War of Words

War-of-words Everybody has something to say about Amazon’s removal of Macmillan’s print and eBooks from its online storefront over the weekend. 

Computer World’s Matt Hamblen interprets the battle as being related to the launch of the iPad.  Overall, he gave a great summary and broad coverage to the situation.  Matt’s perspective is that in this battle, the iPad is the winner, with Amazon coming out on the bottom.  Charles Stross is depressing; however, he used a cool word:  “gooily.” 

The LA Times book blog covers our sci fi pundits, and quotes a HarperStudio executive as saying “It only costs us $2.50 to $3.00 less to produce the eBook, not $18 less.”  I’m still puzzling on that quote.  I’m still puzzling over the quote in today’s NY Times article that declares the battle over, with Amazon capitulating to Macmillan’s plans.  “In the model that Amazon prefers,” the Times asserted, “publishers typically collect $12.50 to $17.50 for new e-books. Under the new agency model, publishers will typically make $9 to $10.50 on new digital editions.”

I guess this must mean the Amazon “loss leader” pricing of $9.99, referring to Amazon’s reported payment of 50% of the hardcover price on an eBook.  This is something I’m still not getting.  And with the reported new 70-30 discount arrangement (as opposed to – the other way around), seems to me that I’m getting $10.50 on the $14.99 book, and the . . 9.99 Kindle devil is $6.99 to the publisher – if that’s an actual PRICE.

So, I happen to know that lots of authors signed ebook royalty contracts with their publishers for 15% of the cover price.  Is that, of the cover price of the hardcover?  Of the . . . ???  The iPad eBook?  The Kindle eBook?  Oh, goodness.  What shall we do?  And TechDirt says Amazon caved to the publisher’s request for higher prices.

I probably am a retard, but I think I’ll part ways with Computer World over this one.  I don’t think people will want to pay $14.99 per eBook even on the ultra cool giant iPhone iPad. Teleread covers reader backlash.  I’ve already seen – and used – the “deep windows” or tiered pricing on the Kindle, with newer bestsellers priced at $9.99 and others priced much less.  I was glad to get some good books for very reasonable $1.99 and $2.99 prices.  Which, all told, is a lot better than zero, isn’t it?  I mean -70% of zero is still ZERO.


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