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Old 04-22-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
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Post iPad drives Kindle prices higher, readers revolt

iPad drives Kindle prices higher, readers revolt

Author Gail Farrelly is among the Kindle owners faced with increased prices for e-books, now that big publishing houses have created a new model with Apple's iPad. In this guest post, Gail takes a closer look at the issue:

The Amazon Kindle Discussion Forum has not been a happy place lately. Higher prices, a side effect of the arrival of the iPad, dominate the discussion. In fact, the forum's been marked by a Tea Party atmosphere, with complaints, indignation, and boycott plans. Whether consumers are willing to pay the higher prices remains to be seen.

To get an idea about some specific prices, I looked at the Kindle price and availability as of this writing for each of the five top hardcover fiction and nonfiction books on the April 18 print copy of the The New York Times best-seller list. Neither the top fiction book ("Changes" by Jim Butcher) nor the top non-fiction book ("The Big Short" by Michael Lewis" -- see recent post on Read Street) is available on the Kindle at this time for U. S. customers. Huh? This is surprising, especially given the fact that the Association of American Publishers has estimated that, while book sales fell by 1.8% in 2009, e-book sales were up last year by 176.6%. Yikes! That publishers cannot develop a profitable business model to make top-selling books available to e-book users in a timely way is a sad commentary on the state of the industry. I just hope that, in a year or two, one or more of the publishers won't be asking for a bailout from taxpayers.

Regarding Kindle prices for the other eight bestsellers, five of them are priced at $9.99, traditionally the Amazon price for most bestsellers. "The Bridge" by David Remnick is $14.82; "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler is $12.99; "A River in the Sky" by Elizabeth Peters is $12.99.

Most buyers of e-books agree that the Kindle version should not be priced higher than the lowest-priced DTB (dead tree book) version. They balk at the fact that one can buy, for example, the mass market paperback version of M. C. Beaton's "Death of a Witch" for $6.99, while the Kindle version is priced at $11.99. A legitimate complaint, since costs like distribution, inventory and storage are so much lower for e-books. Most e-book users are horrified at the thought of "subsidizing" print books. One of the publishers did say that paperbacks are at times published by a company other than the one that published the hardback and Kindle versions, so that may explain some pricing that seems inconsistent. To be fair, I must also point out that there are some forum users who seem unperturbed by the new pricing schemes and are very quick to defend the publishers on a number of issues.

On a positive note, there have also been some terrific bargains and freebies offered on the Kindle this month. For example, about two weeks ago, for a brief time, 10 of the 13 books by Lemony Snicket ("A Series of Unfortunate Events") were free. As of this writing, "The Dark Tide" (with bonus material) by Andrew Gross is free. Two short story collections are bargain priced: "Hardly Knew Her" by Laura Lippman is $.99; and "The Price of Love and Other Stories" by Peter Robinson is $1.99. An added attraction of all these books is that the text-to-speech feature is enabled.

Like many other Kindle users, I downloaded a ton of books before the iPad invasion. Until prices stabilize, I'll be buying very little but making good use of Jungle-Search to find bargains on the Kindle. And I don't think I'll be alone!

Source: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/ente...ices_high.html
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Old 04-23-2010, 03:37 AM   #2
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So to summarise: prices for some books have gone up a couple of dollars, but major publishers like Harper Collins are now running promotions where they give their books away for free.

Are readers 'revolting' against the idea of free books?

Good work on using one book where Hachette got the pricing wrong to suggest some nonsensical conspiracy and ignoring all the others where it's moving to get it right (M. C. Beaton's 'Death of a Macho Man' - PB $6.99, Kindle $6.99 etc, etc).
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:54 AM   #3
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Amazon were apparently keeping the price artificially low at $9.99 in order to build market share. They were reportedly willing to take several dollars LOSS on the books that should have been above that ceiling, in the cause of establishing a dominant position. (Source: New Yorker article).

So we could probably not realistically expect them to keep that position going indefinitely.

Pricing anomalies across different editions are hardly new in the publishing world. It really boils down to whether the asking price is worth it for whichever format you want at the time.

I'll certainly be shopping around, but I won't be wasting too much time moaning or catastrophising about it. I think that if we give it a bit more time the market will find a workable level.

