Kindle Versions of My Books Now Back Online

And all available for $9.99 or less! Indeed, one as low as $5.19. Who’da thunk it.

124 Comments on “Kindle Versions of My Books Now Back Online”

  1. I’m very happy that you’re back in business on the Kindle store. You write great stuff and I hope you are properly rewarded for it!

    The larger picture is not so pretty. All of us invested in Kindles, Sonys, Nooks, and so on have been given an uncomfortable glimpse into how bratty, selfish, and short-sighted the publishing industry has become. It seems we are just a whim away from the bullies taking their ball and stomping off home, abandoning electronic distribution completely (even if only temporarily) because they believe it degrades (threatens) their paper business. If they jack up prices, and volume falls precipitously, how soon until they declare the market “unprofitable”.

    You’re back on Amazon now (and I’m glad). I’m just worried it won’t stay that way.

  2. All of us invested in Kindles, Sonys, Nooks, and so on have been given an uncomfortable glimpse into how bratty, selfish, and short-sighted the publishing industry Amazon has become

    Fixed that for you.

  3. “It seems we are just a whim away from the bullies taking their ball and stomping off home”

    Indeed. Perhaps next time Amazon will not be a bully, will not take anyone else’s ball, and will not stomp off home.

  4. too late! I already have most of your books on Kindle or on the bookshelf in hard copy. You want more money, write more stuff.
    (smiling, of course!)


    And THIS has become one of my “go-to” sites to see what to read next…

  5. All of us invested in Kindles, Sonys, Nooks

    *Sigh.* Some of us did pay heed to criticism of the Kindle and other readers closely tied to one particular store. Hey, even Kindle owners were still able to buy Kindle-format ebooks from others online sellers such as Fictionwise, Baen Webscriptions, BooksOnBoard…

  6. Yeah, e-books not costing more than their paperback equivalents. Who’da thunk it. :\
    I guess we should be thankful Macmillan isn’t totally hosing people yet. There are certainly cases where they never lower the pricing on ebook after the paperback is released.
    I guess we’ll see what March brings.

  7. Sorry, Amazon, that shipped sailed. All my books come from or my local bookstore now.

  8. @ B. Scott – That wasn’t MacMillan that took the books away and acted like “bullies taking their ball and stomping off home.” MacMillan never abandoned electronic distribution. MacMillan wasn’t the one who went a week hurting authors’ sales without so much as an official press statement.

    That was Amazon.

    So, umm, just keep that in mind, kk?

  9. B. Scott Andersen:

    Others have pointed out that you’ve confused Amazon’s actions for Macmillan’s, so I won’t go into that. But I would like to address this:

    “If they jack up prices, and volume falls precipitously, how soon until they declare the market ‘unprofitable’.”

    Who cares? If the big publishers decide not to exploit electronic rights, then I’ll just keep those rights come contract time and then sell them to someone who does want them. Which I expect someone will. So I wouldn’t worry too much about ebooks disappearing, even if the major publishers decide they want nothing to do with them (which, frankly, seems unlikely).

  10. I’m glad to see John’s books back in the Amazon system, both print and ebooks. I hope all other authors’ books are back in both forms as well. With any luck, commerce is resuming at a furious pace!

    I don’t know which side was “right” -Macmillan/HarperCollins/Hachette or Amazon. Or both. Or neither.

    I’m sorry it came to this, though. Clearly a lot of people felt the pinch! While I saw some people trying for calm, evenhanded ways of making their points, I did also see more than a few people (on either side) stooping to cheapshots and catty little zingers. That irks me a bit, but it seems to be the state of online discourse today.

    My world is much enhanced by reading long-form published works, so I thought I’d take a moment to thank basically everyone in the publishing industry, from writer to accountant, who makes those books possible. Keep it up! (And may spats like this be few and far between!)

    I plan to keep reading, both ebooks and print books. Speaking only for myself, I generally prefer ebooks for fiction, and print books for reference or highly graphic content. So I hope that more and more works find their way into electronic formats, and I hope this is done in a way that seems fair to everyone in the chain.

    Cheers, y’all.

  11. Bryan @14

    ‘but it seems to be the state of online discourse today’

    Things were so much better back on Usenet!

  12. As ancillary fallout from all this, we now have people offering a web service to monitor and let you know if your buy button has vanished. The Authors Guild has set up has for authors to register and list ISBNs for monitoring. I don’t know if they missed their window of opportunity or not.

    But their about page makes it cleat that this is not the first time Amazon has played this game, just the first time in the US. It’s a little disturbing and it’s pretty clear that Amazon is ready and willing to use some seriously hardball tactics to dictate terms to publishers.

  13. And all available for $9.99 or less! Indeed, one as low as $5.19.

    I’m a little confused. Shouldn’t they be? I thought the whole point of variable pricing was that e-books would get cheaper as the available print versions did. Every one of the books on that page is available in a trade or regular paperback for a bit more than the Kindle price.

  14. I still find it interesting that so many seem to revile (I know, I know, my word choice) Amazon. They did what many large chains do: they used the power of their customer base to tell a supplier you either do it my way or we don’t sell your stuff. Was it over-the-top stupid, well sure, but Amazon isn’t the only company who does this. Wal-Mart is notorious for making companies cut their price in order to get on the shelf. If they don’t bow under they don’t get to be in Wal-Mart. No one seems to bat an eye there.

    As with Amazon, people are free to go somewhere else. Of course, those of us who live in rural communities have little choice since Wal-Mart often uses its Satanic “Save Money. Live Better.” power to drive away much of the competition, but I’m still free to drive 30 minutes if I don’t want to shop there.

    Amazon will survive this because I doubt the majority of their 30 million customers even took notice. John Scalzi will survive this because people will always find some way to get their favorite authors. Macmillan will survive this, and in the short run may make some more money on e-books. Ebooks hold little interest for me right now and I can’t imagine purchasing one for $15 when the hardback is sometimes that or lower, but that may change. That iPad is looking mighty nice.

  15. C.A. – I’m a little confused. Shouldn’t they be? I thought the whole point of variable pricing was that e-books would get cheaper as the available print versions did.

    Yeah, but there’s been an avalanche of misinformation about how pricing is going to be if Macmillan gets the agency model in place.

    My guess is that it’s not in place yet, though.

  16. @stevie @15:

    I was ‘owner’ (or at least ‘originator’) of a few published newsgroups back in the day. I don’t think things were any better. All I meant to say is, today’s discourse is less than optimal. There was no intent to compare to ‘the good old days’ which I am not sure ever existed.

    However there was a slight hope that improvement might occur tomorrow … or the next day …

  17. DemetriosX@16

    Adding to the Authors’ Guild list; we also know that Amazon did the same thing back in 2004 in Germany

    C. A. Bridges @ 17

    The point is that Amazon has been claiming that publishers demand $15 or more for e-books, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t.

    John’s Kindle versions are proof that Amazon and its supporters has been somewhat economical with the truth…

  18. John,

    Thank you for the reply. I do hope that eBook remain available. You probably have the wherewithal to retain the digital rights if necessary (that’s good!); I suspect many authors do not, and will be forced to bundle all distribution rights with their publisher.

    I should have been more clear about the “stomping off” bit. Macmillan CEO John Sargent threatened “extensive and deep windowing of titles” [30 Jan 2010 edition Publishers Lunch]. Delaying digital editions from publication for 9-18 months will severely degrade the value proposition for eReaders and will likely hollow out sales. How much damage to this market will be “too much”?

    The music industry’s capitulation to Apple on the 99-cent song and $9.99 album was the prelude to this scuffle. Book publishers, it seems to me, are willing to have a Pyrrhic victory with the eBook market to avoid a price compression from Apple or Amazon. After all, they will still have paper and traditional channels.

