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Old 02-18-2010, 03:17 PM   #1
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Talking Apple could sell ebooks at $9.99

According to the New York Times (from anonymous sources), apparently the Apple deal includes the ability to make discounts on bestsellers. Maybe even to $9.99.

Quote:
But according to at least three people with knowledge of the discussions, who spoke anonymously because of the confidentiality of the talks, Apple inserted provisions requiring publishers to discount e-book prices on best sellers — so that $12.99-to-$14.99 range was merely a ceiling; prices for some titles could be lower, even as low as Amazon’s $9.99. Essentially, Apple wants the flexibility to offer lower prices for the hottest books, those on one of the New York Times best-seller lists, which are heavily discounted in bookstores and on rival retail sites. So, for example, a book that started at $14.99 would drop to $12.99 or less once it hit the best-seller lists.
Shakespeare would probably have something pithy to say.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:26 PM   #2
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This may be one of those cases where the government may have to get involved. It almost sounds likes price fixing, unless you are one special company. If they tell us they can't do $9.99 pricing and survive, and then offer that to Apple instead of Amazon, I've got a big problem.

I hope it works out for the publishers and authors, but right now it sounds like they want to screw the customers no matter what they have to do to make the profits. If you are an author, I would suggest you seriously think about what you (and your publisher) are doing right now.
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Old 02-19-2010, 06:58 AM   #3
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Come on good people!!!! I have seen enough posts on MR to know that you're a pretty intellignet bunch of people. So for the love of god, good books and dark chocloate.... why the hell are you perpetuating the myth that it's in any way, shape or form fortuitous to the the consumer that Crapple MIGHT deem it acceptable to sell someone elses goddamn work for $9.99 and keep most of the money for themsleves. Don't you see that you are begging the corporate giants of the world to keep raping you and our beloved authors over and over ad infinitum.

Get real and tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine! I'm sorry but I've had enough and I'm not gonna take it any more.

THIS IS THE FUTURE OF EBOOKS. All authors are indies and sell their eBooks on their own sites or sites like smashwords or zuluexpress that only take a few penies per copy rather than only leaving but a few pennies for the author. If you don't believe me, ask an author!!!! They've been getting raped forever and it's time for us all to put an end to it.

If you don't pull your fingers out, stand up for your rights and bloody well do something constructive about it like publicly bagging the crap out of their ludicrous proposals then you probably deserve the righteous shagging that the encumbent publishing powers that be have in store for you.

Pleeeease don't don't take any offence (unless you're an apple or amazon exec lol), and if you'd rather help buy Steve Jobs a new Ferrari than enjoy cheap eBooks where the author makes more money than the publisher then please disregard this heartfelt plea for you all to help make your own lot in life better. It really is within your grasp.
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:13 AM   #4
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Edit.

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Old 02-19-2010, 07:16 AM   #5
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And how much does an independent author have to pay for the services of a professional editor? That, as you know, is something which is essential for any book. Publishers do all sorts of things for authors besides merely printing and distributing their books.
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaughnmr View Post
....... but right now it sounds like they want to screw the customers no matter what they have to do to make the profits. If you are an author, I would suggest you seriously think about what you (and your publisher) are doing right now.
YES!

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Old 02-19-2010, 08:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ondabeach View Post
Come on good people!!!! I have seen enough posts on MR to know that you're a pretty intellignet bunch of people. So for the love of god, good books and dark chocloate.... why the hell are you perpetuating the myth that it's in any way, shape or form fortuitous to the the consumer that Crapple MIGHT deem it acceptable to sell someone elses goddamn work for $9.99 and keep most of the money for themsleves. Don't you see that you are begging the corporate giants of the world to keep raping you and our beloved authors over and over ad infinitum.

Get real and tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine! I'm sorry but I've had enough and I'm not gonna take it any more.
ha ha are you serious?

firstly you realise most chocolate manafacturers sell chocolate that someone else harvested and they keep the majority of the profit for the other persons hard work...

