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Authors' Amazon Awareness

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the big-fish-in-a-shrinking-pond dept.

Books 174

Geoffrey.landis writes "Many book lovers were surprised this week when Amazon.com removed books from the publisher Macmillan from the shelves (later restored), including such popular imprints as St. Martin's, Henry Holt, and the science fiction publisher Tor. But readers shouldn't have been surprised, according to the Author's Guild. The Author's Guild lists a history of earlier instances where Amazon stopped listing a publisher's books in order to pressure them to accept terms, dating back to early in 2008, when Amazon removed the 'buy' buttons for works from the British publisher Bloomsbury, representing such authors as William Boyd, Khaled Hosseini, and J.K. Rowling. In response, the Author's Guild has set up a service called Who Moved My Buy Button to alert authors when their books are removed from Amazon's lists." Amazon's actions have generated ill-will on the parts of many authors, who — being authors — are only too happy to explain their viewpoints at length. Two such examples are Tobias Buckell's breakdown of why Amazon isn't the righteous defender of low-prices they claim to be and Charlie Stross's round-up of the situation.

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So what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045564)

Amazon is one party in a two party negotiation. If they don't like the terms of the negotiation, they don't have to accept them. Are they supposed to sell books no matter what the terms are? This is a lot of hot air about nothing. It's simple, really. If authors don't like their publisher, if publishers don't like Amazon - they can go elsewhere.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045754)

Putting aside the fact that Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in bookselling business who currently controls 80-90% of eBook market, the problem has arisen due to Amazon's insistence that authors should submit to restrictive contractual terms in order to be allowed into the Kindle store -- i.e. making the book exclusive to Amazon, negotiating a special low price, and worst yet, making Amazon the publisher.

Prior to the iPad's announcement Amazon's terms for ebooks were 70/30. That's 70% going to Amazon. It's nothing short of a robbery.

I'm sorry to say this, but it is a very sleazy company.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045852)

...Prior to the iPad's announcement Amazon's terms for ebooks were 70/30. That's 70% going to Amazon. It's nothing short of a robbery.

I'm sorry to say this, but it is a very sleazy company.

That's the one good thing about competition. It tends to force change on monopolistic pricing and "sleazy" agreements. Of course, in the case of Apple(iTunes) and Amazon(Kindle), we're talking about two 800-pound Gorillas going at it. Should be a good fight.

Re:So what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045978)

Its worth pointing out that the IpaD sold in the UK wont function as an ebook reader.
I'm guessing its the same for everywhere outside the US.

http://www.apple.com/uk/ipad/features/ [apple.com] makes no mention of books.

So yeah two 800lb gorillas but one has a gimpy leg.

Re:So what? (1, Redundant)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046164)

Apple will probably win in the long run because, on the whole, they make their products enjoyable to use. It used to be enjoyable to shop at Amazon, but convenience was eclipsed by unwanted force-feeding. Still, I am enjoying the fight. As soon as Google gets seriously involved I imagine it will become the next big spectator sport.

Everyone: take a drink every time someone uses the word "monopoly" in this thread.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046806)

Are you trying to kill people via alcohol poisoning? Even a shot of water per use would like result in water poisoning!

Re:So what? (1)

Rotting (7243) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046966)

Something interesting to note is that competition normally benefits the customer, doesn't it?

I think this is the first time I have seen the prices go up because of competition. Weird times.

Re:So what? (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047296)

Competition benefiting the customer has never been the case. It was an interesting mathematical model for how economics MIGHT work, but it did not hold up very well in the real world and was replaced by more accurate models decades ago. Still, it lives on as a meme.

30% for an author wouldn't be a bad deal (5, Informative)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045952)

Do some research. There are authors out there that made way less than 30% of sales, while the publisher took a big chunk. I was just reading a published author that has had over eight books published. On some of them, he got .50 cents per book. On others, he got a flat rate and no royalty fees at all.

If an author dumped their publisher, went with Amazon, and happened to sell a lot of books, 30% wouldn't be a bad deal, in my opinion.

See the above statement. Who do you think are stirring the pot here? Authors or Publishers?

Yes, there is very much an RIAA type of situation here, where the publisher often does promotion and advertising, but a big name could write a book and go straight to Amazon with it.

Now they could get their own servers, marketing team, etc, and go it on their own. How much time and money do you think all of that will cost?

Amazon isn't spotless in the situation, DRM and all, but a lot of publishers treat their authors like the RIAA treats its artists.

Re:30% for an author wouldn't be a bad deal (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046348)

I”m sorry?? Amazon’s work in selling these e-books is next to nothing.
I can have a online e-book shop set-up by tomorrow. And a author upload service on the next day. Then all that’s left, is moving money back and forth! You must be kidding!

There are authors out there that made way less than 30% of sales, while the publisher took a big chunk. I was just reading a published author that has had over eight books published. On some of them, he got .50 cents per book. On others, he got a flat rate and no royalty fees at all.

Have you ever heard of ad populum [wikipedia.org] ?
It’s faulty logic. Something worse does not make something bad OK. Just like if your limit for badness is <=1, and it’s at 0.7, then telling you that it could be 0.3 or 0.0, does not make 0.7 > 1.0!
Let me use your quote on another topic:

There are people out there that were left with way less than 30% of their money, while the state took a big chunk. I was just reading about a famous guy that has had over eight houses in NY. On some of them, he has left only the couch and toilet. On others, they took everything, only left the blank walls standing, and no money at all.

Now tell me: How would that quote make 70% taxation right? Hm?

Re:30% for an author wouldn't be a bad deal (1, Troll)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046452)

Im sorry?? Amazons work in selling these e-books is next to nothing.
I can have a online e-book shop set-up by tomorrow. And a author upload service on the next day. Then all thats left, is moving money back and forth! You must be kidding!

Why don't use then? You'd make a killing and save the poor Author's guild at the same time!

Re:30% for an author wouldn't be a bad deal (2)

jythie (914043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047342)

Ahm, how is 'gives the authors a significantly better deal then the industry standard' a bad thing? I also think it is quite a stretch to call that an ad populum fallacy. It merely points out that attacking amazon for taking 70% in favor of regular publishers which will take upwards of 90% is rather silly. And I highly doubt you could have a fully functional book selling site set up in 2 days that comes even close to the functionality (both front end and back end) of a place like amazon, or have the same load capacity. Do you have any idea what is involved in 'moving money back and forth' in a system like that?

