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Old 01-21-2013, 09:19 PM   #76
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The statement that epub creates "real competition" is incorrect. It could be so, if you had naive sellers, or hundreds of sellers of abou tthe same market size, but you do not. It is easy for the large epub booksellers to track each other's prices in real-time using software and price match (keep prices stable, or as high as possible). Airlines do it, retail chain stores do it, etc.

Amazon probably sees their only main competition in the west as Apple and Google. I don't know about China or India. I doubt the Chinese gov't will let any non-Chinese company be a dominant book seller in the future.
I respectfully disagree with you that real competition is not already taking place within the epub space. Amazon's marketshare has actually dropped, even as the overall pie has gotten larger. This is due almost exclusively to the growth of new competition.

As the focus on an ebookstore grows from creating a walled garden to providing value-added products and services, whomever does that will become a serious competitor to ALL of the "Big 3".

As we've been raising funds, the most common question we get is, "How will you take on Amazon." The answer is, we don't have to. The ebook business is exploding and people are looking for a superior alternative to the Big 3. I know, because we hear from those future customers EVERY DAY.

That superior solution just doesn't exist...yet. Once it does, word-of-mouth, media coverage, and that elusive animal, "buzz", will help take care of a great deal of that new company's success.

Put more succinctly, people once said that no one could possibly beat B. Dalton Booksellers. Then they said Waldenbooks would NEVER go out of business. Of course, they said, once those were gone, who could possibly compete with Borders?

Amazon is very, very far from invincible. ePub competitiveness is a big part of why they're feeling the heat, and their annual report numbers show that, too.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:23 PM   #77
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Publishers will be unnecessary and disposable exactly how record labels are becoming in the past 2 decades. It's just a matter of time (and culture): authors will not only write, but format AND publish their own books.

THE END of the publishers are near.
Somebody's got to effectively market the book. Writers can't do it alone. Publishing a book doesn't sell it.

Once an author hits the top 10 or 20 bestseller list with a book, then marketing for that author is easier, based on the previous success and name recognition. Then those authors have to grind out book after book regularly, to stay on top and keep the $ rolling in. Witness the authors on the bestseller lists. They mainly stay the same, mostly pushing out mediocre drivel due to the constraints of keeping mass appeal and working on aggressive deadlines.

Besides, what authors want now and what they want in the future will be the same. Even if an author could do it all, they would still want to sell the book for whatever made them the most money. Author > Publisher > Amazon > you = $9.99. Author > Amazon > you = $9.99. Author > you = $9.99. The book is worth what it is worth to the consumer; nobody wants to sell it for less.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:40 PM   #78
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I respectfully disagree with you that real competition is not already taking place within the epub space. Amazon's marketshare has actually dropped, even as the overall pie has gotten larger. This is due almost exclusively to the growth of new competition.

As the focus on an ebookstore grows from creating a walled garden to providing value-added products and services, whomever does that will become a serious competitor to ALL of the "Big 3".

As we've been raising funds, the most common question we get is, "How will you take on Amazon." The answer is, we don't have to. The ebook business is exploding and people are looking for a superior alternative to the Big 3. I know, because we hear from those future customers EVERY DAY.

That superior solution just doesn't exist...yet. Once it does, word-of-mouth, media coverage, and that elusive animal, "buzz", will help take care of a great deal of that new company's success.

Put more succinctly, people once said that no one could possibly beat B. Dalton Booksellers. Then they said Waldenbooks would NEVER go out of business. Of course, they said, once those were gone, who could possibly compete with Borders?

Amazon is very, very far from invincible. ePub competitiveness is a big part of why they're feeling the heat, and their annual report numbers show that, too.
A rising tide does float all boats, and my favorite market to compete in, before I retired and could choose where we concentrated, was a growing one. Life is much easier for all involved. The ebook business overall is still growing very nicely year-over-year.

As far as real competition, has any of this substantially lowered prices for the consumer on an ongoing basis for the basic product? Show us that e-book prices going down year-by-year. That addresses the OP's question.

B&N's (and the Nook part) results were worse than Amazon, and Sony in the same area worse than B&N's. Google can $tay till they win if they choose to, and Apple has huge cash too, and their iFanatics. I expect B&N to struggle to stay in business; I don't know how the B&N-MSoft thing will turn out, which is now more relevant to ebooks; it's not clear what they are doing yet (to me). At least MSoft has $ and technology to help them stay in the business longer.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:41 PM   #79
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Somebody's got to effectively market the book. Writers can't do it alone. Publishing a book doesn't sell it.

Once an author hits the top 10 or 20 bestseller list with a book, then marketing for that author is easier, based on the previous success and name recognition. Then those authors have to grind out book after book regularly, to stay on top and keep the $ rolling in. Witness the authors on the bestseller lists. They mainly stay the same, mostly pushing out mediocre drivel due to the constraints of keeping mass appeal and working on aggressive deadlines.