2ndly do apple even most of teh money themselves? I thought they only kept 30%. Im also not aware that they are forcing any authors to have their books on iBooks so not really Rape is it.

not sure anything you said was either true or made sense.
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:55 AM   #8
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I can't imagine that Amazon wouldn't have a "most favored nation clause" in their contract. Essentially ensuring them at worst, price parity with their competitors.
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Old 02-19-2010, 05:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondabeach View Post
why the hell are you perpetuating the myth that it's in any way, shape or form fortuitous to the the consumer that Crapple MIGHT deem it acceptable to sell someone elses goddamn work for $9.99 and keep most of the money for themsleves.
Uhm... In case no one let you in on it, this is pretty much how capitalism works.

Apple provides a set of services: data storage, data delivery, collecting payments, customer service, software maintenance, security. In exchange, you pay for the content. Apple gets a cut (30%), the publisher gets a cut (70%). The publisher's cut recoups the costs of making the book (advance, editing, marketing, royalties). Since publisher's profit margins are around 15%, I hardly see this as wildly unfair.

Oh by the way, an artist's royalty rate is typically linked to the cover price. So basically if we drive down ebook prices, royalty rates will also fall. I'm not quite sure that every author will want to engage in effectively reducing their royalty rate in exchange for a shot at higher sales.


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Originally Posted by ondabeach View Post
Don't you see that you are begging the corporate giants of the world to keep raping you and our beloved authors over and over ad infinitum.
Good gravy. Indulge in hyperbole much?


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Originally Posted by ondabeach View Post
THIS IS THE FUTURE OF EBOOKS. All authors are indies and sell their eBooks on their own sites or sites like smashwords or zuluexpress that only take a few penies per copy rather than only leaving but a few pennies for the author.
Riiiiight.

Most authors will want things that smashwords and zuluexpress will never be able to offer, e.g. top-notch editors, experienced cover artists, media connections, marketing resources, advances, and like it or not, the smidgen of prestige of working with a real publisher. Heck, to authors getting a big advance now is like a contest. Stick to Smashwords, and unless you already have a reputation or really know how to differentiate your work -- and are willing to put in the effort to sell the daylights out of it -- you've just joined the biggest slush-pile in existence. Even if your work is really good, it's almost certainly going to get lost in the mix.

This is not to say that publishers are fantabulous and always treat writers well. But self-publishing has been an option for decades; and how many self-published authors have launched themselves independently into big sales, let alone sales sufficient to actually put a roof over their head?


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I'm sorry but I've had enough and I'm not gonna take it any more.
Well, that's your choice. Just don't let the door hit your tuchas on the way out.
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Old 02-19-2010, 06:09 PM   #10
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I think the key is how open the epub is on the iPad and if the iPad will retain Kindle functionality available in the iPhone. If you can read Amazon books on the iPad as you can on the iPhone, then we retain that level of competition which helps drive down prices. When we have certain formats exclusively locked into certain devices, it restricts market forces.

If there is one thing capitalists are well aware of, it's that consumers look for the best value. Publishers have had all kinds of archaic licensing agreements which have protected them from the brutal market forces over the years so perhaps they are less aware. Amazon and Apple are very well aware of it, hence their ability to shed DRM when they know consumers want it and also to drive prices lower because they know consumers want that.

As long as we have some kind of interoperability between devices, market forces retain the ability to drive down prices as consumers choose between suppliers.
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:54 PM   #11
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"Uhm... In case no one let you in on it, this is pretty much how capitalism works"
Yes, but people can choose to boycott companies that are ripping them off and turn to ones that do not.

"Apple provides a set of services: data storage, data delivery, collecting payments, customer service, software maintenance, security. In exchange, you pay for the content. Apple gets a cut (30%), the publisher gets a cut (70%). The publisher's cut recoups the costs of making the book (advance, editing, marketing, royalties). Since publisher's profit margins are around 15%, I hardly see this as wildly unfair."

The services you mention are common to all eBook library sites. Where the similarities end are: Our cut is (15% AFTER PayPals fee of (2.9% + 30 cents)), The AUTHOR gets the rest! In your example the author gets probably less than $1 for an eBook which sold for $9.99. If the author sold the same eBook for $3.99 through our library they would receive $3.04.

