Dream-Worlds Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Lifestyles and Pastimes > Publishing the DreamWorlds
  New Posts New Posts
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Calendar   Register Register  Login Login

The Cyber Book Price War Debate

 Post Reply Post Reply
Poll Question: Whose side are you on?
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
2 [100.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
You can not vote in this poll

Author
Message
  Topic Search Topic Search  Topic Options Topic Options
Jano View Drop Down
Site Manager
Site Manager
Avatar
alias author Jan Hawke

Joined: 27 Dec 2008
Location: Dunheved Kernow
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7985
  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Cyber Book Price War Debate
    Posted: 12 Aug 2014 at 11:37am
The Cyber Book Price War Debate

There is a publishing war about to escalate over the retail price of eBooks. Some people don't like Kindle et al at all while others love the low, low prices and they way electronic markets have opened up myriad opportunities for people to self-publish.

Last week, as an eBook self-publisher I received an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) asking that I lobby with another ePublisher who're campaigning to set eBook prices on a par with print prices - something I happen to think is probably immoral if not illegal. See what you think...

Originally posted by KDP

Dear KDP Author, Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion. Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive. Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers. The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books. Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive. Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger. But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that. And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading. We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle. We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us. Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com Please consider including these points: - We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive. - Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did. - Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle. - Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue. Thanks for your support. The Amazon Books Team P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
Back to Top
Saranna View Drop Down
Dreamcatcher
Dreamcatcher
Avatar

Joined: 06 Jun 2009
Location: Grey Havens
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 3173
  Quote Saranna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2014 at 9:15am
I think I don't like being manipulated.
Death comes to all
But great achievements raise a monument
Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
- George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'
Back to Top
Galen View Drop Down
Dreamcatcher
Dreamcatcher
Avatar
Teacher and Bard

Joined: 10 Nov 2008
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 3632
  Quote Galen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2014 at 12:43pm
As a reader, I agree with the points made about ebooks being cheaper as a plus.  As a writer and friend of authors, I think they need to fight for whatever view works for them and I support that.  Like Saranna, I don't like being manipulated.  Tough situation.
Dance like no one's watching!
Back to Top
Jano View Drop Down
Site Manager
Site Manager
Avatar
alias author Jan Hawke

Joined: 27 Dec 2008
Location: Dunheved Kernow
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7985
  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2014 at 4:54pm
Having dipped my toes into the murky ocean-sized puddle from both perspectives as a reader and an author there's no way I'd pay a similar price for a eBook as I would for the paperback version (hardbacks don't come into the equation for me unless it's an investment piece). Angry 

Even well-known best selling authors don't go much over the £6 mark (so around  $10) for eBooks and the most I've ever paid for a boxed set of the 1st 5 parts George Martin's Song of Fire and Ice - so that's actually 7 paperbacks (around 6000 words) is £30/$52. 

It really is a basic value money thing for book buying and the vast majority of titles I buy on Kindle etc now are for reviewing purposes only, and I rarely pay - and want to pay because the quality is wildly variable Wacko - more than £3/$5. Kindle Direct Publishing and many other online self-publishing groups charge you NOTHING for putting your titles on and let you take a bigger commission rate than for print only, simply because they know if they can sell them it's costing them almost zero, except for the payment engine and storage of sales info. Even the latter is put on by the author/self publisher - I've done all the 'Look inside' blurb and provided the files for it, so even inputting onto the system doesn't involve too much effort for the Amazons and Barnes & Noble et al.

Which is why so many people will self-publish - often not to very high standards which again brings value for money into the equation because a lot of self-pub titles are, quite rightly, regarded as tat... Dead We live in a culture that doesn't like to pay too much and that ain't gonna change because if you start making people pay more then it's highly likely that they won't buy at all, or not enough of them well... Ouch

Really the question should be 'how much of a small portion of the shrinking money pot are you willing to take?' So I think, with crystal clear specs that for once a hard-nosed business model like KDPs is actually the right-thinking one for the vast majority.
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.047 seconds.

We are a non-profit making site. We are not affiliated with any company, studio, institution, industry or official fan organisation for any copyrighted material featured on this site.
Content posted on the site remains the property of the original owner/artist and is used in compliance with the fair use/dealing clause of the copyright act.
Header framework art ~ where not attributed on the graphic, design & original content remain © dream-worlds.net 2009-2011
Terms of Use