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?
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 –
- Letting indie authors publish and be found via the Kindle Store.
- Amazon Encore.
- 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.
- It’s not going to be as bad as being kicked out of Amazon.
- At the same time $15 prices are going to lead to much lower sales.
- 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.