View Full Version : Is the new 'agency' system going to change your buying habits?


ficbot
03-12-2010, 06:18 PM
I read the latest from the MacMillan people on the switch to the 'agency' model and they specifically address retailer discounts: they will not be allowed. MacMillan will set the price and everyone will abide by it. I have seen some speculating here and elsewhere on what this means for places like Fictionwise which offer club discounts etc. I am wondering if anyone is thinking this will change their buying habits.

For me, I think it will mean that I will patronize Fictionwise MUCH less frequently. The eReader format is pokey and really a pain to convert. I have put up with it because sometimes they offer discounts, or micropay rebates, to such an extent that it is worth it to me to get it from them (for example if I have something else I want to get with the micropay). But if that advantage is now going to disappear and the book will cost the same no matter from whom I buy it, then I will buy it somewhere they have the epub, which is MUCH less of a hassle to liberate, and is more future-safe because many devices will read it directly and it converts with much less manual labour into mobipocket for the Kindle.

The big winner for me will probably be Kobo as they sell in Canadian prices. If a new release comes out and I want it, I will probably look there first.

I may still use Fictionwise for the occasional multiformat purchase (although I have pretty much stopped buying random books of those because many of them are terrible). I do enjoy my multiformat magazine subscriptions and would like to keep them. But really the only incentive to deal with the eReader format has been the Fictionwise reward system, so I think they are really going to lose---from the standpoint of *me* as a customer---with this new system.

charleski
03-12-2010, 06:28 PM
I think retailers will still be free to operate loyalty schemes, which is essentially what the micropay system is. They just can't alter the headline price, which is what you're paying upfront.

Agency pricing is something that I hope will vanish, though - it's not good for the industry.

asjogren
03-12-2010, 07:39 PM
Like "Click HERE to see the real price.

or

1000 Frequent flier miles with purchase.

or

Buy 25 eBooks and get the award winning Nook for FREE!


Anyone remember S&H Green Stamps?

FizzyWater
03-12-2010, 08:06 PM
Assuming more books I want will be priced higher than I'm willing to pay for approximately the next year, starting soon? I'll buy LOTS LESS books...maybe I'll get through some of my TBR pile.

Either that, or it's back to the usenet for bootleg copies (or the library for - gasp! - paper copies) until the prices are reasonable.

Dellaster
03-12-2010, 08:56 PM
Well, there are an awful lot of public domain classics I've never read along with those I've been meaning to re-read. My to-be-read queue has been too full of new authors and books because I've been able to find them at reasonable prices. If that ends I'll catch up on my queue and finally get to the classics. That should keep me busy for a few years. I'll intersperse those with new books from Baen and others who maintain decent prices.

asjogren
03-12-2010, 09:41 PM
I did not buy many eBooks before, and I will certainly NOT buy more after.

I still want rental.

Public Library, Gutenberg, Smashwords(yes, purchase) - will dominate my eBooks until.

Public Library, paper books borrowed from friends/family, and purchased used paperbacks will dominate my paper books.

Given the lack of rights and DRM, rental is a better fit anyway.

Lemurion
03-12-2010, 09:49 PM
I'm going to wait and see the prices on the books I want when I want to buy them - and base my purchasing on that rather than the pricing model.

Robotech_Master
03-12-2010, 09:51 PM
What Lemurion said. Nobody seems to have considered the fact that, if Sargent is speaking straight, a lot of those e-books that are at hardcover price now might just come down to under $10 each as soon as the pricing model goes into effect.

leebase
03-12-2010, 10:05 PM
It will be very interesting to watch -- and to see how this "agency model" gets past the "price fixing" laws. I seriously doubt the agency rules will prevent "customer loyalty" programs like micro pay. If anything, more sites will be resorting to such schemes as a way to lower price without "lowering the price".

I was in sympathy with the publishers over Amazon's "sell every NYT Bestseller for a loss" policy. It's one thing for a Wal-Mart or a Costco to buy a million Harry Potter books and sell them as a loss leader. It's another thing to have Amazon set the "value" of all books to $9.99.

I'm glad that Amazon caved because had they not, then ebooks would not be released until later -- like paperbacks. I like reading ebooks over hardbacks and like to have the OPTION to "buy now and pay more" or "wait and pay less".

But I'm not so sure how "every book seller is now an agent" thing is going to go over.

Lee

Skydog
03-12-2010, 10:24 PM
I'm glad that Amazon caved because had they not, then ebooks would not be released until later -- like paperbacks. I like reading ebooks over hardbacks and like to have the OPTION to "buy now and pay more" or "wait and pay less".


Well, I've got news for you - e-versions of some newly-released titles are not being released concurrently at all.

Seli
03-12-2010, 11:05 PM
Well, I've got news for you - e-versions of some newly-released titles are not being released concurrently at all.

Which is something that Macmillan says will be solved (for their books at least) upon introduction of the agency model.

Lemurion
03-13-2010, 12:36 AM
Well, I've got news for you - e-versions of some newly-released titles are not being released concurrently at all.

This is true, but it will only be relevant to the Macmillan situation if this holds for Macmillan books after March 31, when they are planning to implement the new model.

Skydog
03-13-2010, 01:32 AM
Which is something that Macmillan says will be solved (for their books at least) upon introduction of the agency model.

Not just Macmillan - Simon & Schuster is withholding releases as well.

bgalbrecht
03-13-2010, 01:39 AM
I did not buy many eBooks before, and I will certainly NOT buy more after.

I still want rental.

Public Library, Gutenberg, Smashwords(yes, purchase) - will dominate my eBooks until.

Public Library, paper books borrowed from friends/family, and purchased used paperbacks will dominate my paper books.

Given the lack of rights and DRM, rental is a better fit anyway.

Don't expect any library ebooks for MacMillan titles. Sargent has already said in print that he's against them.

Dylrob
03-13-2010, 01:42 AM
Absolutely. If I am going to have to pay more, than I'm going to be a lot more particular about what I purchase. By extension I will probably focus more on works published by those that comprehend the digital medium.

bgalbrecht
03-13-2010, 02:16 AM
I was in sympathy with the publishers over Amazon's "sell every NYT Bestseller for a loss" policy. It's one thing for a Wal-Mart or a Costco to buy a million Harry Potter books and sell them as a loss leader. It's another thing to have Amazon set the "value" of all books to $9.99.

I'm glad that Amazon caved because had they not, then ebooks would not be released until later -- like paperbacks. I like reading ebooks over hardbacks and like to have the OPTION to "buy now and pay more" or "wait and pay less".

I don't know that Amazon set the "value" of all ebooks to $9.99, as much as they set the "value" of all ebooks to be at or below the price of the lowest cost print edition. After all, they, and all of the other big book retailers were already discounting the NYT bestseller list hardcovers to prices between $8 and $15, and they've mainly been ensuring that the ebook price is less than the paper editions, even if they've been taking a loss on it because the publishers don't bother adjusting the price of their ebooks, ever.

I've got hundreds of books on my to be read list and even more on my to be reread list, so there are very few authors for which I would every consider paying hardcover price for their ebook for the privilege of reading their book sooner. On the other hand, if MacMillan is committing to releasing EVERY title as an ebook, that's a good thing, because they're certainly not doing it now.

I've never been into the Amazon boycott movement because I buy very few ebooks from them, but I intend to tag every MacMillan ebook that I look at that is priced above MMPB (when one is available) after the agent model goes into effect. I don't know if I'll give them all 1 star ratings as well, except for Doug Preston (just because I think he's a whiner).

I understand that John Sargent is trying to do what's best for his company in the short run and maybe even in the long run, but I believe that MacMillan could have been just as successful with the existing wholesale model if they had been willing to release all ebooks at the same time as the hardcovers, with a price comparable to the hardcover, and lowered the ebook price to match the subsequent lower price paperback editions. Amazon would have continued to subsidize the same loss-leader best-sellers that they're doing in print, and ebook buyers would be conditioned to wait for the paper edition to come out if they are cost conscious. As it stands now, if the ebook isn't released with the hardcover, we don't know if it ever will be, and we don't know if they'll ever drop the price when it's priced like a hardcover. Either way, I've always felt that the publishers don't really get ebooks, and just want them to go away, even though a sizable chuck of their steady readership has switched to ebooks.

In this last blog from Mr. Sargent, he's already made it clear that he's unwilling to guarantee parity between low cost print editions and ebook edition, and has hinted that the cost of the ebook might rise if the print editions go out of print (gouge the long tail, I guess). I fear that the ebook will end up becoming the new mid-list paperback, but at trade paperback prices.

Kali Yuga
03-13-2010, 02:26 AM
I don't think buying habits will alter nearly as much as presumed -- mostly because many people mistakenly think prices will be permanently set at $15 per ebook. They're going to use dynamic pricing, so ebook prices will fall over time. I suspect people will grudgingly figure this out, awhile after the agency model kicks in.

So, what will happen soon is what has been happening for a long time: Those who are willing to pay a premium will get the book faster, and those who want to pay less will wait until the price drops. Just like what happens with hardcovers and paperbacks -- and as what should happen, when supply is flat and prices can show the direct impact of demand.


It will be very interesting to watch -- and to see how this "agency model" gets past the "price fixing" laws.
No, it'll be boring, because it isn't price fixing. The publishers are not colluding in secret to coordinate prices, they aren't allocating market segments to different publishers, discounts will be offered on, for example, NY Times best sellers by at least one publisher (Macmillan) but not necessarily by others, etc.