    I’m not sticking up for Amazon, though Amazon has made a significant investment in software and engineering (they put skin in the game, too). I’m only saying that Macmillan’s stance of “extensive and deep windowing of titles” sounded very much like, “I’m taking my ball and going home [for 9 months or a year].”

    — Scott

  19. Jimmy “nobody bats an eye there” which is why nobody ever sees cars with “I don’t shop at WalMart” bumper stickers, there are no organizations online or in 3D dedicated to exposing WalMart’s abuse of its suppliers and employees, and Vermont is full of WalMarts.

    Yeah, right.

  20. Bryan @20

    Yes; I do realise. I was cross referencing Scalzi’s ‘I’m Old’ post, though obviously not very well.

    As for Amazon, James D. Macdonald seems to have got their number:

    ‘Amazon’s business model is: “Nice publishing house you have here. Too bad if it burned down one night….”

  21. I assume things will change in March, but right now Macmillan Kindle titles that are hardback bestsellers are $9.99: Wolf Hall, The Checklist Manifesto. Another Macmillan bestseller, Impact by Douglas Preston, has been windowed until May 4; it’s available for pre-order on Kindle for $8.87. The Gathering Storm is not available at all on Kindle. Looking at other Macmillan bestsellers (from the Macmillan site, not the Amazon site), Sarah’s Key, Plum Spooky, True Colors, Ender in Exile: all $9.99 Kindle books, even though they are available more cheaply as paper books from Amazon, a couple (Plum Spooky and Ender in Exile) available everywhere more cheaply because they are mass market paperbacks.

  22. @stevie @24:
    That’s pretty much exactly the sort of cheapshot I was thinking of. Clearly, refusing to sell a vendor’s products is vastly different from threatening arson.

    That sort of hyperbole uselessly fans the flames.

  23. That’s pretty much exactly the sort of cheapshot I was thinking of. Clearly, refusing to sell a vendor’s products is vastly different from threatening arson.

    That sort of hyperbole uselessly fans the flames.

    And there’s the epic humor-fail.

  24. The books being back online is a very good thing. Keeping the prices under $9.99 is also good. How long that lasts depends on whatever deal Amazon and Macmillan struck.

    In celebration, I just purchased a book by Macmillan author Brandon Sanderson on my Kindle — Brandon, as you may know, stayed neutral and for that he has my gratitude and support.

    Although I am on the Amazon side, I do think both companies behaved in a “take my ball and go home” manner — Macmillan by threatening to “window” their releases on Kindle, Amazon by pulling Macmillan’s product. Both were doing what they perceived to be protecting their interests, and I’m not sure either considered the consumer throughout their negotiations.

  25. @silbey @27:

    I get a kick out of how, when called on it, folks who say such things will retroactively say, hey, it was humor. And didn’t you get the joke? Ha-ha!

    Anyway, for some real (or at least more clearly meant as humorous) humor, check out the John Stewart video here.

    Good times, good times.

  26. I get a kick out of how, when called on it, folks who say such things will retroactively say, hey, it was humor. And didn’t you get the joke? Ha-ha!

    Dude, even people not reading the thread knew it was a joke. Heck, people who have *no* idea that John Scalzi exists knew it was a joke.

    My mother–who does not read science fiction–called me out of the blue this morning and said “Stevie @24? Funny joke, that.”

  27. My astute friend Dyann was puzzled (and I bemused) by the apparent flexibility in Amazon’s pricing for the Kindle edition(s) of The Android’s Dream; one listing available for US$7.19, the other for US$5.19. See? You can haz flexible prices!

    Screenshot here .

  28. Not only is the “Nice blank you have there” a joke, it’s an old joke. Practically vaudeville old.

    Read it out loud to yourself in a bad Don Corleone accent, that might help.

  29. Just bought Kindle edition of The Android’s Dream. Curtailed purchasing, last few months. $5.19? OK, I can spend that. I get a book, Amazon makes a sale, Our Esteemed Host gets a sliver of college-fund. Western Civilization did not fall, Karl Marx did not rise, triumphant, from his grave. System check: passed.

  30. Anyone else find it ironic that John’s post was very positive about the cheap prices on his ebooks when just a week ago he was posting his disagreement with Amazon’s decision to resist Macmillan’s price bump.

    Not that any of that justifies Amazon’s actions which were pretty bad but I still found it funny.

  31. Stevie @21:
    The point is that Amazon has been claiming that publishers demand $15 or more for e-books, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t.

    Yes, they do, and the proof is right there. Go look at the list prices of some of the Scalzi books at the link.

    The Ghost Brigades: List is $14.99, Kindle price is 7.99. Paperback is 8.36.

    Agent to the Stars: List $14.95, Kindle price 9.99, paperback 10.17.

    In the two cases where books are in there twice, Zoe’s Tales and The Android’s Dream, list price for one of them is $24.95 (!). Paperback is 7.99, Kindle price is 7.19.

    The rest are listed in line with paperback prices, and good on them. But right there is why so many people are not supporting Macmillan in this thing. If I searched for Zoe’s Tales and saw that Macmillan was suggesting I pay $25 for an e-book when the paperback is 8, I’d say the hell with the publisher’s suggested prices, yay Amazon.

    In the stores where Macmillan does control the e-book retail price (Fictionwise, there are far too many examples of hardback-level pricing for books that have been in paperback for decades (Robert Jordan’s first Wheel of Time book, for a quick example). Why should I trust them to start variable pricing now when they haven’t bothered to do so with the book prices they do control?

    I do think variable pricing is the way to go, to keep the publishers and authors in business and to prevent Amazon’s robber baron, bookstore-demolishing plans. And I think readers will adjust and in many cases, happily pay. Baen’s been handling it successfully for years. But Baen actually changes the prices as promised, reliably, on schedule, from the $15 e-ARC to lower prices for the book bundles and single copies. Macmillan, judging from 10 years of e-book sales, does not.

    If Macmillan wants my trust, it needs to review its backlog at Fictionwise, et al, and bring those prices in line with what Macmillan is saying it will do at Amazon. Otherwise I have absolutely no reason to believe that once the new deal is made, Macmillan will ever bring $15 e-books down to paperback levels.

  32. I am wondering about the double listings, though. If a paperback come out, does the publisher issue a new e-book? Does one edition contain a new introduction or something? Why is one digital file 2 bucks more than the apparently exact other digital file?

    If there’s a difference, that needs to be included in the description. If not, someone (Amazon, Macmillan, dunno which one would control this) needs to pay more attention to their e-book catalog and remove such discrepancies.

  33. Um, what? As of 6:25 p.m., your link leads only to three audio versions of Metatropolis.
    Did the thaw freeze up again?

  34. @ Allan Connery: Do you, perchance, live outside the USA? I’m in Europe and the Metatropolis audio editions are all I see in the Kindle Store for a research on “John Scalzi”. It’s apparently a geographic restriction on other ebook editions. Check the “Your country or region” at the top of the left column.

  35. C. A. Bridges @ 36

    I’m baffled since it seems blindingly obvious to me and yet you seem to have inverted the entire content of what this has all been about.

    And at this point it dawns on me that the most likely explanation is that I have read all of Scalzi’s posts on this topic, and the posts from other sites which he has linked to, and a fair number which I have tracked down myself, and you haven’t.

    And the only way to fix that is for you to actually do some work as well; at a bare minimum read Scalzi’s posts before this one so that you have a clue as to what he’s talking about.

    As Hubert Humphrey so rightly observed, the right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously…

  36. stevie @40

    You said: “The point is that Amazon has been claiming that publishers demand $15 or more for e-books, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t.”

    I posted examples from the Scalzi Kindle book list posted above where the publisher is, in fact, demanding $15, even $25 for e-books. Amazon isn’t selling them at those prices, but the list prices are displayed. I kinda thought that disproved your statement. Macmillan is and has been demanding higher (and occasionally lower) prices than $9.99, but up until now Amazon hasn’t had to stick to them.

