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Old 12-09-2009, 04:25 PM   #46
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Currently the major publishers have not reduced their prices, they are still getting about 50% of the list price back from retailers (including Amazon) and they are typically charging hardback rates for the ebooks. What they are afraid of is that Amazon will stop deeply discounting new and bestseller ebooks and readers will then stop buying from publishers who don't reduce their list price to sane levels. Note that a discount selling price of $9.99 implies that publishers "should" in the long term expect perhaps $8-9 per ebook, i.e. a list price of about $16-18.
The market hasn't dictated a price of $9.99 per book (meaning, that price didn't come to be because people weren't buying books unless they were at that price point or lower.) The $9.99 (or $9) price point is Amazon (and Wal-Mart's) use of a loss leader strategy, where the retailer sells a product below their cost to acquire that product in the hope that consumers will buy the discount product AS WELL AS other products in the store.

I think this move from publishers isn't about operating from a position of fear (always a no-no in strategy and/or negotiations) of how the market will respond, but is more parallel to what the movie industry does with theatrical new releases. Theatrical movies can't go to DVD's within a certain period of time; 1) so that studios can make a fair profit, of course, and 2) so that theatrical venues who show films have a chance to make a fair profit as well. If the book publishing industry is similar to the movie industry, publishers have the best opportunity to make the most money in the initial format of release (in most cases, hardcover). As hardcover is the most profitable for the publisher, I’m okay with them exploiting this market as much as possible, and once they think the market is saturated, releasing the book to the next market – in this case, eBook format.

Waiting 4 months for eBooks is the equivalent to waiting for a movie to be released on DVD (or netflix) instead of seeing it in a movie theatre. On an individual basis, yes, it's disheartening, and I'd rather have my $9.99 ebook the same day my neighbor gets his hardback book. But, I can also see the big picture, I'm all in favor of capitalism and free markets, so I'm okay with publishers implementing this strategy to make more money (as long as they use it to go and find new talented writers and publish more great books).
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:12 PM   #47
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Waiting 4 months for eBooks is the equivalent to waiting for a movie to be released on DVD (or netflix) instead of seeing it in a movie theatre. On an individual basis, yes, it's disheartening, and I'd rather have my $9.99 ebook the same day my neighbor gets his hardback book. But, I can also see the big picture, I'm all in favor of capitalism and free markets, so I'm okay with publishers implementing this strategy to make more money (as long as they use it to go and find new talented writers and publish more great books).
Not really. In the theatre, I get a big screen, screaming audio, limited release. The DVD release is different. A pbook and an ebook are the same thing - all I am doing is reading words, and the pbook doesn't have any additional/different words or manner of presentation. It is just a different wrapper. There is no reason that the author should get less $$ from an ebook versus a pbook. The only price differential should be for the format - ebooks don't have to be printed, bound, delivered, returned, displayed. The reason SK gave for delaying the ebook was that he wanted to give the small independent bookstores a chance to make some $$. Only problem is, the major booksellers got into a price war, so no one made any money. And even though I could have bought the pbook for less, I don't want a pbook. I have not bought a single pbook since I got my kindle. We walked through a B&N the other night, and I was kind of nostalgic. But then when I looked at the displays, they didn't look any more interesting than what I see online. The small independent bookstores are going to go the way of the small independent record stores. That is sad, but I really like itunes better than my deceased local record store. I'm sure ebook stores will step up to the plate as well.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:16 PM   #48
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The $9.99 (or $9) price point is Amazon (and Wal-Mart's) use of a loss leader strategy, where the retailer sells a product below their cost to acquire that product in the hope that consumers will buy the discount product AS WELL AS other products in the store.
I agree that Amazon isn't planning on loosing money in the long term, and may not be loosing money overall today on ebooks (or on ebook-buying customers). The issue, though, is whether an ebook issued 4 months after a hardcover is a "leader", and therefore worth Amazon's time to deeply discount it. If not, how many $25-30 ebooks are these publishers going to sell.

I am also ok with the 4 month lag, if this implies a lower cost (lower list price). With the possible exception of audio books, this is the way it typically works in book publishing. Paperbacks cost less than trade paperbacks which cost less than hardcovers, and this is partially an indication of the reader's impression of quality but much more an indication of release date.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:34 PM   #49
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*snip*

Waiting 4 months for eBooks is the equivalent to waiting for a movie to be released on DVD (or netflix) instead of seeing it in a movie theatre. On an individual basis, yes, it's disheartening, and I'd rather have my $9.99 ebook the same day my neighbor gets his hardback book. But, I can also see the big picture, I'm all in favor of capitalism and free markets, so I'm okay with publishers implementing this strategy to make more money (as long as they use it to go and find new talented writers and publish more great books).
no, I completely disagree. this is moving into the new reality. while there will be some people who will stay in the hardback venue forever, having the ebooks helps with emerging different lifestyles. we are living longer and differently than we ever did before and have a lot of different options. people are traveling, doing the RV thing, living aboard various ships. having to be tied to libraries, book stores, and even to some extent computers isn't going to work with a lot of these different lifestyles.

even without that, it is a reality we are going to become accustomed to just as we no longer expect to see stacks of CDs or shelves of LPs in living rooms. to a large extent we are becoming (and will be) the new hardback market. we will have to be catered to. we already know what the option is if we aren't!