Also, unlike price fixing setups, this arrangement is very public and has received a fair amount of press. I'm reasonably confident that a) publishers and retailers already had their lawyers vet this model, and b) if it was illegal, the DoJ might have actually noticed or commented by now.

It's not much different than retailers setting the price for digital song downloads at $1 per. It's just a big shift from how prices were often set for books in the past.

Nakor
03-13-2010, 02:29 AM
Is this whole thing going to much affect the Fantasy genre? I haven't heard any of the main fantasy publisher's names thrown around, but then, I'm not that familiar with the publishing industry.

Blue Tyson
03-13-2010, 02:35 AM
Nope, because can't buy them either way. :)

Kali Yuga
03-13-2010, 02:47 AM
....I intend to tag every MacMillan ebook that I look at that is priced above MMPB (when one is available) after the agent model goes into effect. I don't know if I'll give them all 1 star ratings as well, except for Doug Preston (just because I think he's a whiner).
Don't you have better things to do with your time, like... flossing? ;)


I believe that MacMillan could have been just as successful with the existing wholesale model if they had been willing to release all ebooks at the same time as the hardcovers, with a price comparable to the hardcover, and lowered the ebook price to match the subsequent lower price paperback editions....
Sure, if "success" means "throwing your profit margins under a bus." :D

Had they continued with this model, eventually the retailers would have forced the publishers to drop their wholesale prices, eroded the value of their products, and shifted even more power to the retailers.


As it stands now, if the ebook isn't released with the hardcover, we don't know if it ever will be, and we don't know if they'll ever drop the price when it's priced like a hardcover.
It seems pretty clear that, at least where Macmillan is concerned, they do plan to release the ebook concurrent with the hardcover, they will alter the price to reflect demand, and expect most books to hit the $10 price point within a year of release. Past (and even present) actions are simply not viable guides to future behavior, as there is about to be a huge industry shift.


I've always felt that the publishers don't really get ebooks, and just want them to go away, even though a sizable chuck of their steady readership has switched to ebooks.
Since ebooks constitute less than 5% of sales, I don't see that as a "sizable" portion yet. Even a year ago, the general public barely knew about, let alone cared about, ebooks. There's far more hype than reality at this point.

The fact that most publishers are willingly climbing on board -- and taking advantage of the huge leverage they gained with Apple's deal -- indicates that these folks are a tad more savvy than MR readers presume. They're way ahead of the music industry, relative to the public interest in ebooks. Many posters assume that a multi-billion dollar industry can alter its business models, its contracts with authors, its adherence to international laws, and convert millions of books at zero cost overnight -- and if the business can't do all that, they are "dinosaurs" and "luddites." And, of course, a few people just hate publishers and want them to die immediately, and are happy to slag them with any negative characterization they can think of, as though their eradication will magically make everything right in the literary realm. ;)

bgalbrecht
03-13-2010, 02:56 AM
Is this whole thing going to much affect the Fantasy genre? I haven't heard any of the main fantasy publisher's names thrown around, but then, I'm not that familiar with the publishing industry.

Just about all of the major SF/Fantasy imprints are going to the agent model, with the exception of Ballantine/Del Rey, which are part of Random House. My guess is that if the rest of the publishers are committed to dynamic pricing, and price ebooks higher when the paper editions are more expensive, and drop the price when they release budget print editions, Random House will set their MSRP/wholesale prices accordingly.

One area of concern for me is that if the hardcover/ebook rights are split from the mass market paperback rights, as is the case for some Stephen King bestsellers sold by Random House in hardcover and Simon & Schuster in mass market, the ebook may will get priced indefinitely to match the publisher's print edition, even though there's a much cheaper paper edition from another publisher.

bgalbrecht
03-13-2010, 03:06 AM
Don't you have better things to do with your time, like... flossing? ;)

I was going to claim that I multi-task, but it is hard to type and floss at the same time. I've never actually tried to tag anything at Amazon. I'm certainly not going to go looking for MacMillan books just to tag them, nor will I tag something if it takes an additional minute or two. I don't know, if an ebook is tagged overpriced by a couple hundred people, does it convince casual buyers to buy some other book? Probably not when the buyer is looking specifically for this author or book.

Sure, if "success" means "throwing your profit margins under a bus."

Had they continued with this model, eventually the retailers would have forced the publishers to drop their wholesale prices, eroded the value of their products, and shifted even more power to the retailers.

I don't think Amazon was discounting all ebooks to $9.99, just the best sellers for which they are discounting the hardcovers. But they are arguing that ebooks ought to be priced as budget books, when budget editions have been released, and I think this latest blog post says that MacMillan doesn't agree. Sargent clearly refuses that proposition, and is only willing to make the concession that a budget ebook price is no more than $10, and maybe less.

Kali Yuga
03-13-2010, 08:44 AM
I was going to claim that I multi-task, but it is hard to type and floss at the same time.
I'd be very impressed if you could, though :D


I don't think Amazon was discounting all ebooks to $9.99, just the best sellers for which they are discounting the hardcovers. But they are arguing that ebooks ought to be priced as budget books, when budget editions have been released, and I think this latest blog post says that MacMillan doesn't agree. Sargent clearly refuses that proposition, and is only willing to make the concession that a budget ebook price is no more than $10, and maybe less.
Well, Amazon's stated goal was to establish $10 as the "standard" price point. Some ebooks (new and older) were priced higher, but it wasn't limited just to best-sellers. They (or other retailers) never explicitly said their goal was to force a reduction in wholesale prices, but it does seem apparent that was their strategy.

Sargent's recent blog post indicates they don't plan to peg ebook prices to paperback costs, they'll base it on demand. The instance he mentions is a book that is available for awhile in mass market and trade paper, and the publisher drops the MM copy; the ebook price may go up to match the trade edition. He is basically operating off the principle that the different paper editions are just window dressing on demand-based pricing. HC-to-paperback is just a far less efficient mechanism than what you can accomplish with an electronic good, whose price can be updated at any time.

I might add that eventually there may well be benefits to disconnecting those prices. Let's say a typical paper book is in HC for 8 months, and it takes a month or two to ramp up the paperback production, distribution and marketing -- mostly to place a thin veneer over the mechanisms of demand. With the ebook edition, it will start out with a lower official price, then it may drift down as demand falls, to the point where the ebook may fit your price in 6 months instead of 10 or 12.

Besides, in a few years, basing ebook prices off of paper will make as little sense as basing a DVD price off of a movie ticket or VCR price; or basing a digital download price off of a CD or vinyl record price; or a PS3 game off of a physical copy of Parcheesi....

Barcey
03-13-2010, 11:10 AM
Yes, I won't be buying books from the publishers that move to the "agency model". I'll be buying from customer friendly publishers and authors. There are too many good books and too little time to read them all. I don't have to worry about it.

I'm sure that the big publishers have already written me (and people like me) into the category of "acceptable loses" so we can all be happy. :D

The "agency model" is price fixing and against free market principals. It was allowed for a valid business model but what Macmillan is using it for has nothing to do with an "agency model". Amazon, Apple, B&N and Kobo are not "agents", they are running websites and performing simple electronic sales transactions. It's a loophole to allow them to price fix and try to drive up prices. In my opinion the consumer protection laws should be updated to define what an agent is, so these loopholes can be closed.

One additional side effect is that I've switch 180 degrees on "piracy". I'm still not going to file share myself but I'm no longer going to criticize people who do. Go nuts! I understand.

abookreader
03-13-2010, 11:28 AM
No, I suspect my buying habits will be pretty much the same.
I'll decide it's time to purchase a book and go to a website. I'll look around ... looks good, looks good, looks good but holy heck do they really think I'm going to spend $15!!!

Guess which two books I'll buy?

I really don't ever "wait" for a book in that I'm an impulse buyer. If you don't convince me to buy your book in about the first 20 seconds then you'll probably not sell me your book. If a book falls into the Holy Heck category I'm not going to place it on a list and price watch it. I just forget about it. I also hardly ever anticipate a New Release. There are a few authors that I consistently enjoy but generally I find books and authors to be highly interchangeable in that there are literally thousands of them out that who all have the capability of entertaining me for a couple of hours.

So really - if you want to sell me a book you are going to have 1. Make me aware of it's existence and 2. Make it available at the price I'm willing to pay.

I don't see that changing.

Elfwreck
03-13-2010, 11:48 AM
It will be very interesting to watch -- and to see how this "agency model" gets past the "price fixing" laws. I seriously doubt the agency rules will prevent "customer loyalty" programs like micro pay. If anything, more sites will be resorting to such schemes as a way to lower price without "lowering the price".


Agency models aren't considered price fixing; they're a different relationship between manufacturer and storefront. The store doesn't have to buy the materials up front.

In the case of ebooks, the original model was kinda broken, because AFAIK Amazon wasn't "buying" a stack of ebooks and then trying to sell them at a profit; Amazon didn't buy the ebook from Macmillan until the customer said "send me an ebook!" At which point, 1 sale goes to Macmillan; Amazon takes their cut (or a loss), and the customer receives 1 ebook.

The agency system is a better economic model for what's going on here. Amazon isn't risking anything by hosting the books, which is one of the reasons retail sales take such a high cut--the 50% rate assumes a lot of nonsales which are subsidized by the successes. If there's no money tied up in costs, there's no reason the middleman should get that high a percentage of the sale.

However, the fixed-pricing model is likely to bite publishers badly. They won't have the ability to gauge customer interest by lowering the price a bit and seeing if sales skyrocket; they won't have the ability to participate in site-wide promotions. The retail model allows the ones who deal directly with customers the flexibility to find out what they want; doing so with commission sales is a lot harder.

