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Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Old 02-01-10, 07:47 PM
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Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

The Macmillan publishing group has stood up to Amazon about pricing and as a result Amazon is pulling Macmillan books from Amazon and the Kindle. It is good to see a publisher trying to stand up to Amazon but I think this may hurt them and wouldn't be surprised if Macmillan backs down. I doubt they were expecting this response from Amazon. Their books are still available so I imagine Amazon could be just selling off the stock they have.

http://us.macmillan.com/NewsDetails.aspx?id=18537
Old 02-01-10, 08:23 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

What were the old terms of sale versus the new terms?
Old 02-01-10, 08:37 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

That article is old. Amazon is not pulling Macmillan books from Kindle. Amazon caved and will be offering all Macmillan titles at the horrible $14.99 price that Macmillan wants.
Old 02-01-10, 10:34 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

It was posted on Tor.com yesterday so I assumed that it was recent.
Old 02-01-10, 11:40 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

I just saw this on Yahoo! News, originally posted from The Wall Street Journal:

The $9.99 best seller that helped Amazon.com Inc. build a dominant position in the now-thriving e-book market was at risk of extinction Sunday after Amazon capitulated in a battle sparked by the launch of Apple Inc.'s new iPad.

Amazon conceded defeat Sunday evening after halting sales of all books published by Macmillan in a dispute over higher e-book prices. Having made the $9.99 e-book a fixture, Amazon now faces the prospect of raising its prices to match new terms Apple is offering publishers.

"Ultimately we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own books," Amazon said. Amazon's statement suggested it would resume selling Macmillan books, but didn't offer a timeline for doing so.

Amazon's flip-flop exposes how seriously Amazon is taking Apple's challenge to its position as the market leader in e-book sales. It is the first of what is expected to be a series of upheavals as Amazon and Apple square off over the digital future of book publishing and retailing.

The picture is likely to get more complicated when Google Inc., the search-engine company, later this year launches its own e-bookstore, Google Editions. Google says it intends to allow publishers to set their own prices -- while reserving the right to discount at its own expense.

"The future of e-books, the future of publishers' control over their own destiny, and the future of retail pricing, is being forged right before our eyes," said Richard Curtis, a New York literary agent and e-book publisher.

The issue came to the forefront after Apple unveiled the iPad last Wednesday and disclosed that five major publishers, including Macmillan, will begin selling their own e-books for the device. Publishers will set prices themselves on Apple's iBooks store and many of the new e-book best sellers are expected to be priced at $12.99 or $14.99 -- terms that the publishers are expected to ask Amazon to match.

Under the Apple model, publishers will receive 70% of each sale, or $10.49 on a $14.99 e-book. This compares unfavorably with what they were receiving from Amazon per title. However, publishers believe that Apple's customer base represents a vast new market and that they will make up the difference on volume. They also believe Amazon's $9.99 price tag doesn't reflect the true value of their books.

Whether consumers will be willing to pay more for their e-books remains to be seen. After a news conference announcing the iPad, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told a Wall Street Journal columnist that "the prices will be the same" for books on the iPad as on the Kindle.

The Macmillan fracas came to light after Macmillan Chief Executive John Sargent flew to Seattle to discuss "new terms of sales for e-books" with Amazon last Thursday, the day after the Apple announcement. By the time he returned to New York on Friday, he had been informed that Macmillan's books would not be for sale on Amazon.com directly. By late Friday evening, many of Macmillan's titles had already been removed.

Mr. Sargent said late Sunday that Macmillan is now "in discussions with Amazon on how best to resolve our differences.They are now, have been, and I suspect always will be one of our most valued customers"

Macmillan, a unit of Germany's Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, boasts such top sellers as "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. On Saturday it published "The Politician," an account of the John Edwards scandal by former Edwards aide Andrew Young that on Sunday afternoon ranked No. 1 on the best-seller list at Barnes & Noble.com, a unit of Barnes & Noble Inc.

Neither of those titles was available from Amazon, either in e-book or hardcover versions, over the weekend. Kobo Inc., a Toronto-based e-book retailer, sent out messages on Twitter promoting a page on its site titled "Can't Get These on Kindle" that features 13 Macmillan titles it sells.

"This isn't really about Macmillan. It's about Amazon fighting for its life with Apple," said Dominique Raccah, publisher of Sourcebooks Inc., based in Naperville, Ill. "Up until now, Amazon has had a significant hold on the future of the book industry. Now a lot of new devices are coming down the pike, the most important of which is the iPad."

In its statement, Amazon said it doesn't believe that "all of the major publishers" will follow Macmillan's position. Amazon didn't rule out others offering cut-rate prices: "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."

