Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazon Pulls All McMillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement

Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement

To make a long story short, Amazon decided to play hardball with McMillan in negotiations over e-book pricing, so you now cannot buy from them ANY books, e- or otherwise, which are published by McMillan or its imprints. Those imprints include my publisher, St. Martin's Minotaur.


Powell's Books

Park Road Books

Murder By the Book

Barnes & Noble

Seattle Mystery Bookshop


Karen in Ohio said...

Oh, for crying out loud. That's ridiculous.

I'm happy to support any other retailer than Amazon. Who do they think they are? Thanks for the heads up, Dusty.

Judy Bobalik said...

I don't understand why Amazon doesn't let Macmillan charge what it wants and let the buyer decide.

JD Rhoades said...

Judy, Amazon's using "e-books are only $9.99" as a big selling point for the (expensive) Kindle. The pitch is that the Kindle pays for itself because e-books are cheaper. If they're up around hardcover or trade paperback prices, then a big selling point of the Kindle is gone.

I think e-books should definitely be cheaper...but I don't want a retailer telling my publisher what they can charge and strong-arming them like this when they're negotiation. That's not in my best interest as an author.

Fran said...

And Seattle Mystery Bookshop! We love your books too!

This is going to be interesting to watch, but it's rotten for the authors while it's happening.

Anonymous said...

I guess what bothers me is that McMillen cannot tell a retailer what to charge for a book, e or otherwise. That is an antitrust violation. Nor can Amazon legally collude with that practice. So... the authors are caught in the middle. You should be pressuring your publisher to get McMillen to stop trying to price fix. Everyone will benefit from the lower price. I have bought five ebooks in the last two weeks. That would never have happened at $15 a pop.

Another lawyer in California

Judy Bobalik said...

Something smells in this whole thing. I just went over to Amazon and lots of books are priced at $15 Patterson, Grisham, Kellerman, Koryta, Ellen Crosby, Daniel Depp (and his is a year old) Ruth Rendell. Little, Brown, S & S, Grand Central, Crown. Currently available books and forthcoming. So whatever this is about it's not about pricing.

David Terrenoire said...

Damn. And so we begin with Web 3.0.

Stacey Cochran said...

John's official statement re-printed below:

To: All Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community
From: John Sargent

This past Thursday I met with Amazon in Seattle. I gave them our proposal for new terms of sale for e books under the agency model which will become effective in early March. In addition, I told them they could stay with their old terms of sale, but that this would involve extensive and deep windowing of titles. By the time I arrived back in New York late yesterday afternoon they informed me that they were taking all our books off the Kindle site, and off Amazon. The books will continue to be available on through third parties.

I regret that we have reached this impasse. Amazon has been a valuable customer for a long time, and it is my great hope that they will continue to be in the very near future. They have been a great innovator in our industry, and I suspect they will continue to be for decades to come.

It is those decades that concern me now, as I am sure they concern you. In the ink-on-paper world we sell books to retailers far and wide on a business model that provides a level playing field, and allows all retailers the possibility of selling books profitably. Looking to the future and to a growing digital business, we need to establish the same sort of business model, one that encourages new devices and new stores. One that encourages healthy competition. One that is stable and rational. It also needs to insure that intellectual property can be widely available digitally at a price that is both fair to the consumer and allows those who create it and publish it to be fairly compensated.

Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.

The agency model would allow Amazon to make more money selling our books, not less. We would make less money in our dealings with Amazon under the new model. Our disagreement is not about short-term profitability but rather about the long-term viability and stability of the digital book market.

Amazon and Macmillan both want a healthy and vibrant future for books. We clearly do not agree on how to get there. Meanwhile, the action they chose to take last night clearly defines the importance they attribute to their view. We hold our view equally strongly. I hope you agree with us.

You are a vast and wonderful crew. It is impossible to reach you all in the very limited timeframe we are working under, so I have sent this message in unorthodox form. I hope it reaches you all, and quickly. Monday morning I will fully brief all of our editors, and they will be able to answer your questions. I hope to speak to many of you over the coming days.

Thanks for all the support you have shown in the last few hours; it is much appreciated.

All best,

JD Rhoades said...

I added Seattle mystery Bookshop to the list. Sorry, I didn't know you guys did mail order!

Fran said...

Thanks for adding us, Dusty. Yeah, we have loyal customers around the world. We are truly international, for all we're a smallish board-and-mortar store.

But we have that following and our longevity (20 years on July 1st, yay!) because we have lots of signed stuff - we're a pretty nice stop for most touring mystery/thriller authors -- and we have loyal and devoted customers whom we adore.

So thanks for adding us! And come out and see us sometime, darn it!

Anonymous said...

I am sure the buggy whip companies would have loved to continue operating under old established business models, too. But alas, in the face of new technology it was not possible. Neither will it prove possible for McMillan and other publishers to continue to operate under antiquated marketing and pricing models in view of the new technology. No matter how desirable it may seem--it will not happen. I think Amazon has it about right with their new pricing and profit structure. Very few are going to pay hard back prices for the USE of a DRM'd digital file. They will pirate the file first, which is precisely what I predict will happen.

JD Rhoades said...

Ah, the tired old buggy-whip analogy. How very fucking original, Anon.

The difference is that, unlike the buggy whip, people still like and want paper books.Go to any blog or website about books or literature where comments from readers are allowed (which is to say, most of them). Look for posts where someone brings up the topic of e-books. I guarantee you, within the first five comments, someone will assert that they prefer paper books. They like the feel, the look, even the smell of a paper book. Watch as more and more people chime in. These people are not going away. Unless Amazon, using predatory pricing, forces them out of the market, which, I submit, is what they're trying to do.

I think e-books should be cheaper, and, if I read the Macmillan proposal right, they are; e-books are capped at 14.99, still less than the cost of a hardback, and they get cheaper, much the way a cheaper paperback edition is released...later, after they've snapped up the early adopters.

There's a lot wrong with some of the ways publishers do business...but letting one retailer force one book format out in favor of the other format that the retailer controls the supply of is, I think, a solution worse than the problem.

JD Rhoades said...

(And Anon, before you start mewling about the tone of my response, please note, I'm nicer to people who have the balls to sign their name and take responsibility for their words).

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