And publishers *still* don't think they're competing with amateurs or free ebooks. Macmillan thinks it's competing with Random House, thinks Amazon is competing with the B&N bookstore--not Smashwords, and certainly not Feedbooks.

(In response to the original post: No, it won't affect my habits in the slightest; I don't buy DRM'd ebooks.)

HorridRedDog
03-13-2010, 12:30 PM
There have been some series that were so engrossing that I have bought the hardback for $25. But (and here is where the publishers lose) for the most part, I simply pass it by, and hope that I'll remember to look for it at a later date. All that money spent on advertizing. Wasted.

For an ebook price to be somewhat equal to the hardback price at first release doesn't bother me. Again, all that money spent on advertising. Wasted.

If you're concerned about the prices going too high do what I do naturally - get a year or two worth of reading now. I also buy from smaller companies with new, but VERY GOOD, writers.

Higher prices can't hurt me, I'm not a slave to the newest hot seller from Blankety Blank.

The MacMillans of the world can just bleed themselves dry discovering that we are willing pay a fair price for their books, but not hardcover book prices for a hand full of electrons.

I want my favorite writers to make a good living and I do understand that the need of a publisher is very real.

But the ink, paper, printing presses, book binders, warehouses, truckers, warehouses (at the retailers end), store front, and store employees will no longer be a cost to the end product.

I do miss the scriptoriums though.
http://hisvorpal.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/scriptorium.jpg

vaughnmr
03-13-2010, 12:32 PM
So... Apple convinces the world we all need higher prices on ebooks, and then inserts a little clause that gives them alone the right to "discount" bestsellers as they see fit. Nope, I don't buy into it, they lost me as a customer.

TallMomof2
03-13-2010, 12:32 PM
I won't be purchasing any MacMillan books simply because they won't allow the ebooks in libraries.

The Agency Model is just another way to say price fixing. I have a huge backlog of ebooks and don't have the need to purchase any of the grossly overpriced, DRM laden offerings from the publishers. It is my hope that more readers will say no to price fixing and not purchase ebooks.

HorridRedDog
03-13-2010, 12:42 PM
I won't be purchasing any MacMillan books simply because they won't allow the ebooks in libraries.

The Agency Model is just another way to say price fixing. I have a huge backlog of ebooks and don't have the need to purchase any of the grossly overpriced, DRM laden offerings from the publishers. It is my hope that more readers will say no to price fixing and not purchase ebooks.

I won't be purchasing any MacMillan books simply because they won't allow the ebooks in libraries.

More than enough reason to skip them. But instead of boycotting them just think of them with revulsion. As in "I do not need to look at the used toilet paper".

Price fixing is price fixing, whether or not it is in the open.

Lemurion
03-13-2010, 01:02 PM
Not just Macmillan - Simon & Schuster is withholding releases as well.

The last I heard, S&S was not one of the three publishers pushing for the agency model, so you can't blame their delays on agency. In fact, if John Sargent is to be believed, their delays are probably because they aren't moving to the agency model.

abookreader
03-13-2010, 01:08 PM
I won't be purchasing any MacMillan books simply because they won't allow the ebooks in libraries.

That is a very good point -- and yet John Sargent has no problem at all "devaluing" his audiobooks by allowing them to be placed on the very same Overdrive system that he claims will destroy MacMillan print titles.

Really to me, the guy doesn't make a whole lot of sense and he seems to work an extra 10 hours a week trying to think of new and glorious ways to anger his customers.

Elfwreck
03-13-2010, 02:10 PM
I won't be purchasing any MacMillan books simply because they won't allow the ebooks in libraries.

I'm waiting for libraries to find a way around this. It's not like Macmillan has any legal right to say, "you may not loan our ebooks out." They can say, "you can't make extra copies to loan out," but maybe libraries can find a way to loan "the original."

As computers in libraries become more common, I expect for one or more resourceful libraries to register half a dozen machines with various ebook stores, and have ebooks on those computers, available for reading ADE books or Kindlebooks. Not that a whole lot of people want to go to libraries to read books on a screen--but it'd be a way for libraries to stock a lot more titles than they have shelf space for. A library in a small town, or school libraries, might look into this. (For that matter, libraries might look into chop/scan/convert methods before destroying books they no longer want to keep on the shelves--instead of selling it at a used book sale, convert to ebook, and destroy the physical copy; keep the ebook on a read-only-at-library computer.)

Potentially, libraries could have a set of ebook devices they check out (with a deposit, or credit card on file), loaded with dozens of ebooks. Not sure if end users could crack the DRM if they've got the device but not account access info.

ADE, Kindle & Nook ebooks aren't designed for loanability, but that doesn't mean it's not possible.

Kali Yuga
03-13-2010, 02:39 PM
Yes, I won't be buying books from the publishers that move to the "agency model".
So if there is an ebook that piques your interest and costs $10, you're going to email the retailer and ask them what pricing model they use? :D


The "agency model" is price fixing and against free market principals. It was allowed for a valid business model but what Macmillan is using it for has nothing to do with an "agency model".
Again, this is not price fixing. "Price fixing," despite the name, is ultimately not about a company setting a specific price; it's about entities that collude in anti-competitive behavior in order to control a market. The publishers are not secretly meeting in a smoke-filled room and collaborating on prices, or saying "Random House will get sci-fi, Macmillan will get the education market" etc. Publishers are not in a cartel who artificially restrict supply in order to boost price (e.g. De Beers and diamonds). McDonald's is not price fixing when it sets national prices for all of its franchises. Nor has the DoJ announced any sort of investigation of Apple, Amazon or the publishers.

And if Macmillan said "we're switching to the agency model and new ebooks will be $10," the term "price fixing" would never have come up.

There is nothing illegal or immoral about the agency model.


One additional side effect is that I've switch 180 degrees on "piracy". I'm still not going to file share myself but I'm no longer going to criticize people who do. Go nuts! I understand.
So, let me get this straight.

A new ebook comes out, concurrent with the hardcover. The hardcover officially costs $30, gets discounted to say $15 + $3 shipping and handling. The ebook starts at $15 (no shipping, handling or tax). 1 year later, the trade paper comes out at $12 + $2 s&h, the ebook drops to $10.

This is such terrible behavior that it licenses people to skip out from paying all the people who produced the book, including the author?

The reality is that this is a far more efficient method than the hardcover/paperback method of dynamic pricing. As demand for a book falls, the publisher can adjust the price faster, rather than wait months for a physical object to be produced and distributed.

And have you really not noticed that in a free market society, prices are determined by both supply and demand? If someone is willing to pay $15 for a new ebook, and you are not, then you get priced out of the market until demand (and therefore price) falls. C'est la guerre.

By the way, how does pirating a title because you think the price is too high fit into "market principles" that you were lauding in your post? :)

vaughnmr
03-13-2010, 03:01 PM
So let ME get this straight.

We needed the agency model, cause the Amazon $9.99 price for bestsellers was too low, and would bankrupt the publishing world. Now everyone will have to charge a higher price, and won't be able to discount.

Except Apple, who was able to negotiate a clause that lets them discount bestsellers to... $9.99.

What's wrong with this picture?

leebase
03-13-2010, 03:03 PM
Kali -- the McDonald's analogy makes sense to me. I think you are right that this isn't price fixing.

I also think that the pricing controversy will blow over. I seriously doubt people will be buying books based on the policies between the publisher and their book sellers other than a REAL tiny minority.

I never bought hard backs for $25. Ok, maybe for the latest Tom Clancy I would. I would have for the latest Harry Potter but Wal-Mart and the like made that unecessary.

Amazon got people to think that an ebook was only worth $9.99 even when Amazon was selling the Hard back for $18 or more and no paperback version was out. So they are upset that the ebook will be $15 when the DTB is $18.

I think that anybody who would have paid $18 will pay $15. Those who won't pay more than $10 were never the publisher's hard back customers to begin with. They'll buy the ebook for $8 when the paperback is $10.

Lee

Barcey
03-13-2010, 03:43 PM
Again, this is not price fixing. "Price fixing," despite the name, is ultimately not about a company setting a specific price; it's about entities that collude in anti-competitive behavior in order to control a market. The publishers are not secretly meeting in a smoke-filled room and collaborating on prices, or saying "Random House will get sci-fi, Macmillan will get the education market" etc. Publishers are not in a cartel who artificially restrict supply in order to boost price (e.g. De Beers and diamonds). McDonald's is not price fixing when it sets national prices for all of its franchises. Nor has the DoJ announced any sort of investigation of Apple, Amazon or the publishers.


I wouldn't have a problem if Macmillan sold directly or through franchises and set the price. They aren't. They are selling through 3rd party retailers and pretending that they are "agents" . Other companies have done this, but they've done it discretely. Macmillan is the first company I'm aware of that has been stupid enough to come out and say, we need higher prices so we're going to fix the price.

btw John Sargent seems to disagree with you and believes it is price fixing. To quote from his latest blog entry...


2) Will retailers have flexibility to price books at a discount? No, the sale price will be fixed by Macmillan. Retailers will promote and market books, but we will control the price for the book.


As a consumer do you want a market place where all the goods you buy have the price set by the manufacturer? If you want to buy a new Ford Mustang it doesn't matter what dealer you go to it costs the same price?

The copyright laws give the author and publisher a temporary monopoly on selling a specific book. Now the publishers are using the monopoly to fix the price of that specific book. I've decided not to buy books from those publishers.

riemann42
03-13-2010, 03:50 PM
I think most people are looking at the headline "$9.99 ebook on best sellers will be stopped by Agency model" and miss the big picture.

