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Amazon Surrenders To Macmillan On eBook Pricing

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the methinks-the-kindle-doth-protest-too-much dept.

Books 437

CuteSteveJobs writes with a followup to news we discussed on Saturday of a disagreement between Amazon and Macmillan Publishers over ebook pricing: "Amazon has thrown in the towel and announced it will now sell books at Macmillan's increased prices; up to $14.99 from $9.99. Said Amazon in a statement: '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.' Macmillan has sensed Apple's iBooks opens the way for higher prices. Perhaps the question should be: do we even need publishers like Macmillian? Publishers have long managed to keep their old business model chugging along nicely despite the Internet; Academics are still forced to give up copyright (PDF) of their work in exchange for publication. Textbook publishers have a history of unethical practices like frequent edition changes, unjustifiable price increases and bribing teachers. For that matter, why do the RIAA's members still control the music business? Why do these dinosaur publishing businesses still manage to thrive despite the Internet?"

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Monopoly? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995004)

"monopoly over their own titles" That word does not mean what you think it means...

Re:Monopoly? (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995076)

Yeah that sounds a little bit stupid. Of course they have "monopoly" over their own titles. Duh.

For that matter, why do the RIAA's members still control the music business? Why do these dinosaur publishing businesses still manage to thrive despite the Internet?"

Because they
1) Provide money and pay the big costs while artists are producing their album
2) Provide marketing
3) Find the promising artists and writers
4) Have the distribution channels

You can say anything you want about the internet as a marketing channel and cheap personal computers being capable of producing albums, but they really aren't. You need a good studio. I'm not going to listen to something that sound like demo tracks. They're horrible if you've ever listened to any other than your favorite band's. They also filter out the crap.

This might be a little bit different with books, but you still need those distribution channels and marketing. Books don't just magically show up in book stores, libraries or have articles in magazines, nor do people just accidentally hear about it. And eBooks aren't going to replace paperback books yet.

Re:Monopoly? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995258)

prediction: your comment will not be received with much acclaim here on slashdot

Re:Monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995564)

This is one failure of a prediction.

Re:Monopoly? (2, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995288)

1) Provide money and pay the big costs while artists are producing their album

I have heard many quality recordings from basement studios built on a shoestring budget. This cost has dropped significantly.

2) Provide marketing

This can be done cheaply on the internet. It is done all of the time.

3) Find the promising artists and writers

They know who they are.

4) Have the distribution channels

Yea, like the internet doesn't work.

Re:Monopoly? (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995386)

3) Find the promising artists and writers

They know who they are.

The problem is sorting them out from the 10,000 other useless artists and writers who "know for certain" that they are the next big thing and are waiting to be discovered.

Re:Monopoly? (5, Insightful)

mmarlett (520340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995572)

Yeah, cause that can't be done by a widely accessable moderation system. Just imagine the anarchy that would happen if anyone could create anything and the only way people would know if it was any good is to look at how other people just like them ranked the work. Terrible.

Re:Monopoly? (5, Insightful)

eudaemon (320983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995320)

Agreed about decent production values on an album and the need for a studio. *BUT* let's face it
the compression that happens in post-production these days makes modern music just as unlistenable
as if it were recorded in a truck stop bathroom. As a volunteer front of the house (read: live music)
and studio (broadcast) board monkey, I can't claim to have experience cranking out studio albums.
But the theory's widely known, and despite the black art elements of getting all the performers and instruments
properly mic'd and isolated in a studio setting, maybe it's time for StudioWiki? Great things have come out
of the collective wisdom and efforts of those passionate enough to contribute their time and knowledge.

You won't see a major label backing things cranked out in someone's garage studio, but it's about the music
and not about the money, I think your average band is just fine with Myspace, iTunes and the other internet-based
distribution channels. And frankly I'd rather listen a McGyvered album with no COMPRESSION FUCKING UP ALL THE MUSIC
taped in a stupid garage than a perfectly recorded / mastered / mixed AND THEN COMPRESSED TO FUCKING SHIT ANYWAY
taped at Abbey Road. Wouldn't you?

Re:Monopoly? (1, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995578)

No mod points at the moment, but can those with some mod this guy up to +5 insightful?

Also, see loudness war [wikipedia.org] for a better description.

Why RIAA? [Re:Monopoly?] (5, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995402)

For that matter, why do the RIAA's members still control the music business? Why do these dinosaur publishing businesses still manage to thrive despite the Internet?"

Because they
1) Provide money and pay the big costs while artists are producing their album
2) Provide marketing
3) Find the promising artists and writers
4) Have the distribution channels

Actually, from what I hear of the music business, they don't really do any of these for new artists (unless, maybe, you just won American Idol or something).