Re: Epic Fail on RTFA? Or Amazon Shill? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046364)

You obvoiusly know little to nothing about the relationship between authoring a book and publishing a book.

Book's most often require editing, fact checking, layout, artwork - even hiring a set of on the cheap professionals this will cost thousands.

You also seem to not grasp the simple fact that E-books are not yet a signifigant part of the bookspace - read the nuimbers and you'll notice that it's about 1% of the book market.

Going to Amazon with a e-book and having no physical book is dropping the vast majority of your customers.

Re:30% for an author wouldn't be a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046896)

Poor selling authors are not owed a living, they are welcome to get onto a payroll scheme list 99.999% of the world. They are not a special breed, most have limited talents, and a great number churn out shit for the sake of it. Like musicians, they need to change the business model to become employees while they churn out their wares.

Re:So what? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046104)

...that Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in bookselling business who currently controls 80-90% of eBook market...

I had been led to understand that only particularly obese gorillas achieved weights of 600lb in captivity. :-)

But in Amazon's case, there is (now) no such exclusivity in the ebook arena, since their attempts to gouge the market have effectively (thanks to the well-publicised shenanigans with Macmillan) been stymied by the entry of the iPad into the market. Whatever we might think about Amazon (or Apple, for that matter), the author is in a stronger position than he was a few weeks ago.

In any case, I don't really believe the dead-tree format is dead. As Buckell says in one of TFAs mentioned in the OP,
$9.99 is really expensive, you suck. eBooks should never cost this much. As a buyer of eBooks, I agree. Hell, as a buyer of regular books I agree. Here's how I, as a reader, go about buying a book. Is it someone I know will rock my world and I'll love reading? I'll buy hardcover.

Although a professional writer might be expected to be a bit more competent in articulating his thoughts, the message comes through clearly enough for me, since I am of the same mind.

Re:So what? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046220)

Well, he writes the Halo series, so competent might be a stretch.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046386)

But in Amazon's case, there is (now) no such exclusivity in the ebook arena, since their attempts to gouge the market have effectively (thanks to the well-publicised shenanigans with Macmillan) been stymied by the entry of the iPad into the market.

There have been other e-book readers than Kindle you know. And, in this case it was AMAZON fighting for lower prices, and McMillan fighting to raise them.

Amazon is an evil company who uses their position as market leader to treat customers and retail partners both as commodities. They are a horrible company and deserve nothing but to be put out of business. I'll bring the torches, you supply your own pitchfork, and we'll get em! (I'm serious... I hate those fuckers for screwing me over as a customer, and still forcing me to deal with them in my business life -where they also screw me over.)

But in this one case, Amazon was attempting to maintain lower prices, while McMillian was arguing for the freedom to charge more. -Now that they have made their stand publicly, they can "give in" and charge even more while laying the blame at the feet of the evil publisher.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31047196)

Sounds like authors better quit being lazy and write some good books.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045840)

Amazon is one party in a two party negotiation. If they don't like the terms of the negotiation, they don't have to accept them...

You're missing the point. Amazon didn't merely say "we don't like your terms, so we won't sell your e-books." What they did was say "We don't like your terms on one item, e-books, so unless you accept our terms on that we won't sell anything else of yours, either, no hardcover or paperback, sales, not just electronic."

They were trying to use their market dominance in one area to allow them to dictate prices in another area. And not for the first time.

This why monopoly is bad.

Re:So what? (5, Interesting)

MaJeStu (1046062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046308)

Except that Amazon has nothing even near a monopoly on books, whether electronic, paper, or audio. There are many other online vendors that would jump at the chance to have a major product line Amazon doesn't.

Regardless, Amazon is absolutely right to negotiate with the price-gouging publishers any way they see fit, using any leverage they can. The publishers are trying to use their exclusive rights to the books; why shouldn't Amazon use their exclusive rights to their store? They are not harming the market, or keeping anything from being sold.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047298)

Except that Amazon has nothing even near a monopoly on books, whether electronic, paper, or audio.

Except this is clearly not true. Think about it. After Amazon says "we don't like your price on e-books and so we won't sell them," what is their motiviation to not to sell Macmillan paper books; an unrelated product? What do they gain from this?

Up until they disagreed with e-book pricing, they had no problem with Macmillan products, so it's clearly not a case of them not liking their prices on paper books. So what exactly do they gain by what appears, on the surface, to be an economically unjustified decision? If the market were indeed completely fungible, as you suggest, this would only reduce their sales volume. It would put no pressure on Macmillan, since their customers would just buy from somebody else.

The only reason that they would attempt to muscle Macmillan into accepting their pricing terms on e-books by refusing to sell paper books would be if they do have some degree of monopoly power (or, at least, they think that they have power). You say "negotiate using any leverage they can," but there simply isn't any leverage there unless they are market dominant.

Here's a rule of thumb you might consider: When a company uses market dominance to set pricing terms, it pretty much never is a good thing for the consumer. Even if it looks good on the surface.

Re:So what? (1)

rjiy (1739274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046344)

I see it as publishers imposing price controls. Not a very "free market" thing to do.

Re:So what? (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047038)

I see it as publishers imposing price controls. Not a very "free market" thing to do.

Huh? When somebody makes a product and says "this is the price we're selling it for," you call that "Not a very 'free market' thing to do"?

What do you believe the word "free market" means? That's the very definition of a free market; producers are free to sell at whatever price they want, and buyers are free to buy, or not buy. If people don't buy it at that price, they're free to change it. That's what we mean by a free market.

Re:So what? (2, Interesting)

rjiy (1739274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047374)

Actually, the publishers are saying "this is price we want _you_ to sell it for". Very different thing and yes I do believe its un-free-market-y.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046414)

If Amazon believes that publishers are demanding unreasonable pricing for ebooks, because they want to kill the ebook market, then it makes perfect sense that Amazon might want to put a crimp on the publisher's paper book market, don't you think? LIke I said in my OP, Amazon isn't the only party in this negotiation, and they are not the only party playing hardball. Publishers are trying to quash a disruptive technology (that's the speculation anyway), and Amazon is pushing back - which makes sense, because for a retailer, moving ebooks is much easier than packaging and shipping real books. So far, to me, this appears to be an example of markets behaving exactly as you'd hope they would.

