Thread: Ebook Pricing
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:02 PM   #35
neilmarr
neilmarr
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Yep, SensualPoet -- and apologies to Harry T who seems to have got it right after all. It's an Amazon screw-up.

I shouldn't really do this, but I will because I'm so bloody angry ... Here is a note I just sent to my partner, Tony Szmuk in Canada (apologies Tony for not asking your OK first [Tony is also an MR contributor]):

Maybe geography has something to do with it, Tony. But we must object. Strongly. ALL ebook retail contracts demand that we set prices no higher in one store than another (internationally) – Amazon itself set the rule! All others are following suit, as you know. And the big about-to-be-stores we’ve been helping get off the ground are even more sticky on this point as we found with two new retail contracts last week alone.

Quite apart from the fact that this high pricing destroys our competitiveness in the general ebook marketplace, it will cause problems elsewhere with other ebook retailers who now also demand in their signed contracts that we set prices no higher or lower in one store than in the next. We even increased cover prices on ebooks in our own BB store to accommodate these folks. We really must somehow insist that the price on a BB ebook is $5.95 … everywhere. No exceptions, regardless of point of purchase or locally current currency conversion rates.

We have assurances from some shops of DRM-free books (this we must assume – because there is no indication on their sites – is the case with Amazon’s Kindle store). We know that Amazon is enabling text-to-speech on our catalogue as we requested. We do NOT have any assurance of no geographical restriction on sales.

These are all major issues to the ebook reading community and these retail chaps must get their act together and let us know in what shape our titles are being offered by them so that we can withdraw with some dignity if they go against our in-house policy.

To give Amazon a break – though this is equally inexcusable – they will be handling pricing (as everything else) by machine. Perhaps, as an Mr pal pointed out today (that's you, Harry), a glitch has converted $5.95 into $9.14 by mis-reading US dollars as GBP or Euros for buyers outside America. Although I wrongly dismissed this notion at first, I find that the result of experimenting just now with a currency conversion site would strongly suggest this as the root of the problem. Today’s rate, for instance, would turn 5.95 into $9.51 and E5.95 into $8.31. It’s so suspiciously close to those erroneous Kindle prices I’m seeing at this end as to make currency confusion a strong contender as culprit for this huge error.

In other words, they’ve f*cked up again, Tony.

And the fact that one single title in fifty-eight is offered at four bucks-something is gonna keep me puzzling all night.

Whatever; this is an Amazon problem and they must fix it assap to comply with our wishes and their very own rules – not to mention to save our own sales and reputation and to save our skin with contracts with other grubby-fingered shopkeepers.

If you’re seeing different numbers at your end after two days of monitoring this situation (as you just did SensualPoet), it means without a doubt our US Kindle prices are now undermining non-US Kindle prices, thus Amazon is forcing us to break the very contract they imposed on us by having their own outlets compete at wildly different prices, and also to break our contract with others. It is not acceptable – whether it be accident or deliberate (let’s hope for accident).

We both detest the Agency 5 model that results in anomalies where ebooks can sometimes carry a cover price higher than even hardback because stores can discount paper but not digital now, but I can understand the big players’ universal mistrust of online stores that seem to screw up at every self-inflicted twist and turn.

I am not absolutely sure, for instance, that Amazon was not informed of contract termination over a year ago of forty-seven ex-BB titles I discovered only today are still on offer for sale on all their sites. These guys listen to customers with ears wide open but tend to turn deaf ears to publishers like us who’ve been stalwarts from Day One.

You realise that if the authors of those forty-seven now unauthorized, uncontracted titles were to claim just $10,000 each, that would land [name of former partner removed] (who held the purse strings over the period) with a bill of about half a million bucks in damages!

That’s how serious these retail errors can be. We can’t afford to allow retail mistakes to continue any more than we can afford to carry a book using ‘their’ rather than ‘they’re’. It makes us look like burks.


The message is ... don't always blame the publisher, folks. And sorry for the rant. But I read so much anti-publisher stuff here in the MR forums and keep my mouth tightly sealed, that it's time to let you know it's not all our fault. Many publishers (especially the smaller indies like my own) really do want to play by the gentlemanly rules of cricket.

Cheers and happy weekend. Neil
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Last edited by neilmarr; 10-16-2010 at 01:13 PM. Reason: trypos ... my current keyboard is on its last legs and letters go missing. N
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