    What I admit to confusion about is Scalzi’s comment that they’re all $9.99 or less, who’da thunk it, which is why I asked in my first post if they weren’t supposed to be priced that way. Is he being sarcastic or triumphant? Are they priced differently than they were before Amazon’s snit fit?

    Because looking at that specific list of books, and comparing Macmillan’s list price on each one to both the Kindle prices and the available paperback prices of the same books, I can’t see where any of the Kindle prices are out of line but I found four out of eight where Macmillan’s list price was (in my eyes) unreasonably high. If one was only available in hardcover and the e-book was $15 I’d understand and would pay it — I have, often, at Baen — but every single one of those books is available in paperback. Am I wrong? Should I be paying more for an e-book than the most inexpensive print version? Why?

    As I said above, I think the agent model with variable pricing is ultimately better for publishers, authors and readers. I just haven’t seen any evidence yet that Macmillan would, in fact, consistently vary their pricing.

  37. Hooraaayyy.
    And CRAP.
    I’m now $9.99 poorer. Soon I will be much poorer.
    A book that buys more books can have it’s disadvantages.

  38. IreneD @39:
    Quite right. I live in Canada. The Kindle is available in Canada. John Scalzi’s books for the Kindle are not available in Canada. Sigh.

    By the way, John, I took advantage of your generous free download of Agent to the Stars, read it on my steam Macintosh, and enjoyed it greatly. Too bad this isn’t a viable business model, eh?

  39. stevie writes: “‘Amazon’s business model is: “Nice publishing house you have here. Too bad if it burned down one night….””

    I would be surprised if there were no situations where a big publisher played hardball with smaller retailers.

  40. Let’s try another example. “Agent to the Stars” is listed for $14.95 for both the print and e-book price. Amazon sells the print book for $10.17 and the Kindle e-book for $9.99. Other online retailers such as Barnes and Noble charge similar discounted prices.

    At Fictionwise, where they charge the list price provided by the publishers, the “Agent to the Stars” e-book is $14.95. Club members get a discount, but if you’re not a member you’ll be paying the same price for an e-book as you would if you bought the print copy at full price elsewhere, and more than you’d be paying if you bought the print copy at Amazon, B&N, etc. The other Scalzi e-books at Fictionwise are all $7.99, the same price as the mass market paperback versions.

    So right now, in a situation where Macmillan does control the retail prices, those prices are exactly the same as for the print editions. For an e-book which cannot be resold, given away, or donated, an e-book that cost nearly nothing to produce after the first one. While I don’t believe the costs of production, paper, ink, shipping, storage and pulping are a large percentage of the book’s price, I am certain that percentage is higher than 0%.

    I am willing to pay more than $9.99 for an e-book to get it faster and to support the author. But I don’t think many readers will pay the same or higher amount for an e-book than the price of a printed book, and from the available evidence that’s what Macmillan seems to want.

  41. Everyone, please remember that “value” is NOT the same as “price”. The thing of “value” in this scenario is the STORY, and that does not change regardless of the format on which it is presented. ‘Price’ is the amount of money you pay to acquire said ‘value’; and any correalation between the two is as varied as the individual purchaser.

    Kindle owners, just because you spent a whole bunch of money for your fancy gadget is NOT a valid reason to expect the content you want, the ‘value’ thing, to be sold to you at the price point you were promised by the retailer who sold you that fancy gadget. Sure, that retailer has come through so far by taking a loss, but is that sustainable? Even if you take the whole Macmillan situation out of the equation, it’s only a matter of time where the break even point far exceeds the subsidy. And subsidy it is, make no mistake. Amazon is not a producer of content, the ‘value’ thing, the STORY that you want to read.

  42. The value of the story doesn’t change, but there is also value in the container. A story you can read immediately may have more value to a reader than the same story that can’t be read for seven months. There is more value in a story whose container is more durable. There is more value in a story you can resell or lend or donate or pass down, for those readers who find such things important.

    I agree that Amazon needs to bend and work with the publishers to find an equitable pricing system that’s based on something a little more than just “sell more Kindles”, I’m just not convinced that Macmillan’s way is going to be any better for anyone who wants to buy e-books.

  43. C.A. Bridges @ 47: “The value of the story doesn’t change, but there is also value in the container. ”

    The value of that container has nothing to do with what you decide fill it with.

    (erk, should that be ‘..nothing to do with what you fill it’? Dammit, I think I need a copy editor!)

  44. You lost me.

    I agree that Kindle owners should not expect to forever more get $9.99 best-seller books. But unless you’ve found a way to sell stories without containers — mental delivery, perhaps — the value of the container will always be a part of any pricing consideration. You’d get the same story whether you bought a hardcover, a paperback, an e-book, or had Scalzi fly in and personally tell you the story at bedtime. But the prices for each one of those will be different, because the value of each one — story + container — is different.

  45. C.A. Bridges @ 49: since it has been noted several times throughout the various thread associated with this subject that the cost difference between a printed hardcover edition and an ebook edition is about $3, the “+ container” part of your equation is not all that relevant.

  46. Hey, I found that an individual can maybe have influence with a publisher!

    I was looking for the non-Kindle, non-nook version of Allen Steel’s “Coyote Horizon’ (which I had totally missed hearing about for the past year) and saw it was out in paperback for $7.99
    Kindle: $6.39
    Nook: $6.39
    (they were $7.14 yesterday, both of them.)
    but from sellers that didn’t sell for their proprietary device, it as a different story:
    ereader: $25.95
    ebookmall: $31.94
    fictionwise: $25.95

    I wrote a note to Pengunbooks on their “Contact us” page.

    To: Penguinbooks
    From: wygit
    Subject: not a question
    Dear Penguin:

    I just saw on John Scalzi’s blog that Allen Steele’s 5th Coyote book was out, and as I had completely missed noticing that the 4th volume, ‘Coyote Horizon’ had come out last year, I went looking for it online.

    I stated reading ebooks last year and it’s my preferred format. (I have the Sony Reader.)

    I was a bit startled, to say the least, when I saw that ‘Coyote Horizon’ is out in paperback, list price $7.99, or as an ebook, at $25.99.

    OK, i guess there is a question here after all.

    Are you insane?


    I got a form letter thanking me for my inquiry, and didn’t expect much else until I checked their site today and saw the ebook version was $7.99.

    That price doesn’t seem to have yet trickled to ebooks and fictionwide. They’re stll $24.99.

    But hey, it’s start…

    So go forward, sending your passive aggressive attacks and see what it accomplishes.

  47. The cost difference between a printed hardcover edition and the first e-book edition may be about $3. Every additional hardcover book created will cost another $3. Every additional e-book created (copied) will cost virtually nothing.

    And, as has also been mentioned several times in the comments of these posts, you can’t buy a Macmillan e-book anyway. You can only license one, and I would argue the same pricing should not apply for something I cannot sell or pass on.

    But I haven’t been talking about hardcover editions anyway. The prices I quoted — scroll up a bit, you’ll see them — are all for books that have been released in paperback. Why are the list prices, the prices requested by the publisher, higher than the paperback price?

  48. Wygit @ 51:

    I really hope that helps. Personally, I’m hoping that Macmillan’s e-book list pricing is due to the previous low priority of e-books or even the lack of a monitor to keep up on such things, and that with the agency model in effect they’ll be more responsive to e-book price changes that reflect available print editions.

    I doubt it, but I’m hopeful.

  49. Agent to the Stars is available in the Kindle store for $9.99. Plus it is speech-enabled. So I’ll be ordering it as soon as I finish sight-reading Shades of Grey.

  50. Jon H @44

    You omitted the name of James D. Macdonald from your post; writers can get really shirty about that sort of thing.

    Not burn down your bookshop, obviously, but there may well be flames of one sort or the other…

  51. Of course writers can get pretty shirty about lots of things but I do feel a particular sympathy with Robert Charles Wilson.

    In the Kindle version of ‘Julian Comstock’, every italicized word is placed on a line by itself.