Re:So what? (3, Interesting)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046010)

From TFA:
"I don't like to do business with people who, apparently as far as I can tell, think sucker punching you when they disagree, even if they have the right to do it, is the way to go about this."
I found it affirms my opinion of the situation. YMMV. As in many of these type of debates, your opinion is balanced against a very small subset of idealists who will let moral issues influence their business dealings.
That's what.

Kill the DRM (4, Insightful)

millennial (830897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045568)

This is another reason I loathe DRM. Amazon is apparently the sole distributor of the authorized electronic version of these books. They apparently have unquestionable control over whether or not they'll even be available for purchase, and they can revoke ownership of the books remotely without people even noticing (viz the 1984 kerfuffle).

When I buy something, I want to own it. I don't want to license it at the whim of a service that dictates what I can do with it. That's just ridiculous.

Re:Kill the DRM (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045632)

Here's what you do: you drive over to their corporate office and make the receptionist suck your cock. Then make your way to their software development office and make the DRM dev team suck your cock. Then ride the elevator up to the C-level offices and force your way into Jeff Bezos' office and make him suck your cock.

Sure, you'll still have to deal with DRM, but at least you will have had your dick sucked. They can take your books away from you, but they can never take your past blowjobs.

Re:Kill the DRM (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045770)

Sure, you'll still have to deal with being the receiver in repetitive and forced anal sex, but at least you will have had your dick sucked.

Hey there, fixed that for you.

Re:Kill the DRM (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045640)

There's an idea: enforce the calling of things by their proper name. i.e. making it illegal to use a "BUY NOW" button in these cases and force them to use a "LICENSE NOW" button instead. False advertising and all that jazz?

Re:Kill the DRM (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045954)

Buying a license is still buying something.

Re:Kill the DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046242)

The fact that is true is the problem.

Re:Kill the DRM (1)

Nakor BlueRider (1504491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046316)

Yet the pages portray it for all the world as though one is buying a book.

Re:Kill the DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046640)

They are advertising the sale of the book - not the sale of a liscence - that still makes it false advertising.

Re:Kill the DRM (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046716)

But when they sell you a book, they don't tell you that they're selling you a license and some ground up dead tree.

Re:Kill the DRM (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047388)

The user is interested in the book, not the licence and in fact is probably ignorant to the fact they're actually licensing it, so "buy now" is aimed at the book so for completely honest marketing it should be "licence now" or a long winded "buy a licence for this book now".

Re:Kill the DRM (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046408)

Well, I’m all for it. But first we would find someone with the power and money to actually push that trough courts and parliament.
How would we do that?

Re:Kill the DRM (3, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046772)

I think a "RENT THIS BOOK INDEFINITELY" would be clearer. People aren't familiar with licensing copyrighted works. "Rent" is a term they understand well, and would respond appropriately to, as in "What, I'm paying $14.99 for something I don't even own, can't sell, and might lose access to if your company changes management?"

Re:Kill the DRM (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046884)

The problem is that "rent" often implies ongoing payments. "License" doesn't, and people are used to it from driver's licenses, hunting, fishing, etc.

"Buy License" would be most descriptive.

Re:Kill the DRM (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046962)

I see, you'd be buying a license to read that particular book on your book reader. I love it, as it's even more offensive-sounding, though entirely accurate.

Re:Kill the DRM (2, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045644)

When I buy something, I want to own it. I don't want to license it at the whim of a service that dictates what I can do with it. That's just ridiculous.

Generally speaking, I agree with you, but I'd say there's a notable exception. If I could choose to buy (and own) product A for $X, or I could choose to license product A for $X-Y, licensing might be a viable alternative in certain situations. Kind of like renting a DVD movie or console game, only with more straightforward (I suppose) DRM. DRM that, of course, by being a licensee rather than an owner, I'd be explicitly agreeing to be "managed" by.

Similar to the difference between buying Windows licenses--and yes I'm aware of the irony in what I've just written--and buying into Software Assurance, only on the sub-$100,000 scale.

Re:Kill the DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045960)

Slashdot has DRM on the brain. DRM has nothing to do with this issue.

This is about a big corporation doing harm to content creators.

Shop at your local mom and pop bookshop, or at least try to avoid the big Borders and B&N's if you care about supporting smaller authors.

Amazon is rarely the sole distributor (1)

bgalbrecht (920100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046098)

Unless Amazon is the ebook publisher, the ebook is usually available from other ebook stores or the publisher's website. However, Amazon is trying to become the sole distributor, by offering authors 70% royalties if Amazon is their publisher, the list is between $2.99 and $9.99, below the price of any print copies, allows Text To Speech, and various other caveats beneficial to Amazon.

Re:Amazon is rarely the sole distributor (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31047156)

What, like the ability to sell e-books worldwide?

Imagine being an Amazon Kindle customer who lives in or moved to the UK or Australia. You change your shipping information, planning to continue using the service you liked to use. But wait - there's a catch. Amazon can ship you physical book no matter where you live, but doesn't have international digital rights. Suddenly you're angry with Amazon and its publishers because you can't buy the books you want.

This isn't an imaginary situation. I have this problem today. Because I'm not a US customer, publishers won't let Amazon sell me their books. Brilliant.

I'm not seeing impaired, dyslexic, nor do I enjoy listening to books, but if I were, I'd be pretty pissed if random books I wanted to read didn't have text-to-speech because the publisher didn't feel like it, even when they had no immediate intention of creating an audio-book for it.

Those "caveats" are also beneficial to Amazon's customers, if you hadn't noticed. The publishers clearly have no interest in what's best for their customers and, in some cases, even selling their books.

Re:Kill the DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046664)

When I buy something, I want to own it. I don't want to license it at the whim of a service that dictates what I can do with it. That's just ridiculous.

Or, even worse, until the DRM provider looses the database record detailing your purchases.

This is situation I find myself in. For the past two years I have had an ongoing battle with Adobe.

My Adobe ID is in a format 'no longer recognised' on Adobe's database, hence I no longer have access to any of my purchased content.

I've learned my lesson ...

Free Market? (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045584)

Not that I've read TFA, but isn't this what free market economics is supposed to prevent? When a single entity can have that kind of power, isn't it a monopoly?

...If Amazon can dictate terms to book publishers in this fashion, do you think that Apple could pull a similar stunt with RIAA members?