The reason RIAA is still thriving is because they have a huge backlist of stuff that people still listen to, from artists who had signed contracts back when big studios really were the only way you could get airplay or distribution.

Re:Monopoly? (3, Insightful)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995520)

Agreed - and it's the same in publishing.

The question of reputation is central in academic publishing. The same book will be at an advantage if it is published by Macmillan rather than brought out by an unknown press, or published online. The large and respected presses carry an automatic sense that their books are likely to be well-written and worth reading. Once an author has a good reputation, maybe they can start publishing under Creative Commons licences or the like. Lawrence Lessig [lessig.org] and Jonathan Zittrain [futureoftheinternet.org] have both done this - but only after spending a long time building up their reputations and writing a lot of other books under - presumably - the usual contracts. And their books come out with "big-name" publishers like Penguin and Yale alongside being freely available to download.

You just can't ignore the cachet of the publisher when it comes to books. It's one of the factors that academics use to evaluate whether a new book is worth their time or not, and that in itself often reflects the fact that the good publishers provide invaluable services in reviewing and editing.

I'm not defending Macmillan's move, btw - just pointing out that it's not quite as easy as it might seem to write the publishers out of the process.

Amazon attempts to use their monopoly power (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995294)

In fact, Amazon was the one who was trying to use their market dominance as a tool to set prices, which is what we call monopolistic behavior. Note that what they did was not merely decide not to sell those books that they thought were overpriced-- they attempted to force the publisher by pulling all Macmillan titles from their store, including the physical (paper) ones-- saying "either you accept our prices for e-books, or else we will not sell any of your books." (And, of course, also all the imprints of Macmillan, such as Tor.)

That only works, though, if Amazon were enough of a monopoly that people wouldn't just go elsewhere... and it turns out that Amazon isn't. Yet.

In the long run, it benefits consumers that Amazon backed down-- it's never good for one vendor to have the power to set prices, even if (initially) they claim that they are only using that power to lower prices to the consumer.

As Charlie Stoss commented [antipope.org] , Amazon was fighting this one because if the publisher wins, it hurts their profitability because it pushes prices down.

Ugh. (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995020)

$14.99 for a freaking E-BOOK?!?!?!? No. No no no, and no.

Why would I pay twice the cost of a paperback version just so I could have a digital version? I realize there are costs associated with OCR services, but most writers use computers now anyways. What gives with the exorbitant prices?

Re:Ugh. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995124)

Because they think they can get away with it, especially with what they see as a larger market opportunity in the iPad.

Re:Ugh. (2, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995364)

That and they want to kill the technology without looking like they are trying to kill the technology. They always save they will pass the savings onto the consumer but what usually is the case is that they wont raise prices for a longer period of time. And take in the extra profit as long as they can.

Re:Ugh. (1)

bb5ch39t (786551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995138)

Have you read an OCR'ed e-book? I have for some very old books by a dead SciFi author that I like (H. Beam Piper). The quality absolutely SUCKED! Yes, I could read the story. But the OCR was only about 90% accurate. And kerned letters almost guaranteed errors. Obviously nobody even bothered to proof read this thing. But, then again, it was only about $9.00 for 32 books. So it was worth it.

I like ebooks. I am hoping that they will enable authors to directly publish (self publish). That way, I know that the author is getting the majority of the money. The main problem in this case would be __finding__ the books on the Web. The main use of publishers today is advertising that the book exists and where it can be gotten.

Re:Ugh. (4, Insightful)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995162)

riiiight, because they are going to charge $14.99 for an eBook that has a 4 year old discount paperback out..:eyeroll:

They want the option for the new $36 hardcover big author titles to at least make half the money on an eBook format.

If they want to control their pricing then they should be able to... If that prices them out of the market then that is their business.

Re:Ugh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995236)

I'm not questioning their right to charge what they want for their products...I'm just saying that their products are horrendously overpriced.

Yes yes, IMO and all that

Re:Ugh. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995266)

Yup, in the same way they fuck over the general public with Hardback first and Paperback later versions.

Here in PH, we've been waiting over six months for the paperback version of Dan Brown's latest work, and all the time a massive pile of unsold hardbacks is gathering dust in the bookshop.

Re:Ugh. (0, Troll)

elizabethje (1642141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995190)

You are correct. The whole idea of buying e-books is because they are easy to carry and store and is less expensive. So an increase in price is not going to help the publishing industry in the right way. Expensive books are also encouraging people to acquire books by piracy as common man is unable to pay the high cost of getting books. http://softwareengineerspeaking.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:Ugh. (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995322)

First of all, we don't spam our links in the post here on slashdot. Anyone can click your Homepage button.