I see a few things happening as Publishers start taking responsibility for pricing:

1) E-books overall will be more available and less expensive. This is because trade paperbacks will be priced in the ebook world based on demand and price of physical book. The publishers want to make money, and the best way to make money on eBooks is to sell more of them (30 eBooks at $5.99 or better than selling 20 at $9.99).

2) Bestsellers will be a few dollars more.

3) eBooks will only rarely be more expensive than physical books, at least based on MSRP.

4) Amazon will lose out. No more selling best sellers at a loss. Other retailers will breath a sigh of relief and compete on service and reward plans. Non-Kindle devices will finally be able to compete, and the eBook device industry will move forward faster.

5) More reward plans and bundles. As pricing can't compete, giving rewards will be a way for bookstores to distinguish themselves.

This will be a good thing overall. My bet is that if I total the cost on my wish list at Fictionwise now, and compare it to next month (assuming I add no books...), it will be less, possibly significantly less, next month.


-Edward

GA Russell
03-13-2010, 03:52 PM
I wonder how many eBook reader users are like me. The agency model will not change my buying habits because I have yet to buy an eBook.

It's going to take me a very long time (at least two years) to read most of the books I have already downloaded for free. And someone (usually Patricia or Harry) uploads a book I want to read here almost once a week.

When the time comes that a book comes out that I am willing to pay for, I will be concerned about the price, but not how that price was determined.

fjtorres
03-13-2010, 03:52 PM
As long as the price fixing scheme is in place I'm not buying *any* books, print or e-, except from Baen. It helps I have a bookcase full of unread treeware and two years worth of webscriptions queued up but I'm not giving those idiots one red cent as long as I can help it.

No discount?
No sale.

HorridRedDog
03-13-2010, 04:04 PM
I think most people are looking at the headline "$9.99 ebook on best sellers will be stopped by Agency model" and miss the big picture.

I see a few things happening as Publishers start taking responsibility for pricing:

1) E-books overall will be more available and less expensive. This is because trade paperbacks will be priced in the ebook world based on demand and price of physical book. The publishers want to make money, and the best way to make money on eBooks is to sell more of them (30 eBooks at $5.99 or better than selling 20 at $9.99).

2) Bestsellers will be a few dollars more.

3) eBooks will only rarely be more expensive than physical books, at least based on MSRP.

4) Amazon will lose out. No more selling best sellers at a loss. Other retailers will breath a sigh of relief and compete on service and reward plans. Non-Kindle devices will finally be able to compete, and the eBook device industry will move forward faster.

5) More reward plans and bundles. As pricing can't compete, giving rewards will be a way for bookstores to distinguish themselves.

This will be a good thing overall. My bet is that if I total the cost on my wish list at Fictionwise now, and compare it to next month (assuming I add no books...), it will be less, possibly significantly less, next month.


-Edward

There must be something wrong with you. We both agree.:D

....

The copyright laws give the author and publisher a temporary monopoly on selling a specific book. Now the publishers are using the monopoly to fix the price of that specific book. I've decided not to buy books from those publishers.

Lets see now.:chinscratch: "A temporary monopoly" that will last longer than my lifetime, even if I were born today.

Something's wrong here.

riemann42
03-13-2010, 04:11 PM
As long as the price fixing scheme is in place I'm not buying *any* books, print or e-, except from Baen. It helps I have a bookcase full of unread treeware and two years worth of webscriptions queued up but I'm not giving those idiots one red cent as long as I can help it.

No discount?
No sale.

Ok. So say that today an ebook at the cheapest sight (Amazon) goes for $6. The wholesale cost, which amazon pays at the same time the sell to you is $5.50. Now, Agency model goes in place. Book is priced at $6. Amazon pays $4.80. Amazon makes more money, you pay same price. Who loses?

I think the decision now and and the future when buying a book should be:

1) Am I willing to pay a premium for a new release?

2) What price point am I willing to pay, as the book will likely cost that much eventually (if you want it free, just wait a couple hundred years).

To say, I won't buy a book from publisher X because they have entered into a contractual arrangement that I don't understand with the book seller, is ridiculous. Buy based on your demand. The prices will reflect this. This is how this system makes the publishers more money.

I still think that most books will cost the same or less as a result of this change. If we see a huge increase in price, then we can vote with our wallets for lower prices.

-Edward

leebase
03-13-2010, 04:30 PM
As long as the price fixing scheme is in place I'm not buying *any* books, print or e-, except from Baen..

I love Baen. I love the Baen Free Library, and webscriptions (bought 2 so far) -- and I love their general attitude with ebooks.

However, that would all be meaningless if I didn't like the Baen authors: Eric Flint and David Weber to name just two. Thanks to their free ebook promos, I have about 170 free ebooks q'd up. Even so, I still have bought ebooks from Baen because I wanted the latest Honor Harrington and 1632 series books.

David Weber also writes for Tor. Tor does NOT have the attitude toward ebooks that Baen has. But I'm still going to read the Safehold books by David Weber. The latest is coming out next month. I could go for years reading the free ebooks I have stored up, but I WANT to read the next Safehold book.

I sincerely doubt that very many folks with not buy a book by an author they want to read JUST because it's published by McMillan. Just like I have always hated to read hard back books at any price. They are just too big and bulky. I preferred paper backs. And yet, for my favorite authors I bought the hard back because I didn't want to wait.

Now Baen will get more of my business because their enlightened attitude has allowed me to become a fan of authors I'd never have read. I had never read Eric Flint nor David Weber until I came across the Baen Free Library. Now I'm hooked and am reading their entire set of books.

But Tom Clancy? I don't even know who is publisher is, and I don't care. Same with Alex Cross books by James Patterson. I'm a fan. I'll buy their books.

Lee

Lemurion
03-13-2010, 05:45 PM
"Fixing the price," as John Sargent used it is not the same thing as "Price-fixing." He was using it as synonymous with "setting the price." Moving to the agency model is a completely separate issue from any accusations of price-fixing in the industry.

As far as I know, Fictionwise has normally operated primarily on the agency model anyway. That's why they have relied on micropay rewards rather than straight discounts for secure books.

Kali Yuga
03-13-2010, 06:45 PM
So let ME get this straight. We needed the agency model, cause the Amazon $9.99 price for bestsellers was too low, and would bankrupt the publishing world. Now everyone will have to charge a higher price, and won't be able to discount.

Except Apple, who was able to negotiate a clause that lets them discount bestsellers to... $9.99.

What's wrong with this picture?
Probably your numbers. :D

Yes, the $10 price point would have seriously impacted publisher's margins, assuming the retailers were able to eventually hammer the publishers to drop the wholesale price. So they would go from collecting say $12 per copy to $8 per copy. I suspect you wouldn't enjoy it if your boss slashed your wages by 30% and demanded the same amount of work. ;)

Apple did not negotiate for $10 ebooks. The prices for Apple will be the same as Amazon and any other retailer that uses the agency model -- $15 for new ebooks, $12-13 for ebooks on the best-seller list, and lower prices ($6-12) for older ebooks.

Robotech_Master
03-13-2010, 07:01 PM
Apple did not negotiate for $10 ebooks. The prices for Apple will be the same as Amazon and any other retailer that uses the agency model -- $15 for new ebooks, $12-13 for ebooks on the best-seller list, and lower prices ($6-12) for older ebooks.
Actually that's not entirely true. (http://www.teleread.org/2010/02/18/apples-new-e-book-prices-to-be-closer-than-expected-to-amazons-old-ones/)
But now the New York Times is reporting that Apple’s iBooks prices may be closer to Amazon’s for the books that count. Citing anonymous sources privy to the discussions between Apple and the major publishing houses, the Times says Apple wants to reserve to itself the right to discount the e-book versions of bestsellers and lower-than-average-priced hardcovers, perhaps even as low as Amazon’s $9.99.

vaughnmr
03-13-2010, 07:06 PM
Apple did not negotiate for $10 ebooks. The prices for Apple will be the same as Amazon and any other retailer that uses the agency model -- $15 for new ebooks, $12-13 for ebooks on the best-seller list, and lower prices ($6-12) for older ebooks.

Actually, I have seen elsewhere on the internet where they HAVE negotiated that clause. We will see.

Kali Yuga
03-13-2010, 07:18 PM
As a consumer do you want a market place where all the goods you buy have the price set by the manufacturer? If you want to buy a new Ford Mustang it doesn't matter what dealer you go to it costs the same price?
When it comes to an item that costs $10-20, I could care less who's setting the price. Why should I?

And if the publishers had adopted the $10 price point, you probably wouldn't have cared much either. :D

I do concur that agency pricing has one major disadvantage, which is that retailers will apparently have minimal options to discount books or engage in loss-leader practices. So, I'll just wait a few extra months on occasion, unless I really want a book fast. I suspect I'll survive, as will all the other people who proclaim "I have tons of unread books and won't buy ebooks ever again." ;)


The copyright laws give the author and publisher a temporary monopoly on selling a specific book. Now the publishers are using the monopoly to fix the price of that specific book. I've decided not to buy books from those publishers.
Again, publishers are not "monopolists" and are not engaged in anti-competitive practices. You don't have one publisher that has a 90% market share (as Microsoft does with operating systems, for example).

If you're upset by $15 new ebooks, that's one thing. But it is simply incorrect to conflate this with a specific set of anti-competitive practices based on a semantic similarity.

fjtorres
03-13-2010, 07:20 PM
Ok. So say that today an ebook at the cheapest sight (Amazon) goes for $6. The wholesale cost, which amazon pays at the same time the sell to you is $5.50. Now, Agency model goes in place. Book is priced at $6. Amazon pays $4.80. Amazon makes more money, you pay same price. Who loses?

