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Archives: January 2010

Amazon on Macmillan eBook Prices: “We have expressed our strong disagreement”

11gEvSNO43L._SL150_.jpgAfter a weekend of silence, Amazon (AMZN) has written a statement to customers in the Kindle forums about why they temporarily stopped selling Macmillan books directly on their website.

The full text is included below, but here is the key statement that lays out the publishing industry’s debate: “Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book.”

Here is Amazon’s note: “Macmillan, one of the ‘big six’ publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

“We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

“Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy! Thank you for being a customer.”

In addition, Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following links to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value.

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Amazon Vs. Macmillan Vs. Kindle Readers: GalleyCat Readers Respond

a.com_logo_RGB1.jpgLast night, Macmillan CEO John Sargent confirmed that Amazon (AMZN) had stopped directly selling books by the corporate publisher–the first named source to confirm a dispute between Amazon and Macmillan over raising the standard eBook price from $9.99 to around $15.

The $9.99 price point has been a touchy subject all year. As we reported yesterday, a vocal contingent of Amazon customers are still encouraging others to boycott Kindle books that cost more than $9.99. The story kept GalleyCat readers and editors busy over the weekend.

Novelist Bendan McNally wrote: “Once I talked up my novel, GERMANIA, to a lady at a Starbucks who was using a Kindle. she looked my book up, didn’t like what they were charging for the download, but bought it anyway. She just asked that I pass on to my editor her opinion that ebooks should not be priced at more that 9.99. I kept my end of the bargain. The publisher’s response was silence.”

Another readers retorted: “I doubt Amazon is letting the views of 2200 customers dictate a pricing policy that affects millions. If 2200 are unhappy enough to post about it, that means (let’s ballpark it) 2,997,800 are at least neutral enough not to join the conversation.”

Reader Allen Harkleroad wrote: “This news makes me so glad that I am self-published and don’t rely on large book publishers for income.” Bear Mountain Books wrote: “I’m really not sure Amazon took the best route to get this pricing dispute in the open, but they did get attention on the problem. The Amazon forums seem a bit split on the outcome. There are those saying, ‘let them price how they want and we’ll decide if we pay it’ and those that say, ‘Thanks, Amazon for taking a stand.’”

Many other outlets have covered this strange affair, including: the AP and Publishers Weekly and BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s the LA Times and MediaMemo and Mashable and Digital Book World. Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following links to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value.

Macmillan CEO Confirms Amazon Price Feud

macmillan.jpgIn a paid advertisement in Publishers Marketplace, Macmillan CEO John Sargent confirmed that Amazon (AMZN) had stopped directly selling books by the publisher. “It is impossible to reach you all in the very limited timeframe we are working under, so I have sent this message in unorthodox form,” he wrote in a note addressed to “Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community.”

The story broke on Friday evening, as Amazon and Macmillan had a dispute over raising the standard eBook price from $9.99 to around $15. After negotiations ended in “impasse,” the online bookseller stopped directly selling Macmillan titles, only offering Macmillan books through outside vendors. The $9.99 price point has been a touchy subject all year. As we reported yesterday, a vocal contingent of Amazon customers are still encouraging others to boycott Kindle books that cost more than $9.99.

Here’s an excerpt from the Publishers Lunch ad: “Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.”

Macmillan and Amazon Report Round Up

a.com_logo_RGB1.jpgOur peaceful publishing Saturday was interrupted by a report from the NY Times about Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN). Here is the paragraph that rocked the publishing world: “Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

No matter how this situation is sorted out, publishers will soon have to convince another constituency: Amazon customers. We reported today that scores of Amazon customers are urging others to boycott books priced over $9.99.

Many other outlets have covered this strange affair, including: the AP and Publishers Weekly and BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s the LA Times and MediaMemo and Mashable.

Requests for comment have not been returned, but Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following links to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value. Tune in tomorrow for any new developments.

Amazon Customers Continue to Boycott Kindle Books Priced Higher Than $9.99

999boycott23.jpg

As we noted this morning, Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN) appear to be in dispute about Amazon’s common $9.99 price for Kindle books. No matter what happens, publishers will face another opponent in this battle: Amazon customers.

As publishers and the monolithic bookseller debate this eBook price point, GalleyCat went to the Amazon discussion forums to find out what customers expect. We discovered that customers are still boycotting books priced more than $9.99–so far, 2,183 customers have tagged 3,302 books with the “9.99 boycott” label.

Last month, one Amazon customer wrote a brief manifesto entitled: “Support the $9.99 Boycott“–drawing 122 customer responses. Here’s an excerpt: “Boycott the kindle edition books offered for over $9.99. A couple of the authors that I have read in the past are offering their books for more than $9.99. I will obtain these books for free from the library. If we consumers don’t hold the line, the prices will escalate while the economy continues to bomb. GREEDY TURDS!”