Secondly, where did you get the idea that eBooks are supposed to be cheaper so the publishing industry goes to the "right" direction? Frankly if I buy a book, I want it as hardcover/paperback. Sure, music I want to download digitally, but books just aren't the same thing.

Thirdly, this thing most likely isn't about eBooks being $14.99 while paperbacks are $5. The $14.99 eBooks are for books that cost $30 or more as a hardcover.

Re:Ugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995642)

First of all, I found the blog informative.

Secondly, I don't see why e-books shouldn't be cheaper. The publisher isn't paying for Paper, ink, transportation of physical product, etc... It's a bunch of bits that you download over a line and store using space that you've pay for, not the publisher.

Frankly if I buy a book, I want it as hardcover/paperback.

good for you the rest of us don't care. This is a discussion about distribution of electronic books. Go post in a form where people like stuff printed on papyrus.

Thirdly,

The $14.99 eBooks are for books that cost $30 or more as a hardcover.

put some evidence where you're mouth is.

You completely fit the stereotype that makes the rest of the world hate us Americans.

Re:Ugh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995480)

Elizabethje: a little hint for you.

I can fully understand wanting to advertise a link to your website, but I highly suggest just putting a link in your signature. That way, it doesn't intefere with your post, and people can ignore it if they want. It's still KINDA frowned upon, but I get so much traffic from mine that I don't care ;-)

Still, highly recommended you leave it out of your actual post.

Re:Ugh. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995544)

Its always pakis who spam their shitty blogs on slashdot. Its even funnier that you call yourself a software engineer, I've never met an indian who was anything but a terribly uninspired meat and potatoes coder.

Re:Ugh. (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995192)

They're greedy. Even more than with CDs, the bulk of the costs with books are primarily in the printing/distribution model. The writer doesn't get that kind of money per book, I promise you that.

I think it's only a very short matter of time before independent authors skip the traditional publishing approach altogether. Once a viable digital book format takes off, the only thing they have left is an editing staff, and I'd happily split some of my book profits with a quality editor (they really do help) as opposed to a bunch of worthless executives.

Re:Ugh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995424)

I know the genre isn't for everyone, but I personally LOVE the books Eraserhead Press [eraserheadpress.com] puts out (note: Eraserhead Press is SFW, however many of the books they sell are NSFW. Visit them at your own discretion.) They are a bit on the expensive side, but in this case you are supporting an Independent publisher run by thee authors...and the authors get the bulk of your money when you buy a copy of their stuff.

Like I said, the genre of books they sell (bizzaro) isn't for everyone...but I don't mind paying that money when it goes to the people who do the actual work.

A big publisher though, with a huge staff and a large amount of money to work with? No. Sorry, nope. They don't get my money.

Re:Ugh. (1)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995558)

I wish I had mod points. Pick your favorite books, and in the acknowledgements, see how often the author thanks his or her editor.

Re:Ugh. (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995278)

It's competition bringing the prices ... up, apparently.

Re:Ugh. (1)

Pastis (145655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995300)

Don't you think that new books are directly converted into digital, instead of being printed and OCRed ?

Where are the costs ? Some trillion computer cycles ?

Re:Ugh. (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995530)

Exactly. I could understand if they had to OCR and then verify the books they sell, but most if not all writers use a computer nowadays...their shit is already digital!

What's the marginal cost of production on an ebook (2, Insightful)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995024)

Oh that's right, zero.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

dhovis (303725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995102)

The marginal cost of printing a book is pretty close to zero too. That isn't why they cost as much as they do.

Paper and Ink are not free (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995566)

The marginal cost of printing a book is pretty close to zero too. That isn't why they cost as much as they do.

I've worked in publishing as an accountant and this statement is completely wrong. The marginal cost of production of even the highest volume books or newspapers is no where near zero. It's not the dominant cost (those would be marketing and distribution in most cases) but the marginal cost isn't zero or anywhere near zero.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (4, Informative)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995122)

Oh that's right, zero.

You are under the false assumption that items are priced based on marginal cost. They aren't in practically any market, they are priced at what consumers will pay and what the competition is selling at. Fortunately for them consumers are still willing to pay extra for the digital "convenience" and the competition doesn't sell the same books.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

floodo1 (246910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995274)

in other words there is no direct competition.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995330)

If the free market works, though, prevailing prices should relate to cost in the long run, since the equilibrium price of a competitive market is cost plus a reasonable profit ("reasonable profit" being the minimum profit needed to keep suppliers from exiting the business).

