Amazon lets Macmillan sell $15 titles, says customers will decide

Amazon has  a small write-up explaining their decision to let Macmillan set prices. They say that Macmillan has a monopoly over their titles and Amazon want to offer the titles to Kindle owners (even if the price isn’t right) and let them decide –

 Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles.

We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.

Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

It’s pretty key that Amazon think other Publishers won’t follow i.e. they’ll keep their ebooks at $9.99 to keep a competitive advantage.

It’s unlikely – though it wouldn’t be a surprise to see at least 1 or 2 publishers stick with $10 eBook prices.

Is it suprising that Amazon let Macmillan back in?

Very.

It seems that Amazon think they do need to let customers have the option to decide whether to buy more expensive titles or not.

It’s a good decision for customers and books for the short-term. However, it sets a very dangerous precedent for the long-term.

Overall, I strongly feel Amazon made a big mistake here. It’s not good for the future of ebooks.

Content is still King

This whole battle shows the importance of a few Amazon initiatives –

  1. Letting indie authors publish and be found via the Kindle Store.
  2. Amazon Encore.
  3. Getting eReaders into readers’ hands.

The Big 6 Publishers still have the content and every retailer and every platform has to play along – for the moment.  

The iPad is giving Publishers a chance to reset the Publishing Industry

There’s no way to deny that this is a big win for Publishers and a loss for customers.

The iPad gave Publishers something to threaten Amazon with and reset eBook prices – Macmillan is the first.

Now it’s up to the customers to support Publishers and Authors that don’t set ridiculously high prices (like Macmillan is going to) and bring back more reasonable ebook prices.

What about Macmillan’s Authors?

Macmillan Authors are going to get a nasty shock.

  1. It’s not going to be as bad as being kicked out of Amazon.
  2. At the same time $15 prices are going to lead to much lower sales.
  3. There are also people who will consciously boycott Macmillan titles.

It’s interesting to see how quickly authors rushed to defend their Publisher and pretended that $15 prices were not unfair to customers. How convenient to forget who actually pays for your books.

They are going to get a real shock once the new $15 and $13 prices are implemented and customers get to return the favor.

It’s a sad day

The Publishing Mafia have won a battle at the cost of the customer.

The real battle is going to be when Macmillan sends out $15 and $13 titles. Then it’s not going to be in the hands of Macmillan or even a company like Amazon which is dependent on Macmillan for titles.

Then it’s going to be in the hands of customers.

Macmillan is probably going to be joined by most of the other Big 6 Publishers in March. The entry of the iPad has allowed Publishers to put a roadblock in the progress of eBooks and eReaders.

A sad, sad day for customers and people who love books.

two free kindle books, additional details on amazon vs macmillan

Two free kindle books from James Scott Bell to say goodbye to January. They’re both religious fiction –

  1. Sins of the Fathers – It’s rated 4.5 stars on 15 reviews. 
  2. Deadlock – Rated 4.5 stars on 15 reviews.

The last set of free books disappeared quickly so please get these as soon as you can.

Galley Cat pretends the $9.99 boycott didn’t happen

GalleyCat highlights a contentious claim about the $9.99 boycott –

“I doubt Amazon is letting the views of 2200 customers dictate a pricing policy that affects millions.

If 2200 are unhappy enough to post about it, that means (let’s ballpark it) 2,997,800 are at least neutral enough not to join the conversation.”

Actually, what Galley Cat should factor in is –

  1. While normal topics get 10-40 replies from 5-20 users, the $9.99 issue got 2,200 customers to jump in.   
  2. The number of people who actually write things on forum is notoriously low – less than 10% of people who visit a forum actually write anything.  
  3. Only a fraction of Kindle owners visit the Kindle forums.
  4. Saying that 2,200 people wrote about $9.99 means 2.997 million didn’t care is the most inaccurate thing you could write.

The effectiveness of the $9.99 boycott is that there were always less than 10 (and usually less than 5) books priced over $9.99 in the Top 100 bestsellers chart – even before free and public domain took over.

