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Old 02-01-2010, 12:27 PM   #1
Barcey
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Macmillan Announces $5.99 eBooks

In a surprising weekend annoucement John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan publishing announced new $5.99 ebook pricing. The bold statement was made in an open letter to the Macmillan authors, illustrators and literary agents. To explain the pricing he stated that a new business model is required to grow the digital business, encourage new devices and healthy competition. He was quoted as stating, "It also needs to insure that intellectual property can be widely available digitally at a price that is both fair to the consumer and allows those who create it and publish it to be fairly compensated."

It's not clear at this time if other publishers will follow this brave new strategy.

Although I still feel that $5.99 is too high for an electronic book that could be rendered inoperable at any time because of vendor DRM, I wish to encourage Mr. Sargent in his new enterprise. If others feel the same way I think we should all assist Mr. Sargent in meeting the $5.99 target price.

Instead of purchasing new ebooks and until we reach the $5.99 goal, we should instead pool the $9.99 we would have otherwise spent and donate the money to the long term rebuilding of Haiti. The donation could be made in honor of Mr. Sargent. As most people are aware the rebuilding effort is expected to take at least 10 years so we have lots of time.

What can we read in the mean time:

- Explore electronic ebooks at your local library. If they don't have what you like let them know.
- Read some of the thousands of free ebooks available in the MobileRead site
- Purchase from indie authors that are already selling at and below the $5.99 price
- Share books with your friends

In a personal note to Mr. Sargent. Sir I salute you! I have a really bad cramp in my hand and can only extend one finger, but still I salute you.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:56 PM   #2
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I thought Macmillan was just trying to strong arm Amazon into raising their eBook prices? Now they say prices should be lower?

Are you sure the announcement didn't say "$15.99"? Or is this a different publisher than the one in the middle of a fight with Amazon?
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:02 PM   #3
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Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:04 PM   #4
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Note that when Mr. Sargent says 'Pricing will be dynamic over time' he seems to mean 'geological time', as Macmillan is still charging new-hardcover prices of electronic versions of books that came out in mass-market paperback ten years ago.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:06 PM   #5
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I see quotes from Sargent referencing $5.99 to $14.99.


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Old 02-01-2010, 01:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaggy View Post
I thought Macmillan was just trying to strong arm Amazon into raising their eBook prices? Now they say prices should be lower?

Are you sure the announcement didn't say "$15.99"? Or is this a different publisher than the one in the middle of a fight with Amazon?
I believe there was a goodly portion of tongue-in-cheek to the original post. Check the salute in the final paragraph.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:12 PM   #7
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If MacMillan sells direct to readers, then they can set whatever price they want. But so far this all sounds to me like they simply want to force retailers to charge the readers whatever price MacMillan tells them to charge-then the retailers will take the brunt of the complaints because it's obvious to me that MacMillan won't respond to people who don't buy directly from them. (And it's also obvious, to me, that once MacMillan does get control of prices they'll stop producing those $5.99 books. since 'carrying' charges are so low for ebooks, they don't have any excess stock to get rid of-and therefore no incentive to lower prices over time.)
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:13 PM   #8
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I have not been a fan of Macmillan for ebooks, but they do seem to have tied themselves very publicly to a new model of pricing where ebooks start at $14.99 and $12.99 and go down over time to perhaps less than the paperback price ($5.99). If this was only Macmillan I would be deeply sceptical, but if 5 of the top 6 US publishers use the same approach ebook buyers will come to expect it.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:15 PM   #9
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That's got to be a typo - I think he meant to say $14.99 - $15.99
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:25 PM   #10
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but if 5 of the top 6 US publishers use the same approach ebook buyers will...
...just go to the darknets.

Sigh.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:27 PM   #11
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I have not been a fan of Macmillan for ebooks, but they do seem to have tied themselves very publicly to a new model of pricing where ebooks start at $14.99 and $12.99 and go down over time to perhaps less than the paperback price ($5.99). If this was only Macmillan I would be deeply sceptical, but if 5 of the top 6 US publishers use the same approach ebook buyers will come to expect it.

And the problem here is "over time". Nobody's specified how long that time is, but current evidence (go look at the list price of Macmillan ebooks on the B&N website, for example) points to the fact that "over time" is "sometime after you die". Macmillan still has the list price of ebooks set at $12-30, for books that have been out in mass-market paperback for a long time.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:38 PM   #12
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Macmillan still has the list price of ebooks set at $12-30, for books that have been out in mass-market paperback for a long time.
The new pricing scheme is due to be released "in early March". This means that no one should be buying Macmillan ebooks today at list price because they are supposed to get much cheaper very soon. We will know for sure in March.

We do have one indication of what "over time" means. Macmillan suggested to Amazon that they could stick with the existing retail approach if they were willing to wait 7 months after the hardback release. This suggests that the price may go down after 7 months. If the price reduction is automatic and based on time since release, this may lead to fewer anomalies like paperbacks much cheaper than ebooks.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:47 PM   #13
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The new pricing scheme is due to be released "in early March". This means that no one should be buying Macmillan ebooks today at list price because they are supposed to get much cheaper very soon. We will know for sure in March.

We do have one indication of what "over time" means. Macmillan suggested to Amazon that they could stick with the existing retail approach if they were willing to wait 7 months after the hardback release. This suggests that the price may go down after 7 months. If the price reduction is automatic and based on time since release, this may lead to fewer anomalies like paperbacks much cheaper than ebooks.


The problem here is that the CURRENT pricing is what B&N sells the books for, which is a significant discount over the list price. The new contract terms eliminate any such sales or discounts. The list price will be the price the item is sold at, period.

Macmillan didn't set those prices randomly. They believe that's the value of the product. And that's why Macmillan thinks $15 is such a great deal, because it's such a huge discount over what the old list price was.

But it's still far above what retailers have been selling the ebooks for.


You're making a lot of assumptions about how and when Macmillan will lower the price of the ebooks. I'm pointing to existing evidence of Macmillan's current ebook pricing, even for titles that have been on the market for a decade, and saying that that evidence strongly suggests that Macmillan is not in the habit of lowering ebook pricing based on the age of a title.

I can't find the link at the moment, but there is a copy of the actual contract macmillan presented to Amazon out there. In it, there is nothing stating the timetable for price reduction, if it exists at all. Right now, that price reduction is nothing but a blurb in a press release.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:55 PM   #14
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Right now, that price reduction is nothing but a blurb in a press release.
What is driving the calendar for the new pricing is the Apple iBookstore. It will only have ebooks with the new pricing model. So if an existing ebook lists for $30 it won't be in the Apple store.

This entire ebook pricing scheme is from Apple. Macmillan has never had a clue about ebooks, but Apple hit them with a clue stick and they were so scared of Amazon that the Apple alternative looked good.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:06 PM   #15
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What is driving the calendar for the new pricing is the Apple iBookstore. It will only have ebooks with the new pricing model. So if an existing ebook lists for $30 it won't be in the Apple store.

This entire ebook pricing scheme is from Apple. Macmillan has never had a clue about ebooks, but Apple hit them with a clue stick and they were so scared of Amazon that the Apple alternative looked good.

Exactly wrong. Apple's terms to the publishers are an agency model: the publishers will set the price, and receive 70% of all sales. Apple has absolutely nothing to do with the prices being set.

The calendar for this was driven by nothing more than Amazon's contract with Macmillan being up for renewal, and Macmillan's own greed.
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