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995432)

If the free market works, though, prevailing prices should relate to cost in the long run

sheesh, you sound like a 14 year old who has just come out of an economics class.

3 digit uid? listen kid, it's not cool to post using your dad's account.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995562)

You can take it as sarcasm if you prefer. The main point is that libertarians can't really have it both ways. If someone's arguing that it's fine for prices to be set at "whatever the market will bear" and this need have no relation to cost, then they can't really also argue that "the market works", with the usual invisible-hand arguments, because the idealized invisible-hand arguments imply that market prices should be closely connected to cost.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995554)

There is an important word missing in your post, and therefore likely missing in your thoughts.
"If the free and competitive market works, though, ..."
Publishing is not a fully competitive market because of imperfect substitution.
Macro 101 axioms are too simplistic to describe such a market.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995616)

That's true, but I suspect that substitution is actually better than you might think, and the root problem is collusion and a small group of dominant producers, rather than imperfect substitution. Macmillan can get away with this because they're huge and singlehandedly control a significant swathe of the book market (and a majority in some genres), but a publisher with 1% market share who faced competition in every genre segment would have a much harder time raising ebook prices and still maintaining sales.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995556)

If the free market works, though, prevailing prices should relate to cost in the long run, since the equilibrium price of a competitive market is cost plus a reasonable profit ("reasonable profit" being the minimum profit needed to keep suppliers from exiting the business).

And a government-mandated monopoly on distribution (aka 'copyright') is about as far from a free market as you can get short of having the government itself distribute all the books. The whole point of copyright is to maintain profits above free market levels.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995648)

Indeed. I was replying to his more general claim that item prices shouldn't reflect marginal cost in virtually any market. In the special case of government-mandated monopolies, clearly free-market pricing doesn't happen.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (2, Insightful)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995176)

That's right, because nobody markets books, or pays authors, or runs press tours, or edits books...

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995210)

Press tours?

Unless you are Stephen King, you have to do your own press tour on your own dime.

Books are a lot like Music in this respect.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995408)

I am Stephen King, you insensitive clod!

Okay, not really.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

hayd (1734904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995444)

If you watched Californication, Mia's (who stole the transcript from Hank) press tour was fully paid by the publishing agency, so yes, publishers do cover the press tour costs.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (2, Funny)

dummondwhu (225225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995602)

Ah, yes, the old "I saw it in a TV show, so it must be true" routine. In fairness, I have no idea how the system works, but citing a TV show as proof of fact is a little thin.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (3, Insightful)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995392)

Is that your definition of "marginal cost of production"?

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (2, Insightful)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995672)

That's right, because nobody markets books, or pays authors, or runs press tours, or edits books...

... and none of that has any bearing on the marginal cost of production of an ebook. The fixed costs are just that, fixed. The marginal cost associated with selling an ebook is *zero* (Amazon covers the cost of sending you the ones and zeroes)

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995240)

It's not quite zero. You've still got the initial work for layout and editing, as well as the author to compensate.

Let's say 5 bucks for a "hardcover" and 2 bucks for a "paperback". Far more than they're making from Barnes and Nobel, and then Amazon could tack on a dollar to actually make a profit instead of a loss on selling these things.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995620)

It's not quite zero. You've still got the initial work for layout and editing, as well as the author to compensate.

Let's say 5 bucks for a "hardcover" and 2 bucks for a "paperback". Far more than they're making from Barnes and Nobel, and then Amazon could tack on a dollar to actually make a profit instead of a loss on selling these things.

That's not what marginal cost of production means. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_cost [wikipedia.org]

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995318)

Do you work for free? Why should people - you know, editors, typesetters, designers, copyeditors, etc. - in the publishing industry? And, even if the ebook is a digital translation of the print product, somebody still needs to make that digital translation and check it over to make sure all the i's stayed dotted and t's stayed crossed. Until you're willing to work for free, don't expect other people to do so.

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (1)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995650)

Do you work for free? Why should people - you know, editors, typesetters, designers, copyeditors, etc. - in the publishing industry? And, even if the ebook is a digital translation of the print product, somebody still needs to make that digital translation and check it over to make sure all the i's stayed dotted and t's stayed crossed. Until you're willing to work for free, don't expect other people to do so.