While we are not endorsing these customer views, it is important to note that the Amazon customer base is exerting a pressure on the company to keep prices low. Other popular tags from Kindle readers include: “outrageous kindle price” and “books to kindle when price goes down.” We have been reporting on this trend since April 2009, but these vocal customers haven’t quit.

Amazon has not replied to our request for comment, but, as of this writing, Macmillan books like John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War and William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value are not available for direct sale from Amazon. We will keep you posted as the story develops. In the meantime, here’s more from BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s and the LA Times and MediaMemo.

Macmillan Books Unavailable for Direct Sale on Amazon

a.com_logo_RGB1.jpgLast night the NY Times published a dramatic story where an unnamed source claimed that Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN) are currently in dispute about eBook prices.

Here is an excerpt: “Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

It appears that Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following this link to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or this link to William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value.

We’ve contacted Amazon with a request for comment, and we will keep you updated as the story evolves. In the meantime, here’s more from BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s.

Weekend Reading: Lost Season 6 Secrets

lostposter23.jpgToday io9 posted leaked footage alleged to be the first four minutes of the final season of the television show Lost. The first episode debuts on Feb. 2, and it tops our list of recommended weekend reading.

For the last five seasons, Lost has been loaded with literary references, and this week GalleyCat broke the news of a New Directions novel that will play a role in the upcoming season.

It has been an eventful week at GalleyCat Headquarters. We covered a major product launch, a digital conference, and some sad literary news. Amid all this excitement, GalleyCat Reviews finally launched.

We also gave publishers tips on how they can use virtual currencies and virtual goods, following the example of Facebook-based games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

We also covered the Digital Book World conference, a two-day crash course in 21st Century publishing.

We lost three great writers.

Finally, and some company called Apple released some fancy new gadget that you can use to read books.

AT&T Dominates eReader Connections

attlogo.pngThe majority of publishing stocks dipped today, following general declines on Wall Street. At the same time, All Things Digital spotted a new player in the e-publishing game: “AT&T (T) provides wireless connections for Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle, Sony’s (SNE) Daily Reader and Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) Nook. And the carrier said it added more than one million wireless data subscriptions for those ‘emerging devices’ last quarter.”

GalleyCat has been tracking the stock performance of the major companies that influence the bookselling business. We created this chart with eight publicly-traded publishing stocks hand-picked by our readers–including company name, symbol, current stock price, and price increase or decrease at week’s close.

-Name- -Symbol- -Last price- -Change-

The McGraw-Hill Co. MHP 35.45 -0.11
Books-A-Million, Inc. BAMM 6.37 0.03
Borders Group, Inc. BGP 0.86 -0.02
Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN 125.41 -0.62
Barnes & Noble, Inc. BKS 17.48 -0.32
Wiley John & Sons Inc. JW.A 41.75 -0.46
Scholastic Corporation SCHL 29.9 -0.13
News Corporation NWS 14.68 0.13
Google Inc. GOOG 529.42 -4.87
Apple Inc. AAPL 192.12 -7.17
Sony Corporation SNE 33.23 -0.57

Publishing’s Statistical Sweet Spot

versologo.pngIs there an untested sweet spot for eBook prices? Last year Verso Digital polled 5,640 readers on the Internet, exploring our evolving digital reading habits. They released the results at the Digital Book World conference and the slides from the presentation have been archived on the site.

Our post about the presentation ended up being one of the most popular stories this week, so we’ve embedded Verso Digital’s complete slideshow presentation below.

Verso Digital business development director Jack McKeown noted that 27.5 percent of the surveyed readers would not pay more than $10 for an eBook. “They have been converted to Amazon price range,” explained McKeown. However, 37 percent of the readers said they aren’t sure how much they would pay. “Somewhere in the $10 to $18 range there may be a sweet spot,” he concluded.

What do you think? If you want to read more, the Philadelphia Social Media Examiner, journalist Cindy Ratzlaff also pondered these statistics in an essay.

Remembering Howard Zinn, Louis Auchincloss, and J.D. Salinger

salingertribute.jpg

It was a sad week for the literary world as we lost scholar Howard Zinn, author Louis Auchincloss, and the great J.D. Salinger.

Various writers and journalists around the web have memorialized these great writers. At New York, Boris Kachka wrote a tribute to Auchincloss: “He was–because of long life and his Whartonian style–a living anachronism. But his lament was less for a vanished class than for a bygone sense of shame. He understood that, whether in a feudal world or a meritocracy, power means nothing without responsibility.”

Editor Chris Kubica told us about the thousands of fans who have written letters to Salinger over the years.

Over at Classics Rock, Larry Hughes collected all the rock songs that reference the work of Zinn. He also compiled a list of all the songs inspired by The Catcher in the Rye.

Finally, cartoonist Jeffrey Koterba sent in that lovely cartoon to celebrate Salinger’s legacy in the 21st Century. Click here to see his tribute to John Updike.

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