The law.
Its not about the price, its the principle of the thing.
Those idiots aren't fixing retail prices to do us any favors; the *stated* intent is to raise prices by 30% and see how many suckers fall for the "potential" of lower prices on *some* crappy books.

Me, I normally buy 20-30 books a year *plus* all the Baen webscriptions and promo bundles, plus an eARC or two a year.

Baen gets to keep my business.
The rest can go hang.

Note I'm not telling anybody else to follow my example, merely stating my intent. I don'tt tell other people how to waste their money and I expect not to be told how to waste mine. The BPHs are betting enough people will meekly swallow their line that they'll get away with the 30% price rise.

Maybe they will, maybe they won't; but *I* am not going to collaborate with people out to rip me off.

PS - What if Amazon takes the extra money they are "forced" to make of ebook saless and use it to subsidize Kindle prices to put independent reader vendors out of business? Say they drop Kindle prices to $100 and make the difference up off the 30% higher book prices. Think that makes for a better outcome? Less reader choices and higher book prices?

Robotech_Master
03-13-2010, 07:24 PM
Agency pricing as "price fixing": Here's a link to a lawyer's opinion (http://www.teleread.org/2010/01/31/legal-analysis-of-the-amazonmacmillan-brouhaha/). In short: it probably is price-fixing, but thanks to a recent precedent-overturning Supreme Court decision, it will be very hard to get a court to find it illegal price-fixing.

FizzyWater
03-13-2010, 07:33 PM
So, let me get this straight.

A new ebook comes out, concurrent with the hardcover. The hardcover officially costs $30, gets discounted to say $15 + $3 shipping and handling. The ebook starts at $15 (no shipping, handling or tax). 1 year later, the trade paper comes out at $12 + $2 s&h, the ebook drops to $10.

This is such terrible behavior that it licenses people to skip out from paying all the people who produced the book, including the author?

Yep.

'Cuz I don't buy hardbacks or trade paperbacks unless it is an absolute favorite author and I can get a good discount.

I read the blog post linked here (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76903)- he's not promising the ebooks will always be a little lower than the print price. And he seems to be hinting that many of them will never be at or less than the price of the mass market paperbacks.

Do I want the authors harmed by this? Of course not. But I will not be strong-armed by publishers simply because I do not have 1 more spare foot of space in my home for print books. Or if I just prefer digital over print.

I spent over $2000 on ebooks last year alone (horrifying truth discovered when I did my taxes). The library can have the funds I would have spent on the ones I want, but are priced at $15. I'll hit the library.

vaughnmr
03-13-2010, 07:43 PM
Kali, why are you ignoring the issues of Apple pricing benefits from their negotion? Is that ok with you, that Amazon (or anyone else, for that matter)should not be able to price ebook bestsellers at $9.99, but Apple can? Please enlighten me, I've tried to follow a lot of your arguements on the publishers and drm, but most of the time I just don't get it.

vaughnmr
03-13-2010, 08:47 PM
Sorry, Kali, I didn't mean to pick on you personally. But these issues DO affect a lot of us, and in a negative way. A lot of the rest of us are not in the nirvana that you seem to be, whether it's DVD's or ebook drm. The issues with drm or copy protection have been going on for ages, and if they haven't affected you in some way in the past, you are either very lucky or in denial.

As for the agency model, I don't want the publishers or authors to go bankrupt. But it is starting to look like politics... and usually behind the politics is money, and greed.

Seli
03-13-2010, 09:37 PM
...
As a consumer do you want a market place where all the goods you buy have the price set by the manufacturer? If you want to buy a new Ford Mustang it doesn't matter what dealer you go to it costs the same price?
....

As a consumer, if I'd be sure that the price is reasonable I would be happy in a situation like this. As it is at the moment I never buy electronics or more expensive equipment for the lowest possible price anyway. Service, ease of buying, reputation for after sales care are much more important.

And for things a lot closer to the price of a book, my daily groceries, convenience and shopping experience are a lot more important than lowest price. And in comparable, but not identical products, quality gets an important factor in my decision.

Of course to determine if a price is fair/reasonable competition is useful. But let's see how the market will react.


No discount?
No sale.
Why would a discount be more important to a final fair price? Would it make you happy if the publishers just put an artificially high price on the product and allow the agent to sell with a 'discount'?

leebase
03-13-2010, 11:24 PM
Re: setting the price of a Ford.

Let's use that to understand what was going on. Everyone knows you don't pay the "sticker price" for a car. But depending on your haggling skills and the dealer's need to sell a car -- the price of a car can vary quite a bit.

But WHAT IF -- Amazon Motors started selling fully loaded, brand new, Ford Focus's for $10,000. Even though Ford charges Amazon Motors $15,000 for the car, and it's sticker price is $30,000. Why should Ford care if Amazon Motors is willing to lose money on every car it sold?

Well...consider that Amazon Motors is the largest seller of Ford cars with near universal name recognition and the ability to sell a car to anybody anywhere? Surely people would be in love with Amazon Motors and the $10,000 price for the car.

What about Ford's other dealers? How are they going to feel about Ford allowing this to happen. For this is no "end of the month" sale to meet a sales goal. This is all the top model cars Ford sells -- all the time. How can Ford expect it's other dealers to keep trying to sell Ford cars in competition with Amazon Motors who's willing to lose money?

PLUS -- people are getting the idea that $10,000 is the proper price for a brand new Ford car. Ford would know that it wouldn't be long before all the other Ford dealers were run out of business and then Amazon could force Ford to sell it's car for LESS than $10,000.

Ok. Make it more clear? $10 has not been the price for new release popular books. McMillian isn't trying to "raise the price of a book" -- they are trying to stop Amazon from turning the entire NYT Bestseller's list into a product that customers are only willing to pay $10 for. No one has been complaining that hardbacks are listed at $25 to $30 and sold "on sale" for $18. People know "I'll wait for the paper back". But with ebooks, Amazon was training people to want the cheap version of the book up front -- destroying the pricing levels that the publishers have already established.

Had Amazon not been wiling to change -- the publishers were going to withhold their ebooks just like they withhold the paper backs. The ANGER over this is PROOF that Amazon had indeed been spoiling the market (from the publisher's perspective).


Lee

Logseman
03-14-2010, 07:07 AM
O.O I've never imagined I would see people defending higher prices for books (NYT Bestsellers, those masterpieces of added-value no less). The day has come.

Seli
03-14-2010, 08:17 AM
O.O I've never imagined I would see people defending higher prices for books (NYT Bestsellers, those masterpieces of added-value no less). The day has come.

People are defending reasonable prices for books, and they hope that whatever the publishing industry changes into in the coming years there will be enough money in it to stimulate the creation of the books they like (not necessarily the NYT bestsellers).
Speaking of high prices, speaking as someone who grew up in a smaller language area books in English, and especially in the USA, are incredibly cheap already.

Logseman
03-14-2010, 09:26 AM
There is no such thing as a "reasonable price" for a book. Reasonable is as low as possible for a buyer and as high as possible for a seller. The labels of "reasonable", "fair" or "adjusted" can't apply to prices, as it would establish that someone else has the capability of exceeding the value-distributing ability of the market, which is false.

Seli
03-14-2010, 09:37 AM
There is no such thing as a "reasonable price" for a book. Reasonable is as low as possible for a buyer and as high as possible for a seller. The labels of "reasonable", "fair" or "adjusted" can't apply to prices, as it would establish that someone else has the capability of exceeding the value-distributing ability of the market, which is false.

I have not trained as an economist, but I think it should be at least at low as possible for the buyer and a price that will result in the most profit in aggregate for the seller (not necessarily the highest price).
And even than I would guess for example game theory would result in a (prediction for a) reasonable price.

ETA: I think you're also assuming a completely rational consumer, which would not fit at all for books.

Logseman
03-14-2010, 09:46 AM
I have not trained as an economist, but I think it should be at least at low as possible for the buyer and a price that will result in the most profit in aggregate for the seller (not necessarily the highest price).
And even than I would guess for example game theory would result in a (prediction for a) reasonable price.
Game Theory will tell you that, indeed, customers aspire for the lowest price, and sellers for the highest. Obviously, it is the point in which they both agree which will set up the price. However, there is no such thing as "reasonable" price for both parties. As we can see in this case, pirates go to big extremes to circumvent paying (their reasonable price is 0 and only 0), and as we can see as well, corporations and vendors go to big extremes as well to guarantee themselves perpetual incomes (the nighest thing to the value "infinite" is their reasonable price).

Kali Yuga
03-14-2010, 03:38 PM
Kali, why are you ignoring the issues of Apple pricing benefits from their negotion? Is that ok with you, that Amazon (or anyone else, for that matter)should not be able to price ebook bestsellers at $9.99, but Apple can?
I'm not ignoring it, I'm just not seeing any evidence of Apple getting such special treatment.

The most explicit statements we've had so far on pricing is from Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan. He has said that new ebooks will typically cost $13-15; books on the NY Times bestseller list will drop to $13 or less; older ebooks will drop in price. He has also indicated that in "the long run," it does not make sense to peg ebook prices to physical book prices.

I.e. Apple does not get unlimited rights to discount ebooks, while other retailers do not. Nor have I seen any such indication.

DRM is a completely separate issue, and one unaffected by the agency model change.