Re:Free Market? (1, Insightful)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045678)

Uh, true free market economies will have monopolies. Anti-trust laws make the market less free. Something to think about when someone gets a bug up their ass about a politician being "Socialist."

Re:Free Market? (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045698)

Anti-trust laws make the market less free.

Aye you've got a point, wasn't trying to be too pedantic, but I suppose I really meant "the incarnation of the free market as it currently exists in the USA." Which means we've got oligopolies instead, but I'm just saying that if Amazon can swing it's weight that effectively, isn't there a problem then that business regulators should be looking into?

Re:Free Market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046894)

Amazon and others that swing their weight need to do so carefully - if they irritate enough publishing houses, they may decide that it is not worth dealing with Amazon. What's that you say? Their revenue would plummet [if they believe long term they can do better without them, they should leave, ex: Toro rejecting sales through WalMart] if they left Amazon? Then it is to their benefit to give a little ground in negotiations. Amazon is promoting ebook sales in general via the Kindle and increasing awareness of a particular book by including the kindle link in search results, etc. A 70/30 split may still seem outrageous, but a 30% share of a large market is still better than a 95% share of a small market.

Re:Free Market? (2, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045806)

Capitalism is not the same as Free Market. Regardless of that though, most anything taken to the extreme is a really bad idea and causes more problems than it solves. What you do is look at the extreme end of an idea and then back up until the problems it creates have disappeared or are balancing against a worse alternative if you kept backing up.

Re:Free Market? (0, Troll)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046022)

Almost all monopolies are the result of government intervention. The anti-trust laws were written to break up monopolies that had been created by government intervention in the market. Some of the classic examples of "essential" monopoly were created by the government. When electricity and telephone service first came on the scene most cities had many competitors selling either. The government stepped in and decided to make both of these regulated monopolies.

Re:Free Market? (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046270)

Almost all monopolies are the result of government intervention. The anti-trust laws were written to break up monopolies that had been created by government intervention in the market.

Nice to think so, but it's not true.

Anti-trust laws were written to break up the big 19th- and early 20th century trusts-- essentially groups of large businesses collaborating to drive smaller ones out of the market so that they could set prices-- for example, Standard Oil's agreement with the railroads, which was not merely that the railroads would give them low prices (that's standard business practice), but that the railroads had to agree to not give smaller competitors good prices.

Re:Free Market? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047354)

Yes, and those big 19th and early 20th century trusts were in that position because of government (not necessarily Federal) actions that had favored them over their competitors.

Re:Free Market? (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046558)

Almost all monopolies are the result of government intervention. The anti-trust laws were written to break up monopolies that had been created by government intervention in the market. Some of the classic examples of "essential" monopoly were created by the government. When electricity and telephone service first came on the scene most cities had many competitors selling either. The government stepped in and decided to make both of these regulated monopolies.

[Citation Needed] because I don't think you have any clue what you're talking about.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Bell#Formation_under_Bell_patent [wikipedia.org]
The telephone (and telegraph) markets were consolidated by Bell Telephone/AT&T.

Following a government antitrust suit in 1913, AT&T agreed to the Kingsbury Commitment in which AT&T would sell their $30 million in Western Union stock, allow competitors to interconnect with their system, and not acquire other independent companies

AT&T did everything but that last bit. They kept buying up telephone/telegraph companies until the government came back again in 1934 and set AT&T up as a regulated monopoly.

I'm not sure why the "all monopolies are the result of government intervention" meme lives on.
During the hey-day of laissez faire economics, "classic" monopolies sprouted up left and right.
The government didn't create railroad and boat shipping monopolies.
The government didn't create the oil production/refining/distribution monopoly .
The government didn't create the monopoly in the telecom market.
I realize that facts are inconvenient to your ideology, but they won't go away.

In case that was all too long:
AT&T built up a monopoly in spite of the government's attempt to prevent it and before the government officially sanctioned them as one.

Re:Free Market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046974)

As long as we are busting facts inconvenient to ideology, let's point out that many "classic" monopolies are not a bad thing. If they are obtained through so thoroughly beating out the competition that none of them survive, that is not a bad thing for the consumer. Such monopolies are required to maintain that level of performance or risk losing market share to a scrappy new company in most businesses. While not a monopoly, GM, Ford, and Chrysler could be said to be an oligopoly in the US for the most part. They got slack and Japanese companies gutted them competitively to the point that people worried about all three going bankrupt. I admit, those with high fixed entry costs and low long term marginal costs like AT&T have the opportunity to abuse their position - starting up an independent parallel phone service would be quite difficult to be competitive in. The oil monopoly actually produced better prices than the pre-/post-monopoly 'competitive' market because prices were kept deliberately low to avoid new competition. This is the same strategy WalMart has today, lower margins, as efficient a back end as possible to keep anyone from taking away market share.

Re:Free Market? (2, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047396)

Governments (the government is not just the Federal government, there are also state and local governments) certainly did implement policies that favored one railroad over others.
Governments did pass laws and implement policies that favored Standard Oil over competitors.
Most local telecom monopolies were created by local government policy... AT&T then bought the local monopolies creating a national monopoly.
You appear to think that only the Federal government intervenes in the market to create monopolies. Most of the 19th and early 20th century trusts came into being as a result of local and state government intervention in the market place.

Libertarian bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046604)

That's a bunch of Libertarian bullshit, but of course it will be modded up because Libertarianism is oh-so-fashionable around here. And the replies will be ignored because the truth isn't fashionable.

Re:Free Market? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045744)

...If Amazon can dictate terms to book publishers in this fashion, do you think that Apple could pull a similar stunt with RIAA members?

If the RIAA members weren't previously colluded in the organization we call the RIAA, yeah. As it stands, it comes down to who's the biggest monopoly (or oligopoly, in the RIAA's case), and the music industry is far bigger than the online music distribution industry so Apple's fucked.

Re:Free Market? (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045768)

In a true free market, Amazon, the organization that the government gives special privileges to by calling it a Corporation, would not exist.

So, the current situation doesn't resemble a conceptual free market. And historically the instances of one entity being able to control large portions of an economy without resorting to some sort of coercion (via laws or organized crime) are few.

Anti-trust laws are intended to prevent monopolies.

