Monday, February 1, 2010

E-Book Wars

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the price and distribution of ebooks especially with the release of all the new e-readers on the market: the Kindle, Nook, Sony, and Apple’s new iPad .

With the sales of these devices on the rise (2.5 million Kindles have sold to date), publishers and retailers like Amazon are scrambling and knocking heads trying to decide when to release the ebooks (coordinating with the release of the hardcover and print titles) and how much to charge. The dispute over the ebook pricing came to a standoff this past week with MacMillan Books, one of the largest publishers in the United States. MacMillan and Amazon could not agree on terms for the pricing of ebooks. The publisher is concerned that Amazon’s current policy for pricing will devalue the price of print books.

Publishers have tried to deal with this by delaying the ebook release after the hardcovers of particular titles were released. This hasn’t gone over well to say the least with owners of the Kindle e-readers or with Amazon.

In retaliation, Amazon yanked Macmillan ebooks off their virtual shelves. Here's an article about it:

I try to understand all this but my eyes glaze over as I read articles on it. I have mixed feeling about Amazon. My print and ebooks are listed there. But I don’t want Amazon’s success to come at the expense of the brick and mortar stores I love. And I certainly don’t want to see a monopoly. That would be a crime. The traditional publishers have this new element to deal with that's causing them more headaches than they expected. Change is painful. I'm sure they will resolve this issue soon. It seems to be hurting everyone: the vendors, publishers and authors. Both vendor and publisher do have a common goal: Sell books and make money. They just haven't figured out how to meet on common ground yet.
What do you think? Or what are your feelings on this?
An aside, I like to buy ebooks at Ellora’s Cave and that’s one of the reasons why I got a Nook ereader. Even though most of EC’s ebooks are available in the Kindle format, they’re cheaper bought directly from the Ellora’s Cave site. EXAMPLE: My new release DAMNED AND DESIRED is $5.95 at Ellora’s Cave. On Amazon it’s $9.52. The Amazon price may change according to demand or other factors I don't understand.

Even as I finish this blog to post on Sunday, Publishisher's Lunch popped up with a new update:

In summary, Amazon announced to its customers on Sunday night that although they strongly disaggree regarding MacMillan's terms to sell their ebook titles at $12.99 - $14.99, Amazon will offer those ebooks to their customers and let the customer decide if they want to pay what they believe is needlessly high prices for bestsellers. The more attractively priced ebooks from independent presses and self-published authors may be an alternative.
The story continues, we'll have to wait and see...
I think JA Konrath has a great take on all this see his posting:


Bart said...

Here's my take on the whole book/ebook thing:

1. Publishers and authors want to sell books.
2. Retailers want to sell books.
3. Equipment vendors want to sell their products.
4. Readers want to read books.
5. There is a free market in books.
6. The marketplace will out, readers will get what they want.
7. Stupid attempts to lock in customers with a proprietary format will be punished by the readers themselves.
8. Print books will not go away (at least for a generation or two.)

Eventually there will be 2-3 formats that dominate the market, and all publishers and equipment vendors will conform to those formats.

Think of how many photo formats there are. Literally hundreds, yet almost every photoshopy type product reads and manipulates almost all of them. Once something is software, it's easy to convert.

Long live the marketplace!

Anita Birt said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments about the e-book pricing problems. I live in hope that my Cerridwen Press e-books will find a home on the different e-readers. It's very confusing!

Kathy Kulig said...

Hi Bart, thanks for your comment. Great points.
Anita, I agree, it is very confusing.