Charlie Stross  talks about Pipelines and his readers improve on it

Shouldn’t be a surprise – Just like John Scalzi, Charlie Stross is losing sales and he thinks Amazon is evil. Losing book sales will do that to authors.

He does write about the pipeline –

Publishing is made out of pipes. Traditionally the supply chain ran: author -> publisher -> wholesaler -> bookstore -> consumer.

The agency model Apple proposed – collapses the supply chain in a different direction, so it looks like: author -> publisher -> fixed-price distributor -> reader.

One of his commenters, Ray Racine,  points out something pretty cool –

Why not view the future chain as       Author -> Electronic Distributor -> Customer

Isn’t that what Amazon is really after here. Becoming the sole required intermediary between the Reader and the Writer?

That’s exactly it – Publishers and Authors don’t fully realize that in New Publishing publishers are optional.

Publishers keep claiming that printing costs less and less

Unqualified Offerings offers some good links and makes fun of a piece in Laptop Mag that claims that printing books costs less than 1% of hardcover prices.

  1. We started off with claims that 10% to 20% of the cost of a book was printing and paper and shipping and warehousing. 
  2. Here’s my Book Cost Analysis which has printing at 10%. Note that printing costs aren’t the only thing eBooks save on.
  3. Now Laptop Magazine is claiming printing is just 1%.
  4. Soon we’ll have Publishers claim eBooks cost more than physical books.

eBooks actually take care of a lot of things –

  1. Reduces the risk in publishing books. 
  2. Makes warehouses and distributors much less important. 
  3. Makes Publishers much less important. 
  4. Eliminates the need to have staff and actual physical stores.
  5. Eliminates shipping costs for the most part and eliminates the need for returns and destroying unsold books.

Add on things like 60 second downloads and stores that are open all the time and readers reading more and you really have to wonder how Publishers can’t find a way to cut costs.

Books for free, Kindle deals, $1 Indie titles

First, we have Kindle Deals –

  1. 7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Rated 4 stars on 175 reviews and just $5. Mr. Patterson also has 20 books for $6.39 and another 23 books between $7 and $8.  
  2. Dominant Species by Michael E. Marks is just $1.99. It’s a Military SciFi book published by Centurion Press. It’s rated 4.5 stars across 5 reviews. 

$5 and below Romance Novels –

  1. Debbie Macomber has a dozen romance novels for $5 or less. 
  2. Karen Erickson has a ton of romance novels between $2 and $3.60 – a few of which are selling very well (Tangled and Forbidden from the Playing with Fire series). 

Next, let’s take a look at the free books –

  1. Random House’s Crown Publishing Imprint has a ‘Choose a Free Book’ offer. You can choose between Walking to Gatlinburg by Howard Frank Mosher, Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It’s US only and it’s a physical book 😉 .
  2. Note that the above is a monthly offer – there was one in December and perhaps there’ll be one in February.
  3. Buxr has a link to Platform.com to get a free copy of Clusters for Dummies (next few free books were also found at Buxr). 
  4. How to Be Invisible by J. J. Luna. PDF Book on how to protect your identity and assets. 
  5. 100 Free Things to do with your grandkids – also in PDF. 
  6. [unconfirmed] Debate this Book (Random House) is offering a free copy of one of the books they’ve featured to the first 10 commenters – It’s a blog for authors and educators and books with some interesting looking books.

Finally, we have $1 indie titles from the movers and shakers section of the Kindle Store –

  1. With This Ring, I Thee Dread by Ruth Ann Nordin. It’s a romantic comedy and rated 5 stars – very good reviews. The author has some other interesting looking titles in the Kindle Store (they’re in the ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ section below the book cover image).
  2. Declaring Spinsterhood by Jamie Lynn Braziel. Rated 4 stars on 12 customer reviews.  
  3. Dragon’s Awakening by Dawn Ibanez. A fantasy novel that’s rated 4.5 stars on 5 reviews. 

Overall not a bad collection of kindle deals and offers. We should see a few more over the next few days as January walks away and February walks in.