Here, however, nobody is preventing the publishing and sale of a book. Amazon gets to decide what is sold on its site. I don't see the problem.

Re:Free Market? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045830)

In a free market, the best suited coorporation grows more rapidly than its less suited competitors. Once it reaches a certain size (compared to its competitors) it starts to use various methods of coercion to squash competition, possibly stomping out competitors that are better. This creates a monopoly in place of the free market. Thus, free markets tend towards monopolies. It follows that a free market is a self-destructive utopia. Many governments have laws to offset this development, but they often do not perform that well, having to balance out various issues, such as not stiffling innovation, not being to expensive to enforce, and politicians taking "campaing contributions" (or whatever you want to call the bribes) from monopoly coorporations.

Re:Free Market? (2, Interesting)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045908)

Not that I've read TFA, but isn't this what free market economics is supposed to prevent? When a single entity can have that kind of power, isn't it a monopoly?

Holding a dominant position or a monopoly in a market is not illegal in itself, a monopoly is said to be coercive when the monopoly firm actively prohibits competitors from entering the field. In this case authors have many choices regarding publication: traditional publishers, self-publication; Publishers have choice over to whom they sell their books: Amazon, B&N, Borders and 1000's of independent book stores; E-book readers are increasingly entering this market segment: Kindle, Nook and many other that we saw demonstrated at CES a few weeks ago.

So no. This is what free market economics is supposed to encourage. In my opinion, Amazon trying to keep prices down is a great thing. The fact that some authors chose to publish their books with MacMillan who tried to reduce their readership by jacking up the price should give incentive to said authors to find a better publisher that actually wants to increase their readership.

Re:Free Market? (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045922)

...If Amazon can dictate terms to book publishers in this fashion...

Actually the whole premise of the article is a fraud anyways, since amazon already caved to McMillan [themoneytimes.com] , which will now set the price of e-books on amazon.com, and already sharply raised amazon's previous pricing. So tell me, who is dictating terms here?

Re:Free Market? (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047074)

The premise of the article is not a fraud-- just that, in this particular battle, Macmillan won. Macmillan has private owners (in Germany) who decided that this fight was worth having, right now, because, as they saw it, the future of electronic publishing depended on it. If that meant that the company was going to suffer for awhile, that was OK, because caving in to Amazon meant their business model and price structuring would have to change very dramatically.

If Macmillan had been a public company, this may have turned out differently, as you'd have shareholders screaming for the boardmembers' heads. It seems to have been a tactical mistake on Amazon's part to go after Macmillan first. It turns out that Macmillan was willing to feel the pain for longer than Amazon was.

How is it not preventing this (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046012)

Not that I've read TFA, but isn't this what free market economics is supposed to prevent?

Yes.

Which it is.

Unless you've been under a rock, Apple is doing a book store. And Barnes & Nobel is too, along with the nook reader... Why do you think Amazon *had* to capitulate?

free market economics works just fine but it doesn't fix things instantly. Over the long run though things will be fixed and arrive at a natural state. Regulation always serves to create an artificial plateau of being that you'd never find otherwise...

Re:How is it not preventing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31047108)

free market economics works just fine but it doesn't fix things instantly. Over the long run though things will be fixed and arrive at a natural state. Regulation always serves to create an artificial plateau of being that you'd never find otherwise...

I agree with your stance on free markets, but I don't agree with your stance on regulation. Free markets require regulation. Why? Because, as the saying goes, your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose. "Free" should not be equated with anarchy. If your freedoms abridge my freedoms, there is a problem. That is why we need government. The law should limit your freedoms only inasmuch as they limit how you impose on other people's freedoms. If we don't accept this basic proposition, then we should accept slavery. We should accept murder. We should accept theft. This is a basic concept that the tea baggers, in all of their righteous zeal, completely overlook. We live in dangerous times, because the very foundations of the US republic is under attack by great moneyed interests supported by a mass of people ignorant of political history and political philosophy. Powerful feudal ideologues caused the current global economic catastrophe, yet they maintain a stranglehold on popular sentiment by debasing their socially conscientious opponents as "socialists" or "communists" or "fascists" (never mind that these labels are all mutually exclusive). There are a great mass of people being propelled by dangerous ideas, and you, my posting friend, are succumbing to their rhetoric.

It's all about the money (4, Interesting)

wheelema (46997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045594)

And to think that I helped Mary Ann North become rich paying $.75 per paperback. Of all the parties beating their breasts in outrage over this issue the only ones I have any sympathy for are the authors and the readers.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045910)

Here's what you do:

1) Go to the bookstore, grab her book, sit down somewhere in the store and read it. Don't actually buy it.
2) Find her mailing address.
3) Mail her a check for how much you think her book was worth to you.
4) Profit for her, the majority of your money isn't diverted to fucked-up corporations like Amazon and Apple, and the people who should profit (the author and the reader) do profit.

Re:It's all about the money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045950)

You really, really don't want to read a book unless the publisher's editor and proofreader have made it readable for you. Most authors can't spell, few are capable of coherent grammar and until someone else has told them that their story doesn't add up, their books aren't worth reading. The editing part of the publishing industry does very useful work.

Why is Amazon the bad guy? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045654)

It seems to me Amazon was actually fighting for lower prices, helping people who like to read. Are the authors anti-reader?

Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (5, Insightful)

Ekuryua (940558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045748)

I checked the prices of ebooks, and as far as I am concerned, I am finding those prices outrageous.
I do respect the right of authors to make some money, but when an ebook is twice as expensive as a cheap paperback version, there's something highly wrong.
All of that makes me think they actually are trying to kill the ebook market, where "they" means publishers. Amazon of course is not clean either, and they obviously have been taking advantage of their public policy to look like saviors, that they are not.

tldr: ebooks are way too expensive. Anything above 3-4$ for an old book or 4-8$ for a novelty is just plain insane. It's not like they require a lot of infrastructure. Oh and of course the author should still get most of the money in that grand scheme. But I doubt it's the case.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045964)

They still have to PRODUCE the original book that becomes an ebook.

This requires:

an editor, proofreader, any cover art, conversion to ebook format and some quality checks, oh, and an author to spend near a year working on the book.

Hence, they want new books to cost more. It's called "return on investment." The publishers also want older ebooks that have made the costs back tobe LESS than Amazon's mandated 9.99.