The new pricing demands could have benefits for Amazon. Instead of losing several dollars on new e-book best sellers -- which Amazon was willing to do to push sales -- it stands to make a profit on each title. And publishers are expected now to make their new e-books available on the same day as their hardcovers, a position Amazon has long advocated.

One publisher that signed up with Apple said it is uncertain what will happen in the next few weeks. "Conversations have only just begun," said Brian Murray, chief executive of News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers. News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.

Other publishers involved with Apple, including Pearson PLC's Penguin Group and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group, declined to comment Sunday. Efforts to reach a spokesman for Bertelsmann AG's Random House book arm, the only major house that hasn't signed on with Apple, were unsuccessful Sunday.

Doug Miller, a 45-year-old information-technology consultant in Indianapolis, owns two Kindles and dozens of Amazon e-books, but was so frustrated by the removal of Macmillan books that he has put his e-book purchases on hold indefinitely. "It was Amazon that was acting monopolistic. That seriously damages my trust in them," he said. "I'm very leery of further investing in any e-book platform until I see some sort of standardization. In the meantime I'll buy paper books -- but probably not from Amazon."
We all knew that Amazon was taking a loss by offering books at $9.99, doing so to gain the lead in marketshare on hardware units. The nice thing about that was that until now, none of the other ebook stores could really compete against Amazon, so they had to lower their prices to match. But now Apple has turned the tables. I think the real issue here is that the publishers are setting the prices of these ebooks far too high. What is the cost to turn a book into an ebook? How many $9.99 copies of it do you have to sell to turn a profit? And more importantly, if prices do go up, will people continue to be interested? $14.99 is cheaper than buying the hardcover, but if I wait a few weeks I can most likely get a discount on the hardcover itself, and if I wait a few months I can get the paperback for $10 or less.

Last edited by Supermallet; 02-01-10 at 11:58 PM.
Old 02-02-10, 12:28 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

I don't currently own an ebook reader as the selection of titles in Canada is not very good. If I did own one however I would expect to get a much discounted price compared to the hard cover.

As it is I only buy books in mass market paperback format with the exception of 2 or 3 authors that I do not wish to wait to read.

I wonder if Amazon will continue to sell these $14.99 books for $9.99 and eat the loss in order to keep their market share on the hardware side. I think it will depend on how much the ipad takes off as a reader.
Old 02-02-10, 03:21 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Given the much-reduced distribution and production costs, I am very resistant to the concept of a virtual product being priced at anywhere like the same level as the "analog" version.

To my way of thinking , maybe $2-50 each to publisher, author and etailer is a "fair" bite of the cherry at the time of hardback publication. This could reduce when the softback is released.

And if you buy a real book maybe you should be entitled to an e-version for in the region of a $1 to $2 with some serious Digital Rights Management software to tie this "back-up" version to the owner/purchaser of the said real book. I don't have proposals as to how this would work in practice and am just really thinking out loud!

So long as the authors are protected from receiving a lower royalty per unit sold, it seems to me that these figures represent a reasonable return for publisher and etailer as compared to what they'd net under traditional publishing arrangements. At present, the arguments seem to be akin to what the music industry are trying on with digital music i.e. to take the opportunity to ramp up their profits rather than passing on the cost reduction to the consumer.
Old 02-02-10, 07:39 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

The difference in costs involved with producing a paper book and a digital version are surprisingly small. Most of the expense is those damn humans involved. Now, if only that could be done by computer as well...(Although some books seem to have been edited solely by spellchecker, so maybe the computers are taking over.)
Old 02-02-10, 08:30 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Yeah, I think when these digital conversations come up, people seem to focus on how much the physical good costs, instead of how much it cost the people behind it to produce it. That said, some pricepoints just make sense, and 9.99 for digital books does whereas 14.99 does not.
Old 02-02-10, 09:10 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Stupid move by Macmillan. The book publishing industry has spent decades teaching us different price points for different levels of quality (paperback vs. hardback) and suddenly wants to try to pretend that they can charge as much as they can for a hardback. Almost no one will buy both. Tor did a good thing and gave away some ebooks a while back. They got me interested in several new authors that I wouldn't have known about otherwise, and sales resulted. If anyone in the publishing industry could think more than 15 seconds ahead, they would give away the first book of any multi book series, allow open standards, and embrace a cheaper price point. But it seems they want to relearn the same lesson that the recording industry and movie industry are/have learned. A shame.
Old 02-02-10, 09:14 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by boredsilly
Yeah, I think when these digital conversations come up, people seem to focus on how much the physical good costs, instead of how much it cost the people behind it to produce it. That said, some pricepoints just make sense, and 9.99 for digital books does whereas 14.99 does not.
Well, a digital book requires that you either invest your own money in a reader, or are tethered to a PC. Not insignificant barriers to entry. There is a very real diminished value to an individual electronic book.