Besides, what authors want now and what they want in the future will be the same. Even if an author could do it all, they would still want to sell the book for whatever made them the most money. Author > Publisher > Amazon > you = $9.99. Author > Amazon > you = $9.99. Author > you = $9.99. The book is worth what it is worth to the consumer; nobody wants to sell it for less.
Unfortunately, marketing is the least of it in the digital age. As an editor and an author, I can tell you that more top-selling authors than you can imagine are in dire need of editing before their work is published.

You can take that to the bank.

I've seen just horrendous writing from top names, and it takes strong editors to get them straightened up and producing truly publishable work. Not always, but more than you'd think!
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:48 PM   #80
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A rising tide does float all boats, and my favorite market to compete in, before I retired and could choose where we concentrated, was a growing one. Life is much easier for all involved. The ebook business overall is still growing very nicely year-over-year.

As far as real competition, has any of this substantially lowered prices for the consumer on an ongoing basis for the basic product? Show us that e-book prices going down year-by-year. That addresses the OP's question.

B&N's (and the Nook part) results were worse than Amazon, and Sony in the same area worse than B&N's. Google can $tay till they win if they choose to, and Apple has huge cash too, and their iFanatics. I expect B&N to struggle to stay in business; I don't know how the B&N-MSoft thing will turn out, which is now more relevant to ebooks; it's not clear what they are doing yet (to me). At least MSoft has $ and technology to help them stay in the business longer.
Good point about the original OP. I cannot and would not make the claim that the competition is lowering prices for the consumer...yet.

I could (but I will not, because it has been costly information to obtain over the past three years) prove to you that a "road map" of sorts has been established that charts a clear path to a time when there will be lower prices for consumers as a result of that competition. But there is no doubt that time is quite a ways off.

I would be interested in seeing actual, accurate ebook numbers being reported. The IDPF numbers are great for fundraising, but hardly accurate to the massive sales being achieved by even the smaller bookstores. Too many data sources do not report their results, so the IDPF's numbers are at best partially accurate.

Now, that said, you're absolutely right about the tiered results for Amazon's competitors. But to imply that they're all effectively on the edge of insolvency because of Amazon doesn't reflect my knowledge of the industry.

It's kind of like the auto industry. Yes, Toyota and Honda and Ford may dominate in a number of segments. But that doesn't mean Hyundai or even Kia are on the edge of insolvency. And it doesn't mean that Toyota won't make another major misstep at some point, or fail to achieve technological and quality dominance in a clearly defined way, only to be overtaken by someone else down the road.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:50 PM   #81
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Unfortunately, marketing is the least of it in the digital age. As an editor and an author, I can tell you that more top-selling authors than you can imagine are in dire need of editing before their work is published.

You can take that to the bank.

I've seen just horrendous writing from top names, and it takes strong editors to get them straightened up and producing truly publishable work. Not always, but more than you'd think!
Of course. But whoever - author, publisher, retailer, marketer - pays for the required editor(s) is taking a fixed cost that who pays for is irrelevant to how the market moves.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:54 PM   #82
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Of course. But whoever - author, publisher, retailer, marketer - pays for the required editor(s) is taking a fixed cost that who pays for is irrelevant to how the market moves.
Hmmm, can't say that I necessarily agree with that.

First, editorial work is not at all a "fixed cost". It depends on the author, the editor assigned to them, the size of the publisher involved, how many editors and associate editors are involved in a project, etc.

All of those factors (and a whole lot more) greatly affect how the publisher does business, which in turn affects pricing through every level of the pipeline. And that, in turn, most assuredly influences how the market moves as a whole, especially when it is multiplied hundreds of times by the number of titles published domestically each month alone.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:56 PM   #83
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Unfortunately, marketing is the least of it in the digital age. As an editor and an author, I can tell you that more top-selling authors than you can imagine are in dire need of editing before their work is published.

You can take that to the bank.

I've seen just horrendous writing from top names, and it takes strong editors to get them straightened up and producing truly publishable work. Not always, but more than you'd think!
Are big name authors generally more difficult to work with (to get to make needed changes) than new authors?
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:00 PM   #84
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Are big name authors generally more difficult to work with (to get to make needed changes) than new authors?
Hi, Crich...

Gee, I find myself potentially putting my foot in my mouth here. I've personally worked with a number of New York Times bestselling authors, so I must be more careful what I say.

Let me put it this way: Yes.

Caveat: But not always. When they're really good, they need virtually no editing.

Caveat Part II: Oh, and new authors are very often willing to go above-and-beyond to follow editorial direction. It's the occasional one with an ego the size of a Pullman car that are really tough to deal with.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:06 PM   #85
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Caveat Part III:

It just occured to me that I can list at least two bestselling authors that are a delight to work with:

Peter David and Nancy Holder.

Their stuff is just amazing. Jeff Mariotte is another one. Dean Koontz is another. And Stephen King.

RE: King and Koontz, I hear people imply, rather nastily, that their editors are afraid to edit them. Not true. Their work is so polished that editing is often not all THAT necessary for them. Especially from an editor three years out of college. Dean has been writing professionally since 1966!