Publishers deserve to make some money, too, because they do a great favor for us all: They reduce the noise and increase the signal. Otherwise you could just read stuff put on the 'net with no filter, no quality checks, proofreading, etc...

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (1)

Roogna (9643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046358)

You know I keep seeing all this about about production costs, such as editors. I don't buy it honestly. The last few "new release" books I bought to read had horrible editing and I can't imagine they were proofread either. The quality of what's considered top notch writing has tanked considerably over the years, and the editing process for most fiction publishers at least doesn't seem to catch even the most glaring errors. No, I think the old publishers are just afraid that they're going to get cut out. After all, what marketing do you think matters more for sales? A little ad someplace? Or top spot front page of something like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, or soon Apple's book stores?

Now I know a couple authors personally. The ones I know are also bullish about e-books in general. There are -issues- to be overcome, such as formats. Epub isn't as nice a layout engine as it could be, kindle does their own thing. The unfortunate DRM controls, made worse by the rights granted varying between one publisher and another. And pricing. No one I know minds paying for e-books. But no one I know will pay MORE for an e-book than the lowest price they can get the book for printed. Nor should they. Over Christmas I was checking into e-book readers myself and the prices involved. I found that in the worst cases I was able to get the new release hardback at -half- the price of the e-book. Now even accounting for any middle men the publisher's try to charge for, the hardback is going to require those same ones PLUS physical printing costs. There is no way it costs double to produce the electronic version. The e-book version prices should at the very least track the lowest price for the SAME work at a given retailer. After all, has been pointed out many times here at /. the dead tree editions come with MORE rights. Such as being lendable or resellable.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046076)

Do you have any idea how much work goes into producing a book? If you want a book that was just published recently you should be willing to pay the price. If you're not then vote with your wallet and wait for the paperback or for the copyright to expire (yes we need to fix that, I know.)

Sadly authors don't get the lion's share of the money, but they get a LOT more for the first runs (hardback, ebook, etc.) than the residuals from cheaper paperbacks once the book gets older.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31047408)

Do you have any idea how much work goes into producing a book?

I Am Not An Author, so no, I have no first-hand experience with how much work goes into a book.

However, I assume that compensation for that work is (and has always been) built into the price of the paperback versions. If none of the people who did all that work were compensated for it, that would mean no paperback versions.

I also assume that paperbacks cost more to produce than e-book versions, which don't require smushing a force with blades and chemicals.

Paperback: Work to produce original content + cost to physically print.

E-book: (Same) Work to produce original content.

I'd assume the E-book would still be much cheaper.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046372)

I checked the prices of ebooks, and as far as I am concerned, I am finding those prices outrageous.

I do respect the right of authors to make some money, but when an ebook is twice as expensive as a cheap paperback version, there's something highly wrong.

I actually agree with this, and I don't think that the fifteen dollar price, or even the proposed 9.99 price, will end up being the long-term equilibrium price. In the long term, I'll bet on low single digits-- the only question is how low. Four dollars for a book, or one dollar?

However, I really am horrified by Amazon's anticompetitive actions-- basically, holding paper books hostage for a deal on e-book prices.

And if you think that Amazon using its market-dominance power to set prices is a good thing for consumers, because they're setting prices at a point where they actually lose money on every e-book sold [techdirt.com] and low prices are good, right? -- you are not thinking very far ahead. Let me clue you in: Amazon is not trying to secure a dominant market position because they intend to lose money.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (1)

bgalbrecht (920100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046406)

There can be two reasons for this, it really does cost more to produce it, or the publisher is evil

In some cases, the print book was created prior to the advent of ebooks, and so it costs about as much to create the ebook master files as it does to create the master files for a new print edition. If the expected number of sales of the ebook is sufficiently less than even a hardback print run, then it's not profitable for the publisher unless they price it up at a trade paperback or hardback prices. Thanks to the tower of eBabel, there's usually at least 3-4 formats the publisher must prep, although if they have good software, that conversion shouldn't be that hard. Even so, as someone who is involved at Distributed Proofreaders, I can tell you that even for a simple novel for which you don't have the original electronic source documents, the amount of time it takes to create the master files (for example, scan the book, OCR it, proofread it, generate XML master) at minimum is probably about 8-10 hours. Even if you freelance this, it's probably going to take a couple thousand to do this. Since our publisher is afraid of copyright infringement, add in the cost of DRM, another couple thousand. Add in Author royalties, the rest of the publisher overhead including profit margin, and the ebook store's markup, it really does cost more than $9.99 to break even if you have projected sales of about 2,000 ebooks.

In other cases, the publisher created an electronic master document from which the hardbound and mass market paperback editions as well as ebook formats are created. The publisher made the ebook available at the same time as the HB, and priced it the same as the HB. Then, when the MMPB came out a year later, the publisher kept the price of the ebook at the HB price. Why? Because the publishers don't like ebooks, they're afraid that ebook sales will cannibalize the print editions, and any cheap prices on ebooks will get the consumer to expect all books to be priced cheaply. You're proof of it, in their eyes.

In MacMillan's PR campaign for their side of the Amazon dispute, they claim that with their agent model, they will release the ebooks at the same time as the initial HB release, price it around the price of a trade paperback, and eventually drop the price to below that of a MMPB, presumably when the MMPB is released. This sounds good until you take a look at MacMillan's track record. Most of their ebooks are currently priced at HB or TPB prices, even though there's a MMPB available, and their TOR/Forge SF/F imprint has almost no ebooks available. If they really do change their ways, great, if not, it won't be any different from now, where I don't buy ebooks from MacMillan because either they're too expensive, or unavailable.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046436)

Keep in mind that what was being argued about was *not* the price of *old* ebooks. What was being argued about was how much Amazon would charge for ebooks on the day the hard cover was first released.

Should focus on the agent model contract (1)

bgalbrecht (920100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046562)

Amazon will not be able to price match the ebook against the hard cover when there's a hardcover price war. Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon have been having a price war on best-seller hardcovers lately, in the $7.99-$9.99 range, and MacMillian's CEO has already said that that is too low a price for a new ebook. Given MacMillan's current track record (most ebooks still sell at hardcover price even after the mass market paperback is released), I don't expect MacMillan to drop the price of the ebook to match the discounted hardcover.