Cheers,

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Old 04-23-2010, 05:01 AM   #4
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Last edited by ChrisC333; 04-23-2010 at 05:08 AM. Reason: Accidental double post
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Old 04-23-2010, 05:03 AM   #5
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The link to the New Yorker article is in Kali Yuga's thread below.It's worth a read.

Publish or Perish - New Yorker on the Ebook biz
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:39 AM   #6
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Amazon was not selling all of their ebooks at a loss. Like many physical discount stores, Amazon used bestsellers as their loss leader to get customers in the door, so to speak. Amazon did the same thing with physical books when it was establishing a web presence.

I will not pay more than $9.99 for any ebook. Not when I can walk into a physical store and buy the new physical book for the same or less than for the current ebook price. I don't see the publishers pushing the Agency Model with physical books. And, so far, the ebook prices rarely reflect the paperback price. That tells me that the publishers are using agency pricing to prop up hardcover sales.

There are plenty of non-Agency Model authors out there for me to read.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:53 AM   #7
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Well, the above is rather incomplete reporting. The reason Changes and the Micheal Lewis book isn't available for Kindle isn't because the Publisher can't or won't get an eBook out in a timely manner, it is because of the Amazon and Penguin Inc contract is still in dispute.

As for the this book is $9.99 vs this one at $12.99, I think it should have mentioned that one extremely large Publisher (Random House) is still fine and dandy with Amazon and other retailers discounting their publications to drive sales.

Also one thing I hardly ever see mentioned anywhere is that Random House books are unavailable through the iBookstore. I guess it is probably a minor point since iPAD users can simply buy them through another APP.

Scary to think that in a year we could be going through another major shake-up as the iPAD contracts with the Publishers expire.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:59 AM   #8
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Amazon was not selling all of their ebooks at a loss. Like many physical discount stores, Amazon used bestsellers as their loss leader to get customers in the door, so to speak. Amazon did the same thing with physical books when it was establishing a web presence.
Agreed. I don't think anybody ever suggested that they were taking a loss on all their books. The issue seems to be that Amazon was artificially creating a $9.99 barrier for e-books in the public mind. For some books that's fine, but for others it's just not always realistic to sell that low.

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I will not pay more than $9.99 for any ebook. Not when I can walk into a physical store and buy the new physical book for the same or less than for the current ebook price.
That's fine, and many would agree with you, or not even be prepared to go that high. But I am prepared to do so, and I guess that's fine too.

There are many e-books that I'd be regularly prepared to pay as much or more for than a pbook. For instance, material where the speed, accuracy and convenience of searching is important. But even going to a store to buy a printed book can cost me more in time and running costs than the price of the book itself (as opposed to buying an ebook in seconds with a few clicks). I certainly do prefer to get an e-book cheaper, but I'm not going to be inflexible about it. If I think the content is worth the asking price I'm not too fussed about always paring off the last few bucks by hiking off to a discount book store.

I think there's room for all of us.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:34 AM   #9
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That's fine, and many would agree with you, or not even be prepared to go that high. But I am prepared to do so, and I guess that's fine too.


I think there's room for all of us.
Well.. No. There is room for you at $9.99 pricing, there is no room for me in $15 and more pricing range.
How would you feel, if some yacht owning oil billionere will defend pricing model by saying he will pay $1000 for the ebook he likes? Does it prove anything to the rest of us?
I think not.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:21 AM   #10
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Well.. No. There is room for you at $9.99 pricing, there is no room for me in $15 and more pricing range.
How would you feel, if some yacht owning oil billionere will defend pricing model by saying he will pay $1000 for the ebook he likes? Does it prove anything to the rest of us?
I think not.
Are you really saying that there's no book that you'd pay $15 for?

If your billionaire finds an ebook that he'll pay $1000 for that's fine by me. In fact, I believe that there are already some ebooks that do have an asking price in that sort of range. If I remember rightly they were some kind of very low volume medical research or reference texts. The sort of things where the costs of paying someone to put it all together in the right format can only be set against a very small number of sales.

If cheapness of books are what drives your buying then I'm sure there will continue to be some that cater for you - just like there are cheaper cars, clothes, or whatever. But I don't see why you should expect me or anybody else to be too upset if you want to stick to your own self imposed ceiling. Hey, I'd like to buy a Ferrari for the price of a regular sedan too, but sometimes you just have to save up more or make do with something cheaper.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:32 AM   #11
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Are you really saying that there's no book that you'd pay $15 for?

