Monday, February 1, 2010

Queen takes knight?

The latest battle on the publishing warfront. Over the weekend Amazon stopped selling all books published by Macmillan due to the ongoing e-book pricing disagreements. They capitulated later****, but the damage had been done to some books' Amazon rankings. Amazon is taking the stance that they think $12.99 and $14.99--the prices publishers want to set for e-books--is "needlessly high." I really recommend clicking those links; the articles aren't long and they present a clear overview of the situation that's more and more going to affect how the books you read are published:

Last Thursday, Mr. Sargent flew to Seattle to explain the pricing and new sales model to Amazon. He said Amazon could continue to buy e-books on the same terms it does now — allowing the retailer to set consumer prices — but that the publisher would delay the release of all digital editions by several months after the hardcover publication.

Amazon buys and resells e-books in the same way it handles printed books, by paying publishers a wholesale price that is generally equivalent to half the list price of a print edition. Because Amazon has discounted the price of most new and popular e-books on its Kindle e-reader to $9.99, it loses money on most of those sales.

Amazon’s goal has been strategic: it aims to establish a low price for e-books that will have the ancillary benefit of helping it sell more Kindle devices.

Amazon’s decision is also a victory for Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, who first pitched the idea of selling e-books under the agency model to book publishers earlier this year. Now Apple, whose iPad tablet is due in March, can compete on fairly equal footing with Amazon.

(bold emphasis mine)

What do you guys think? If you had a Kindle, would you resist paying $12.99 or $14.99 for an e-book? Keep in mind that this content is exactly the same as a $26.99 hardcover. Same text, same editing, same copyediting, same page design.

****Update: Note that Amazon announced they would cede, but the "buy" buttons on Macmillan book pages have still not been activated.


Traci said...

Personally, I think $12.99-$14.99 is still a steal. It's a hardcover book at a paperback price. As long as it can be sold at $9.99 or less after the paperback version comes out, people will be fine with it.

Karen said...

I am a neanderthal, I guess. I like holding a book in my hands, like the cover illustrations, like the paper, like the font, like being able to put it down on a table, upside down and spread apart until I come back to it, and I don't like reading a bright screen for hours at a time. I like going into bookstores and browsing. Surely I'm not the only one such type of book lover left on the planet...

Karen said...

but then, I'm also teaching kids how to make their own books/journals, with paper and art media. arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?

Patty said...

Karen, you are not the only one! I can't imagine sitting in front of the fire on a cold winter's night with a...Kindle! I would rather use it for kindling and keep my real books printed on real paper.

Maybe we could get our own cave and stock it with old vintage books. I hope all printed books aren't *vintage only* someday...going the way of vinyl LP's.