Re:Should focus on the agent model contract (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046738)

The hard cover price war you mentioned basically got well below the normal "loss-leader". A hard cover with a $30 cover price wholesales at roughly $15, and the store is losing $5 on each book sale to get you in the door, with the eye on making money on anything else that the buyer might get on the same visit. Amazon did lose money on ebooks of best sellers until last week, with the intent of earning a larger market share than it could before.

I agree that the price of ebooks should go down when a paperback is available. I hope that Apple getting into the game will change that, because I don't see enough incentive to buying ebooks if they remain the same price in perpetuity. I know there is a convenience, but if I have to buy a device to read them comfortably, then I'm not going to try.

Re:Uh... everyone seems focused on amazon but... (5, Informative)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046450)

I do respect the right of authors to make some money, but when an ebook is twice as expensive as a cheap paperback version, there's something highly wrong.

My wife is a nationally published, best-selling young adult author (see sig). I do all our bookkeeping. And right now I live on my wife's income, so the ability of authors to make money on their books is a subject very near and dear to my heart. While YA is a different market than general fiction, it is similar enough to make some general statements. One of those statements is that the right of authors to make money barely enters into this debate, no matter how badly these authors want to talk about it (and generate press from it). Here's why.

At present, typical royalty rates for hardcover books are anywhere from 5% to 15%, depending on total sales, escalation clauses, and so forth. Some publishers have experimented with higher rates (even as high as 50%) in exchange for lower advances, but these are still a minority. So you can figure a typical $20 hardcover makes an author $2. Keep in mind that for most nationally published authors, the royalty is on cover price in all but a few very carefully worded exceptions that do not usually apply. In other words, Amazon's discount will not usually eat into the author's cut. Whether it eats into the publisher's cut or Amazon's cut, and to what extent, is beyond my ken.

Paperback rates are lower--say, 5% to 10%. A $10 paperback (for nice round numbers) typically makes an author $1. Same caveats apply.

Publishing houses are still all over the map on eBook sales. I don't have a lot of information on this one, but my understanding is that 25% would be a great (but reachable) eBook royalty, while I've never heard anything less than 10%. I have heard higher numbers--like 30% and 50%--mostly in conjunction with experimental publishing models, as with the hardcovers.

So on a $9.99 eBook, a typical author is making $1 to $2.50. Which is pretty much exactly the range they get on dead-tree publishing.

I have seen a lot of authors really freaking out about this MacMillan stuff, and honestly the issue is complex enough from a market standpoint that I don't think anyone involved is really "blameworthy." Amazon wants to sell eBooks, and cheap books sell better than expensive ones (big shocker, right?). MacMillan wants greater say in its ability to price its own wares. Personally I think eBooks are generally less desirable, and therefore worth less, than physical copies, for various reasons every /. reader can probably recite.

Really the only authors who have suffered at all are MacMillan authors whose stuff got delisted, and even then--people forget that Amazon only controls about half on the online book sale market, which is in turn only about 30% of the retail book industry. Although it has a head start in the eBook realm, even as an eBook retailer Amazon already has serious competition ramping up. They don't even remotely resemble a monopoly.

So while this is an interesting and important debate for the publishing industry, my assessment is that it impacts authors a lot less than authors like to think. Which is about on par with any part of the business side of publishing. My experience is that the "artists" in the publishing industry are much better treated than those in (say) the music industry, but the fact remains that publishing is a business, and some of the "artistes" in the group get very angry when something reminds them of that.

Re:Uh... Epic Fail on RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046456)

The authors and publishers want to be able to drop the price of the e-books to $4.99 after a period of time has passed since initial release. The want to be able to set the price between $4.99 and $14.99 ie new books by big authors released at the same time as hardcovers would cost $14.99 -- older e-books sold the same time as the paperback version could cost as little as $4.99

Amazon sucks anyway. (2, Insightful)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045788)

Great idea: go to a BOOKSTORE and buy a copy. Even better? Get one at a locally owned shop. Book-buying is better in person: browsing shelves, reading through a few pages, checking out your favorite section, then finding that rare gem that you'd have never seen on Amazon anyway.

Re:Amazon sucks anyway. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31045874)

ahh... the purists. I bet you use lynx to make your purchases on-line.

Re:Amazon sucks anyway. (0, Flamebait)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046112)

There is nothing 'purist' about leaving Mom's basement once in awhile to buy a book, or better yet to go do the Library.

Re:Amazon sucks anyway. (4, Informative)

homer_s (799572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046178)

Great idea: go to a BOOKSTORE and buy a copy. Even better? Get one at a locally owned shop. Book-buying is better in person: browsing shelves, reading through a few pages, checking out your favorite section, then finding that rare gem that you'd have never seen on Amazon anyway.

Why? I value my time and I like to spend it doing other things. Amazon makes it incredibly easy for me to purchase the books I want, new or used. In fact, I have a few books that I could not have found if not for amazon.com.

I see amazon, like any other store, as my agent who aggregates the buying power of consumers to negotiate a price from manufacturers/publishers. I applaud whatever they do to get prices down for me. Authors' rights? That's for them to defend, not me.

Re:Amazon sucks anyway. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046410)

GP is talking about people who don't want to buy from Amazon for some reason or other. The point being, rather than bitch about Amazon, if you are inclined to do so, just go elsewhere.

BTW, most bookstores would be happy to special order any book you please. Moreover, rather than limit yourself to your "agent's" evidently skewed and limited selection, you could search the entire internet for titles and have your local shop obtain it for you.

Heck, even your local library will often special order books and give you first dibs on reading it for free.

I buy a lot of books from Amazon myself, because it is convenient. But I know better than to fancy them as working on my behalf. They are just another business balancing my potential desires against scores of millions of others.

Re:Amazon sucks anyway. (1)

rjiy (1739274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046272)

Why would I want to kill whole trees just for a few hours of entertainment?

First Rule of Negotiating (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045792)

Tell the seller you don't need their product unless they agree to your terms. This is not school - this is hardball.

There can be only one? Since when? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045808)

Not to shadow Amazons draconian pressure tactics, but if I want a product bad enough, I will find another reseller, maybe even a B&M. A "who moved my buy button" service? Are you kidding me? I wasn't aware that there was but one bookstore left in the world.

