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Old 05-17-2009, 02:31 AM   #1
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N.Y. Times Article: Steal This Book (for $9.99)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/we...ew/17rich.html



May 17, 2009
Steal This Book (for $9.99)
By MOTOKO RICH
Just how much is a good read worth?

David Baldacci, the best-selling thriller author, learned what some of his fans think when “First Family,” his latest novel, went on sale last month. Amazon initially charged a little over $15 for a version for its Kindle reading device, and readers revolted.

Several posted reviews objecting that the electronic edition of the book wasn’t selling for $9.99, the price Amazon has promoted as its target for the majority of e-books in the Kindle store. Hundreds more have joined an informal boycott of digital books priced at more than $9.99.

“I love Baldacci’s writing,” wrote one reader, who decided not to buy. “Sorry Mr. B — price comes down or you lose a lot or readers. I’ll skip your books and move on!”

It was a chilling sentiment for authors and publishers, who have grown used to an average cover price of $26 for a new hardcover. Now, in the evolving Kindle world, $9.99 is becoming the familiar price. But is that justified just because paper has been removed from the equation?

...
For the moment, say some publishers, Amazon is effectively subsidizing the $9.99 price tag for new book titles in digital form by paying publishers the same $13 it pays them for a new hardcover title with a list price of $26. It’s a classic “loss leader” situation. Although Amazon won’t comment on the arrangement, the online bookseller is using low-price e-books as a lure to persuade consumers to pay $359 to buy a Kindle, or $489 for the new, larger Kindle DX.

But Amazon presumably won’t be willing to take those losses forever. And publishing executives say they fear that Amazon eventually will pressure them to accept lower payments for e-books.

...

Publishers and writers may hope that more readers are like Lina Albarella, a former book editor who said that in the 18 months since her husband bought her a Kindle, she has purchased close to 40 titles. While the $9.99 price is an attraction, she says she is more swayed by the instant gratification made possible by electronic books.

After buying the first in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, Ms. Albarella finished it at 1 in the morning. She bought the next installment on her Kindle from her bedroom and began reading right away.

Last edited by Kris777; 05-17-2009 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 03:31 AM   #2
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On the other hand, it is not inevitable that publishers and authors will have to relent. As Amazon faces competition from devices like the widely expected tablet from Apple, “then the book publisher of Obama’s next book can say ‘O.K., which of you is going to offer us the best deal?’ ” said Fiona Scott Morton, a professor of economics at the Yale School of Management. “I don’t think the content providers have to be in a worse position.”
Ever want to grab someone and bang their head into the wall until they understand?

The sad thing is I can see some idiots actually thinking that this is a good idea. Fragment the book sales market, so they can play one format off against the other, and lose readers who might otherwise have bought the books in a universal format.

The sooner the publishing industry reaches the iTunes moment and drops DRM and format exclusivity, the better. But statements like this make me think it will be a long long time before it happens.
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:10 AM   #3
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"The lower e-book price “is not sustainable,” said Mr. Baldacci, whose novels regularly rise to the top of hardcover best seller lists. If readers insist on cut-rate electronic books, he said, “unfortunately there won’t be anyone selling it anymore because you just can’t make any money.”"
Oh, PLEAHHHHHHHHSE, Mr "Greed" Baldacci - PLEAHHHHSE.
It's one thing that this attempt to push the boycotters back hard is more than pathetic but your argument is so false it is insulting all of us, readers.

Obviously you're full of it, arrogant scribbler and, similarly to big names in music, you cannot wrap your money-driven mind around the fact that it's over for you or anyone else in the food chain - it's our turn, we will set the price, pal and if you don't like it then time to look for a new career...
Nobody will cry and ten other will take your place happily - after all you're not Orwell or Dostojevski, you won't leave too big of a whole behind...

You just can't make money... yeah sure, because you are apparently overpaid a bit compared to market realities.

The printed market is in decline and it will be accelerated by the spread of ebook readers.
Mark my words: you will sharply lower your expectations or won't get a freakin' dime pretty soon because the very moment when Amazon built up its multi-million Kindle market and had enough of your kind's whining it will either cut your payment at least down to half ($7) to make some money on your pieces or - if you reject it - cut you loose and pull all your books immediately. Then you can go whenever you want, a writer pulled from Amazon won't make big noise anymore.

PS: I use to write for fun (on my mother tongue ) - despite repeated offers I chose to never publish anything due to various reasons - and I never quite understood these "professional" scribblers: churning out multiple books per year obviously means lower quality yet they want to see more and more money per copies? If someone sells 50k copies a year - not impossible for a popular book when 5k in a month puts you on the NYT Bestseller List - that's well over half a million bucks with $14/copy... this is the level of Wall St people...

...just WTF is wrong with this spoiled-whining "bestseller-author", seriously?

Last edited by kamm; 05-17-2009 at 05:18 AM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by kamm View Post
If someone sells 50k copies a year - not impossible for a popular book when 5k in a month puts you on the NYT Bestseller List - that's well over half a million bucks with $14/copy... this is the level of Wall St people...
... and the author will typically receive around 10% of that. Hardly "millionaire" territory...
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by John Bailey View Post
Ever want to grab someone and bang their head into the wall until they understand?

The sad thing is I can see some idiots actually thinking that this is a good idea. Fragment the book sales market, so they can play one format off against the other, and lose readers who might otherwise have bought the books in a universal format.

The sooner the publishing industry reaches the iTunes moment and drops DRM and format exclusivity, the better. But statements like this make me think it will be a long long time before it happens.
Ummm since when "iTunes moment" has achieved anything especially as long as format goes?

FYI iTunes was never been anything more intended than a quasi-monopoly distrib platform for Apple, nobody else.