Kali Yuga
03-14-2010, 03:41 PM
Actually that's not entirely true. (http://www.teleread.org/2010/02/18/apples-new-e-book-prices-to-be-closer-than-expected-to-amazons-old-ones/)
You may want to check out Sargent's blog posts: http://blog.macmillanspeaks.com/

Although not an exact recitation, I assure you the scheme I posted is very close to what Sargent indicated. A new ebook could hit $10, but that will be the exception, rather than the rule (as it has been to date for Amazon).

Robotech_Master
03-14-2010, 03:42 PM
I'm not ignoring it, I'm just not seeing any evidence of Apple getting such special treatment.

Perhaps you missed the link I posted (http://www.teleread.org/2010/02/18/apples-new-e-book-prices-to-be-closer-than-expected-to-amazons-old-ones/)?

Going directly to the New York Times article source, we get:

But according to at least three people with knowledge of the discussions, who spoke anonymously because of the confidentiality of the talks, Apple inserted provisions requiring publishers to discount e-book prices on best sellers ó so that $12.99-to-$14.99 range was merely a ceiling; prices for some titles could be lower, even as low as Amazonís $9.99. Essentially, Apple wants the flexibility to offer lower prices for the hottest books, those on one of the New York Times best-seller lists, which are heavily discounted in bookstores and on rival retail sites. So, for example, a book that started at $14.99 would drop to $12.99 or less once it hit the best-seller lists.

Moreover, for books where publishers offer comparable hardcover editions at a price below the typical $26, Apple wanted e-book prices to reflect the cheaper hardcover prices. These books might be priced much lower than $12.99, even if they did not hit the best-seller list.

Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, declined comment.

Yes, fine, they're anonymous sources. But I find it hard to believe the NY Times would just talk through its hat.

Kali Yuga
03-14-2010, 04:06 PM
Perhaps you missed the link I posted (http://www.teleread.org/2010/02/18/apples-new-e-book-prices-to-be-closer-than-expected-to-amazons-old-ones/)?
Wow, that was fast. ;) And I read all about that weeks ago.

Sargent's comments are more general and more recent. In his initial blog post, he states they will discount NY Times best-sellers, essentially confirming the rumor mill.

I seriously doubt Apple will have some sort of major discount option that will be denied to other retailers. If that is not the case, we'll see soon enough.

Kali Yuga
03-14-2010, 04:43 PM
Game Theory will tell you that, indeed, customers aspire for the lowest price, and sellers for the highest. Obviously, it is the point in which they both agree which will set up the price. However, there is no such thing as "reasonable" price for both parties....
I would concur that there is no "objective" or "perfect" or "ideal" price.

However, there are definitely circumstances where prices could be classified as "unfair." For example, some may find that charging a premium for a scarce resource during an emergency qualifies as "price gouging." Some may argue the higher prices are justifiable -- e.g. I run a hotel, I charge 10x the normal rate after a hurricaine, on the basis that I need to run a private generator and this increases my costs. Others may say it is not justified, e.g. running the generator did not increase my costs enough to equate a 10x rate increase; my price increase is taking advantage of the dire straits of others, and so forth.

Ergo, one could claim that charging $100 for an official ebook copy of "Lord of the Rings" could be "unfair," as the publisher has an official monopoly over the title and might be regarded as price gouging.

Also, many people presume there is some sort of exclusive connection between cost and price -- and that demand does not figure at all into the price. The public has a perception that it is "unfair" for a publisher to make a substantial profit off of a book, for example, or to charge the same or more for the ebook than paper, or to charge more for what used to be $10 until now (even though that price was largely subsidized by retailers who were attempting to control the market). Many people also mistakenly believe that the majority of the cost of a book is the paper portion, when the reality is that the paper part (including distribution and returns) is closer to 15%, thus it is "unfair" to charge the same or more for the ebook as paper. Similarly, many people protest that it is "unfair" to charge $15 now for an ebook and $10 later because it is the same exact item, even though this is downright routine market behavior.

And let's face it, most people are just not rational, and are reacting more based on emotion than reason. All they hear is that prices on a new ebook will go up to $15, and the knives come out. I'm confident that if Apple said "our ebooks will be $10," objections to the agency pricing would be minimal. And when people notice that older ebooks are $10 or less, maybe they will calm down. (Maybe. ;))

So is there a "reasonable" price? That may not be the proper term, as the price will be "whatever the market will bear," and "reasonable" is a highly subjective judgment.

But to me, it is perfectly rational that since supply is flat, the price of an ebook should change in accordance with demand. You want it immediately after it comes out, you pay a premium. If you're willing to wait, you pay less.

GA Russell
03-14-2010, 05:19 PM
The discussions on the numerous threads about this subject seem to be based in large part upon the belief (maybe correct, maybe not) that Macmillan and other publishers will not act rationally, in the economic sense.

That is to say, rather than maximizing their profit by lowering the price and selling more eBooks, they will choose to keep the eBook price high (for whatever reason, including incompetence).

Time will tell.

riemann42
03-14-2010, 06:10 PM
The discussions on the numerous threads about this subject seem to be based in large part upon the belief (maybe correct, maybe not) that Macmillan and other publishers will not act rationally, in the economic sense.

That is to say, rather than maximizing their profit by lowering the price and selling more eBooks, they will choose to keep the eBook price high (for whatever reason, including incompetence).

Time will tell.

That's it exactly. I hope that this whole shift is because Publishers want to make more money in the ebook market, and thus will sell more ebooks at more attractive prices.

Of course, there is the possibility that they will jack the prices up to ridiculous levels to destroy the ebook market and go back to killing trees. This would be such a stupid move that shareholders would revolt, CEOs would be fired, boards replaced, executives would jump out windows, authors would return their advances and release their work to the public domain, Amazon, Adobe and Apple would distribute DRM breaking tools and mobileread posters would nod sagely and say, "see, I told you that the big publishers are evil."

bgalbrecht
03-14-2010, 06:28 PM
I think most people are looking at the headline "$9.99 ebook on best sellers will be stopped by Agency model" and miss the big picture.

3) eBooks will only rarely be more expensive than physical books, at least based on MSRP.


John Sargent never promised this. He only promised that the price would drop to $10 or less, potentially down to $5.99 if there was a drop in demand. Presumably there would be a huge drop in demand for the ebook if it were priced higher than the cheapest paperback edition, but Sargent's been pretty coy about tying the ebook price directly to paper editions.

fugazied
03-14-2010, 07:23 PM
If prices go up from where they are now, I will simply buy less books. I will NOT pay more for an e-book than I would for a print book, in fact I demand the e-book be cheaper for the simple fact it has tiny printing/transport costs.

Basically if they screw things up here, I will simply go to one of those well known pirate sites. To ease my conscience I'll try to donate to the author, but sorry, screw the publishers if they want to push DRM and lift prices with new payment models.

riemann42
03-14-2010, 08:22 PM
If prices go up from where they are now, I will simply buy less books. I will NOT pay more for an e-book than I would for a print book, in fact I demand the e-book be cheaper for the simple fact it has tiny printing/transport costs.

I agree for the most part. If I can go to B&N (there's one a mile from my house) and get the book for $5, whereas it is $7 as an eBook, I'll walk to B&N and get it. However, if it is $4 at Amazon, or online, I'll likely just pay the $5 to get it now.

Your behavior, fugazied, and mine, are both rational. For this reason, I believe ebooks will usually be priced to sell for less or same as the average physical copy, if for no other reason than the publisher will almost certainly make more money if you buy an eBook than if you get it from the store.

John Sargent never promised this. He only promised that the price would drop to $10 or less, potentially down to $5.99 if there was a drop in demand. Presumably there would be a huge drop in demand for the ebook if it were priced higher than the cheapest paperback edition, but Sargent's been pretty coy about tying the ebook price directly to paper editions.

Good point. I hope that Mr. Sargent is not an idiot and prices eBooks above average retail of the physical book.

Lemurion
03-14-2010, 09:21 PM
I will make no demands.

I will let the market work as it will.

When I want to buy an ebook I will look to see what's available and base my purchases on the combination of my available budget, the price of the book, and how badly I want it now.

If I think a book costs too much, I won't buy it. I have both lots to read and patience. I'm certainly not going to worry about whether the sale followed an agency model or a retail model.

kennyc
03-14-2010, 10:02 PM
Yeah, I'm not going to buy from MacMillan any more.

cbarnett
03-15-2010, 01:46 AM
My biggest fear is that this is simply a move by the publishers to keep ebook sales down and drive sales of their paper products. It may be cynical, but if it's true then it won't matter whether we purchase books under the new model or not. It won't discourage the publishers at all, or encourage realistic pricing and availability of ebooks.

I hope I'm wrong.

Logseman
03-15-2010, 05:12 AM
ETA: I think you're also assuming a completely rational consumer, which would not fit at all for books.

Ebooks make decision-making by a consumer potentially much closer to "complete rationality" (I put in quotation marks as I, like you, don't endorse the existence of such) than Pbooks. More concretely, Ebooks are much more homogenous than Pbooks as they're all nothing but files to download (the file size issue is non-existent today), and allow a buyer a much wider array of choices, i.e. something closer to "perfect information". In the time we take two p's in our hands and read the back covers, we can see 2 or 3 webpages with 50 titles each.

Seli
03-15-2010, 08:24 AM
Ebooks make decision-making by a consumer potentially much closer to "complete rationality" (I put in quotation marks as I, like you, don't endorse the existence of such) than Pbooks. More concretely, Ebooks are much more homogenous than Pbooks as they're all nothing but files to download (the file size issue is non-existent today), and allow a buyer a much wider array of choices, i.e. something closer to "perfect information". In the time we take two p's in our hands and read the back covers, we can see 2 or 3 webpages with 50 titles each.