    Bearing in mind that it was Amazon doing the
    Kindling, justifiable homicide would seem not unreasonable…

  52. It looks as if Macmillan books (kindle versions) are starting to go up in price. Ghost Brigade is now listed at 9.99. I’m glad I purchased it yesterday. I just went ahead and ordered other Scalzi offerings before any other price changes. The less I have to pay for a book the more books I can buy. Saw some other Macmillan titles that have had increased prices too. A bit frustrating when they’re old books and no longer new releases.

  53. Kindle versions of John Scalzi’s books for sale at Amazon? Wow. At the same price they were before this? Wow. Sorry, don’t see the news here. It was only a matter of when, right? Now, we still have no idea how the new deal, when complete will impact prices of new best sellers, which has always been the point of this.

    I keep seeing quoted, as fact, the $3 difference from hardcover to ebook. I haven’t seen much support for that proposition. First, even as argued, it only assumes the cost of the initial production. Second, it doesn’t seem to cover the cost savings of ebooks in the warehousing, shipping, and most importantly, remaindering, of books. Every ebook that is “produced” is de facto sold. Every hardcover produced is not going to be sold, not even for Mr. Stephen King. So, the TOTAL cost of production of that hardcover is a negative for the publisher. Not so for the ebook. Additionally, each hardcover produced can be resold for no profit for the publisher (or author). Not so ebooks. Where has the analysis taken those points into consideration.

    And, for those who say, as KatG did in another thread, that Kindle owners can afford the upfront cost, so shouldn’t bitch about book prices, that’s crap. I own a kindle because I travel extensively, for many hours per trip in the air and many more hours on the ground with no real access to other entertainment, so what I carry with me is it. On my Kindle? Right now I have 65 books. My wife is on a train for 1.5 hours commute every day…she can read a new best seller on the kindle with one hand, while standing…not so a hardcover. So, before you start bloviating about ebook owners, well, no, just shut up, since you’re ignorant.

    Finally, of course, I’ll reiterate…the corporate villain here remains Macmillan for a couple of reasons. First, they, not Amazon, started this little tet a tet. Second, they, not Amazon, are trying to push a change through. Third, they, not Amazon, are increasing prices for customers. What amazon did wasn’t particularly media savvy, but they used the power they had, just like Macmillan did.

    And Mr. Scalzi, just for you, I’ve made sure I spelled Macmillan right as often as possible.

  54. torgeaux @ 60

    Well, if you had told me you were George Clooney in disguise in the first place things could have been different!

  55. Stevie:

    Yes, it’s possible. My UK publisher, while part of Macmillan and named Tor UK, is not actually Tor and may have different agreements with Amazon UK.

  56. Re what Jonathan @ 57 said:

    I think that it’s theoretically great that publishers can experiment with pricing, setting prices higher for new releases or older releases that continue to sell well. Nevertheless, publishers seem determined to actively alienate people who enjoy reading ebooks. Setting prices for ebooks at or above the price for a physical copy is *always* obnoxious. If publishers choose to use their new pricing power to try to squelch the growth of ebooks in an attempt to preserve sales of paper books, they’ll be walking in the footsteps of the record industry. Let’s not make piracy a bigger problem than it needs to be, ok?

  57. torgeaux@64

    It has been my experience that people who do spend much of their time on C130s do not find that fact to be of relevance to discussions which are not about C130s.

    So, why don’t you use an iphone to read books?

  58. Iphone = phone, which I need for phone calls, so have to preserve battery. Also, tiny. Also, backlit LCD. Kindle is a great option for loading a ton of books and having one item to carry.

    I’m not a big convergence fan. The iphone is fine, but I don’t want it to be my media player, book reader AND my phone. A typical one week trip I can read my Kindle hours every day, without need to find a way to charge it. Not so an iPhone.

  59. What with all this stuff about Amazon being there for the people who want to read e-books, unlike those wicked publishers, I’ve been running searches on Amazon UK to try and find some e-books.

    There aren’t any.

    There are *printed books* with titles like:

    ‘EBook Secrets Exposed: How to Make MASSIVE Amounts of Money In Record Time With Your Own EBook’

    presumably an amazing bargain at £19.20 for the hardcover, though you have to wonder why the authors didn’t take their own advice and publish it as an e-book. Particularly since a year later one of them published:

    ‘How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook in as Little as 7 Days’

    at £8.90 for the paperback. If he’d followed his own advice in the first place he’d be so rich he wouldn’t have needed to write the second one.

    Unless he has a mission, of course.

    But I digress. does not sell, or rent, e-books. You can spend hours running searches, but you will seek in vain.

    I did learn, however, that

    ‘When traveling abroad, you can download books wirelessly from the Kindle Store or your Archived Items. U.S. customers will be charged a fee of $1.99 for international downloads.’

    a fact which seems to suggest that there may be some unexpected bills for those Kindle owners who thought they could take their books on holiday with them…

  60. Thanks, torgeaux. Great article. Only reinforces my opinion that Amazon was stupid, but Macmillan is the bad buy guy here. Although, I would say the idea that $15 ebooks will kill the industry is a bit too Chicken Little, if publisher are allowed to force business to set particular prices it will stifle the market.

    This whole agency model sounds totally bogus to me, not to mention unfair. I see lawsuits in the future. I also find it interesting that Apple is accepting a model that gives them less control over pricing. I guess it depends on how successful iBookstore turns out to be before Apple starts flexing their own considerable muscle.

  61. stevie: It’s funny. The people on the “amazon” side aren’t arguing that Amazon is doing this for us, it’s just that Amazon’s interests and ours coincide. On the other hand, people on the “macmillan” side act as if macmillan is doing something good. Maybe, although I’m not certain, it’s in an author’s interests to have macmillan set this pricing, but it’s certainly not in readers interests. And it’s not done for anyone but Macmillan. Curious to see the continued attacks on Amazon for doing exactly what Macmillan is doing. Exactly.

  62. I find the idea that people would steal a book at $15 but not at $10 to be absurd. If a person’s going to take a file, it doesn’t matter what you have as an ‘easy’ option or how much you charge for it, if it’s not free, then they will take it and rationalize the hell out of it. There’s over ten years of evidence for that.

    The file kiddies are irrelevant, The only thing that matters is how paying customers respond. I guess the hope is that they’ll respond by either paying the fifteen bucks or delaying their purchase until the hardback has had time to sell.

  63. I had one of those little *click* moments where I finally understood the Macmillan (and others) business model, and I think I approve.

    Th epublishers are deciding if they actually have a chance to do some ebook sales without Amazon, they don’t have to let Amazon make the rules.

    Since this IS a far different transaction type than selling a physical book, (nothing physical transferred, no warehouses or trucks or most of the rest of retailer overhead), the publishers are going for the model that they’re simply hiring Amazon to process the sale and handle the download.

    If you look at it from that angle, it makes sense that the publisher, not Amazon, would set the price.

  64. Jason Block:

    Yeah, but that’s another flaw…I’m the hardcover buying demographic AND an ebook buyer. I won’t pay the inflated cost for an ebook, but I’m not going to accede to their strong-arming and buy a hardcover now either. They’re alienating the group that would be buying.

  65. torgeaux @71

    ‘The people on the “amazon” side aren’t arguing that Amazon is doing this for us’


    So Amazon claiming that it is doing it for us -we are their ‘mission’- is somehow irrelevant to the discussion?

    So all the people posting here, there, and everywhere claiming that Amazon is doing it for us are somehow irrelevant to the discussion?

    I can see that those facts are inconvenient for your argument but they remain facts; you are simply repeating those claims with a bit of spin.

    You claim that Macmillan’s attempt to change Amazon’s model is

    ‘certainly not in readers interests’

    but you give no explanation whatsoever as to why that is the case.

