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Amazon using corporate muscle again

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EC2
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Location: Nottingham UK
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Amazon using corporate muscle again

Postby EC2 » Sat January 30th, 2010, 10:04 am

I saw this on Twitter this morning re Amazon and the publisher Macmillan.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/technology/30amazon.html
A while back Amazon removed buy buttons on targeted best selling authors of the Hachete group because Hachete had refused to give Amazon deeper discounts.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

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parthianbow
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Postby parthianbow » Sat January 30th, 2010, 10:16 am

Depressing news. Good for Macmillan for demanding higher prices, though. If only all the publishers would stand together and present a united front. Otherwise what has happened to the farming industry in the UK (thanks in the main to the big supermarkets) could happen to publishing.
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Chatterbox
Bibliophile
Location: New York

Postby Chatterbox » Sat January 30th, 2010, 4:52 pm

I find some of the points made a bit odd, though. Fewer & fewer Kindle books are priced at $9.99, until they hit the bestseller list. I paid $14.27 for my Kindle version of Wolf Hall, for instance. Increasingly, there's only about $1 to $1.75 difference in the price between a Kindle book and the discounted 'real' book. I'm sure that adds up over tens of thousands of books in the relationship between a publisher and Amazon, but really isn't that much. Increasingly, I'm making the decision re buying a book for Kindle on whether I want it on my shelves and whether it earns shelf room, or on whether I want a portable copy as well, not on price.

That said, there are a bunch of Kindle vigilantes on Amazon, who go and slam any book whose Kindle version is priced north of $9.99. There are some books out there that look to be rated 2 stars, until you see that 90% of the reviews are from the vigilantes!

The books that get discounted most heavily are the ones where the publishers may be able to make up on volume what they lose in margin. Don't get me wrong -- I'll buy a book I want, whether it's $25 or $15. But I also know I'm in the minority, and I suspect publishers as well as booksellers realize this. Creating at atmosphere where publishers have more room to negotiate to me seems to require as a precondition that more readers be willing to pay for the value they are getting. It's got to be a grassroots effort -- this book has x of value for me. In this era of free content and tiny attention spans, I think that's going to be harder. And if Macmillan decides to withhold content from Amazon, that means that there probably will be some books I don't buy at all, whether because they aren't as easy to buy or as affordable. That's the tradeoff.

At the end of the day, consumer choice shapes all of this. Most people (not all of us; not me) like supermarkets because they are clean, fast, efficient, and comprehensive as well as (often) lower cost for acceptable quality. A family raising 2 kids on a tight budget isn't going to pay $20 more a week for their groceries to support a local store vs Wal-Mart. Unless/until we find a way to influence mass consumer behavior in favor of things like farmer's markets, buying regionally, buying from independent vendors, paying for intellectual property, etc., this won't make a difference. As for publishers standing together -- as long as the rewards for breaking ranks (higher sales) are higher than the pain of the alternative... Think about the union movement: the 'pain' in that case were people losing their lives in unsafe working conditions and starving to death when they lost their jobs. They had nothing to lose and nothing to gain from breaking ranks.

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SarahWoodbury
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Postby SarahWoodbury » Sun January 31st, 2010, 3:28 am

Perhaps someone could explain to me about the cost of e-books verses hard cover books? Somewhere I read that a hardcover 'costs' $2 in actual paper products, but I don't know if that includes trucking it to warehouses. Do we really know what a book costs? They say that $9.99 is too little, but for something that in real time is 'free'--meaning the publisher has printed 10,000 hard-cover books at a certain price and presumably that will cover their costs of advances, editing, overhead, etc. --that doesn't make sense to me.

Then again, if that is no longer the case (given that 6 ebooks were sold last year for ever 10 paper books at Amazon), I can see how e-books have to figure differently into the equation. Can anyone explain this to me? It feels comparable to the impenetrableness of airline fares . . .

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Divia
Bibliomaniac
Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Postby Divia » Sun January 31st, 2010, 4:39 pm

What I dont understand is why the hell are these e books so much money? If I am buying a kindle for 250 bucks I would want my books at 9.99 or lower. I am not buying an Ipad so that I can pay 15 for a book. Lets face it I can get that same book at the same price OR cheaper in book form.

Furthermore, Chatter is right. Why are some books on amazon north of 9.99. I have been thinking about buying a kindle but the more I research it the more I wonder if I would actually save money buying what I am, borrowing from the library and getting books from pbs.

I know that publishers need to make money but right now it seems stupid to me to buy some type of gadget so that I can drop 250 or 400 up front and then pay the same amount for an ebook as an real book.
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LoveHistory
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Postby LoveHistory » Sun January 31st, 2010, 4:55 pm

I don't know what kind of special codes might be involved in making files Kindle compatible (which would mean paying technicians to do the coding), but the standard PDF eBook cost nothing to produce. It's a copy of an existing file.

I keep my eBook prices low and they sell better than the print versions of my books, but you might or might not be able to read them on a Kindle.

I don't buy the line that publishers are worried about "devaluing" the books with a lower price. Remember when I was asking everyone here about that issue after I announced my Economy Pricing strategy and was told by a Lulu moderator that it was a bad idea? No one passes up a book because the price is too low. Price and quality are not always in lock-step. The publishers are concerned first and foremost about money. Can't blame them given the state of their industry.

Chatterbox always hits the nail on the head.

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EC2
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Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Sun January 31st, 2010, 6:19 pm

This is a terrific take on the situation that's just come up at Twitter.
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsiders.html
Les proz e les vassals

Souvent entre piez de chevals

Kar ja li coard n’I chasront



'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'


Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



www.elizabethchadwick.com

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SarahWoodbury
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Postby SarahWoodbury » Sun January 31st, 2010, 9:16 pm

http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2010/01/31/why-my-books-are-no-longer-for-sale-via-amazon/

And if you follow EC's link, you get to this one which answers the "how books are made" question.

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SarahWoodbury
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Postby SarahWoodbury » Sun January 31st, 2010, 9:36 pm


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Anna Elliott
Compulsive Reader

Postby Anna Elliott » Sun January 31st, 2010, 9:43 pm

That is super interesting, Sarah, thanks for posting. Although I have to say the one sentence in JA Konrath's blog post that caught my eye-- "I can easily write 4 books per year." Wow . . . just . . . wow.
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