I don't, but none of this has any bearing on the marginal cost of production of an ebook. The fixed costs are just that, fixed. The marginal cost associated with selling an ebook is *zero* (Amazon covers the cost of sending you the ones and zeroes)

Re:What's the marginal cost of production on an eb (2, Insightful)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995398)

Ok very important, price to produce has very little to do with final price to consumer, it will influence the minimum price the publisher will accept but that is about it. Books are valuable and thus can be sold as if they are valuable because well they are. With low barrier to entry costs more publishers should enter the market but that is a slightly different issue. If the publisher has no right to unreasonable profit from his work why do you? Imagine a book is free to produce, no cost what so ever, does that mean the publisher should give you the book? Even if you gain say $20 from the book either directly or indirectly your enjoyment etc? If he should then you are making $20 with no effort and if the book is sold for $20 you make no profit and the publisher makes $20 of profit you get the book for what you valued it at. The real problem here is that amazon is a nationwide retailer allowing for everyone to go there and get the book for bare minimum price lowering the price and profit to publisher, who does do some work and same goes for movie and music industry, and in the end more people buy the product for less than what they value it at.

One word (3, Insightful)

MadHakish (675408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995034)

Why do the RIAA's members still control the music business? Why do these dinosaur publishing businesses still manage to thrive despite the Internet?

Lawyers..

Re:One word (2, Insightful)

visualight (468005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995120)

What about 'Lobbyists' or 'Bribes'?

Re:One word (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995126)

I really doubt it's the lawyers who find artists and get them to sign up with the labels.

You do know no one forces them to join a big music label, do you? But new artists want to. They want to make music, not worry about distribution or marketing. Nor do they even have experience in that.

And no, putting your album to The Pirate Bay and just hoping people will find it isn't proper method.

Re:One word (1)

MadHakish (675408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995384)

The RIAA are lawyers..

But new artists want to. They want to make music, not worry about distribution or marketing. Nor do they even have experience in that.

Have you met the "artists" you claim are seeking out labels? One could easily argue the opposite is true, that real musicians do not seek out labels and record contracts, that in fact those activities are reserved for the untalented whose prowess as a musician is not great enough to earn them deserved recognition. The "real" talent cares not for contracts, marketing, market penetration, audience share, etc. etc.. They "just want to dance".

Re:One word (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995140)

Don't forget lobbyists.

Why? (5, Insightful)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995052)

"Why do these dinosaur publishing businesses still manage to thrive despite the Internet?"

Because development, editing, and marketing--and even distribution--have value and take skill to do well.

Less than the publishers believe or would like, perhaps, but more than the /. crowd gives them credit.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995360)

They are just using supply and demand to set the optimum price. To the publishers (if they did their research properly) they may have found that $15 will give them the largest ROI. A book may only have a limited audience and that audience would be willing to pay $15, the audience may not grow even if the price were $0 because nobody else is interested in the topic. What this means is that publishers are just getting more bang for their buck.

What is wrong with the way they are doing it is that consumers feel like they are getting screwed. They see the costs of manufacturing plummeting yet prices are rising. From the business side they are seeing costs of manufacturing going down and an opportunity to increase profit margins. They aren't passing on cost savings to the consumers, they are instead lining their pockets; which they are in their right to do. It just isn't going to endear them to me and I won't be buying any books any time soon - paper, digital, or otherwise.

Amazon vs. Apple (-1, Offtopic)

davidluzsi (1714814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995058)

This will be a nice duel between Amazon and Apple.. download reiki [myreikisecrets.com]

Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers. (4, Insightful)

GuerreroDelInterfaz (922857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995068)

The solution is easy: don't buy ebooks from extremely greedy publisher like this one. Even if you can afford it. Just say no. I don't.

--
El Guerrero del Interfaz

Re:Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995146)

Why? If they have a book I want and I think the $14.99 price is worth it, why wouldn't I buy it?

Re:Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995256)

If I am going to waste money paying far too much for a book than I really need to, then I'm going to at least get a version that I can pass on to someone else.

Re:Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995380)

Because you are the primary cause of the problem ... this attitude of "I can still afford it, so fuck everyone who can't". When they hike the price to $25, then $35, then $50, will you still be happy ? And then of course, when a purchase is deemed "too expensive" even by you, you will jump on the "publishers are ezploiting the masses" bandwagon, you hypocrite.

Re:Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995426)

I glad you'll pay, you deserve to. Enjoy paying high prices for a bunch of bits you can't transfer to anyone else, oh and also enjoy paying for the method used to deliver those bits to you, oh and enjoy paying for the storage space for those bits... I wonder what the publisher is paying for? Sounds to me like you've been had.

Re:Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995514)

Because then when people like you buy it they'll say "Hey, this is obviously priced too low" and up future books to $19.99 and so on. That's a 25% price increase, the previous being a 50% price increase, they'll figure as long as they don't lose 25% or 50% in this case of buyers then it's worth it. The problem is, through the population in general less people have access to the text, which depending on the books, is bad to society. If it means less students being able to afford the books they need for example, it's a bad thing.

