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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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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//


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