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I agree that Amazon isn't planning on loosing money in the long term, and may not be loosing money overall today on ebooks (or on ebook-buying customers). The issue, though, is whether an ebook issued 4 months after a hardcover is a "leader", and therefore worth Amazon's time to deeply discount it. If not, how many $25-30 ebooks are these publishers going to sell.

I am also ok with the 4 month lag, if this implies a lower cost (lower list price). With the possible exception of audio books, this is the way it typically works in book publishing. Paperbacks cost less than trade paperbacks which cost less than hardcovers, and this is partially an indication of the reader's impression of quality but much more an indication of release date.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:51 PM   #50
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As I've said on other threads today--I don't buy hardbacks. I've always waited for the paperback or gotten the book at the library. This doesn't change anything for me. I will continue to wait for the right pricepoint/form. If that form happens to be a used hardback at 4 to 7 dollars when the ebook or paperback comes out, then I get used and they miss a sale. If I want to read the book enough, I'll check it out from the library or wait.

They must feel that enough people will be "forced" to buy the hd. They've been depending on that strategy for years now.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:57 PM   #51
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no, I completely disagree. this is moving into the new reality....
New reality, indeed.

I have been primarily a purchaser of hardcovers and first editions. I dislike paperbacks, and dislike the library (for leisure reading - I buy what I want to read.)

Since I discovered ebooks, I have almost entirely stopped buying paper books.

The model has changed, even if a few publishing dinosaurs keep insisting that the Mesozoic era will never end.
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:02 PM   #52
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no, I completely disagree. this is moving into the new reality. while there will be some people who will stay in the hardback venue forever, having the ebooks helps with emerging different lifestyles. we are living longer and differently than we ever did before and have a lot of different options. people are traveling, doing the RV thing, living aboard various ships. having to be tied to libraries, book stores, and even to some extent computers isn't going to work with a lot of these different lifestyles.

even without that, it is a reality we are going to become accustomed to just as we no longer expect to see stacks of CDs or shelves of LPs in living rooms. to a large extent we are becoming (and will be) the new hardback market. we will have to be catered to. we already know what the option is if we aren't!
I think we just settle on a difference of opinions, then. You seem to be under the impression that ebooks are to paper books what digital music is to CDs. I'm of the mindset that the relationship is more like that of Blu-ray to standard def - there's room in the market for both to exist without one annihilating the other.

I stand on the reasoning that eBooks have been around for several years, and if they were going to cannibalize paper book sales (the way digital music did to CDs), it would be more apparent and prevalent than it is today. The recording industry saw double digit percentage drops in CD sales; I'm no expert, but I don't think we've yet seen a similar behavior in eBooks. Yes, many people will immediately cite the format wars and lack of standardization as contributing factors to the slow growth of the eBook market (and it's all true, of course). Simply put, there was a much higher demand for digital music before the industry regulated and standardized itself (hence the high rate of pirated music) than there comparatively is for ebooks vs. paper books. I know that all of us here on MR are fanatics, but be open to the thought that maybe the rest of the world isn't - yet.
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:16 PM   #53
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I agree that Amazon isn't planning on loosing money in the long term, and may not be loosing money overall today on ebooks (or on ebook-buying customers). The issue, though, is whether an ebook issued 4 months after a hardcover is a "leader", and therefore worth Amazon's time to deeply discount it. If not, how many $25-30 ebooks are these publishers going to sell.

