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Steve Jobs has made a deal with Rupert Murdoch, which may end the days of cheap e-books from Amazon.  (Source: Reuters)
Enjoy $9.99 bestsellers while you can, following the Macmillan concession, everyone wants more out of Amazon

As we predicted, the recent concession by Amazon.com in terms of electronic book pricing to “big six” publisher Macmillan opened the floodgates leading other top publishers to demand more.  

Amazon.com's electronics books have many downsides -- the potential to lose your book eventually due to compatibility, ownership concerns, and dependency on battery life of the device being used.  They also have significant upsides -- a lot of classic works are available for free, you can transport 1,000s of books in a single bag and it's much easier to locate your books.  However, the biggest advantage of all was pricing.  Whereas hardcover best sellers typically retail for $15 to $25 on Amazon.com, best-sellers have been available in e-book form for the bargain rate of $9.99.

Macmillan recently won in a battle with Amazon to raise those prices.  Amazon has agreed to raise the price of Macmillan 
New York Times bestsellers to $12.99, or in most cases, $14.99.  

Now Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns HarperCollins books -- another big six publisher -- is demanding a price bump of his own.  In a conference call Tuesday, he complained, "We don't like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99.  They pay us the wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge.  But I think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hard cover books."

Murdoch commented that he was looking to renegotiate News Corp's deal with Amazon and says that Amazon has responded that it is "ready to sit down with us again."

HarperCollins Books publishes such bestselling authors as Michael Crichton and Janet Evanovich.

Besides the Macmillan concession, another factor driving up prices is new competition from Apple.  Apple recently debuted its iPad tablet computer.  While its name has been the bunt of many jokes, curiosity about the new device is high.  Apple looks to use the device to become a major competitor to Amazon and second-place Sony in the electronic books arena.  

Apple already has a deal in place with Murdoch.  He comments, "Apple, in its agreement with us, which is not been disclosed in detail, does allow for a variety of slightly higher prices."

It appears that the final blows are being struck that will ultimately spell the end of cheap e-books.  Will that hurt the format's popularity?  Or will customers stomach the changes?  That remains to be seen in coming months.



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meh
By Levish on 2/3/2010 10:29:57 AM , Rating: 4
Meh, the time of publishers and distributors for ebook stuff could very easily come to a quick end.

There's nothing stopping authors from opening up their own small storefront and selling their own works independently and directly for whatever they want to charge.

Who needs Amazon or Itunes when you can buy the books straight from say Steven King's website for 4.99 (fictional possibility obviously).

You might not be able to get it on release day since small storefronts wouldn't be provisioned the same way but you also don't have to deal with selling through publishing / distribution companies like them unless you want to.




RE: meh
By smackababy on 2/3/2010 10:41:58 AM , Rating: 2
I am pretty sure when an author gets a book published, they no longer have the rights to sell that work. Plus, if it wasn't for publishers, most authors (except the big names) would make very little money.

Publishers dish out funds for writers to live off of while writing their works. Without publishers, writing would decline greatly.


RE: meh
By porkpie on 2/3/2010 11:01:01 AM , Rating: 5
You're half-right. A publisher generally gets rights of first publication for a certain period...but the author doesn't give up all rights entirely.

You're absolutely right about the relationship between publisher investment and author output though. It's the same reason record labels will never die...megabands are usually created more by the label's money than their own talent.


RE: meh
By Mojo the Monkey on 2/3/2010 11:28:08 AM , Rating: 2
Still, even with your example about bands... no great work of art is lost if talent cant carry the day. You underestimate the power of people and the internet to aggregate and sift new content to find the good stuff.

The publishing industry should and will decline in the next 20 years significantly.


RE: meh
By Duwelon on 2/3/2010 7:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
Publishing industry? I don't think so, not if they adapt with changing technology anyway. If you mean physical books, then yeah, probably. However, having a very specific technical reference sitting on your desk at all times is going to be desirable for a very long time.