When retailers and e-tailers realize that people do not take kindly to being screwed with when the want it and want it NOW, AND the fact that I can and will spend the extra 87 cents to buy it from someone else to avoid bullshit, perhaps they'll stop with these games. Hell, I get pissed when I'm not allowed to see what the final tax and/or shipping costs will be until I "create an account"(that would be a hint e-tailers, knock that shit off), and ultimately I end up shopping elsewhere.

Amazon is not the almighty end all be all of e-product. If you start treating it as such, or allow them the illusion that they are, the illusion will become reality. Buy or sell elsewhere if you have or find an issue. Yeah, it can be just THAT simple.

bn.com (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045818)

It's shit like this that makes me glad we live in a free system that has competition, even as messy as it gets (and yeah, corruption, incompetence, etc. I get it).

If you don't like Amazon's shenanigans, there's bn.com, powells.com, daedalusbooks.com, etc.

Incidentally, IIRC, Borders' online fulfillment got outsourced to Amazon years ago, their online presence otherwise is a pathetic fuckin joke compared to bn.com, I haven't shopped Borders since I got my 3rd edition Player's Handbook at the Borders in the WTC..

Re:bn.com (0)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045846)

err 2nd ed, need more coffee...

Authors versus consumers it is... (3, Interesting)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045940)

Saw this debate start earlier this week on Schlock Mercenary's site http://www.schlockmercenary.com/blog/index.php/2010/02/04/dear-mister-bezos-are-you-still-all-mad-and-stuff/ [schlockmercenary.com] . Seems like the author found the discussion heading away from the self-righteous line he wanted and killed it.

Don't think he realized how many of his readers are consumers who want the best price for something.

Re:Authors versus consumers it is... (2, Interesting)

schlesinm (934723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046362)

While Amazon handled their end badly, I still pull for them in the battle. Macmillan is basically trying to kill e-books with the price point they are forcing on the market. Amazon at least realizes that it makes no sense to have an e-book go for the same price as a physical book (if we could only get them to remove the DRM now).

Where there enough sales? (1)

Geert Jalink (1738722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31045958)

If there are enough sales for a book, and the book does not insult that much, why would anyone remove all books from any author at all?

When were the books restored? (1)

Joe Helfrich (837865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046016)

According to the link you posted to Charlie's diary, the book's still haven't been restored. Was this done overnight, or did you fall for Amazon's statement that they were going to restore the books?

Prepare to Troll in 3... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31046052)

Forgive the AC login, but I need to remain behind it as I work for Barnes & Noble. Also, Disclaimer: I work for Barnes & Noble.

With any ebook reader that you can attach to a computer, you have control over the ebook you've purchased. With a certain oddly named ereader in particular, you can move the ebook to your computer. Yes, it does still have DRM, which is regrettable, but you have control over the file. The Kindle is a licensed device where you view licensed content, and their Terms and Agreements spell that out, albeit it briefly.

This past Christmas, more ebooks were sold then physical books. I expect this year will have a thousand and one problems as publishers try to figure out how to place ebooks in their publishing schedule. There has been some talk about having the ebook be released at the same time as the trape paperback, as to not impact hardcover sales as much as they have. Although this would alienate a very large reading audience, such actions have occurred before when companies look to their bottom line.

Authors make money from their up front payments, bookstores make money from their bargain sections. The publisher sets the price of the books when they are released, and they make their money by selling X number of books. When you buy a book in the trade section of a bookstore, almost every cent of that goes to the publisher. Ebooks don't return the same numbers as trade books to the publisher, but I am unsure of the specifics of that.

We'll see how it goes.

Authors Guild burned up a lot of respect for me... (3, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046116)

When the President of the Authors Guild went on a rant about how text to speech was infringing on authors "audio rights".
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/opinion/25blount.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]
I won't go into the arguments, but suffice it to say I sure as hell don't just automatically trust whatever the authors guild is trying to push. Even if you think he's right, was this issue SO important he had to write a very public article about it in the NYT?

On the other hand, Amazon isn't the must trustworthy company in the world either. The incident with 1984 on the Kindle comes to mind. This incident only makes it crystal clear that the Kindle is essentially like renting books, not owning them. It's just kind of amazing that the entire e-book world is rife with anti-consumer paranoia.

The entire e-book industry is doomed to failure unless they're significantly cheaper than the paper version. How many people really want to buy a book on technology platform for only a little less? We all know these are essentially throw-away devices. In 2 years there will be some Great New "gotta have it" book reader platform that'll make anything right now obsolete. In 5 years Kindles will be essentially worthless and people will turn their noses up at them like it's a Palm Pilot. Meanwhile the paper book holds essentially the same value as it did 100 years ago. So which medium should I buy? If I don't need a new version of a recent book, I can get a used copy on Amazon for next to nothing, or deeply discounted. The e-book I can't re-sell, easily loan to a friend, etc. Inferior technologies can only compete on price.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I just consider "paper books" to be technology (a competing technology of course). Newer doesn't mean better, and it's difficult for electronics to compete with paper when the content is completely static.

Re:Authors Guild burned up a lot of respect for me (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046304)

How many people really want to buy a book on technology platform for only a little less? We all know these are essentially throw-away devices.

For me, this is the crux of the issue. I've read the linked blogs (and a few others - interesting reads) and the author's points are clear and pretty well spot on - except that they are largely thinking of e-books as dead tree replacements. To an author, they decry DRM but mostly on the grounds that it impedes sales.

But DRM changes the entire picture. If something is locked to either the device or the purchaser, it's value drops significantly. I can't just lend the book to a family member or friend. I can't easily back it up. Yes, I know we can typically break the lock, but that's shitty business model.

I actually don't mind a locked down ebook but it's value is decreased compared to a paper version or a fully unlocked version and should be priced accordingly.

Does Amazon Marketplace work with blocked books? (2, Interesting)

netringer (319831) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046544)

Am I wrong or doesn't the "Available New and Used from $nn from these..." Marketplace Sellers listing still work when Amazon themselves won't stock the book?

There's still a very competitive new and used book marketplace,.

I know. Not for ebooks.

"cheap" $9.99 books? (5, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#31046818)

Stross writes:

They lied by falsely positioning themselves as the defenders of cheap $9.99 ebooks

I'm so confused. Here I am with a paperback that says $7.99 on its back. An ebook costs a fraction of that to manufacture and the paperback's price also includes all the amortized costs (like paying the author!) in its price, so how the fuck is $9.99 "cheap"?

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