I could go on, but you get the point.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:10 PM   #86
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Hi, Crich...

Gee, I find myself potentially putting my foot in my mouth here. I've personally worked with a number of New York Times bestselling authors, so I must be more careful what I say.

Let me put it this way: Yes.

Caveat: But not always. When they're really good, they need virtually no editing.

Caveat Part II: Oh, and new authors are very often willing to go above-and-beyond to follow editorial direction. It's the occasional one with an ego the size of a Pullman car that are really tough to deal with.
Caveat Part II sounds like a problem that occurs in a lot of businesses. There's always someone new who thinks they know the job better than someone who has been in the business (whatever it is) for a far longer time. I imagine one thing most editors need is a thick hide and a large amount of patience when dealing with authors who have that mentality.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:17 PM   #87
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Hmmm, can't say that I necessarily agree with that.

First, editorial work is not at all a "fixed cost". It depends on the author, the editor assigned to them, the size of the publisher involved, how many editors and associate editors are involved in a project, etc.
Editorial work is a "fixed cost" because it happens once, before the book is sold. Once the book is ready for market, the editorial costs are all complete (barring the occasional revision-for-a-few-typos, which should be negligible). Printing costs, OTOH, are variable: they change according to how many copies of the book you sell.

Once the book is in the market, you can say, "the editing for this book cost $1500." Or $200. Or $8750. Or whatever. It's done; fixed. The appeal for that book, how well it does in the marketplace, doesn't affect the editing costs; those were committed before the market got access to the book.

The decision to commit a certain amount for editing is based on the publisher's beliefs about the marketplace; that's a different issue entirely.

Print costs are not fixed. You can't say, "the printing for this book cost $10,000." Or $2500. Or $30,000. Until you are all done selling that book, you don't know what the printing costs are.

The printing costs *are* affected by the market, both in the matter of "how many books get printed" and "how many get printed at the same time." Printing costs are in constant flux until the book is declared off the market entirely.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:17 PM   #88
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Caveat Part II sounds like a problem that occurs in a lot of businesses. There's always someone new who thinks they know the job better than someone who has been in the business (whatever it is) for a far longer time. I imagine one thing most editors need is a thick hide and a large amount of patience when dealing with authors who have that mentality.
I would agree with that sentiment.

I have been guilty of not employing as much patience as I should; I have also dealt with major writers who are just nearly psychotic in their behavior. Really.

Amateurs I don't understand. My writing mentor, whom I was fortunate enough to meet when I was 13, has gone on to be one of the most respected names in fantasy. However, he coached humbleness into me when it comes to my own writing. If I argue with an editor, it usually winds up being over something dumb that really annoys me, like the choice of a particular word.

But, my good friend and occasional collaborator, best-selling author Ed Gorman, taught me the true value of picking your battles. I wish I'd listened to him earlier than I ultimately did.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:19 PM   #89
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Editorial work is a "fixed cost" because it happens once, before the book is sold. Once the book is ready for market, the editorial costs are all complete (barring the occasional revision-for-a-few-typos, which should be negligible). Printing costs, OTOH, are variable: they change according to how many copies of the book you sell.

Once the book is in the market, you can say, "the editing for this book cost $1500." Or $200. Or $8750. Or whatever. It's done; fixed. The appeal for that book, how well it does in the marketplace, doesn't affect the editing costs; those were committed before the market got access to the book.

The decision to commit a certain amount for editing is based on the publisher's beliefs about the marketplace; that's a different issue entirely.

Print costs are not fixed. You can't say, "the printing for this book cost $10,000." Or $2500. Or $30,000. Until you are all done selling that book, you don't know what the printing costs are.

The printing costs *are* affected by the market, both in the matter of "how many books get printed" and "how many get printed at the same time." Printing costs are in constant flux until the book is declared off the market entirely.
I was thinking "set cost", rather than the traditional and accurate definition of "fixed cost" in business. My apologies!
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:20 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post
What digital distribution has done is given us a lot more choices. If what the record labels aren't to your taste, you can bypass them. If the record labels won't sign you, you can bypass them.
Plenty of musicians actually *own* their own labels, do their own recordings, and merely use the studios as distributors. In the world of digital, they don't need even that. They control their art, they choose how to proceed.

The same will happen with books.

Sure, there will always be publishers...but a fair amount of them will be the author. And just because it is published by the author doesn't mean the author has to do everything personally: merely that the author *controls* everything. Self publishers get to choose the editor, the artist, the proofer, and they pay for it upfront instead of surrender the majority of future profits for a loan.

Authors may or not choose to partner with a publishing house if *they* see value in the partnership and *if* they feel they can trust them. But if they do so it will be by choice, not because they have to.

Pretending that self-publishing automatically implies "amateur hour" *every* time is disingenuous or self-deceptive. Or an attempt to stampede the naive into seeking validation at the cost of surrendering lifetime control of their prosuct.

Authors are no longer *forced* to play the game by traditional publishing rules. Those days are over. Relying on traditional publishers is an *option* that may make sense for some and not others but it is by no means a law of nature.
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