    You could start by defining what you mean by ‘readers interests’ and then you could explain why you believe Macmillan’s actions are not in the readers interests…

  66. Jason Block @ 72

    And there’s years of evidence proving that if you make an electronic file easy to get, with attention to its quality, customers will pay for it even though they could find it elsewhere for free with very little trouble. See: iTunes, Amazon Mp3s, etc.

    The difference for many people is if they find the price reasonable. Is it worth it for me to pay $1 for a song I know will be good quality, with cover art included, especially when at least some of that will go to the artist so they can continue making more songs? Yes. Is it worth $1.50? Depends on how much I want the song. $2? Probably not. And we’re talking small amounts of money here, but it still makes a difference.

    Of course people are still stealing $9.99 books. But many people are also buying them, and may even buy the $15. The fear is that Amazon has established $9.99 as the “worth” of an e-book, making anything over $10 seem unreasonable.

  67. CA Bridges: I agree, except I think one of the other elements contributing to “it’s worth buying” is “Can I take my ebooks I bought last year to read on my Kindle and move them to my shiny new Nook?”

    Gee, I can do that with all the mp3’s I bought on Amazon. They even hyped it as a feature. I can play them on my computer, my iPod, my Zen, my Zune (shudder).

    How does selling $15 first-run, then $6 non DRM ebooks work for Baen, but still leave the other publishers so terrified of piracy?

  68. Dana Stabenow @ 76

    I’m very sorry to hear that. doesn’t sell e-books but I checked your printbook listings; more bad news, I am afraid.

    A Night Too Dark is shown as published on 1st February but out of stock.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

  69. wygit @ 78

    While I’m a huge Baen supporter and customer, I do wonder if their model is scalable. Baen’s customers tend to be fiercely loyal and are very aware that what they pay keeps Baen and its authors afloat. Is that also true for the general reading audience? I have no idea.

  70. stevie 75: Well, I haven’t observed the Amazon side here make claims of altruism on behalf of Amazon, so I was basing it on that “fact.”

    Secondly, post #60 in this thread, and dozens of times elsewhere, discusses how no reader should be for Macmillan’s plan, even if they generally support Macmillan…simply put, they are increasing the price of a product by 50% but not increasing the quality in any way. I’m not sure what else needs to be said? I mean, the only argument that really matters on the Amazon side is the price increase, which IS the change we see. Don’t understand how that could have eluded you.

  71. C.A. Bridges@”And there’s years of evidence proving that if you make an electronic file easy to get, with attention to its quality, customers will pay for it even though they could find it elsewhere for free with very little trouble. See: iTunes, Amazon Mp3s, etc.”

    True some people use those services, but that whole business is in the toilet, down the drain with no end in sight. They’ve accepted the ghettoization of their industry and are trying to switch to an ‘access’ model like the one Google tried to foist on the book business – which may work to make money if they put out a lot more product of lower quality and put more costs onto artists. I think there’s a slim hope, but the porn industry adopted a model like that and, long term, it’s been a failure. It’ll be interesting to see the specifics.

    But if an individual won’t spend 15 dollars, they don’t want to spend 10 either. That’s different from *not buying* something because it is too expensive. A lot of people pass on hardbacks and wait for the paperbacks. A lot of people will wait for the price of ebooks to reach a level they are comfortable with – or when they are shopping for books, they will buy a different book, just like they do now. One important thing in Macmillans plan, unlike in Amazon’s plan, is that there is a variety in pricing, to please different customers at different times. The pirate subculture can’t be pleased with anything except ‘free’ so at the moment they are irrelevant to sales.

  72. Jason: Why do you think there is no variability in Amazon’s pricing? There always has been so far, anyway. The issue here is that Macmillan wants to start best sellers at a 50% increase, and then, if they feel like it, reduce the price. They have no requirement to do so, and they haven’t in the past. But, even if they did, ereaders are getting screwed by the price hike without basis.

    Follow me here: Amazon wins, keeps selling books at a loss until the ebook industry is selling in sufficient volume to be independently profitable. At which point, two things can happen. . . they jack up the price, because they are a monopoly, and we again get screwed. Or, the market dynamics of the much increased numbers of ebooks makes them highly profitable at $9.99.

    Or, Macmillan wins. Ebooks growth is slowed because demand is closely related to price, and they are no longer a bargain compared to printed word. Sure, it will still grow, but will always be part of the hardcover to paperback price cycle. Or, ebooks never get enough of a market segment to become separately profitable, and we’re always left with the hardcover first, with expensive ebook, followed by paperback with similarly priced ebook.

    That second scenario is bad for ereaders. And, i don’t see a better scenario ahead of us if corporations like Macmillan’s keep embracing the old models of doing business at the expense of innovation, and hell, even profit.

  73. @torgeaux,

    You sure are putting a lot of effort in this, long after everyone has made up their minds. Do you own a lot of stock in Amazon???

  74. #60: Actually, it isn’t necessarily the case that every e-book ordered is sold, because the e-book file has to be made for each format, and it and its copies all edited by a person both for typos and corruptions of the data before each file is sold, since the buyer wants to download the file instantly. And since Amazon is often making the e-books for the Kindle format, Amazon does it in batches. But yes, unsold e-files are certainly easier to delete than handling returns. It’s the formatting, editing and other production costs of e-books relative to the small sales that have been problematic, but those will improve as the industry standardizes, and e-books will become cheaper. However, that also means that e-book sales have to rise substantially (which everybody is betting will happen,) to help finance the personnel to do them. So right now, it’s a balancing act.

    The other thing you need to keep in mind is that most of the print book market is not in hardcover. Many books never receive a hardcover edition. The bulk of print book sales are mass market paperback, which are very cheap to produce relatively and much easier for publishers to do right now than e-books, which aren’t shipped back for returns but instead pulped or remaindered, and which can sell in the millions as opposed to e-books selling in the thousands. Publishers aren’t just attempting to protect hardcover sales in figuring out price points, though that’s something they worry about in terms of books’ initial release.

    The problems that e-book readers have are that: there isn’t a standard format that is used by all vendors that can go from device to device yet (DRM, etc.) so each e-book is actually twenty different products; there aren’t a lot of e-book vendors yet and no consistency of price among them; while you can read e-books on a computer, the best reading experience seems to be a tablet sized device which requires investment in equipment which right now only a fraction of the population can afford to do; that e-books are more transitory than print — a file can be corrupted or accidentally erased (hopefully some vendors have a plan in place to replace them,) or a device can break, or if the vendor is also the owner of the device, the file can be removed, meaning the customer spent money on a product he didn’t get to keep (although, the same could be said to a degree in buying a physical CD or a software program); there is the problem of illegal files and piracy copying that publishers have to figure into the price of e-books; and so on.

    Some of these problems can be solved as the e-book market evolves and grows. Some of them maybe won’t be. As early adapters, you get to deal with the bulk of them. I keep waiting for publishers to start bundling e-books and hardcovers together as a package, which is partly when I’ll get very interested in e-books, along with them working all the kinks out, but that’s probably going to have to wait until later in the market.

    So I’m not unsympathetic to the situations that e-readers find themselves in. I appreciate how they’ve opened up an important new market. But I am impatient with some e-readers’ impatience, with their arrogance that a baby, expensive market that requires an entirely new infrastructure operate like WalMart, and their callousness towards authors and disregard for how lucky they are. You and your wife have jobs. You can afford 1 or more Kindles at $300 a pop, and to buy 65 new books, print or e-book. Whereas, we have published authors who are asking fans to donate a buck for a short story because their spouses got laid off and they are about to be kicked out of their rental apartments. So no, you don’t get my sympathy that you might have to pay $3 more on some e-books. Have one less coffee from Starbucks a week. Don’t go to the movies one night.

