Monday, February 1, 2010

Amazon and E-Book (Opinion)

I'm assuming you've all read about the Amazon and Macmillan Publishing brouhaha. If you haven't, let me summarize it for you.

Amazon sells e-books for $9.99. Macmillan Publishing wants Amazon to sell their e-books for 15 dollars. Amazon said no because they are trying to build their Kindle business and Amazon doesn't think their customers will pay fifteen bucks for an e-book.

(And they are right)

Amazon actually takes a small loss to post e-books for 9.99. Macmillan makes the same profit either way. So basically, Macmillan is trying to dictate to Amazon what the 'AMAZON' price for the book should be.

They've been negotiating and it fell apa rt so Amazon pulled all of the Macmillan books off their website when the talks crashed.

My Opinion

I think $9.99 is too much for an e-book. I think fifteen dollars is utterly ridiculous. You don't own an e-book. You can't transfer them to other readers or formats. You don't own the book. As you know from the problems with the 1984 book in 2009, your e-copy can be revoked at any time by the publisher.

I'll pay ten dollars for a paperback book because I can loan it out, keep it on my shelf to read later, or sell it. Once I read an e-book, it's worthless. Why should I pay the same amount for less?

And Macmillan Publishing has no right to tell Amazon what price to sell products for. Macmillan can price the content to Amazon at whatever price they like, but what Amazon sells it for is their business.

But I also think that yanking all of the Macmillan books off the electronic shelves is petty and the act of a bully (But that's another issue).

For me, it all boils down to this, I won't pay more than ten bucks for an e-book. I just won't. I don't want to pay ten bucks. I think six dollars is about the right price. After all, the publisher isn't printing anything, shipping anything, or storing anything.

As a writer, I know the writer gets very little from the e-sales. Plus, most writers just want to be read, many would sell e-books for less than print.

So where is all this money going? To bolster the failing print sales and line the pockets of publishing companies.

Everyone knows the Jobs just came out with the iPAD. Macmillan is trying to get Amazon to increase their prices to match they cost the iPAD will sell the e-book for. Gee thanks.

For that, I get a reader named after a sanitary product and I get to pay more for a book I don't own.

That helps Macmillan and Jobs, it doesn't do a thing for me.

I've been wanting a Kindle or a Sony e-reader but now I'm reconsidering. Do I want to invest that much into something that will end up costing me more in the long run?



  1. I downloaded kindle for pc earlier this year and today i went to amazons site and downloaded about eight books. most were free. the classics were free. some were six dollars but the most i paid was nine. you're right, if we can't pass them on, i don't want to pay more.


  2. MacMillan sounds like spoiled brats, and isn't this ultimately going to hurt them?

    Thanks for explaining all this!


    from the desk of a writer

  3. Some interesting points you make, I'd never thought about this not that I intend to buy any of these gadgets. Old-fashioned I like my books as they are.

  4. Well Amazon is undercutting the competition with price. But in a free market this is not only allowed but encouraged.

    Macmillan legally can't tell them what to sell the books at unless Amazon agrees to it. Amazon will never agree.

    I still think 15 dollars for an e-book is too much.

  5. I have been keeping my eyes on these little creatures for a long time, but I'm not sure either.

    Have you considered the Nook by B&N?

    Thanks for explaining this. I've subscribed to receive follow-up comments on this post, so I'd like to hear your opinion on the Nook.


  6. I haven't seen the nook. I know the Kindle doesn't have good picture/graphics but the text is good. The e-reader by Sony has better graphics but I'm not sure if I have to buy content just from them or can they accept kindle content?

    I'll look into the Nook.

    I don't want the iPad. It looks cool but it isn't just a reader. It is more of a half-a lap top instead.

    I'd rather it be one thing or the other.

  7. $15.00 is way too steep for any e-book. I can buy some hardcovers for that. I think their best bet would be a subscription service. Pay $15.00 a month, download what you want, but if you stop paying you lose it all, with the option of buying permanently at whatever price (under the price of a paperback.)

  8. Great post, and I agree with you 100%! As the very happy owner of a Kindle, I would not pay $15 for an ebook - especially when I know that the money would really not be going to the authors. There is minimal cost involved in creating an ebook vs a paper book - no mass production, no cost of materials, etc.

    It's sad to say, but it's the authors who would lose out in the end.

    I read almost exclusively with my Kindle now, and if a book is not available on Kindle, or if it were $15, I would simply pass on it.

    In fact, the reason that I chose the Kindle over the Sony e-reader in the first place was because of the structured pricing through Amazon.

    I sure hope, for the author's sake, that this will work itself out.

    The tides are changing with the way we receive content, and if Macmillan wants to stay afloat, they will reconsider that ridiculous amount.

    As you can imagine, as a passionate Kindle fan, I feel very strongly about this.

  9. I know Bernadine. If the book has a print copy available, the book costs the publisher very little.

    If the book is e-copy only, then it the publisher might spend a bit more for formatting, cover...etc.

    But even then, 15 bucks? No.