Also iTunes did not drop DRM until very recently and still charges extra, even if you already own the track -a typical cheap, Apple-like money-grabbing trick.


OT: I often wonder how on Earth Apple mananged to brainwash so many people to think they have invented so many thing when, in fact, they did not jack&^%$... it's beyond me.

The most revolutionary change in format came with mp3, this German Fraunhofer Institute-developed format.
Easy-to-download/share music, for free, arrived with Napster.
Mobile music (aka MP3) players arrived after Diamond Multimedia successfully defeated the (il)legal attack of the RIAA-mob in 1999, clearing the path for the flood of mobile music players (ironically Diamond's winning argument used the precedent of Sony Corp of America vs Universal Studios 1984 - Sony, the RIAA member... )

Anyway, my point is that iTunes or Apple had nothing to do with formats (other than screwing up everything by introducing its own crap) and even less with dropping DRM (plenty of other stores offered DRM-free music for years now, sometimes even for free.)

Last edited by kamm; 05-17-2009 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:47 AM   #6
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... and the author will typically receive around 10% of that. Hardly "millionaire" territory...
I doubt it. When I had my offers ~10+ years ago in a small EU country, with its own, limited market (unique language) they were all higher.
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:56 AM   #7
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10% of "wholesale" price is a pretty standard royalty rate. I speak from experience.
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:08 AM   #8
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10% of "wholesale" price is a pretty standard royalty rate. I speak from experience.
Interesting. however it's after the base check, right?
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Old 05-17-2009, 07:40 AM   #9
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The problem with the publisher's argument is yes, I do believe there's a similar amount of work that goes into an ebook as a book, between editing, typesetting, cover design, etc, etc. However, those prices are covered by a *paperback* that goes through a decent run - not a hardback. Unless they're trying to convince me that a hardback is better edited, better typeset and has a better/more expensive cover design - none of which, from my experience is true. As a matter of fact, it's usually the latter, since hardbacks tend to be more established authors and the covers are often little more than their name in large font.

Heck, for many authors, by the time they reach hardback status their work actually decreases in editing quality, because they have enough power to object to edits that would actually make their work stronger.

It feels like the thought is that if he shouts loudly enough and uses super!fear tactics, that people will suddenly forget that the very same book he can't afford to sell at over 15 now will be under 8 dollars in 6 months.
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:04 AM   #10
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The problem with the publisher's argument is yes, I do believe there's a similar amount of work that goes into an ebook as a book, between editing, typesetting, cover design, etc, etc. However, those prices are covered by a *paperback* that goes through a decent run - not a hardback.
With mainstream publishers, it's the hardback print run that's priced to repay the production costs. The subsequent paperback release is basically pure profit. That's why the hardback is so much more expensive - it doesn't actually cost that much more to print than the paperback does.
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:38 AM   #11
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I'm perfectly happy buying ebooks for $11.99 that are new hardcover releases. If they want to charge more than that, I won't buy it. It's that simple. I almost never bought hardcovers before because of the price. Publishers can make more money off me now, or less later, but take the risk I'll just get it at the library. It's that simple.
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:42 AM   #12
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I think it would be a good idea then to have a promotion where you purchase the pBook and get the eBook for free. I can then give the pBook to a friend and then enjoy the eBook myself
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:47 AM   #13
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Ummm since when "iTunes moment" has achieved anything especially as long as format goes?
I think you misunderstood my use of "the iTunes moment".

I mean an outlet (possibly Amazon for the book selling world) Who got too big for the people trying to sell their wares, so they responded by letting anybody sell their stuff.

In the music world, once iTunes was seen as a threat to their way of doing business, a single outlet that was perceived to have enough clout to dictate to the labels. Or at least enough visibility to do so. So it had to go.

How did the music industry finally deal with iTunes? They dropped the previously market fragmenting DRM practises, opened up the market to all comers, and have been selling to the public in a way that gives those of us who don't have an Apple product the option to buy unrestricted high bit rate digital downloads.

Quote:
FYI iTunes was never been anything more intended than a quasi-monopoly distrib platform for Apple, nobody else.
I know. It's a sales incentive for Apple products.

Quote:
Also iTunes did not drop DRM until very recently and still charges extra, even if you already own the track -a typical cheap, Apple-like money-grabbing trick.
Yep. Right after Amazon started selling higher quality MP3 files, along with many other smaller more local outlets. Personally, I buy my digital downloads from 7 digital here in the UK.


Quote:
OT: I often wonder how on Earth Apple mananged to brainwash so many people to think they have invented so many thing when, in fact, they did not jack&^%$... it's beyond me.
Couldn't agree more. I'm a PC home builder, a Linux user, and I look for good sound quality as the number one aspect of a PMP. Couldn't be further from Apple's demographic.

Quote:
Anyway, my point is that iTunes or Apple had nothing to do with formats (other than screwing up everything by introducing its own crap) and even less with dropping DRM (plenty of other stores offered DRM-free music for years now, sometimes even for free.)
No argument there.
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:52 AM   #14
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The marketplace (in the broadest sense) defines demand and set price. Looking at the e-book marketplace today, $4-$10 US is the market clearing price for e-books (at least in the US). Either you can compete at this price zone, or else you'll be out of the business in a few years. This holds true for publishers, and authors as well.

And remember, free is always competition. Look here, or at Project Gutenberg. (I'm not referring to pirating, although that is part of the marketplace as well.)
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:52 AM   #15
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What they are also forgetting is the ability for e-books to extend the backlist virtually forever at minimal to no cost. That can increase sales over the long haul. In my mind the business challenge is all about the transition. Once past the transition point the opportunities should actually be very good with reduced costs, unlimited backlist etc.
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