I see your point, but I could do the same already in online stores for paper books. And while I do at times decide in the store to buy something usually I have a selection beforehand based on other sources. And books for me can not be randomly interchanged, total ebook access wouldn't increase the amount of books I would love to read that much.
I have preferences, authors I want to read as soon as possible, authors I would like to try, authors I would have to be paid to try... Independent on format. I have bought hardcovers despite the format, not despite the price, because I wanted access to a book.

On a tangent I still have not found an online bookstore (paper or e) that makes is as easy to browse for books as a physical bookstore (new or second hand). The amount of info I can get from a wall of (reasonably organized) books still seems to be superior for me to any webpage.

kennyc
03-15-2010, 08:34 AM
My biggest fear is that this is simply a move by the publishers to keep ebook sales down and drive sales of their paper products. It may be cynical, but if it's true then it won't matter whether we purchase books under the new model or not. It won't discourage the publishers at all, or encourage realistic pricing and availability of ebooks.

I hope I'm wrong.

You're not wrong. This is exactly what it is. MacMillan is trying to protect their core business - ink on paper and warehouses of books. They are also trying to control the market - a direct antithesis of what the free market is about.

While some may say it is not price-fixing and is not illegal, but all that is holy it is still wrong. It is their way of getting around, finding a loophole in the law and in effect fixing the price.

:chinscratch:

leebase
03-15-2010, 10:12 AM
Of course McMillan is trying to protect it's business. What business wouldn't? Those of us who like McMillan product aught to ALSO be interested in McMillan having a healthy business.

I disagree that McMillan is trying to protect it's DTB business. They are trying to protect their REVENUE. A book when it comes out is "hot" (if they are lucky), or certainly "as hot as it's going to get". That's the only time they can get the most money for it. That's why they don't publish the paper back and the hard back at the same time.

The hard back may psychologically seem to be "worth more" -- but it's never been all that much more to produce, and certainly not enough to justify the difference in price. It's just a way to charge more for a book when it's at it's peak desirability and less later.

eBooks are going to be even more flexible. There's no need to create different versions and there is instant distribution and pricing. If a book is selling well, they'll keep the price high. If sales start to wane, they'll drop the price.

Amazon was simply setting the price too low for NYT Bestsellers, using them as a loss leader to build the market for kindle's.

Lee

BearMountainBooks
03-15-2010, 10:57 AM
I may request more books via interlibrary loan. It's hard to say though because it depends on the paperback prices. I only just started buying ebooks in the last year and have only purchased ebooks when they are priced better than other prices...but if paperback new is 9.99 or trade, I'll just ILL it. With more and more publishers going Trade instead of mass market, I was headed there anyway.

batgirl
03-15-2010, 12:42 PM
I boycott buying books from all Macmillan imprints, not because of agency pricing, but because of their refusal to sell ebooks to libraries. :angry:

It is strange. Libraries actually pay more for each copy of an ebook than we do for a hard copy. There is no discount. We pay the lowest hard copy price available. If the book is only available in hardcover we pay the hardcover price. If it is available in mass market then we pay that price. For hard copy books we get a deep discount. Plus like hard copies, each "copy" we buy can only circulate to one person at a time. Unless someone breaks the DRM, the book cannot be read after the circulation period.

So in many ways the only difference is that the profit margin is BIGGER from selling ebooks to libraries.

Also got to say I will not feel bad about pirate editions of Macmillan ebooks. They deserve it.

rhadin
03-15-2010, 01:21 PM
For me, I think it will mean that I will patronize Fictionwise MUCH less frequently.

I will buy more at Fictionwise. I will buy from unknown authors and unknown or small presses and only in multiformat ePub -- OOPS! That's what I do now.

Agency won't affect my buying habits at all. I currently only buy at Fictionwise (multiformat ePub), Baen (ePub), and Smashwords (ePub). I stopped buying elsewhere when pricing for poorly formatted and edited books moved above the $3 mark. I am not unwilling to pay a Macmillan-type price for nonfiction, but I am unwilling to pay it for fiction. Baen's pricing is about the max for fiction for me from known authors. From unknown authors, the price has to be south of Baen's by quite a lot.

rhadin
03-15-2010, 01:28 PM
Well, Amazon's stated goal was to establish $10 as the "standard" price point.

Actually, I think Amazon's goal was to be as profitable as it could be by dominating the ebook market. I suspect that Amazon is as happy as can be about the agency model. It relieves it of having to lose money to undercut everyone else. Now it can concentrate on selling more Kindles and tying up customers that way.

BearMountainBooks
03-15-2010, 03:35 PM
I boycott buying books from all Macmillan imprints, not because of agency pricing, but because of their refusal to sell ebooks to libraries. :angry:

It is strange. Libraries actually pay more for each copy of an ebook than we do for a hard copy. There is no discount. We pay the lowest hard copy price available. If the book is only available in hardcover we pay the hardcover price. If it is available in mass market then we pay that price. For hard copy books we get a deep discount. Plus like hard copies, each "copy" we buy can only circulate to one person at a time. Unless someone breaks the DRM, the book cannot be read after the circulation period.

So in many ways the only difference is that the profit margin is BIGGER from selling ebooks to libraries.

Also got to say I will not feel bad about pirate editions of Macmillan ebooks. They deserve it.

No one deserves pirating. Do they deserve less sales for not meeting customer expectations? Yes. But piracy is another whole ballgame--it's stealing. Not buying something is one thing, but stealing it is another. (And yes, I know you didn't say you would pirate it, but as a writer, I can't say any author deserves to be pirated. The decision on pricing and when and how to ebook is not theirs. A writer's work deserves to be protected and respected--even if the author is the one who decides ebooking is not a desired form.)

Elfwreck
03-15-2010, 03:46 PM
The decision on pricing and when and how to ebook is not theirs.

Yes, it is. It is their decision before they sign the contract.
They can hand over the right to make those specific decisions for money, and the opportunity for more money, but that doesn't mean it wasn't their decision.

An author isn't required to go through a mainstream publisher; s/he can self-publish and maintain full control over when & how the books are produced. I'll grant that it's very, very hard to make a living that way. But saying they don't decide pricing & ebook details is like like saying "the decision on whether to work nights isn't up to the delivery driver."

Sure it is. If they don't like the conditions of that job, they can seek a different one. That said, I try not to grumble directly at authors about the details of their publishing contracts; the choice between "job with some aspects that suck" and "no job" is fairly obvious. However, some sympathy toward people stuck in a business contract that has aspects they don't like doesn't mean I believe they're not responsible for having signed the contract in the first place.

kennyc
03-15-2010, 03:59 PM
No one deserves pirating. Do they deserve less sales for not meeting customer expectations? Yes. But piracy is another whole ballgame--it's stealing. Not buying something is one thing, but stealing it is another. ......


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

:thanks: :thanks: :thanks:

:D

clockworkzombie
03-15-2010, 05:00 PM
I only have X amount of disposable income higher prices mean I go elsewhere or spend less with any particular vendor.

BearMountainBooks
03-15-2010, 05:19 PM
Yes, it is. It is their decision before they sign the contract.
They can hand over the right to make those specific decisions for money, and the opportunity for more money, but that doesn't mean it wasn't their decision.

An author isn't required to go through a mainstream publisher; s/he can self-publish and maintain full control over when & how the books are produced. I'll grant that it's very, very hard to make a living that way. But saying they don't decide pricing & ebook details is like like saying "the decision on whether to work nights isn't up to the delivery driver."

Sure it is. If they don't like the conditions of that job, they can seek a different one. That said, I try not to grumble directly at authors about the details of their publishing contracts; the choice between "job with some aspects that suck" and "no job" is fairly obvious. However, some sympathy toward people stuck in a business contract that has aspects they don't like doesn't mean I believe they're not responsible for having signed the contract in the first place.

That's a bit of splitting hairs, but yes, it is their decision to sign the contract. Some of what is happening now (when an ebook comes out for example) was not spelled out in the contract and the publisher controls that. But fine, I don't dispute that they could have just walked away from the contract. I think you have the gist of it in, "job with some aspects that suck."

Xenophon
03-15-2010, 10:44 PM
To answer the thread's headline question directly: No, it won't cause a change in my buying habits. It may cause an indirect change, perhaps by causing changes in availability or pricing of eBooks. I expect, however, that I'll continue to buy the eBooks that I'm interested in when I think the price is right—remembering (always) that DRM reduces the value of the eBook (because I must spend time and effort removing it), and that I ding publishers who start off by assuming I am dishonest an additional negative for their bozo-like behavior.

Xenophon

Logseman
03-16-2010, 06:07 AM
I see your point, but I could do the same already in online stores for paper books. And while I do at times decide in the store to buy something usually I have a selection beforehand based on other sources. And books for me can not be randomly interchanged, total ebook access wouldn't increase the amount of books I would love to read that much.
I have preferences, authors I want to read as soon as possible, authors I would like to try, authors I would have to be paid to try... Independent on format. I have bought hardcovers despite the format, not despite the price, because I wanted access to a book.

On a tangent I still have not found an online bookstore (paper or e) that makes is as easy to browse for books as a physical bookstore (new or second hand). The amount of info I can get from a wall of (reasonably organized) books still seems to be superior for me to any webpage.
Indeed, you do that for online pbook stores too (that's one of Amazon's success keys). But unlike pbooks, you have access to your books right on the spot and there almost zero chances that your ebook has trouble in sending. Eventually the only thing which splits you from your book is cash. Unless, of course, you are indifferent to waiting a couple of days for getting your books, with higher (yet still minute) chances of accidents such as the book having sequels from the mistreatment by the mail office and/or the book's former owner (for the case of 2nd hand books).

