Sunday, 31 January 2010

you all probably knew about this...

...but in case you didn't:

Amazon stops selling Macmillan books

7 comments:

Deborah Swift said...

Yes, David Isaak has a post on his blog too about this.For writers, not having a presence on Amazon is a massive blow. We all shop there.Where should we put our book buying power now?

Faye L. Booth said...

It must only be affecting the US branch of Amazon - at least for now - because on amazon.co.uk all seems normal. I looked up a few of us (not myself; I have a hysterical thing about not wanting to see my own Amazon pages) and they were sitting pretty, but I agree that it's still a blow to be removed from amazon.com. I wonder how this will develop now that the publishing world's feathers have been ruffled by the news?

(I should have been a Bond villain, I just like to sit and watch events unfold from my lair, taking ages to respond.)

FLB

Ann Weisgarber said...

This is a complicated mess but I hope buyers will return to bookstores and buy books there. The price of e-books from Amazon.com ($9.99) is so low that authors are earning only pennies from each sale. Amazon is not worried about authors. Rather, it hopes that if readers shop online for one cheap book, they might buy a few more low-priced books. Giving away books is not a working business model for Macmillan or for any other publishing house.

I hope Macmillan can hang tough with this one. Customers have many other shopping options. shopping options.

Tim Stretton said...

The way Amazon has flexed its near-monpolistic muscles is unappealing - David's blog is eloquent on this.

On the other hand, I don't think Macmillan are blameless either. Why, if an ebook is selling at $10, does the writer get virtually nothing? The marginal cost of producing an ebook is virtually zero. The *average* cost is rather higher, because the ebook is expected to bear some of the overhead. But--and this is the key point--the overhead has already been absorbed in pricing the print edition.

Let's say, for example, that an ebook was published for The Dog of the North (sadly, not the case). The print edition will have had a marketing budget, etc and that will have been factored into the costings *regardless of whether there would ever be an ebook* (obviously, because no ebook was ever released). If Macmillan subsequently decided they could make money from an e-edition, any future revenues would essentially be all profit. So why so little money for the writer?

None of which makes Amazon's attitude any more palatable...

Eliza Graham said...

I think I read somewhere that Amazon sales could only amount to around 5% of total sales for many writers. This may be inaccurate but it's what is in my memory. It's not too hard for people to go elsewhere and buy from Tesco online or Waterstones online.
What worries me more is that they'll go to Amazon marketplace instead and buy secondhand copies instead.

Matt Curran said...

Hi Eliza
I think that if someone wants to save cash and buy a second-hand copy they probably would regardless if Amazon were selling copies direct from their warehouses.
Despite initially flapping about it over on David’s blog, I honestly wouldn't worry about this too much. Readers can still buy new copies via Marketplace, and the booksellers advertising through Marketplace still buy their books from the publisher (so the writer still gets paid).

What we're seeing is an important step towards re-aligning bookselling and seeing Amazon's influence diminish, which is a good thing. But as Tim says, Macmillan aren't blameless either. Apart from the fact the writer's income from e-books is ridiculously low, e-books are still too expensive. Publishers need to realise that generally people won't buy an e-book if it's the same price as a hardback. The sooner they realise this, the quicker the e-book revolution will occur, and the sooner Amazon will realise that they no longer dominate the market.
And hopefully we authors will get a fairer deal too...

David Isaak said...

I have to say that the whole business of publishing ebooks far outpaced the business model for ebooks. (Little questions such as "When is an ebook out of print?" for example.) No matter how I feel on the whole issue of ebook pricing and royalties, however (and I'm inclined to agree with Tim on the idea that royalties should be much higher for ebooks), that isn't what this whole flap is about.

If Amazon had simply refused to handle Macmillan's ebooks on terms that Amazon refused to accept, I wouldn't have a problem with their actions, because they would have been proportionate.

Refusing to buy something you feel is overpriced is one thing. Blackballing a publisher because they won't give you the deal you want on a single kind of product is another.