    Amazon was never going to hold to the $9.99 for bestsellers forever — they were losing money to make money, but eventually Kindle sales slow as other players come in, and they need to make money on the end product. Amazon has agency contract arrangements with many of its retail suppliers, so this is not a radical change for them. It only offered the $9.99 price on some e-books, not all. The $14.99 price will only be on some e-books, not all, and will decrease over time. And the $14.99 may not remain the lead price point, depending on what happens in the market and with production costs. And as much as you keep wishing them to, those production costs are not going away yet. So not only is your outrage disproportionate to your good fortune but it is aggrandized and exaggerated as to what is happening as well.

  75. @torgeaux

    Hey torgy,

    Thought you’d like to know that another nasty publisher is ganging up on poor little Amazon. It’s Hachette this time. (See this article in the latimes.)

    love, kej

  76. KatG: You unnecessarily personalize this…to the detriment of your argument, and frankly, you come off as a bitter person. I always like the “buy one less Starbucks argument” it’s sooo original.

    Callousness towards authors? How? By wanting a reasonable price for a product? Don’t see the callousness there. Piracy? Sure. But, the person losing money in this transaction, as you acknowledge, was Amazon. I don’t ask people to subsidize my job, I get paid for what I trained for, as does my wife. Our student loan bill is a testament to our decision, as is our ability to buy an ereader. Oh, and screw your sympathy, I’m not asking anything from you but to stop being both close minded and ignorant. I have a side in this, and think it’s right, just as you do. The difference is, a) I don’t think your somehow bad because you’re on the wrong side, and b) I can actually see your points, but you don’t bother to try.

    My outrage is both because the price hike is enormous at 50%, but also because the ignorance is amazing, yours included. I don’t think the “production costs” are going away, I just don’t think the magic numbers you pluck from the sky justify your position. And yes, every single ebook is sold. They don’t send 5 copies of the file to Amazon, who if they sell 4, deletes one. Interesting that you think ecommerce works that way, though.

    kejia: Yeah, that’s old news. As soon as one did this, they all would. If it was just Macmillan, it would be a pain, but no big deal. The sad thing about apple entering this market and mucking it up is that I wouldn’t buy thru the Apple market anyway, so the marginal benefit of another “store” is zero for me.

  77. torgeaux @81

    In other words you are incapable of defining the interests of readers, and you are incapable of explaining why Amazon’s behaviour advances those readers interests which you are incapable of defining anyway.

    But you are absolutely convinced of whatever it is that you are absolutely convinced of.

    Same old, same old…

  78. stevie 91: Sheesh.

    You’ve managed to do it. You have achieved a point at which you’re just not worth responding to. You clearly just can’t read, but I knew that from the other thread. My bad.

  79. torgeaux@92

    Cries of ‘its obvious, innit’ really don’t hack it once you move out of the group of people who think ”its obvious, innit’ constitutes a meaningful statement.

    I am a reader and I see no reason why I should be inconvenienced just because you want to buy cheap Kindle editions; it is not in my interests.

    Amazon, which doesn’t even sell e-books on its UK website, wants to corner the e-reader market; should it achieve that goal I would most certainly be inconvenienced because the quality of many Kindle editions is, to use the technical term, crap, and that would not be in my interests.

    I would also be a lot worse off financially because a monopoly would enable Amazon to ramp its prices sky high, and that would not be in my interests either.

    And then there’s the fact that, as others have noted, destroying the ability of publishers to survive financially is unlikely to provide much in the way of good books further down the road, and since I like reading good books that would not be in my interests either.

    The one certain financial consequence of this fracas is that I will no longer pre-order books from Amazon since I cannot trust them not to throw another hissy fit; I will pre-order them elsewhere, just as I am now buying already published books elsewhere.

    My money will no longer flow to Amazon, and will no longer subsidise your cheap Kindle editions. That is in *my* interests…

  80. Stevie: I shouldn’t do this, but what the hell.

    He seems to have no problem getting ebooks, from Amazon, in the UK…perhaps because he actually tried? And, he’s not fan, either, but still seems easily able to get ebooks from Amazon…perhaps the ability to type .com instead of

    Of course, since you’re not a kindle reader, I’m going to give your opinion on kindle editions a low value.

    And yeah, readers are better off, all readers, by the growth of the ebook market, and Macmillan is stifling it.

  81. # torgeaux @ 94

    You haven’t bothered to read the thread, have you?

    The title is a clue, though, and you’ve managed to overlook that as well.

    When I use Scalzi’s link I get no Kindle editions. When I run my own search at I get no Kindle editions.

    The working hypothesis is that recognises that I am outside the US.

    So I repeat that search on, and there are still no Scalzi Kindle editions.

    In fact there are no Kindle editions for anyone. There aren’t any kind of ebooks for sale. And if you omit references to books and just run kindle as a search on you get

    Number 1 a kindle charger

    Number 2 Puttin’ on My Big Girl Panties by Michelle Kindle-Clyburn (Paperback AuthorHouse)

    Number 3 a kindle cover

    Number 4 iRiver Story eBook Reader

    It goes on, and on, like that but there are no ebooks of any kind anywhere on

    I can buy a iRiver Story eBook Reader, but I can’t buy anything to read on it, which isn’t going to do anything to grow the ebook market or enable me to read more ebooks.

    I can go to the website and buy a kindle there, but I don’t know what books I could buy to read on it since I’m at the mercy of the international rights issues which Scalzi mentions above, as well as the fact that many kindle editions are simply bad.

    It’s not just stuff like putting every word in italics on a separate line; as Medievalist over on AbsoluteWrite has pointed out:

    ‘Kindle system is mostly a text dump. It’s heartbreaking to see what they did with some of the hand-made ebooks I produced that had links, animations, and audio. The reference books with thousands of links and carefully created links have been completely ruined.’

    Oh, and Amazon could throw a hissy fit and refuse to sell books that I want to buy because there’s an ‘R’ in the month.

    None of this is in my interests as a reader…

  82. #90: You’re calling me a bitter person and ignorant (twice), but I’m the one who’s personalizing?

    Look, you think you’re being ripped off. You think publishers are lying to you, that authors are lying to you. You refuse to accept that it costs extra personnel, time and money going through the e-books line by line to produce them correctly, the creation in fact of entire new divisions to handle this new, small market. You think Scalzi, who worked for AOL back in the days when they were building the Net, is lying to you.

    You decided to buy a closed system Kindle instead of an open system because Amazon was willing to temporarily keep e-book prices below cost to get a majority market share and you bet that they’d keep doing it. (Plus, they are a good, reliable company.) But you bet wrong, which happens. And now you’re frantically trying to insist that $9.99 is the only “reasonable” price on a luxury item for a currently limited clientele who are able to pay overinflated prices for e-readers, even though this price as a cap/standard causes the whole market to lose money — not just Amazon. You fail to see how keeping a price that is kept artificially low, ie. not a reasonable price, could hurt authors.

    Well Apple mucked it up for you, then. Good luck with that.

  83. John, I would LOVE to see you and every other author to begin marketing your work, electronic versions, directly to the public via your websites. I have to say, I am not happy with the stance the publishers are taking. Delay’s in the release of an ebook would be irritating. Jacking up the price would make me *much* more discriminating on who I will buy. I have the Nook, and no longer consider myself to be in the physical-book market, save special circumstances. Or I get rich and can build my “library”, lol.

    I would be VERY happy to send my money directly to YOU, or the other authors, in lieu of the publishers (via the retailers). Making an ebook is a very very easy thing. Setting up 3 or 4 format’s or ebook would take less than a day, and the money you would make would be virtually pure profit.

    I want to read your work. I want YOU to benefit in exchange. I want YOU to get the lion’s share of profit. You dont *need* the big publishers. Other newer authors might, but established guys don’t. Take control of your digital work!

  84. KatG> yes, you are personalizing the ARGUMENT, while I am, inappropriately, calling you names. i’m sorry. The particular tack you’ve taken, and others, is needlesome because it is both wrong and irrelevant, to me. I choose carefully where my money goes, and Kindle was and is a good choice for my personal travel/business schedule. You have implied, and said, basically that kindle owners have the money to just pay whatever price comes along and that’s both wrong, insulting, and irrelevant.

