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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Independent author and amateur beefcake

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Case of Kindle vs Macmillan

This is a conundrum, at best. With both sides staying pretty much mum it's hard to tell exactly what's going on, except that there's a war on e-book pricing. Macmillan feels that a 9.99 price point is to low and degrades the value of their books. The point they're not understanding, however, is that people that buy a 9.99 book for their Kindle don't get to actually 'own' that book. The Kindle's licensing agreement, you know that list of regulatory rules and gibber gabber that you have to click "yes" to, the form that everyone scrolls through in their rush to get onto the next page, it specifically notes that you are only leasing the novel. Theoretically as long as you have a Kindle, as long as Amazon supposes to support the Kindle, you keep that lease.

This is 'very' remanicant of the early days of the iPod and iTunes, when you bought the song, or album, and then they determined what you listened to the music on and how many times you could burn yourself a copy. The difference here, of course, is that with the Kindle you don't get to burn yourself a copy. There's no backing up the product.

I think, for such a tenuous hold on an item, 9.99 might, actually, be too much, when thought about in such terms. If the game plan changed and you were buying digital books that you could put on your hard drive and take with you, to whatever ereader came along, years from now, then 9.99 might seem too little. But, as things stand now, 9.99 is somewhere in the happy middle ground.

How this is all going down, however, is a different story. There are two stubborn giants in the room unwilling to see the other point of view. The consumer is in the middle, when, really, they should be the decider. If Macmillan wants their books to be 15.99 then Amazon should let them see what happens when a Kindle reader is forced to decide between 15.99 and 9.99, esp. when the actual hard backs on Amazon usually run under 20 bucks, as it is.

With huge corporations pulling stunts like this it's a perfect time for the indie author to publish their books to the Kindle and sell them for 5.99. In the end publishers might regret forcing readers to consider other authors.

Who knows.


News release from Amazon
Dear Customers:
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.


That was fast and obviously, they see the point. If the publisher wants to take that gamble...then they should be allowed to. And, as I pointed out and Amazon followed, it's a holiday for indie authors. Any of us with unfinished books, out there, should be all over this.

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