Saturday, January 30, 2010


Macmillan and Amazon Kerfuffle


I'm not knowledgeable enough about the publishing industry, the digital versus print book market sale figures, or the business models in place between publishers and booksellers, particularly the deep-discount sellers, to comment on the recent dust-up between publisher Macmillan and bookseller Amazon.

According to the New York Times and open letter from Macmillan, Amazon wants to hold eBooks for its Kindle at $9.99 per pop, presumably to sell more Kindles. Macmillan wants to raise that price to $14.99, because it claims the lower price creates false price expectations in their customers (readers) and will kill, er, negatively impact, the print hardcover and trade paperback markets. I am positive my summation here of the entire problem is cursory and inadequate at best.

However, in all my reading, I was struck by author and blogger John Scalzi's suggestion of a sliding scale for e-book pricing.

So, here's my suggestion for how ebooks should be priced. But before I do that, let me say that I firmly believe that ebooks should be priced lower than print books, just because the distribution costs are almost negligible.

If a publisher releases a book in print hardcover, the corresponding ebook should be priced less than the print hardcover but more than if that book were to be released as a trade paperback. For example, if Earth-Shattering Romance were available in print at $24.99, then the e-version should be available at $19.99.

If a publisher releases a book in print trade paperback, the corresponding ebook should be priced less than the print trade paperback but more than if that book were to be released as a mass-market paperback. For example, if Universe-Rocking Romance were available in print at $14.99, then the e-version should be available at $9.99.

If a publisher releases a book in print mass-market paperback, the corresponding ebook should be priced less than the print mass-market paperback. For example, if The Big Banging O Romance were available in print at $7.99, then the e-version should be available at $4.99.

[Update 1/31/10: Amazon plans to give in to Macmillan's demand.]


2 comments:

Diane Gaston said...

Way too logical, Keira!

I hope they work it out because I want as many books as possible to be available for the Kindle.

Otherwise...I'll have to get an IPad!!!

Keira Soleore said...

Heh, Diane. It's sooo good to read your comment where I'm called "Way too logical!" You truly made my day. You're illogical is what's usually ahem flung at me.

O Woe Is You. I mean, you'd be forced to buy a snazzy iPad. :)

But yes, I don't like strong-arm tactics by anyone. And right now all the people involved in this and other pub industry debacles are behaving like spoilt children.

We need the iPad and the Kindle and the Sony Reader and the Nook for an open market benefitting the consumer.