    But, on amore particular point: Kindle is not closed. I have lots of stuff I didn’t get thru Amazon. Never understood why people keep beating that inaccurate drum. I can both buy elsewhere, and get lots of public domain stuff free. They aren’t as open as they should be, but I suspect that will change.

    What I don’t understand is the glee from the people who think it’s fantastic that other people are having to pay more for books. That’s why I keep staying in here, arguing, I guess.

    Oh, and why do you think I believe authors are lying to me? I think a particular publisher is misrepresenting a bunch of things. I have one guy above you saying that amazon editions are just text dumps while others vociferously argue that there’s SOOOOO much work that goes into making an ebook. I believe the work that goes into making the first hardcover, the copywriting, the editing, and so on, does not need to be redone for the ebook. The conversion process is unlikely to be a simple button push, but that process is getting more efficient, not less.

    Again, no one has shown where anyone but amazon is losing money on the ebooks they sell. Macmillan says they aren’t…and by extension, I must assume Macmillan’s authors aren’t either.

    But, the particulars are moot. You are as dug in as I am. When I see facts, not opinions, that show that Amazon’s model was hurting the ebook industry, I’ll reconsider. But people telling me that I’ve got no complaint because I can cut-back on expenditures I already don’t make, well, that argument is wrong.

  85. #100: No, I’m not personalizing the argument; you’re just taking it personally. I’m pointing out that customers for the e-book market have money and are willing to pay prices for technology that are considerably overinflated, including $500 or $300 for a Kindle, yet feel that the product authors offer is not worth a few more bucks even though the entire industry, including Amazon who freely admits they’ve been losing money on them, has been clear that the production and marketing costs of e-books in the current market cannot support $9.99 as a standard initial e-book price. But you think they are lying to you about it, that they are wrong about their own production costs, without knowing anything about the industry. And you disagree with every author who has explained that this is not an unreasonable price increase.

    I have never said that you should accept any price on an e-book, and you know it. Amazon lowered the prices of the e-books artificially below cost, losing money, deliberately as a promotion, as a sale to build market share. Now you’re trying to say the sale price is the only reasonable regular price for the entire industry. But the sale is over or at least reduced (since a large number of books will be below the $14.99 price.) And either you value the books at the regular price, or you wait for the later, discounted price after the e-book has been out, or you don’t buy. Like every other retail product on the market.

    The Kindle is not completely closed because Amazon is not that dumb, but it is meant to lock buyers into its platform and be dependent if not solely stuck with its DRM formatting, for Amazon to be the best vendor for buying things for the Kindle. And because Amazon is a public company and has lots of investment cash and is big, it was able to give you its bargain basement price. And you bet that you’d get the bargain basement sales price for longer. You were wrong. That’s not you being cheated; it’s you losing a sales advantage — several months from now.

    I don’t have any “glee” over rising e-book prices, but I do see it as a natural progression toward standardization in line with costs. Amazon’s marketplace was not reality. Again and again, people in the industry explain that there really are costs, that yes it is expensive to have people go over line by line an e-book to make sure it’s correct, repeatedly for each different format, in-house or hiring companies to do it, that it is expensive to build an infrastructure for a type of tech publishers never had to deal with before but which does not yet yield up significant sales, that costs will get cheaper and prices will too, but that Amazon’s sales loss tactic is not currently sustainable throughout the industry — but you don’t want to believe any of that.

    So good luck to you.

  86. KatG: Sure you are. But, I’m done. You want me to agree with your OPINION, but you just don’t recognize where your opinion ends and facts begin. Frankly I know enough to know that I don’t know all of it. But I dispute some of the things you want to insist are fact, but refuse to show any citation for.

    Like you state, categorically, that the “sale” price is a price I believe to be the only reasonable price. Close, but no cigar. I’ll state, my opinion, as bluntly as possible, since you and others have consistently misrepresented, or to give a benefit of a doubt, misunderstood…An ebook isn’t of the same VALUE as a hardcover, and the price needs to reflect the lesser value. I also think the production costs argued here ($3 less than a hardcover) don’t reflect reality, because the conveniently omit the efficiencies of the eMarket. I have not and would not argue that the initial production is different/cheaper, other than the simple printing/binding.

    But, you can keep telling yourself you haven’t been bitter in this, and that you’re only assessing ebook owners. But read back through your comments and tell me you don’t see a latent hostility there. It’s pretty obvious.

    You don’t want to believe that someone who has a different opinion than you could be right. So, good luck to you, too.

    Done here. Absent someone actually doing something new, with some reliable sourcing, it’s just the same old same old.

  87. I actually got an email from Amazon this morning encouraging me to shop there again because they have brought the Macmillan titles back. I had emailed them complaining about it. But sorry Amazon think I’ll be using B& for now.

  88. torgeaux @ 104

    You ask for reliable sourcing on the relative costs of e versus print; Bob Miller, CEO of HarperStudio, said almost a year ago that:

    ‘I agree that e-books should be priced lower than physical books. But I don’t agree that being profitable at $27.99 translates to being profitable at $9.99. It only costs us about $2.50-$3.00 less for us to publish the e-book, not $18.00 less. The right price is certainly one that a consumer will pay, but we won’t have books for them to buy if authors and publishers can’t make any money. So we need to find the right pricing somewhere between the hardcover list price and the money-losing $9.99 that Amazon is teaching consumers to expect.’

    Now, I know you are going to claim that either he’s lying or he’s so incompetent that he doesn’t know what print books and e-books really cost.

    But I put it up anyway to show that we could cite informed and reliable sources from here till the sun goes nova and you would still be claiming that they are all liars or idiots…

  89. So, a publisher says it’s about $3 difference. Wow, a flat conclusory statement…very helpful. Thanks. How does that differ from what we’ve seen over and over and over? Oh, it’s exactly the same.

    I think it’s probably not a lie. I suspect the costs they’re discussing are around $3 different. What’s not included, gee, I’ve heard this somewhere before, is the costs of the business model, which are real and repeatable. Go ahead, put something else up that says the exact same thing, that’ll be real helpful. Note, he refers to the hardcover list price as some reference point. Hilarious, since that’s right up there with “suggested retail price” on the Price is Right for an accurate figure.

  90. Interesting. Especially the comparison to paperbacks, which were the doom of the industry last time.

    NYTimes: Publishers are caught between authors who want to be paid high advances and consumers who believe they should pay less for a digital edition, largely because the publishers save on printing and shipping costs. But publishers argue that those costs, which generally run about 12.5 percent of the average hardcover retail list price, do not entirely disappear with e-books. What’s more, the costs of writing, editing and marketing remain the same.

    “The concept that because a book is an e-book it should automatically be priced significantly lower than a paper book is one we don’t agree with,” said Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster. “What a consumer is buying is the content, not necessarily the format.”

    Another possibility is that the cheaper prices for e-books entice consumers to buy more titles. “If prices come down but the overall market is bigger, then we should be O.K.,” said Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers. “But if prices come down and the market doesn’t grow, then we can’t make money.”

    There is some precedent for that theory. When the smaller-format mass-market paperbacks that now populate airport bookstores and grocery checkout racks were introduced, publishers expressed fears that the lower-priced books might destroy the market for hardcovers. They didn’t. Instead, they expanded demand for books beyond elite readers.

  91. Sorry, just can’t get amped up for the John Scalzi’s out there jumping all over Amazon. The Kindle is a great device and $9.99 for new releases is a fair price. All you’ve done is irritate me to the point where I won’t buy your books anymore. “Well played. Well played indeed.” You smug dummy.

  92. “When the smaller-format mass-market paperbacks that now populate airport bookstores and grocery checkout racks were introduced, publishers expressed fears that the lower-priced books might destroy the market for hardcovers. They didn’t. Instead, they expanded demand for books beyond elite readers.”