For your aside note, keep in mind that while you have access to websites only in 2 dimensions and a quite limited range of your sight directed forwards, a brick and mortar library allows you to use your full tridimensional vision angle. Website organisation should improve, but there are limits we cannot surpass (unless we're in virtual reality)

wayrad
03-16-2010, 08:42 AM
The new system has changed my buying habits, I think, although perhaps not the criteria on which I base my purchases. I haven't bought nearly as much from Fictionwise (my erstwhile main source of recent content) lately. I have a wishlist full of $11-$20+ books over there that I have no intention of purchasing until they come down. I tried buying some of their recent and more reasonably priced multiformat releases, but found that the writing quality tended toward the abysmal - and then I discovered that with a bit of searching, I could do better at Smashwords. So the new agency model has redirected me away from traditional publishers.

Laine
03-17-2010, 06:36 AM
It won't affect my buying. Except for Romance books, which seem to be widely available, most books I am interested in buying are not available here in Australia.
Thank God for Harlequin, Baen and Regency Reads.

BearMountainBooks
03-17-2010, 05:02 PM
It won't affect my buying. Except for Romance books, which seem to be widely available, most books I am interested in buying are not available here in Australia.
Thank God for Harlequin, Baen and Regency Reads.

Until I started reading a few forums over the last year, I had NO idea how hard it was to get books in Australia--and how expensive. I don't live there and only get bits and pieces of it, but it sounds like protectionism went way too far and makes it nearly impossible to get a lot of books from other countries without paying an arm and a leg. It's too bad. I know of a couple of australian authors that would love to be pub'd in the US too, but it's like we don't all speak English or something. Way too difficult for something that should be very easy.

Billjr13
03-17-2010, 07:44 PM
I had an Aussie roommate in college and I might have to challenge whether or not He spoke English! =) But really at times it is hard to see the developement of a global economy when these strange trade restrictions can be overcome by something as simple as book rights in other countries. My god this is just entertainment and information, we would want that kind of thing entering our boarders.
You have a book I want, here is my money, thanks for the book. It seems like it should be easy.

Joebill
03-17-2010, 08:35 PM
I had an Aussie roommate in college and I might have to challenge whether or not He spoke English! =) But really at times it is hard to see the developement of a global economy when these strange trade restrictions can be overcome by something as simple as book rights in other countries. My god this is just entertainment and information, we would want that kind of thing entering our boarders.
You have a book I want, here is my money, thanks for the book. It seems like it should be easy.

While I know that books are sold for different markets, North American market, Europe market, etc. too much protectionism is bad for business.

The strangest protectionist thing I ever saw was Maryland potatoes having low prices, and Idaho potatoes, usually very cheap, cost more. I asked my then employer and he said Maryland had a tariff on non-Maryland potatoes to protect Maryland potatoes. I didn't like the taste. So bought Idaho potatoes anyway.

As for books, I don't see the problem. I would like to read Australian authors' works. The seller can pay the money to the author and publisher, and send me the book.

catsittingstill
03-17-2010, 11:01 PM
The "Agency" system won't affect my buying habits. The price of e-books will.

I'm on a budget and very price sensitive. There are a handful of authors (Bujold pops to mind) for which I would swallow hard, and pay full hardback prices. But for most authors I won't. If e-books aren't cheaper than the paper book, I won't be buying them.

I just went over and bought 2 books from Baen; they were 6$ each and they don't have DRM. That's the kind of price I can afford. But I don't think I'm going to be buying many 15$ McMillans.

Maybe the McMillan price really will drop when the books go to paperback. Wake me in a year and we'll check together, okay?

In the meantime, there are lovely Mobileread and Manybooks classics, promotional freebies and the Baen Free Library.

Xanthe
03-18-2010, 11:38 PM
I just won't buy MacMillan books - I'll get them from alternative sources.

No e-book is worth more than $10.00. Everything is data transfer; there are no printing or transportation costs incurred. As much as I'm enjoying ebooks, it is still a lesser reading experience, IMO, than reading and having an actual physical book.

riemann42
03-19-2010, 12:29 AM
I just won't buy MacMillan books - I'll get them from alternative sources.

No e-book is worth more than $10.00. Everything is data transfer; there are no printing or transportation costs incurred. As much as I'm enjoying ebooks, it is still a lesser reading experience, IMO, than reading and having an actual physical book.

Never ask a consumer what the price for something should be. A book is always worth whatever people will pay for it. In light of that, I am sure that McMillan (which has dozens of names it publishes under, by the way) will always charge as much as it can without driving down demand. Also, I am sure that prices will change far more often under the new pricing model, with each book priced at the ideal balancing point.

Also, please note that with both an eBook and a pBook, production costs are not a big factor in determining how much to charge. Most of the cost of a book is marketing, paying the author, and paying the bookstore.

Finally as I am sure you are not threatening to steal a product because it costs too much, I (and the publisher) encourage you to use the Library, and share your love of a book with your friends, who will hopefully buy it and support authors writing quality books.

I do empathize with the lesser reading experience sentiment. The lack of ligatures, real hyphenation and justification, and low resolution drive me nuts. That having said, I can hardly read that small print in a pBook anymore, and it is way too much exercise to turn a page. The experience of hearing the book in my head is worth the same to me, in the end, regardless of how it gets there.

csdaley
03-19-2010, 01:52 PM
I don't think I will change what I buy but it might change when I buy it.

http://www.csdaley.com/2010/01/amazon-slap-down.html

http://www.csdaley.com/2010/01/book-publishing-goes-boom.html

kennyc
03-19-2010, 03:27 PM
I don't think I will change what I buy but it might change when I buy it.

http://www.csdaley.com/2010/01/amazon-slap-down.html

http://www.csdaley.com/2010/01/book-publishing-goes-boom.html

Thank you and I agree completely and have been saying from the beginning that it is MacMillan, not Amazon that is in the wrong here.

Thanks!

Joebill
03-19-2010, 05:34 PM
I have read about 8,000 to 10,000 books on many different subjects over my lifetime.

Some I felt were way over priced. Particularly the past 5-7 years. Some were priced correctly for the amount and type of content.

Many of the recent computer technical books seemed of rather poor quality text. Lots of graphics, claimed big names on the cover, but they were mostly fluff. Little actual content. The cover clamied it would teach me certain things. That particular subject was barely covered in the book. That would happen in many of the technical books I read in the past 5-7 years. Wrox has good computer books. So I now read those.

For fictional works. I paid 95 cents for the first sf paperbacks I purchased. 25 cents for magazines. The books were new when I bought them. Most of them I felt were a good price.

Those authors were paid by the word.

About 5 years ago I stopped buying new sf books. I would read them, and felt the story was of por quality. Happened over and over. I bought reprints of a Heinlien, Asimov, and other authors who have been honered by being called "Masters' by sf community.

Even their early works shows quality.

More recent authors, and I don't claim to have read all of the new sf authors, just don't write as well.

I'll spend money on an author's work if they produce good work.

I wont spend the money on drek.

And I certainly wont spend more money on an ebook than the paperback version costs.

The local bookstore clerks know me rather well. I spent over $1,000 on books and music there last year. Computer books, Dilbert and other such cartoons like Bucky Cat, New Age, Japanese language, history, Native American, etc.

If an ebook publisher wants part of that money, they will have to lower prices.

Web sites and domain names are cheap these days. I just don't see any justification for charging $10 for an ebook, and less for the same in paperback.

BearMountainBooks
03-19-2010, 07:40 PM
I have read about 8,000 to 10,000 books on many different subjects over my lifetime.

Some I felt were way over priced. Particularly the past 5-7 years. Some were priced correctly for the amount and type of content.

Many of the recent computer technical books seemed of rather poor quality text. Lots of graphics, claimed big names on the cover, but they were mostly fluff. Little actual content. The cover clamied it would teach me certain things. That particular subject was barely covered in the book. That would happen in many of the technical books I read in the past 5-7 years. Wrox has good computer books. So I now read those.

For fictional works. I paid 95 cents for the first sf paperbacks I purchased. 25 cents for magazines. The books were new when I bought them. Most of them I felt were a good price.

Those authors were paid by the word.

About 5 years ago I stopped buying new sf books. I would read them, and felt the story was of por quality. Happened over and over. I bought reprints of a Heinlien, Asimov, and other authors who have been honered by being called "Masters' by sf community.

Even their early works shows quality.

More recent authors, and I don't claim to have read all of the new sf authors, just don't write as well.

I'll spend money on an author's work if they produce good work.

I wont spend the money on drek.

And I certainly wont spend more money on an ebook than the paperback version costs.

The local bookstore clerks know me rather well. I spent over $1,000 on books and music there last year. Computer books, Dilbert and other such cartoons like Bucky Cat, New Age, Japanese language, history, Native American, etc.

If an ebook publisher wants part of that money, they will have to lower prices.

Web sites and domain names are cheap these days. I just don't see any justification for charging $10 for an ebook, and less for the same in paperback.

Sounds like you should try some Baen Sci/fi. Many of their authors are old school!

Joebill
03-19-2010, 10:23 PM
I have some of their books in paperback.

Its not the old school I need, its stories with a plot and characters. I read Asmiov's magazine for years, along with Analog, and some of the other sf magazines. Don't remember titles off hand though.

I have read stories I wasn't sure what was going on, but they had characters and were interesting.