It seems silly to encourage them. I can afford the price hike too, but from a common sense and moral standpoint I wont. It even effects me personally even then- sure it's not too big a price jump, but what about over time also? If I stick to my guns, I can buy 3 eBooks for the price it costs you for two, I can buy 9 eBooks for the amount you pay for 6 and so on.

Having better access to books is nearly always a good thing personally, and for society in general. Artificial price hikes don't help that goal.

It seems to me that was what Amazon was saying. (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995178)

as in, we want to still offer their products even though we know they are overpriced. We give you the choice, choose correctly.

Honestly, the iPad was designed to bring Apple and their publishing buddies more money. After Steve got us off the 99cent model anything was possible. There was too much money on the table. Books presented a new avenue for increasing revenue as their is no such thing as "per chapter". They can charge you more and make you feel as if your getting something special in the experience.

Kudo's to Amazon for calling it like it is. I understand why they gave in, it really does come down to the public making the choice. Unfortunately far too many will make the wrong choice

Re:Amazon bows, I won't. Boycott greedy publishers (2, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995234)

Just say no. I don't.

You're not female, are you?

confused.. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995096)

I am not sure I get this press release. Does this mean Amazon is going to raise the price of just MacMillan books? The beginning seems to imply yes and the end seems to say no.

If it's all new titles that would be collusion. If not it actually looks like an opportunity the market could actually work for once. Other vendors could keep down their prices for big parts of the book market that don't work on big author names and MacMillan could get hurt in end.

Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995104)

Seriously. It's their product. Waah, Coke won't let me make Coca Cola.

Re:Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles? (1)

Auxis (1341693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995268)

But that has nothing to do with this discussion. Unless they somehow made digital Coke and distributed it online.

Re:Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995588)

This is a ploy by the major publishers to force Amazon back to the negotiation table. They push them to raise the prices to make ebooks look unattractive, and having customers either buy the dead tree version or go to another ebook distributor who has a more favorable deal with Macmillan. Macmillan wants a bigger cut of the sales and perhaps more restrictive DRM and other publishers will smell blood and jump all over this after watching how Macmillan plays it. Don't under estimate old media and their infinitely copyright cheat codes. They have the money, the lawyers, and the right sons of bitches running these places.

There's a difference between books and music... (3, Interesting)

Fished (574624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995142)

At least for me... I invest a lot more in the books I read than in the music I listen to, and I care very much about reading *one* *particular* book. This means that there's not a lot of competition. I think part of the reason is that, for all the categories of books, the purchase price is the smallest part of the investment I make in the book. My major investment in the book is the time and energy I spend reading it. Ideas are not really fungible when they're new--and even when they're old, there's a lot to be said for getting the ideas from the source instead of from the imitators. In fiction, I'd much rather read Heinlein than an imitator of Heinlein. And if it costs a couple of bukcs more? Oh well.

I certainly recognize that some might be just as passionate about one particular song or one particular album. But it still seems to me, intuitively, that the music market is a little bit more competitive and dynamic than the book market is.

Re:There's a difference between books and music... (1)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995434)

There is a difference, but that also means I am less interested in ebooks than e-music. I want my music digital because I don't carry a CD/cassette/record player. E-books are nice to carry and read, but the filesystem on my paperback isn't ever going to get corrupted, and the format won't change. If it gets torn, spilled on, left in the sun, or bent in half - it has more character. Digital music I can maintain/convert to keep them forever. My kindle/iPhone/iPad will die in 2-5 years, but my paperbacks won't.

It's a little more complicated (3, Interesting)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995158)

Do we still need publishers? The question should really be 'what function that publishers perform do we still need and how should those functions be provided?' Perhaps also 'Can a startup provide these functions and replace the entrenched companies?' We still need someone to plan the path from manuscript to finished book including content editing, grammar editing, artwork (inside figures and on the cover), legal issues (in every country where it's released), promotion/advertising, marketing (advising when a release will be available, how it will be different from last edition, etc). Should the publishers profit from owning relationships with the distributors, bookshops and retailers even when they're selling electronically? No, they shouldn't be able to gain from a monopoly in what should be a competitive market, but we still need some functions.

When a internet enabled solution for those issues starts to take off the publishers will start to lose their grasp on the book market and we all will be better off for it.

Perception of unreliability in self-publishing (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995308)

The question should really be 'what function that publishers perform do we still need and how should those functions be provided?'