If your billionaire finds an ebook that he'll pay $1000 for that's fine by me. In fact, I believe that there are already some ebooks that do have an asking price in that sort of range. If I remember rightly they were some kind of very low volume medical research or reference texts. The sort of things where the costs of paying someone to put it all together in the right format can only be set against a very small number of sales.

If cheapness of books are what drives your buying then I'm sure there will continue to be some that cater for you - just like there are cheaper cars, clothes, or whatever. But I don't see why you should expect me or anybody else to be too upset if you want to stick to your own self imposed ceiling. Hey, I'd like to buy a Ferrari for the price of a regular sedan too, but sometimes you just have to save up more or make do with something cheaper.
First of, I don't expect you to be upset - be happy all you want. I am against you saying there is place for all when you mean for you.

Second of all let's not be absurd ok? I am not talking medicine books or grimories I am talking NY list bestsellers which are usually closer to Saturns and Geos not Ferrari. And I am not talking about $2 ceiling I am talking about $10, that was set not by me, but by retailer who knows a little more about pricing then you or me. If I had my way it would've been $7.99 ceiling, so I am already compromising .
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:15 PM   #12
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First of, I don't expect you to be upset - be happy all you want. I am against you saying there is place for all when you mean for you.
OK, I'm sorry that you think there's no place for you. I do understand that not everybody has plenty of money to spend.

But I still think that your limit is imposed by yourself and that you do still have options (room) to buy the books. Obviously you can just buy less books for each $100 you spend, but you can also wait for access through libraries, second hand bookshops etc. I also don't see why ebooks won't also come out in cheaper versions over time, perhaps bundled in sets or whatever in much the same manner as some pbooks do.

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Second of all let's not be absurd ok?
Hey, you started it with your $1000 a book yacht owning billionaire. You think that's not just a tad absurd?


I agree that it sucks when things cost more than we'd like to pay, but I still feel that $15 is good value for the hours I get from a book, and that if I miss out on a book that is a bit pricey for me (which regularly happens with pbooks) then there's plenty of other stuff to read in the meantime. And I'll wait for the opportunity another time. I just got hold of a book two weeks ago that I've waited over twenty years for.

Anyway, I hope we can agree to disagree on our price ceilings.

Cheers,

Chris
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Old 04-23-2010, 02:08 PM   #13
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An ebook should be at least half the price of the cheapest paper copy of the book. If the paperback version is $5.99, the ebook should be $2.99. Almost no ebook is worth $15 unless it is a scientific or scholastic book.
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Old 04-23-2010, 02:08 PM   #14
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Steve "People Don't Read Anymore" Jobs sold the iPad to the publishing industry as the miracle which will save them. And he promised them higher prices in the bargain.

Steve is there just to sell his miracle gadget, and to sucker as many as he can into his walled garden. He found a way to throw a wrench in Amazon's steamroller and the publishers are happy about it.

But, I personally don't see the iPad as the publishing industry savior. Jobs is not a book seller and he is using books as an interim driver only. Particularly since the movie/TV industry spurned his overtures to bring them into his iworld.

Bottom line, we'll get higher prices for a while, until sales drop and piracy increases. Then the publishing industry will wake up in the same dark place the music industry inhabited a few years ago.
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Old 04-23-2010, 07:00 PM   #15
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Steve "People Don't Read Anymore" Jobs sold the iPad to the publishing industry as the miracle which will save them. And he promised them higher prices in the bargain.

Steve is there just to sell his miracle gadget, and to sucker as many as he can into his walled garden. He found a way to throw a wrench in Amazon's steamroller and the publishers are happy about it.

But, I personally don't see the iPad as the publishing industry savior. Jobs is not a book seller and he is using books as an interim driver only. Particularly since the movie/TV industry spurned his overtures to bring them into his iworld.

Bottom line, we'll get higher prices for a while, until sales drop and piracy increases. Then the publishing industry will wake up in the same dark place the music industry inhabited a few years ago.
Let him sell his Ipads, I just hope that he doesn't sell many ebooks via Itunes. Then this whole nonsense will go away by the end of the year. My TBR list is full, I will just wait and sit it out, and there are many public domain books I also want to read. By buying now we would support their price fixing.

For me it is also a matter of principle, no ebook should cost more than the paperback version.
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