Anyway, this Mickey article headline is what i've come to expect from him, having an agenda masquarading as a news story. That's right kids, hate Ruport Murdock and everything he does, wink wink *fox sucks* wink wink.

From global warming, evolution and here a not so subtle attempt to shape opinion of someone in the media that doesn't tow the line of the left 100% of the time, it's not surprising who wrote this story. I knew from the second I saw the headline it was Jason Mick who wrote it.


RE: meh
By Griswold on 2/4/2010 7:24:04 AM , Rating: 5
But FauxNews does suck donkeynuts. And Murdoch is the prototype of a powermongering, lobbyist asshat. Those are facts of life. Whether or not DailyMick has an agenda or not doesnt change that.


RE: meh
By Mojo the Monkey on 2/4/2010 1:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
I still disagree. I didnt say the industry would go away, but decline. A lot of casual/pleasure reading material, created by solo authors, will be able to go straight to a contracted editor, then "published" (made available for e-book download) independently.

And unless you count MS-Word or WordPerfect's "Publish to PDF" button as part of the publishing industry (sarcasm), there is no room for them in this emerging business model.


RE: meh
By DanNeely on 2/3/2010 11:02:46 AM , Rating: 4
It depends on the contract signed. The default contract will typically give the publisher ebook rights but that can be changed if the author and agent insist.

Corey Doctorow posts creative commons licensed versions of all his books online for anyone to download. http://craphound.com/?cat=5

David Drake has kept ebook rights for his Lord of the Isles fantasy series which can be bought via Webscriptions, which has been selling DRM free ebooks for a decade. Their catalog is primarily Baen, but they have deals with a number of smaller SF presses and other authors who own their ebook rights. Except for major titles that aren't available in print yet, webscription books are priced lower than mass market paperbacks. http://www.webscription.net//


RE: meh
By Screwballl on 2/3/2010 11:12:04 AM , Rating: 2
Modern day publishers = RIAA/MPAA/MAFIAA

Just look through any Books-a-Million or other book stores and see less and less people there. The last time I was near one (last weekend), most of the people were in the coffee shop and reading stuff online in the free wifi, only 3 out of the 30+ were reading actual books, the rest of the store was mostly empty.
When I go in there it is usually just to pick up a single issue of a magazine I do not subscribe to, and even then that is only once a year. As the older generation slowly disappear and dies off, and the younger technophile generation becomes much more prevalent, within 1-2 decades, we can see the death of paper based books and magazines.


RE: meh
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2010 2:22:18 PM , Rating: 3
Nothing beats holding a fresh book in your hands reading it. The e-readers might be able to partially simulate the visual sensation, they can not simulate the smell and tacticle feel you get from it. They can not also simulate the reliability and portability of the book.

There is something nice about being able to open up a book and not worry about batteries, nor dropping it or just setting it down in a public place while you run to the restroom or, if on the beach, go out into the sea for a short swim.


RE: meh
By Ammohunt on 2/3/2010 2:48:37 PM , Rating: 1
You have time to open up a book? Between career and family i am lucky to have 5 minutes to myself in the bathroom(where i do most of my reading)


RE: meh
By Spuke on 2/3/2010 4:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nothing beats holding a fresh book in your hands reading it.
I read books because of the content. Never had a connection to them. I'd rather have an ereader. I could have ALL of my magazines and books in one place PLUS download more if I want. Super convenient too. Hell, I could download an audio book in my car during a trip and play it back through the cars speakers. Can't do any of that with a paperback.


RE: meh
By msomeoneelsez on 2/3/2010 7:39:39 PM , Rating: 3
Better than downloading an audio book, TTS is getting quite a bit better, and as it excels, there will be more (and better) voices of your choosing to read any book or magazine you download.

I'm sure someone will even emulate celebrity voices as well. Think "Obama proving himself wrong by reading The Wealth of Nations" to you on your daily commute.

Honestly though, those who think technology won't replace paper books are quite similar to Napoleon nay-saying the steam engine for ships. It may seem absurd or illogical, but sometimes the absurd and illogical are the better solution.