$3.99 sale price
-0.42 (paypal)
-053 (us)
=
$3.04 (author)

If an author really beleives he can get $9.99 for his eBook and is successful then the breakdown would be a follows:

$9.99 sale price
-0.59 (paypal)
-1.41 (us)
=
$7.99 (author)

I'd say that's infinately fairer wouldn't you?


"Oh by the way, an artist's royalty rate is typically linked to the cover price. So basically if we drive down ebook prices, royalty rates will also fall. I'm not quite sure that every author will want to engage in effectively reducing their royalty rate in exchange for a shot at higher sales."

No, I agree that no author would want to reduce the royalty rate they receive. The royalty rate authors receive from us is far in excess of anything that is on offer by apple, amazon or any of the existing major distribution channels.


"and like it or not, the smidgen of prestige of working with a real publisher."

Sorry, we only want to put your money back in your pocket, not stars in your eyes or stroke your ego.

"Heck, to authors getting a big advance now is like a contest."
Ever heard of the carrot on a stick, we would never insult your intelligence by dangling what is in effect for 99.98% of aspiring authors an unatainable goal in front of your eyes.

"and how many self-published authors have launched themselves independently into big sales, let alone sales sufficient to actually put a roof over their head?"

You're guess is probably the same as mine, none. But only because the technology to allow effective marketing on a global scale with a shoestring budget simply didn't exist, so if you were not independently wealthy then you had no choice but to accept the terms of the publishing industry of the time. My point is that people do now have a choice, and we are offering it.

If only 1% of manuscripts written have ever been published and only 2% of those ever made any money for the author then something is definitely amiss. We are attempting to address that anomoly, if we raise a few hackels in the process then please accept our appologies. But we will keep rattling the bars until everyone is aware of how poorly authors are remunerated for their work. Especially the authors that don't realise it yet.

"What's your experience been of this, compared to your books sold through a traditional publisher? It'd be good to get detailed feedback from someone that isn't just an armchair quarterback."


Yes, we do have personal experience of publishing traditionally and independently. Don Stallman (Iqy), a friend and business partner tried desperately but in vain to get published. I've known Don for years, in fact his story is what inspired me to create an eBook library in the first place. You should PM him and ask him about it if you want to hear a horror story with a happy ending.

"Most authors will want things that smashwords and zuluexpress will never be able to offer, e.g. top-notch editors, experienced cover artists, media connections, marketing resources, advances"

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, correct. But considering that the ratio of applicants to recipients when it comes to carrots (advances) is somewere in the order of .02%, the advances answer doesn't really count, so you're 0 for 4.

Don (Iqy) decided he wasn't going to sit by the phone waiting for a faceless stranger to ring him up and say "hey, I woke up this morning and thought, I feel like giving that Don fella $50,000.00". Instead, he went out and did something about it.

Last edited by ondabeach; 02-19-2010 at 08:00 PM. Reason: ooops, sorry I mentioned our site so I had to delete it.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondabeach View Post
The services you mention are common to all eBook library sites. Where the similarities end are: Our cut is (15% AFTER PayPals fee of (2.9% + 30 cents)), The AUTHOR gets the rest!
Yes, with your model the "author gets the rest." However, your site is also not paying advances, you aren't paying the editor's salary, you aren't marketing the book, and so forth. Or to put it another way, you are pushing the expenses that are typically handled by the publisher onto the author (if they choose to spend it). If handled professionally, we're talking about thousands of dollars of services.

Now, to be clear, I don't think there is anything ethically wrong with your model. Self-publishing can work for some individuals, and I presume they can pull their books at any time. The problem is that when the barrier to entry is drastically lowered, quality goes down, the huge volume of releases turns into a ton of noise, and the author has no additional resources to increase the quality of their work, let alone rise above the noise, let alone draw readers from the plethora of competition for that reader's time. And this lack of resources, combined with a lack of skill and experience, is why "zomg the writer does it all and gets it all" is not likely to truly rule the landscape in the future. Audiences will want big hits; retailers will want to sell the hits; authors and publishers will still be willing to take risks to provide the hits.

