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Old 09-20-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
igorsk
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UK eBook customers complaints: 50% prices, 49% DRM

There was a comment added to today's Bookseller article about UK ebook retailers boycott of Hachete's agency model. It was signed Matt Bradbeer which matches the LinkedIn profile of "Co-Founder and Director at eGurus Ltd" and past "Head of Internet Operations at Waterstone's Booksellers Ltd". We can't be sure it's him but the comment seems to be matching (emphasis mine).
Quote:
When this agreement landed on my desk last week was reminded of the conversations I had with music publishers 5 years ago. Music publishers were trying to grab as much control over distribution (DRM) and pricing in the hope it would then take longer for the market to take back control of things. A rather Pyrrhic victory as it turned out, it just created a boom in piracy. Musicians are lucky, they can go on tour and earn money outside of album and single sales. I don't think tours and gigs will work for authors, but you never know, it could be fun.
The problems with the agency model really boil down to:
1) Price Fixing - illegal and highly suspect, not really in the consumers interest. I would say that at least 50% of emails to our customer services are "Why are ebooks more expensive than paperbacks, are you mad?". The next 49% are complaints about DRM and Digital Editions... To be fair, the current book industry practice of having an RRP and setting a "discount from the RRP" pretty much dictates the selling price of a book based on perceived value to the consumer. It is all a bit arbitrary anyway. As an independant bookseller, price fixing is actaully quite handy for us as it levels the playing field and we don't have to compete on price. But this is beside the point.
2) This agreement makes a retailer an agent. An agent tends not to have to run expensive customer service operations and has limited requirement to add value. A bit like an affiliate in the online world. Will Hachette (and others) provide a full customer service operation to support their "agents"? Why don't they just set up a glorified affiliate scheme and we just direct traffic to them and they pay us a commission that way?
Authors really do get a raw deal out the existing setup, but fixing prices is not the way to make it better, unless the same approach is applied to physical books (God forbid). The cost price of a book to retailers should reflect a fair level of renumeration for an author, the balance being a fair assessment of publishers costs / profit expectations. Removing the concept of RRP and working off a basic cost model would be much more effective in protecting authors. Discount off RRP is a silly way of doing things and open to massive amounts of pressure from retailers. This is because is gives the retailer a yardstick by which to push for more of a discount. If they were presented with a set cost price non-negotiatable and allowed to price where they want it would be much fairer on the author and publisher. From personal experience it works rather well in most other retail industries. It will be very interesting to see how the market changes in the next few months for Amazon, Apple, Waterstones, ebookShoppe.com and The Book Depository.
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Old 09-20-2010, 02:13 PM   #2
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Also this very interesting note from immateriel (in french, sorry)
http://blog.immateriel.fr/2010/02/23...du-detaillant/
Where said said the ratio of people asking for support after buying a book went from 1/1000 to 1/4 when they added DRM.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:17 PM   #3
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Great post, thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-21-2010, 01:53 AM   #4
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That is interesting.
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Old 09-21-2010, 02:00 AM   #5
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Thanks for the link, explains why my searching yesterday resulted in so many "Out of stock" icons. I was blaming geographic restrictions. Good on them for taking a stand. It will be an interesting few months.
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:23 AM   #6
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Very interesting.
Thanks!
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:37 AM   #7
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Let's hope they keep firm and, an even smaller chance, that the publishers get the hint...
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