One function of a publisher, as opposed to a vanity press, is to have a reputation for checking the facts in what it publishes. There's a perception that works self-published through a vanity press can't be counted on as reliable sources of information.

Why Publishers Exist (5, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995166)

Publishers still exist largely because of their editorial and "filtering" services. Editorially, they help to ensure that the best possible version of a text makes it to market -- that it is as technically (grammar, spelling, etc) correct and engaging as possible. As for filtering, they are meant to ensure that only works that have a reasonable degree of merit actually make it to market -- this is why people tend to believe printed word over that which they find on the internet, and why for those who create content, being accepted by a publisher for print production is highly valued. Anyone can put whatever crap they like on the internet, but the publishing industry exists to make sure that random crap doesn't flood the actual shelves.

For certain types of content, such as text books and works of history, philosophy, and journalism the effect this has can go either way in how people, including myself, are willing to weigh benefits vs detractions. Certainly, it would be better if this content was more democratically available -- however, facts still need to be checked for correctness, copy edited etc. For works of literature, the potentially stifling affect on discourse is much more limited and even though I've almost always been on the losing side of the submission, I'm willing to accept the judgement of poetry and fiction editors as far as to what's actually worth something and what isn't, as they deal in literature every day and see submissions from all kinds of sources -- and when you finally do get a piece accepted then the fact that you had to try so hard to get through the filter makes the joy of it all the greater. That's not really a feeling one can get on the internet where the cost of reproduction approaches zero and so there is no real reason not accept a piece, or when one can stick whatever crap they would like on their own site and eventually someone will see it.

However, for music -- where the bands mostly exist to play live and have fun, where the record itself is really just a form of marketing of their live performance, and where the technical ability to produce recordings of quality and distribute them directly to fans who will then come to their shows is now within the reach of just about everyone, then direct distribution without much filter makes more sense. However, poets and authors tend not make their money from live recitation but from the printed book itself, and the services of the publishers and distributers there are therefor more necessary and valuable. As someone who writes a lot, submits a lot, gets accepted rarely, and who has been in a few bands, played shows and cut a couple of demos I can see the difference, it is what it is, and I'm totally cool with it.

Re:Why Publishers Exist (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995400)

In the fields I'm familiar with at least, my impression is that large publishers like Macmillan filter for expected popularity rather than quality; they're in the book-selling business after all, not academics. As a result, an appalling proportion of Macmillan books on academic subjects contain factual errors, gross exaggerations, popular myths presented as fact, sloppy conflations, etc. It's one reason many academic departments give little career credit for publishing popular press books: if you got your history book placed with a respected academic press, people are willing to believe you made a contribution, but if you got it placed with Macmillan, who knows what nonsense history you wrote.

Re:Why Publishers Exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995584)

I have no doubt that for particular sections of their demographic, popularity is the qualitive measurement being used. Perceived originality and adequacy of prose aren't always the measuring stick. :)

Re:Why Publishers Exist (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995654)

Yes, and that's why I draw a distinction between academic type work and literary work. However, in general the idea that a publisher is meant to serve as a filter that the internet cannot provide still stands in the situation you mention -- its just that in this case, the validity of your work to others is going to be judged by the validity of the filter it passed through, but I don't see it as any different than saying that getting a piece accepted in The New Times is better than having it accepted in Pravda.

Re:Why Publishers Exist (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995674)

that should have been The New York Times, although I'm sure our Republican friends won't see what's different between it and Pravda anyway.

No More! (-1, Offtopic)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995168)

Copyright is a lousy idea and we need to banish the notion of copyright completely. Patents need a kick in the head as well.

Re: No More! (2, Funny)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995214)

I have a new idea: Copyright is a lousy idea and we need to banish the notion of copyright completely. Patents need a kick in the head as well. I am probably the first person ever to say that. My opinions are so valuable.

Re: No More! (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995518)

As b4upoo's counsel, I am taking this opportunity to inform you that you will shortly be receiving notice of copyright infringement. Your blatant and willful distribution of his copyrighted comment has harmed its marketability, and we intend to sue you for statutory damages in the amount of eleventy billion dollars.

anyone can publish (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995188)

the trick is getting noticed and having someone find your content. and if you want access to a professional recording studio you need to have a lot of cash upfront that a record company normally pays for. in exchange for tiny royalties on your CD's the record company takes a big risk on you and invests a lot of money to produce an album and market it. same goes for touring. it takes so much upfront cash to go on tour that you need someone like LiveNation to take a risk.

