artists got fucked over worst of all in that deal, and the authors here will get done too, as the publishers see their sales going south. Jacking up the price on ebooks won't help hardback sales, it'll just decrease overall sales, and screw over the midlist authors worst because they won't be able to earn out their advances.

But people would rather listen to the authors whine over their short term sales, and not realize that Amazon is trying to save their business model and an entire market segment from a bunch of wanna-be oligopolists.

Why I Care

I don't even own a fucking Kindle - I can't afford it. But I was there when it was developed - the company shared a building with the company I worked for at the time. I was supposed to be on the beta list, but the brass got first crack, and I got left out. I wanted that thing to exist, I had followed the entire ebook market for years, and knew why previous readers and distribution had failed. I had coffee machine conversations about it with the developers, and they understood too. As long as I worked there, I never said a word about it due to the NDA. I still won't discuss details. I also haven't talked to those guys in over a year.

So it really galls the living shit out of me when some know-nothing starts making pronouncements about the Kindle and what it was built for, and what it can and can't do or read. Yes, the thing doesn't natively read PDFs, IIRC. Last I knew they were still working on that, and probably getting no love out of Adobe, who OWNS the PDF format (and keeps changing it.) Yes, I think some of the ways that corporate wanted to make it "easy" to use are a little hokey. No, the publishers would not sell ebooks without DRM contamination, that wasn't Amazon's idea.


More Links:

When Publishers Set Prices (with pictures!)

Agency, Pricing and the Seven Things Publishers Need to Remember


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
A kindle is on my wish list. Along with a few hundred books. However, not going to cave into the higher prices. Also not getting the ipad. I don't like being told what kind of software and aps I have to have. If I could use the Droid on my prepaid acct, I would. I hear they're fairly easy to hack and bend to your will.
Feb. 6th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
Another link, with important data: When Publishers Set Prices (with pictures!)
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. ... this is going to be a new business function for most publishers and a faster decision-cycle more akin to print inventory decisions than the leisurely process of setting publication price points at the beginning of each season. Get ready.
I am looking forward to publishers going into a screaming arm-waving panic in about six months, when they figure out that pre-set, fixed prices give them no data about customer interest--they don't have a way to tell the difference between "not liked" (i.e. wouldn't sell much at half the price) and "too expensive" (would sell zillions if you dropped the price 20% and you can make it up in volume), and customers who don't like their methods are going to give them all sorts of feedback that (1) makes them angry and (2) they don't know how to use.

Currently, there's a small-but-notable movement to leave one-star reviews on the books with delayed ebook release dates. I suspect this will also garnish a number of one-star reviews, and weird petitions. Oh, and lots and lots of public declarations of "it'll only inspire more piracy," which will result in publishers saying, "it's not our fault we can't make a profit at this business; it's the pirates who are destroying ebookery."

Bullshit. Baen's books are all available on the torrents. And Baen's ebooks sell more than all their non-US paper books, and their market is *growing*, even during the times when other publishers are shrinking. Baen's methods won't work for everyone, but they do work, and other publishers should be frantically reviewing their methods to find out how much of them they can apply to other types of book markets.
Feb. 19th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
My 2 cents worth on ebooks and MacMillan
The funny thing about all of this is that in some niches on the net, particularly Internet Marketing and several "how to" venues, ebooks, even audio or dead tree versions of the same copy are provided to consumers for a "shipping and handling fee". This fee is usually $7.95, $9.95 or $14.95 depending on the popularlity of the author and the amount/length of material shipped to the consumer. I've even seen such a fee charged for an ebook in only pdf form, though this is rare.

Now, the authors of the how to or marketing ebooks are not generally as well known to the average consumer as are most authors of the kind of books published by MacMillan or any of the other big publishing houses. They advertise these ebooks as being "free" except for a small S&H fee, supposedly to cover their production costs. In actuality, the book author or person presenting the offer, earns anywhere from $1 to $10 on each of the units purchased. They are considered loss leaders as well, a way to get the purchaser's credit card information and a small buy. Then in a series of "one time offers" a purchaser is given the opportunity to purchase more information, a home study course, business coaching, or a membership in a site where more information is presented sequentially over a period of several weeks, months, or years. Such memberships are called continuity programs and they are currently being touted as the best thing since squeeze pages for people wanting to get a start in online sales and marketing.

My point in all of this is to note that ebooks are much more than the invention of Amazon and such online booksellers and variety stores. Actually, the booksellers are the "Johnny come latelies" of ebook sales. Mostly ebooks have been used as quick pdf's to get information out there for sale. They even predate blogs as a way to provide information to consumers quickly and efficiently as well as cheaply for the ebook producer.

All through the history, short as it may be, of ebooks on the Internet, the price for them has been totally consumer driven. The factors used to determine that price, from the beginning, have been, and still are, relevance, scarcity, length, popularity of the niche, and reputation of the author or sponsoring group (I call this last guru-power of the author). Using these criteria, I have seen ebooks sell for as little as "Free with $2.95 S&H", $1.20 with a 5 cent raise every hour, and as much as $1497.00 for a series of ebook transcripts of a three day conference.

Therefore, I posit, given the above evidence and history of ebooks on the Internet, that MacMillan is both arrogant and woefulling unresponsive to both the needs and wants of their customers and to what is going on on the Internet today in Internet commerce and ebooks. Sadly, it is their writers who are the ones who are likely to pay the most for their policies and attitude. That, however, seems to be situation normal in the publishing industry, which is why a lot of the younger authors are becoming self-published, especially when it comes to ebooks. A wise marketer once stated that the way to consistently earn money is to find a need and fill it. That holds true on the 'net or off, including ebook sales and marketing be it via Amazon, Cafe Press or one's own site. With a pdf conversion program and a printer, one can make any ebook, especially one in pdf form, into a dead tree piece, and in any size and style font one's little ole hear desires. I do it all the time (grin).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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