I've long thought that to lock in pre-orders, they should give away an ebook copy. Almost no one would buy the hard back of a book and the ebook, and it would guarentee a number of sales.
Old 02-02-10, 12:09 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by djmont
(Although some books seem to have been edited solely by spellchecker, so maybe the computers are taking over.)
That's preposterous -- most of the mistakes I see in books are things that spellcheck would've caught.

Anyway, most books are paperback originals that never come out in hardcover. Those cost under $10. There's no reason an electronic copy should cost more -- except the publishers want people to buy more expensive hardcovers for big name authors.
Old 02-02-10, 12:53 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

I've been leaning closer and closer to buying an e-reader. This just pushed me much further away.
Old 02-02-10, 01:04 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

I haven't been too in touch with all of this. Do they lower the price of ebooks at some point (To kinda match when a hardback comes out vs a paperback)?

I buy 99% paperbacks because of the cost, but if a ebook will always be $9.99 or $14.99, I wouldn't want a eReader...
Old 02-02-10, 02:53 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by WallyOPD
I've been leaning closer and closer to buying an e-reader. This just pushed me much further away.
Same.
Old 02-02-10, 03:09 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

I have read a few ebooks on my ipod touch using the "Stanza" app, and it was okay apart from the screen size. The reason I don't usually do this is because I don't have ready access to most books I want to read legally, and I want to support the authors I enjoy.

I see a time coming when the authors employ their own editor and staff to create ebook versions and bypass the publishers. This will allow more flexible pricing as there won't be a publisher taking a cut. This would be easier for well known authors who already have a following.
Old 02-02-10, 03:37 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by stp115
Stupid move by Macmillan.
The stupid move is not by Macmillan, it is by Apple with the iPad. They announced that the publishers offering ebooks to Apple will all be going with the $14.99 price-point. Why would Macmillan then choose to go to Amazon, where their products would be offered at $9.99? Amazon knew how large Macmillan's inventory is, so that is why they caved.

And yeah, it is a brutal blow to Kindle and the ebook world, which I have grown to absolutely love. I will be very pissed if all new ebook become $14.99 because of this.
Old 02-02-10, 05:17 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by boredsilly
Yeah, I think when these digital conversations come up, people seem to focus on how much the physical good costs, instead of how much it cost the people behind it to produce it. That said, some pricepoints just make sense, and 9.99 for digital books does whereas 14.99 does not.
As a consumer, I find that I'm less willing to to buy digital downloads than I am physical media.

Buying a song for $0.99 from iTunes or whatever doesn't seem like a bad deal, but I don't want to buy full albums that way. I'd rather pay $12 for a CD than $10 for an mp3 album.

I feel the same way about eBooks. $10+ for an eBook seems like too much pay for something that seems ephemeral. I might be willing to pay $2-3 for an eBook, but not more.
Old 02-03-10, 02:08 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by djmont
...(Although some books seem to have been edited solely by spellchecker, so maybe the computers are taking over.)
Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara
That's preposterous -- most of the mistakes I see in books are things that spellcheck would've caught.
Isn't that what djmont was saying, that the mistakes are things spellcheck wouldn't have caught, like real words but wrong in context?
Old 02-03-10, 02:09 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by old_mate
The Macmillan publishing group has stood up to Amazon about pricing and as a result Amazon is pulling Macmillan books from Amazon and the Kindle. It is good to see a publisher trying to stand up to Amazon ...
Higher consumer prices FTW!

Oh wait
Old 02-03-10, 05:18 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by djmont
The difference in costs involved with producing a paper book and a digital version are surprisingly small. Most of the expense is those damn humans involved.
I can certainly appreciate the fixed-cost element of bringing a book to the market-place.

From the poor proof-reading &/or copy-editing of some of the books I've read during the past decade, some publishers have pretty much dispensed with one or both of these functions; maybe even sending the author's original file to the printer! That means one or two fewer people in the book-filtering process and a lower overall initial outlay although, to be fair, I would not imagine that many publishers are exactly awash with cash.