Look at Lady Gaga. very talented. she got into Juliard but had to go to another music school. but then got into the NYU music school. playing music since she was 4. Took Akon to get her noticed and invest the money to produce her music professionally. she could have uploaded something she recorded herself to iTunes without any marketing but then she wouldn't be singing at the Grammy's with Elton John.

Surrenders? (4, Interesting)

proxima (165692) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995224)

While I certainly think that $15 is overpriced for an ebook, I say let Macmillan potentially shoot themselves in the foot with their pricing. Amazon should be focused on making everything possible available in ebook form and letting the consumer decide what's a good deal. Amazon can always go back to Macmillan with sales stats to show them what they're losing (or not...perhaps $15 really does maximize profit for them). With sample chapters and the possibility of very low prices from smaller publishers, ebooks provide a great way for lesser-known stuff to be widely available. The same thing happened in music; it's far easier to get fairly obscure stuff via the internet than in CD form at a store.

What's a little strange about the ebook market is the fixed breakdown for the retailer (seems to be moving to 70 publisher 30 retailer), while in the hardcover world Walmart, Target, and Amazon are falling over each other to bring you the books with little or no markup over wholesale. Still, Amazon is offering the 70-30 split only if you priced your book under $10 (otherwise it seems to be 65-35).

Print Vs Online (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995230)

I'm intrigued by the NTY article's reporting of the trend towards free online books. It sounds great to me - the only drawback I could see is that I really like my textbooks from college. I still have bookcases of them even after...er...well a number of years in the workforce. I would be worried about the sustainability of the online versions. Plus, it's pretty hard to use a highlighter on them. I tried it, and my monitor hasn't worked the same since.

Re:Print Vs Online (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995406)

You will be able to highlight on a iPad.

Oh, wait, No. That would be MULTITASKING. Unsupported.

AND was that even possible, it would have been illegal modification of a copyrighted work, all those yellow and orange stripes.

Newer versions of the iPad will make sure that even if you ever managed to jailbreak to run an innocuous highlighting task, your ID will immediately be sent over the equivalent of RIAA for books and they will come arrest you immediately.

Why, you ask? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995312)

Why do these dinosaur publishing businesses still manage to thrive despite the Internet?

Because nobody has yet invented the book equivalent of "a ubiquitous drive which will read the raw data at high speed with 100% accuracy (or as near as makes no difference) without damaging the storage medium".

Are you guys defending AMAZON?!?!wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995314)

All you guys seem to have forgotten that those e-book devices are riddled with DRM and other junk. Remember what happened to the e-book edition of 1984? With e-books, one person can instantly erase books that do not conform to the view of the government. Try to do that with paperbacks!

Sure, keep defending Amazon, or Apple... They're paving the way for global censorship.

From that bastion of Right Wing Capitalism (2, Informative)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995336)

Salon.com [salon.com]

Most consumers believe that e-books should be a lot cheaper than print books because the publisher has been spared the expense of paper, printing, binding and shipping/distribution. However, only about 20 percent of the cover price of a new hardcover goes to those costs: about $5 out of $25. Retailers take from 40 to 50 percent, and after that, the majority of the cost of a new book goes to author royalties, editing, design, marketing, publicity, overhead and so on.

It happens because we let them (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995450)

Pirate their books until they are broke. They've "earned" so much already. Free the knowledge.

unfortunately, recently permitted in the U.S. (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995452)

This kind of vertical price setting was illegal in the U.S. for about 100 years, considered a form of price-fixing under the Sherman Act. Macmillan was free to choose whatever wholesale price they wanted to sell books and ebooks to Amazon for, but once they sold them, they had no control over what retail price Amazon set. Unfortunately, that was overturned in 2007 [wikipedia.org] in a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

They are cheaper and DRM free .... (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995456)

On BitTorrent. So, who cares about Amazon?

All I needed to read... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995550)

"We will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly..."

Yup, that's about all I needed to read to realize the greed and corruption going on here. And yeah, publishers have been chugging along quite nicely even in this economy, but is that by choice or by force? I'm FORCED to buy a $140 book for my class this semester to obtain the authorization code to grant me access to the cheesy course website, only to find that the website has the whole damn book is in electronic form. On top of that, the physical "book" didn't even come bound. Yes, that's correct, a stack of 200 pages shrink-wrapped and 3-hole punched, what a bargain at $140.

Hopefully good competition will at least keep e-book prices at a sane level, because I'm getting rather fed up paying as much in book fees as I do tuition. Since when did paying extortion to publishers become a requirement for a degree? Just yet another example of their Monopoly, all the way from the publishers to the paper mills who are printing what could easily be left in electronic form.

Users surrender to Pirate Bay for ebooks (2, Informative)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995668)

Story at 11.

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