I am also ok with the 4 month lag, if this implies a lower cost (lower list price). With the possible exception of audio books, this is the way it typically works in book publishing. Paperbacks cost less than trade paperbacks which cost less than hardcovers, and this is partially an indication of the reader's impression of quality but much more an indication of release date.
To your point about a lower cost - I completely agree. I think the publisher's price point is way to high in the current market, and if S&S is going to position eBooks to release between hbooks and pbooks, then the pricing needs to be adjusted to reflect that as well. However, if prices drop and eBook release is delayed 4 months, publishers have then effectively removed from Amazon one of it's key selling points that eBooks are cheaper than hbooks (as it's implied because they're available at the same time.) So does Amazon still have the same motivation then to use a loss leader strategy on eBooks? Probably not. How does this impact the final pricing eBooks will be available on the market? Heck if I know!
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:21 PM   #54
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Not really. In the theatre, I get a big screen, screaming audio, limited release. The DVD release is different. A pbook and an ebook are the same thing - all I am doing is reading words, and the pbook doesn't have any additional/different words or manner of presentation. It is just a different wrapper. There is no reason that the author should get less $$ from an ebook versus a pbook. The only price differential should be for the format - ebooks don't have to be printed, bound, delivered, returned, displayed. The reason SK gave for delaying the ebook was that he wanted to give the small independent bookstores a chance to make some $$. Only problem is, the major booksellers got into a price war, so no one made any money. And even though I could have bought the pbook for less, I don't want a pbook. I have not bought a single pbook since I got my kindle. We walked through a B&N the other night, and I was kind of nostalgic. But then when I looked at the displays, they didn't look any more interesting than what I see online. The small independent bookstores are going to go the way of the small independent record stores. That is sad, but I really like itunes better than my deceased local record store. I'm sure ebook stores will step up to the plate as well.
Ignoring financial factors for a moment, and following your logic then (and I'm being completely sincere), what's the difference between and hbook and a pbook? Because your argument is true for both formats (identical content/intellectual property, just re-formatted). And authors get paid differently from hbook vs. pbooks, and pbooks are released a certain period of time after hbooks. If ebooks are just another format of the same IP, why shouldn't publishers figure out a way to formally insert it into the release process? Why should they be obliged to release ebooks the same date as hbooks?
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:41 PM   #55
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I think we just settle on a difference of opinions, then. You seem to be under the impression that ebooks are to paper books what digital music is to CDs. I'm of the mindset that the relationship is more like that of Blu-ray to standard def - there's room in the market for both to exist without one annihilating the other.

I stand on the reasoning that eBooks have been around for several years, and if they were going to cannibalize paper book sales (the way digital music did to CDs), it would be more apparent and prevalent than it is today. The recording industry saw double digit percentage drops in CD sales; I'm no expert, but I don't think we've yet seen a similar behavior in eBooks. Yes, many people will immediately cite the format wars and lack of standardization as contributing factors to the slow growth of the eBook market (and it's all true, of course). Simply put, there was a much higher demand for digital music before the industry regulated and standardized itself (hence the high rate of pirated music) than there comparatively is for ebooks vs. paper books.
Considering music piracy took off because of compression and acceptable (quasi-transparent) playback possibilities on multiple devices, it seems unsurprising at best that ebook demand didn't take off before there were devices to comfortably read them on. While I have at times read books on my CRT/TFT before I got my iLiad, it wasn't something I felt like doing often. So in that sense the fact that book piracy hasn't become quite the menace the music industry lost to doesn't tell you very much about whether or not this won't also happen later (that is, now) in the book industry.
However, it was a lot easier to digitize CDs than it is to digitize books (though that's becoming less of an issue now that more retail ebooks are becoming available). That said, the only sold ebooks in which the question of formatting is taken seriously seem to be academic titles sold as PDFs, but let's not go there .
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:46 PM   #56
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... Why should they be obliged to release ebooks the same date as hbooks?
They are not "obliged" to do anything. They can refuse to do ebooks, if they want to.

The fact is, that as significantly better hardware comes to market, probably within a year or two, ebooks will become more sophisticated and will take a much larger share of the market. Pbooks will eventually become niche items - probably sooner than many expect. Just like typewriters, faxes and film photography.

A little tweaking of the model will not suffice, because it's a whole new ball-game and the market will move on, with or without Simon & Schuster.

Last edited by Sonist; 12-09-2009 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:15 PM   #57
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I feel they really need to sell the e-books while the market is hot. Except for a few authors, if it is not available in e when I first hear about the book I probably will not buy it when it comes out later. Other books will have caught my eye by then. And I am the kind of customer they really should want to keep. I bought over $50.00 of books a month when I read only p-books, but that number jumped to over $100.00 after I switched to mostly e-books. (Yes,I have a problem with impulse shopping )
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:13 PM   #58
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If eBook publications are going to be delayed, I guess I won't be buying any new releases from these publishers.


Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster:

David Young, chief executive of the Hachette Book Group:
and I think it appropriate to write/email/call them and let them know!

Maybe we should put together a MR "Statement" of disapproval.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:19 PM   #59
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I don't think it will be necessary. The people being hurt the most by their tactics are themselves and the authors they represent.

And hopefully the authors won't go for this either and move to a more reasonable publisher.

Sounds to me like this is an opportunity for new publishers to move in!
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:31 PM   #60
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I just spent 5 minutes removing all the Simon & Schuster and Hachette books from my wish list. Not like they care but I feel better.

http://blogs.forrester.com/consumer_...ow-ebooks.html
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