Publishing

The wild weekend of Amazon and Macmillan

Commentary by publishing industry consultant Mike Shatzkin

Excerpt:

Now I swear all this is true. As everybody knows, a very serious food fight broke out between Amazon and Macmillan late Friday night. All weekend Michael Cader led the way in ferreting out additional useful information and I spent most of today (Sunday) trying to write an analytical blogpost. I got it just about finished in the early afternoon, and the bottom line to what I’d written was “Amazon will not be able to sustain this.”

I decided to hold the post until after going to see Crazy Heart this afternoon and, when I came home, Amazon had already folded. But I had written a post that provided a lot of useful information, even if events had stolen my punchline.

So I’m giving it the once-over to edit it for the reality that Amazon has already announced that they will not continue to boycott Macmillan books.

Amazon Concedes to Macmillan on Price of eBooks

On Friday, Amazon.com shocked the publishing world when it pulled both the digital and physical books of Macmillan, the large international publisher, after Macmillan said it planned to begin setting higher prices for its e-books. Until now, Amazon has been setting e-book prices itself, and has established $9.99 as the common price for new releases and best-sellers.

But in a message to its customers posted to its Web site on Sunday afternoon, Amazon said that while it strongly disagreed with Macmillan’s stance, it would concede to the publisher. The New York Times reports.

“We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles,” Amazon said. “We want you to know that ultimately, however, 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.”

Sounds like Amazon wished Macmillan didn't have a monopoly over their own titles. Perhaps Amazon wants to write, edit, publish, print, design, bind, price, market, distribute, sell and ship its own books in addition to formulating its own proprietary reading technology and software?

Amazon Has a Hissy Fit

Amazon.com has pulled books from Macmillan, one of the largest publishers in the United States, in a dispute over the pricing on e-books on the site.

The publisher’s books can be purchased only from third parties on Amazon.com.

A person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute, which has been brewing for a year, said Amazon was expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books. The person did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of e-books to around $15 from $9.99.

Macmillan is one of the publishers signed on to offer books to Apple, as part of its new iBookstore on the iPad tablet unveiled earlier this week.

iCountry News

Will Apple’s iPad save, or doom, book culture and the community bookstores, authors and readers that support it?

Opinion piece in the NYT

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #104

This week's episode brings an analytical essay. What is fueling this renewed drive for paywalls and exclusivity contracts for content? The essay talks about some of the economic pressures that may have been overlooked. Remember, the air staff used to work in print news which means that they have their bylines and photo credits in at least a vertical file out there somewhere.

A miscellany of brief items is also presented.

Related links:
Andy Woodworth on paywalls and EBSCO exclusivity
China accuses US of online warfare
Reuters on the China situation regarding Internet freedom
Tom Foremski on a paywall hole
Usage of Mobile Internet in the UK
This Week in Fun Enters Hiatus
The death of Air America
Tech Liberation Front on Air America's death

15:57 minutes (6.4 MB)
mp3
[audio-player]

The Most Ironic LISNews Post Ever: Improving Access to Research

I bet you'd love to read this article in Science Magazine: Improving Access to Research
The authors write "Last week, the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee's Roundtable on Scholarly Publishing (on which we served along with 10 others) released a report* arguing that journal articles derived from federal research funding should be made publicly available as quickly as practicable—generally in a year or less after publication—and in ways that will improve scholarship by maximizing the scope for interoperability across articles, among disciplines, and internationally. "
Unfortunatly.... "The content you requested requires free registration or a subscription to this site. If you already have a user name and password, please sign in below."
Well at least you can read the report.

Amazon Increases Royalty Rate for Books on Its Kindle E-Reader

In what appeared to be a clear bid to anticipate the release of the breathlessly awaited Apple tablet, Amazon announced Wednesday new royalty terms for authors or publishers who release e-books through its Kindle’s digital text platform, a direct publishing initiative.

Authors and publishers will be offered a royalty rate of 70 per cent of the digital list price after “delivery costs,” typically about 6 cents per digital unit. This rate is similar to that currently offered by Apple in its app store.

Full article at NYT.com

The Death of the Slush Pile

The Death of the Slush Pile
Now, slush is dead, or close to extinction. Film and television producers won't read anything not certified by an agent because producers are afraid of being accused of stealing ideas and material. Most book publishers have stopped accepting book proposals that are not submitted by agents. Magazines say they can scarcely afford the manpower to cull through the piles looking for the Next Big Thing.

Kindle/Amazon Fans Punish Book that Delayed Digital Edition

What impatient folk we are. While publishers are delaying the release of a book's Kindle edition to give the hardcover edition a chance to sell, Kindle readers (kindlers?) despair over the wait.

Case in point: the much buzzed about new book "Game Change," which spills secrets about the 2008 presidential election. The book has been deluged with one-star, negative reviews from apparent Kindle fans who are protesting publisher HarperCollins' decision to delay the Kindle version to Feb. 23. Those one-star reviews have contributed to a ho-hum average customer review rating of a 2.5 stars (out of 5). Customer reviews are an important factor for book sales on Amazon, and it will be interesting to see if the Kindle protests spread.

Here's one example of a customer's review of "Game Change": "This is time-sensitive material. No one is going to care in 6 weeks when it is released for the kindle. People want it now. The publisher is shooting themselves in the foot. They'd have made more money overall by offering the kindle version now."

Tablet Fever

Even though it's technically just a rumor, many are speculating that a new tablet computer from Apple could act as a savior to the newspaper and magazine industries. The tablet computer concept has been around for a long time, but with an Apple announcement expected at the end of the month, digital media consultant Mark Potts says it's for real this time.

Transcript here

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