Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement.
NY Times's Brad Stone reports that Venture Beat and other blogs noticed that searches for Macmillan books on Friday night showed those books gone from the site.
Venture Beat writes that "We found Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, but his new novel Makers and his popular debut, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, have been removed. Robert Jordan’s entire Wheel of Time series of fantasy novels is gone, except for 2005’s The Knife of Dreams. You get inks to other sellers. But Amazon has stopped carrying them."
They are still listed at Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk. Some were hoping
that this was a just a "glitch."
Brad Stone was able to talk to someone in the industry who said this is due to a disagreement between Amazon and book publishers, a situation which has seen two major book publishers recently pulling e-books from being released at the same time as hardcover books.
While insisting that e-books are a miniscule portion of book sales, these publishers also say that e-books "cannibalize" hard cover sales. (In some quarters, you apparently can have it both ways when handing out quotes.)
I've written that there've been reports that publishers, unhappy with Amazon's low $9.99 (U.S.) price for most best NY Times sellers, are fearful that customers will come to feel that this is the proper price for books, thereby "cheapening" (in the publishers' eyes) the value of publisher offerings. Well, yes, they'd be cheaper than publishers want.
Most are aware that electronic versions of books, once operating costs have been recouped, are pure gravy. There's no need for additional printings, involving cost of paper, distribution, storage, delivery, etc.
Neverheless they want the same or very similar prices as charged for hard cover books, as that would be an even better margin for them, and they don't want to lose that.
The NYTimes's Stone explains:
' Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.Steve Jobs did meet with several publishers to offer them a better percentage of sales, but in order to make this more profitable for Apple when agreeing to charge the publishers less, Jobs wants the money to come from book buyers.
. . .
It’s not clear yet if publishers can withhold books from Amazon while giving them to other parties like Apple. I’ve spoken to two antitrust lawyers who say it could raise legal issues. '
According to Wall Street Journal articles quoted earlier here, Jobs has asked publishers to set their prices higher. Walt Mossberg of the Wall St. Journal, knowing that Amazon will be offering the Kindle for iPad app in Apple's store and that customers can decide to buy from Amazon instead, asked Jobs the other day, in a video'd interview by Boomtown's Kara Swisher, why customers would pay Apple's book prices when they could buy at a considerably lower cost from Amazon. Here's a transcribed excerpt from Benzinga.com
' In the video below, listen carefully to the Jan 27 conversation between The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and Steve Jobs. At one point Mossberg asks Steve Jobs about the price advantage ($9.99 @ Amazon vs $14.99 @ Apple’s iBooks) Kindle owners enjoy for certain Amazon.com ebook offerings. Jobs tactfully corrects Mossberg.This is fairly Machiavellian. While people have been wondering what Jobs meant and at least one online article optimistically wrote that Jobs apparently was willing to lower his prices to match Amazon's, Jobs was actually saying, though not explicitly, that either Amazon was not going to be able to sell them below $15 anymore or that Amazon might not then be able to sell them at all if Amazon didn't agree to the higher price now that the publisher could just sell them all at Apple). Jobs apparently felt that Amazon would have to give in and sell the books at the same price Steve Jobs had set. Some publishers seem to feel Steve Jobs will protect their margins and that he won't insist on more controls for that service.
Mossberg: “[first part is inaudible] why should she buy a book for $14.99 on your device [iPad] when she can buy one for $9.99 at Amazon [inaudible]?”
Steve Jobs: “Well, that won’t be the case.”
Mossberg: “You mean you [iBooks] won’t be $14.99 or they [Amazon] won’t be $9.99?”
Steve Jobs: “The prices will be the same.” '
Job's statement reminds me of Mafia-speak. Watch the videoclips to note the turning away of the head and the smile when he says that Amazon's prices and his will be the same.
There's more in that video'd interview with Steve Jobs, who seems to have decided that others' preferences or values have no worth if they don't coincide with his.
On January 15, 2008, two years ago, Jobs had this to say, to John Markoff of the NY Times, who reported:
' Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.Despite His dismissal of the other 60% as meaningless for his business, he'd have seen that the Kindle went 'somewhere' after all, bringing 23 other e-reader vendors trailing behind at CES 2010 in San Francisco. This brush-off routine may explain his similar dismissal of differences in useful battery time when he said the following to Walt Mossberg in that interview -- but first he says more about the pricing differences:
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.” '
' "Publishers are actually withholding their books from Amazon, because they're not happy with it," Jobs added. The comment carried a different tone from his keynote, when Jobs complimented Amazon for pioneering the e-book market with the Kindle.Jobs seems to be saying that e-book customers would not bother using the tablet in other ways between reading sessions, maybe because he concentrates on his basic thought that people just don't read enough to worry over things like battery time on a multi-purpose device, just as he insisted that "people don't read anymore." Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
. . .
As for the device's uptime when reading e-books, Jobs said he believes the 10 hours provided will be more than enough for most users. He discredited Mossberg's suggestion that a backlit LCD display, versus the e-ink on the Amazon Kindle, produces a "battery cost."
"You know, there isn't," Jobs said. "Because you just end up plugging it in. You end up docking it or whatever you're going to do with it. It's not a big deal. Ten hours is a long time. Because you're not going to read for 10 hours." '
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.
(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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