So your model, while it may seem "fairer" for the writers, doesn't offer more than just distribution -- which is one of the cheapest parts of the process when it comes to electronic goods. You don't take much, but you don't really offer much either. Traditional publishers have lower royalty rates, but offer resources and take financial risks on titles. Ergo, it is fallacious IMO to categorically proclaim that "all publishers are rapists, thieves and fiends" because they expect to earn a profit from their efforts.

In most cases, the royalty rates are in the same neighborhood as the publisher's profit margins (10-15%). As a result yes, IMO if the author freely chooses to sign the contract, and everyone fulfills their obligations, it's a fair deal. Unless, of course, you believe it is fundamentally unfair that some writers are more popular than others.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ondabeach
Ever heard of the carrot on a stick, we would never insult your intelligence by dangling what is in effect for 99.98% of aspiring authors an unatainable goal in front of your eyes.
OK, so how exactly is paying the author a large sum in advance of selling the book a matter of "dangling a carrot?" In many ways it's more beneficial for a writer to get an advance up front, as it allows them the financial breathing space to write.

Or perhaps you mean, "very few writers get to the point where they can command an advance." If that's the case, anyone who gets into writing to make a fortune is decidedly in the wrong business and/or will get drummed out pretty quickly. But that's the case with pretty much every desirable profession (creative, athletic, etc). And really, I see even less hope for earning a basic living as a self-published author than if you work with a formal publisher.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ondabeach
[There are no self-publishing stars]....only because the technology to allow effective marketing on a global scale with a shoestring budget simply didn't exist...
Uh huh. The technology has existed in the music biz for nigh on 10 years, and no luck there yet.

When writers can start from scratch and make a living off of services like yours, let me know and I'll be glad to revise my opinions on the advantages of formal publishers. What can I say, I think it's gonna be awhile.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ondabeach
If only 1% of manuscripts written have ever been published and only 2% of those ever made any money for the author then something is definitely amiss.
Why?

Oh, and let's be a little more accurate first. The current claim is that 7 out of 10 books do not earn back the advance for the author. However, that is just as much a result of the increasing sizes of the advances as a comment on book sales or royalties; e.g. you can get a $50k advance, sell 90k copies, generate a healthy return for the publisher, and still not earn back your advance. But you still got that $50k up front (plus all the other services), rather than wait 6+ months to collect.

Meanwhile, reader's tastes are superbly fickle; "sure things" are exceedingly rare, even for prominent and successful authors like James Patterson. Very few publishers (or movie execs or record execs or what have you) really know what will sell, let alone how to truly nurture talent. And yes, that is a critical skill -- and why some writers, who have the good luck to work with a good editor, stick with the system. Same for just about everyone who worked with Clive Davis, who unquestionably helped many musicians in their careers (as they themselves will gladly admit). And even someone as good as Davis will have backed more than a few clunkers.

And last but not least: If your book isn't selling well, why exactly should the author be rewarded? Did I miss something, perhaps Backwards Macroeconomics 101?

I.e. a low success rate in a creative endeavor like this is rather typical, and isn't much of a source of condemnation of the system as a whole.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:04 AM   #13
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Kali: Very good points. I have been talking with some author friends about this, and no one really is clear about what exactly the value proposition of going through an editorial is, except that it certainly has value. I wanted to look into a "joint venture" model, where author, editor and graphic artists (if applicable) each make their contributions to a novel in exchange for a percentage of the returns. No one gets any money up front. Each would assume more risk (which new authors do now anyway, since they need to dedicate a lot of time to writing with no guarantee that they will be remunerated). The advantage to the editor is that they could pick and choose among projects that they evaluate as being worthy, and spread their risk by editing multiple projects simultaneously.

There are some things, though, that an editorial does provide which a "joint venture" does not.