This being said, as well as having encountered lines of e-books already selling for $6 apiece, on another site I have also seen the following comparative analysis of how the pie is shared:
Courtesy of iReaderReview, we have created a very simplistic view of how the pie is currently divided:

Author: 10% (This in fact ranges between 8% and 15%, depending on the author's clout -- e.g. Stephen King does better than most. If the author has an agent, the agent's cut comes out of this. It is indeed tough for new authors.)
Publisher: 30% (This ranges between 25% and 32%, again depending on the author's clout -- e.g. their percentage is less with Stephen King because the risk is lower too. Note: this is their net revenue, after deducting author royalties and printer fees.)
Printer: 10%
Distributor: 10%
Retailer: 40%

Will authors get more than the 8 to 15% share of the pie that they currently get? That should be possible, because a few big pie-sharers have been eliminated by the Kindle, namely:
Printer: 10%
Distributor: 10%
Retailer: 40%.
Unless Amazon is giving a bigger percentage to publishers (which is unlikely, but possible), 60% of the pie is available to be shared between Amazon, publishers, authors, and readers.
And elsewhere:
Based on published reports, hereís the way Macmillan envisions the ebook sales should be divided.

20% author
30% retailer
50% publisher

They canít seriously expect that division to stick, so obviously this is just an opening negotiating gambit.
[this was followed up by another contributor who wrote]
I think your figures are wrong for the Kindle. Publisher gets 35%, out of
which publisher pays author royalty. So it would be more like:

Author: 10%
Publisher: 25%
Amazon: 65%

It is worth noting that Scribd and Smashwords are destroying Amazon's assertion of the 65% cut to the retailer. They are only charging about 15% -- which leaves 85% for the Publisher and Author. I think that is closer to where this will all be after the dust settles. So the publisher will actually make MORE on ebook sales than on printed book sales!

Article on writers possibly receiving lower sums on Kindle ebook sales

And another author's blog

Paradoxically, I'm probably not the best person to comment on any of this because:

1) I don 't own or plan to buy an e-reader any time soon;
2) I don't even possess an MP3 player and have minimal music files on my PC;
3) from "a" & "b", it may be deduced that I prefer to possess the physical object rather than the, to me, ethereal substitute.

Maybe I'll change my mind when I can be sure of permanently retaining the data I have purchased, it comes with some additional form of gratification along the lines of the old-fashioned book and album covers and the delivery method is easy on the eyes or ears.
Old 02-03-10, 07:59 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

Originally Posted by stp115
Stupid move by Macmillan. The book publishing industry has spent decades teaching us different price points for different levels of quality (paperback vs. hardback) and suddenly wants to try to pretend that they can charge as much as they can for a hardback.
The problem is that they don't see it that way. The cost difference between paperback and hardcover, while not insignificant, are not enough to justify the price difference. The real reason for the high price is that they're trying to capture folks that will pay a higher price to get a book when it comes out. By that reasoning, a newly released ebook should be similar in price to a hardcover. From the consumer's point of view, the ebook is still worth less than the paperback, since they've been "taught" that the higher price means a "better" quality printing. That is a problem of the publishers' own making.

Originally Posted by Sessa17
Amazon knew how large Macmillan's inventory is, so that is why they caved.
I'm not sure Amazon caved. Sure, they're selling Macmillan books again, but I think the real purpose of halting sales was to remind Macmillan that Amazon, unlike Apple, also sells physical copies of books, and moves enough volume to have an actual effect. Looked at from that point of view, they succeeded. Basically "Go ahead and do what you want, Macmillan, just remember who butters your bread in the physical media space." The fact that this all occurred over a weekend, which I believe is slower for sales, points me in that direction.
Old 02-03-10, 08:56 AM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

I think it's important to keep in mind that there is no price that something "should" cost, other than a price that the consumer will pay that allows the producer to make an acceptable profit. The market determines what that price is -- if it's worth it to consumers, they'll pay it; if it's worth it to producers, they'll sell it. Publishers will obviously charge as much as they can for a book and still sell enough copies so as to maximize profits. And consumers will either pay it or not; if enough of them don't, the publishers will be forced to lower prices. (While noting that the publishers don't really set the prices, the retailers do; but they influence them.)

I don't think $10 is a sustainable price point for in-demand e-books. Amazon was selling those books at a loss (somewhere around $5 per book) in order to gain market share and discourage other suppliers from entering the market. I don't think anyone believes that Amazon would continue to sell e-books for $10 if they were able to dominate the market the way they hope to. And they certainly wouldn't continue to sell them at a loss.
Old 02-03-10, 12:10 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

That's the thing, though. Since the market will only bear what the consumer is willing to pay, and consumers now have the idea that most ebooks cost $9.99, how many are going to pay $14.99 and up?
Old 02-03-10, 01:52 PM
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Re: Macmillan books to no longer be sold by Amazon

That's exactly why the publishers were so upset with Amazon -- they convinced a lot of consumers that an ebook should only cost $10. And I don't think that's a realistic price.

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