    And the reason that happened is ONLY because the paperback releases were delayed to well after the hardback was released. Pick your poison. You can be cheap and patient, or spend the money for instant gratification. TANSTAAFL.

  93. You’re mistaking exasperation for hostility, Torgeaux. Nor do I have it in for e-book buyers. For me, it’s been interesting to see what details some people choose to ignore, like the electronic publishing rights issues at the heart of the latest fracas, and what they value and what they don’t.

  94. Jason Block raises an interesting point on his blog, questioning the apparent discrepancy between the number of kindles sold and the low number of sales needed to reach kindle best seller status.

    So I took a look at the kindle best-seller list, which shows that a very hefty chunk of kindle bestsellers are freebies. Those are split between stuff long out of copyright, and romances.

    Then there are cheap romances, some apparently self-published, and one or two gold nuggets; ‘The Lovely Bones’ is priced at $4.99, which looks like a bargain.

    Unfortunately it isn’t available to people in the UK, which is a bit of a drawback if you happen to live in the UK.

    What’s fascinating, apart from the apparent major disconnect between image and reality, is that Amazon deliberately misrepresents the alleged savings.

    Take ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire’ as an example. The digital list price is $12.72 and Amazon is offering it at $5.85, so there’s a saving of $6.87.

    But Amazon claims that the saving is $20.10. They are comparing it not with the digital list price, but the hardback print edition price.

    This is straightforward dishonesty, and Amazon should be called on it.

  95. kejia: That Atlantic article tracks my reasoning very closely. His conclusion is off because he doesn’t discuss a necessary couple of factors. One, where you have two simultaneous editions, the costs of production cannot be attributed to each. Two, the costs of production should not be divided equally between the two, but should take into account a couple of additional factors not shown here…not the least of which is the limited license you’re selling in one instance compared to the other in addition, plus the lesser costs to produce, and the greater control on production (e.g. no returns, no cost of future resale of the original).

    As for Jason, yes, TANSTAAFL. First, your logic fails to take into account the fact that paperback books sell profitably where NO HC ever existed. No delay in gratification, just a fact that production costs don’t demand a $25 retail price, no matter how much publishers say it over and over.

  96. Torgeaux @ 114

    You fail to provide any substantiation for your claims whilst demanding citations from others, and you continue to misrepresent facts.

    Amazon lies when it claims that it’s saving customers $20.10 on the Kindle edition of ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire’, but of course you won’t admit that.

    Clearly it and you have a great deal in common…

  97. “just a fact that production costs don’t demand a $25 retail price, no matter how much publishers say it over and over”

    Pricing isn’t determined by costs. But you have to at least make your money back or there’s no money to re-invest into the business.

  98. On his last point, I agree with torgeaux here.
    A LOT of books skip the hardback release and come out directly to paperback. Does not having a period of selling at $25, despite having almost all of the production costs, mean they don’t make a profit?

    And the $8 paperback is a purchase, not a limited licence to read on one device for whatever period the device manufacturer decides to let you.

    In that light, wouldn’t you think the ebooks would be cheaper than paperbacks?

    At least after the paperback comes out…

    BTW… did you know that Scott Westerfeld’s ‘Uglies’ and ‘Pretties’ came out in hardback three years AFTER the paperback release?

  99. wygit @ 117

    Different market; some books are more equal than others.

    Harlequin, for example, seems to confine hardback printing to its large print library editions; everything else is mass market paperbacks and kindle editions. They are cheap as chips for obvious reasons; inbuilt obsolescence with interchangeable writers and interchangeable plots.

    My masterpiece ‘The Virgin Billionaires Brazilian Bride’ is, of course, an exception to that rule…

  100. stevie @118
    Who’s talking Harlequin?
    I’m talking 2/3 of science fiction.
    (Percentage pulled completely out of thin air)
    ((OK, not completely out of thin air. Just from looking at paperback vs hardback shelves, even ‘new releases shelves’ in bookstores.))

    I would almost equate ‘Harlequin’ to ‘red herring’ here.

    You can do better than that.

  101. wygit @119


    I had been trying not to speak of the love that dare not speak its name, but you’ve cornered me, so I will just have to speak it.


    Romance is genre, SF/fantasy is genre, horror is genre, crime is genre and traditionally genre publishing has been much more likely to be in paperback than in hardback. If they sell enough paperbacks writers can graduate to hardbacks, unless they’re with Baen in which case there’s the $15 ‘get it early’ edition, which they really, really want because they get bigger advances and may even be able to afford a cat or two.

    Genre is fiction, of course, and we need to bear in mind that fiction is a small part of publishing, though it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference; the Sarah Palin book being the obvious example.

    Whilst Bloomsbury was probably pretty confident that the last in the Harry Potter series was going to sell lots and lots of copies, nobody knows at the outset what books are going to be really, really huge because who expects something called ‘Water for Elephants’ to sell millions of copies? And when it did sell millions of copies the author changed publishers, because her original publisher Algonquin Books couldn’t match the $5,000,000 advance offer on her next two books.

    You might like to bear in mind that Elizabeth Moon gets a $12,000 advance on her books which keeps the whole ‘authors are greedy to want more than $10 dollars for a Kindle edition’ thing in perspective.

    It comes back to recognising that publishing isn’t a single market; there are lots of different markets and one size does not fit all. Publishers are trying to innovate; for example HarperStudio is trying out a limited advance profit sharing model but no-one knows whether that will work any better than the current model.

    Just a few of the problems with the Gospel according to Amazon…

  102. torgeaux,
    I’ll repeat what Jon Stewart once asked Billy O’Reilly: “Why so angry?”

    Your responses seem disproportionately angry and snide, compared to the posts to which you are responding. Of course, the snideness of those responding to you is certainly increasing, unsurprisingly.

    Unless you’re just trolling, in which case I’ll leave you be.

  103. stevie @120

    What does Elizabeth Moon’s advance have to do with this, that I should ‘bear it in mind’?

    I am in no way saying ‘authors are greedy to want more than $10 dollars for a Kindle edition’ and never have.

    I’m not even against charging $15 on a new release when the hardback is $25.

    I’m saying that when the paperback IS out at $8, (whether that’s on first release or later) I don’t see why the ebook is also $8 (or more).

    It’s not that it’s ‘unfair’, it’s that it seems stupid.

    It’s not even that it’s stupid. It’s simply above my ‘It’s worth it’ level. My choice.

    Of course there are different markets. It just sounded like we were dividing between ‘books that are released in hardback at $25’ and ‘Harlequin’. Big spectrum in between.
    (says the person about to get stomped into the ground by all the Harlequin fans)

  104. jacqie: Unsurprisingly, I disagree. The snide and hostile started before I came in, although I can’t disagree that I perhaps escalated it.

    A couple of factors, really. First, I find the passive aggressive, unsubtle hostility directed at the minority opinion here off-putting. The subtext that wanting inexpensive books makes us haters of authors, wishing them all into poverty to serve us, their rich and powerful masters because we bought a kindle. Grates, in particular, when “but authors are asking for donations because their spouse got laid off” results in donations/ purchases of books (Peter Watts is a perfect recent example). Wanting a reasonable price (minds clearly differ on what is reasonable here) for ebooks isn’t villany, though you’d certainly not know that if you only read here.

    Second, of course, is the internet argument thing. Easy to let it escalate. Mr. Jim Hines just posted on this exact issue, ironically.

    Finally, the fact that I’m right, as I always am, and you folks JUST DON’T SEE IT is frustrating. Smaller minds, you know.

  105. wygit @ 122

    My apologies; I was trying to respond to you whilst simultaneously reducing the scope for drive-by trolls, sorry, posters, to take my remarks out of context.

    I failed, and for the record I accept everything you say.

    Which is a shame, really, because I’m going to be stomped on as well…

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