1. Legitimacy: There is a massive volume of self-published stuff out there, and editorials do filter that for the reader.
2. Access to volume discounts (this is especially important in the case of printed books).
3. Marketing resources: This overlaps with legitimacy. It is not clear these days how valuable this is, as the volume of publications makes marketing somewhat ineffective in the majority of cases.

So, does it make a big difference to go without marketing? Can you get reviews from known authors / in known publications? Can you build an audience on your own?

In these case, the value proposition might not be worth it for what you have to give up to the publisher. But it is hard to be sure.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:23 AM   #14
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Iqy here,

Calm down everyone, there's room for everybody.
First, as Onda has 'announced' I am working with him as his writers representative, which is only fair because it was due to a chat we had nearly two years ago that he built zuluexpress.
So please talk to me, as I am a writer, I have tried my best to get published in the traditional sense with no luck, I self published and always felt there has to be a better way.
Yes publishers have a place in literature, they have owned it for over 200 years, but the business model is one of the last to bear the brunt of the digital revolution. Now we can send books around the planet in seconds, no need to chop down trees, pollute with inks and glues, or wait a year for them to edit, print, and distribute via wholesalers and retailers. It is undeniably a very convoluted process, and the proceeds of a $30 paperback are spread widely, with the creator, the writer, getting less than almost every other contributor. Thats why Onda gets so angry.
I have to ask, if only 1 in 100 books written are published, and of those only 3make money for the publsiher and the writer, what on earth are the publishers adding to the process? Editing yes, but we (I did) can get an editor all by ourselves, so what else? We pay for it eventally anyway. If you say promotion, why are only 3 in 100 selling?
I am a very openminded chap, so please tell me. In the meantime, my book is at Zulu, in front of the world, about 3 billion potential readers, and if its good enough it will sell well, if not, just like all those books in the book bins 97%) it won't. At least it won't be pulped.

I have soooo much more to say, but I've run out of time. Please tell me your thoughts warts and all, and I am sure we'll come out of this in far better shape, its a wonderful forum, and trust me, ebooks will go down in history as one of those moments in evoloution that are a book mark, JUST LIKE when Gutenberg gave us the printing press. Its time to move on guys, give it some out of the box thought. If every writer on the planet now has his or her chance to publish and be judged by you readers, is that a problem?
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:31 AM   #15
Iqy
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Iqy here,

Calm down everyone, there's room for everybody.
First, as Onda has 'announced' I am working with him as his writers representative, which is only fair because it was due to a chat we had nearly two years ago that he built zuluexpress.
So please talk to me, as I am a writer, I have tried my best to get published in the traditional sense with no luck, I self published and always felt there has to be a better way.
Yes publishers have a place in literature, they have owned it for over 200 years, but the business model is one of the last to bear the brunt of the digital revolution. Now we can send books around the planet in seconds, no need to chop down trees, pollute with inks and glues, or wait a year for them to edit, print, and distribute via wholesalers and retailers. It is undeniably a very convoluted process, and the proceeds of a $30 paperback are spread widely, with the creator, the writer, getting less than almost every other contributor. Thats why Onda gets so angry.
I have to ask, if only 1 in 100 books written are published, and of those only 3make money for the publsiher and the writer, what on earth are the publishers adding to the process? Editing yes, but we (I did) can get an editor all by ourselves, so what else? We pay for it eventally anyway. If you say promotion, why are only 3 in 100 selling?
I am a very openminded chap, so please tell me. In the meantime, my book is at Zulu, in front of the world, about 3 billion potential readers, and if its good enough it will sell well, if not, just like all those books in the book bins 97%) it won't. At least it won't be pulped.

I have soooo much more to say, but I've run out of time. Please tell me your thoughts warts and all, and I am sure we'll come out of this in far better shape, its a wonderful forum, and trust me, ebooks will go down in history as one of those moments in evoloution that are a book mark, JUST LIKE when Gutenberg gave us the printing press. Its time to move on guys, give it some out of the box thought. If every writer on the planet now has his or her chance to publish and be judged by you readers, is that a problem?
Iqy
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