Amazon Blinked

So it would look like Amazon has blinked first.

On Amazon's discussion board,

“Dear Customers:

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!

Thank you for being a customer.”

At least now Macmillan and it's ebooks will stand or fail on the pricing that Macmilan chooses to set, as opposed to being forced to set a certain price by Amazon. Although it is interesting to see Amazon try to paint themselves as a victim in all this as opposed to trying to force a monopoly and monopsony in the ebook market.

One amusing part of this message is this.

“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”

Yes – they have a monopoly over the books that they own – that is, after all, what copyright means.

Which is, of course, completely different to having your books only readable on a Kindle…

6 thoughts on “Amazon Blinked”

  1. In common with many people I suspect I am put off from buying an ebook reader at the moment by the mess that book distribution is currently in.First of all I have to choose a formal. I can choose ePub which looks great on paper as it is a commonly accepted standard that works with most readers, although not the Kindle. The catch is that a lot of books are not available in ePub format.

    Alternatively I can choose Amazon's format. That gives me access to many more (although still a lot less than I would like) books but the penalty is that if at any time in the future I decide I want to use a reader by another company, I lose access to all the books I payed for.

    The third alternative is I can buy a paper book. That gives me access to all books that are currently in print, provided in a format that is not tied to a specific manufacturer so will not become obsolete, frequenly costs less than an eBook in spite of costing considerably more to print and distribute, and as an added bonus I get to pass it on to a friend or charity show when I am done with it.

    I like the convenience of an ebook reader, but until I can get the books I want at the same or lower price than I can buy the paper copy, and have reasonable confidence that they will still be readable a few years in the future when I have have switched to a different device by another manufacturer, the advantages massively outweight the advantages.

    I do not object to the idea of publishers charging more for books when they are first released and are competing with the hardback edition, but the price must later be reduced to compete with the paperback, and later the discounted editions. And I would expect the price to be a bit less than the physical copy as well. The publishers are saving a fair ammount on printing and distribution with eBooks, so can afford to charge a bit less, without having to reduce author's royalties.

  2. Got to be paperback. Fall asleep in the bath with a paperback it gets wet and a few quid buys another copy. Fall asleep with the ereader in the bath and your 200 down the drain.

  3. As one who just gave 34 bags of books to the SF Public Library sale, and still have a lot of books left, I want an electronic version just to save trees, gasoline and space.I don't have time to read (many) books twice, but I will buy them in hardback if I need to, so any electronic cost that is less than that is fine with me.

    But I do think the cost of the electronic version should go 99% to the author and 1% to the publisher/Amazon.

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