RE: meh
By FishTankX on 2/4/2010 1:14:45 AM , Rating: 2
There is NOTHING like drinking home roasted coffee 48-72 hours after it's been roasted. The sensory experience is divine. This *used* to be the standard way of doing things, back in early america. The advent of freeze dried, packaged coffee, and later, instant, completely fubared people's perceptions of what coffee should taste like.

It doesn't matter how good an experience is, the desire for convenience is a powerful motivating factor, no matter how wonderful the experience it's emulating is.


RE: meh
By Griswold on 2/4/2010 7:31:11 AM , Rating: 2
What a silly comparison. Downloading an e-book (which you likely wont be able to read again in a couple years or decades let alone pass it on to your kids and grandkids if its in a proprietary format) is only faster but no more convenient than ordering a real book online, sent directly to your doorstep.

Argument dismissed.


RE: meh
By elgueroloco on 2/4/2010 6:48:32 PM , Rating: 3
What a silly argument. There is far, far more to the convenience of an e-book than the process of buying it. For one, how about bookshelves/storage space? How much does a good bookcase cost? If you want a nice one, you can easily pay the cost of a Kindle for enough bookshelf to store 100 books. Then you'd have to pay higher prices for those books to fill the shelf. 1 Kindle will hold 1500 books. Most people don't have room for that many books in their house. A kindle can fit in a single desk drawer.

Can you carry your entire library of paper books around with you? No. How about college? Tell me which you find more convenient: carrying 6 large textbooks around in a backpack that weighs 40 lbs, or having them all on a 3-lb netbook that you can also take notes and do all your homework on.

Let's say you're in a technical trade that involves going out to job sites (e.g. electrician or anything involving bldg code). I think it would be really convenient to have technical references all stored in a small, lightweight device rather than carry them all with you in bulky paper form. How about a mechanic? Mechanics do not have room in their garage for 100's of Chilton's manuals, but they could store every one ever made in 1 kindle, which they do have room for. It would also take them far, far less time to look up the manual they need, allowing them to be much more productive.

I could go on and on, but I think I've gotten the point across.

Dismissal dismissed.


RE: meh
By Griswold on 2/4/2010 7:27:52 AM , Rating: 2
Did it never cross your mind that people buy books online too? Think of amazon. They seel a dozen times more real books than e-books. I am one of those buyers. I prefer real books over e-books anyway, because I *know" that I will be able to read it again in 20 or 30 years or somebody else in 50 or more years. Can you say that about your e-books on your little e-book reader? Nope, you cant.

Yes, most bookstores are going the way of the dodo, but books are not. I can only imagine that somebody who doesnt read many books would claim such.


RE: meh
By BioRebel on 2/3/2010 12:39:13 PM , Rating: 3
I kinda like that idea, an independent market that allows authors to sell their books themselves.


RE: meh
By wiz220 on 2/3/2010 12:58:14 PM , Rating: 3
I say keep Amazon in the mix but get rid of the publishers. Amazon could do for independent writers what Ebay did for people running small businesses. Amazon is the store front where millions of people can see your product and you can negotiate your own price with Amazon as opposed to having a publisher set the price for your work.


RE: meh
By CityZen on 2/3/2010 3:55:21 PM , Rating: 2
RE: meh
By DanNeely on 2/3/2010 3:59:58 PM , Rating: 2
You've obviously never seen any of the dreck that wannabe's think is good enough to be published. Publishing companies perform a vitally needed crap filtering service. Unlike songs which can be evaluated in a few minutes to see if they're any good a lot of the garbage that ends up submitted into slush piles have plot problems that aren't apparent until reading a large chunk of the book (incoherent/missing/doesn't have an ending).

There's also the issue of style. If I needed to grab a random book by an unknown author to kill time; better than 90% of my purchases were from either Baen or Tor books. While neither of them has a monopoly on SF authors who write books I enjoy their editors tastes are most closely aligned with my own; meaning I had the best chance of getting a book that turned out to be something I'd like.


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