Thursday, February 4, 2010

"I don't care who's wrong or right, I don't really wanna fight no more"

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One thing you may not know about me is that I hate fighting. And I suck at holding a grudge. Really, it's almost a negative quality sometimes because people can do really nasty stuff and I'll totally forget and I'll be all, Hi! How are you! the next time I see them. I've got relatives that can hold a grudge for a good 30, 40 years so I have no idea where I get this from.

Anyway, the whole Amazon versus Macmillan thing of last weekend-- ay yi yi yi yi. That really had my head spinning. I'll admit, when I saw the buy button for my book disappear off of Amazon I was freaking. The A2A girls got a panicky note from me. I saw people on twitter saying I don't get why authors are freaking out and really? We were freaking out because a major distributor wasn't going to be carrying our book anymore. That sucks. When you are a new author and not a bestseller, your book doesn't have a long shelf life in the stores. They say the typical book has 90 days before getting sent back to the publisher. Now this isn't a hard fast rule or anything-- if a book is doing well at certain stores they'll keep it longer. Lots of books do see 6, 9 months etc. But the 90 day thing does happen. So from there your book is sold at independents (hopefully) and online retailers. And if Amazon goes away, well, that's not so great.

The whole situation was confusing, especially to me as a newer author because I don't totally get all of the book publishing world yet. I know a heck of a lot more than I did last year but it's constantly a learning process. Luckily there were some really articulate people ready to put the problem into more comprehensive terms. Like Scott Westerfield here. When he explains it, it makes sense.

Anyway, what were your thoughts on the whole fiasco? I'm glad they stopped fighting (for now) and hopefully things end up where both sides are content (maybe?). I 'm not so sure we've seen the end of it though-- as of now the Buy button is still not back on my Amazon page. Hmph.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

7 comments:

DeenaML said...

I would not pay more than $9.99 for an ebook myself; I'd rather pay $13.99 for the hardcover and have the book in my hand. BUT why should Amazon get to decide that for me? They want their Kindle to succeed. Poo on them!

Alissa said...

Amazon really acted like a big baby in the whole matter in my opinion, and that statement they made about Macmillan having a monopoly on Macmillan books, made no sense at all. Amazon is the monopoly and a publisher doesn't have a monopoly on their own books. Over the weekend, I was talking about and while it doesn't hurt bestselling books at all, people will still buy them it does hurt all the other authors because if people can't buy their book from Amazon, they might not go out of their way to buy it somewhere else.

Kate Fall said...

It looks like Harper Collins is joining Macmillan in their complaints. http://bit.ly/a2ECwP Will Amazon delist them too? I mean, that would be 1/3 of the major publishers.

Deena, I think the confusion comes in with how erratically books are priced in the first place. To get a hardcover for $13.99, it either has to be a slim book (not adult) or it has to be discounted. Most adult (and some YA) hardcovers are over $20.

And we all know that the major price of producing a book isn't paper, it's people (writers, editors, marketing, etc.). Amazon is taking a big loss on these $10 ebooks, but now customers think "that's how much they should cost."

So, yeah, I have some opinions on the subject. :)

Kristina Springer said...

Kate, I know-- each time I see a self-pubbed writer talk about how without the printing costs blah blah blah I think about the cops of all the editors, marketing, sales, art etc.

Brian said...

Without trying to defend Amazon (I agree they're acting like -- well, like Amazon), I have to say that the whole "ebooks cost just as much to produce as print books" is completely disingenuous, especially when you consider that under the deal the publishers are looking for, publishers will be paid LESS for each ebook sale, not more. So revenue per sale isn't the goal here on their part. The goal is to protect sales of hardcover volumes and try to slow down the transition from print to digital. It's a losing strategy, of course.

All the up-front, one-time costs to produce an ebook are the same as to produce a print book, but then, they're also the same to produce a cheap paperback as to produce a fancy hardcover, yet we see different pricing for those. What matters is the incremental cost to produce one copy of whatever version we're talking about, not up-front costs. Royalties to the author count, and the share that goes to the distributor, but really nothing else. So while Amazon is being a stinky gorilla, they happen to be right about the pricing.

Kate Fall said...

Brian, you bring up some good points but I'm not sure I agree with the incremental cost theory. I wrote out why I think that's an artificial construct, but it ended up four paragraphs long!

The short version is that publishers are willing to lose some money on ebooks in the short run because now they're not a big market. But they will be in the long run, and by then, print won't be around to eat the media-neutral production costs.

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