Monday, March 29, 2010

Random House a hold-out on iPad pricing plan. Newly free books.

NEWLY/TEMPORARILY FREE KINDLE BOOKS- NOT Recommendations, but only Alerts
  Christian fiction is dominating Amazon's new free Kindle books area and that's been a subject of some controversy on the forums.  Ratings will tend to be based on readers drawn to the genre.  I'll continue to do the alerts but won't include ebooks that have very low customer ratings.
  You'll find the new non-classic books easily, though, by using the links at the Free and Low-cost Kindle Books page and choosing the link(s) for sorting by publication date.  There aren't many at any time.  I also don't include any 'Excerpts' as the alerts are to full books only.

A Gift of Grace, by Amy Clipston.   437 pages   Publisher: Zondervon, May 1, 2009.  Hardcover-Large Print and paperback versions are available.
23 customer reviews, 4-1/2 stars out of 5, current price $0.00

Text-to-speech: Enabled.  Genre: Fiction, Domestic Life, Religious Fiction
From Product Description:  "When Rebecca Kauffman-s older sister, who left the Amish community when she was a teenager, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca is left custody of her two modern non-Amish teenage nieces, Jessica and Lindsay.  Will she be able to reconcile the two worlds in her home-or will the clash of cultures tear her world, including her marriage, apart?"

The Homeplace, by Gilbert Morris   336 pages,   Publisher: Zondervon, June 1, 2009.  Hardcover-Large Print, Paperback, and Audible (audio) versions are available.
5 customer reviews, 4-1/2 stars out of 5, current price $0.00

Text-to-speech: Enabled.  Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
This is another book about families surviving tragedies, and this was Book One in the Fairhope Series.

On the forums, some have been asking about the page and I'd never even noticed they'd made a separate page for it on top of having recommendations galore on any screen, so am including this link to the page.

Financial Times's Gerrit Wiesmann reports that Random House is uncomfortable with Apple's new "Agency" pricing mode for e-book publishers, feeling it could erode established publishing practices and see authors and agents missing out on potential earnings.

 Certainly we've seen many reports that customers will not pay the higher average prices Apple and the large publishers prefer, and the Apple "Agency" plan itself leaves publishers (and authors then) with LESS money from Amazon per book than with the traditional wholesaler arrangement.

  See my earlier article for details on all that.  The benefit is said to be the publishers' feeling of "control" over pricing.  I think Random House is right that it's detrimental to overall profits, and it's certainly not buyer-friendly.
  Here are some of the points made in the FT article:
' Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, could keep its books from Apple’s iPad when it goes on sale next month, as [it] fears the effects of the tablet device on the pricing of electronic books.

...the absence of the book market leader would prove a blow to Apple.  Markus Dohle, Random House chief executive, did not exclude the possibility of reaching a deal before the iPad goes on sale on April 3, but said he was treading carefully, as Apple’s pricing regime could erode established publishing practices.

...Mr Dohle said the iPad and iBookstore spelled “changes, in particular for our stakeholders”, which would require the publisher to consult further with its authors and their agents. '
The entire situation with its uncertainties and resistance by Amazon and its customers is affecting other traditional wholesalers and distributors

TheBigMoney's Marion Maneker headlines their March 25 article "The E-Book Supply-Chain Collapses"

Paul Biba of Teleread.Org wrote that Publishers Lunch ($-subscription required) reported that "Ingram may have to stop wholesaling ebooks until new agreements are reached with publishers who want to use the agency model. Ingram has told publishers that this may happen by April 1. If publishers want to change the model from that which has been used for the last 10 years then Ingram will have to come to new arrangements with each publisher individually."

Ingram and its publisher clients have to come to a new arrangement about how to allocate revenues.  The article reports that only Random House, who has not moved to the agency model, is unaffected.  Among others, Ingram supplies, Diesel ebooks and BooksonBoard.

THEN, Books on Board's Bob LiVolsi wrote a detailed post to Teleread describing the effect on his company.   Here's part of it:
' Thursday afternoon, March 25, the 5 publishers still do not have all the necessary info to the distributors for cut over to new system – items such as sales tax nexus (because, under the new model, they will now require sales tax where the publisher has nexus/locations), ONIX feeds of the changed metadata that includes the new Required Ebook Pricing (REP), and rules for promotion, etc.

  These things require more than a few days notice to code and test for well over 100,000 titles. So we and others may not have all titles on April 1, but we’ll still have over 200,000 to choose from, including thousands from our top publishers Random House, Harlequin and Samhain, none of whom are playing in this new pricing game.

The distributors’ problem has nothing to do with clinging to old systems. It has everything to do with publishers, desperate for better profits in these hard times, trying to force a change on very short notice.
  This is a change that increases prices for consumers – many nearly doubling in street price with this change – eliminating by mandate all discounts and rewards programs for the 5 publishers’ titles in an effort to create a somewhat surreal level playing field.

  Unfortunately, the 5 publishers have chosen as of this writing to push this program through without having the plan fully spelled out. Even if they spelled it out tonight, that still leaves only 5 days for major systems changes and testing.

We’re told this is in order to both meet the deadline for the Apple iPad’s release in early April in order to deliver a message to the two other multi-billion dollar giants that have been selling below cost (Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

  The iPad, interestingly, is a product that our in-house surveys indicate 90%+ of our customers will never touch because they view it as impractical, incredibly expensive and targeted at the very affluent – unlike 98% of all readers who are working extra hard to make ends meet these days.  And why would a typical reader, with household income of less than $60k during these hard times, spend up to $800 to read a $7 eBook?
. . .
  Meanwhile, the Required Pricing scheme guarantees Apple – anything but a struggling company – huge margins on eBooks, raises consumer prices (including forcing sales tax to be charged in approximately 24 states where it is not typically charged for eBooks today), and squeezing out many of the independent ebook stores that rely on Ingram for product.

  Unfortunately, the agency pricing scheme turns consumers wallets and small independents into collateral damage to “friendly” fire.  End result will be to further concentrate economic power, including the selection of who gets published and promoted, in the hands of a few multi-billion dollar behemoths ... '
See the rest of the post by Books on Board's Bob LiVolsi at Teleread. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. Hi Andrys, I have been pasting in the link to Bob's article on the Newsweek comments sections associated with their articles on the iPad and on ereaders in general (Anna Quindlen). It is an excellent piece. As someone who used to work in an independent bookstore, I can empathize with what he is saying. I comment here as newwine but why don't you just follow me on Twitter as Chanteuse64? then I can reply to DMs or whatever. Right now I cannot do that...
    You are doing such a great job!

  2. Trying to publish a comment that came in today from Chanteuse64, I'm somehow getting Error "bX-gc7okd" and it won't publish. This is recently a problem with blogspot blogs and they're trying to deal with it.

    I'll be back later to see if it gets fixed and if not I'll post Chanteuse64's note.

    Re Twitter, I use it as kindleworld to follow mainly e-reader and tablet alerts and some news talking heads. My personal account is almost never used by me there.

    People can always reach me by email at andrys1 [at] though.

    More later when I get some info on the comment-publishing error that some of us are getting...

  3. newwine,
    Your comment finally was made available again by and I was able to add it to the blog entry this time.

    I enclosed my e-mail address if anyone wants to reach me directly (see above). On Twitter, you can reply to anyone publicly though by starting the tweet with their twitter name prefaced by an '@' sign. You can keep it in a Twitter thread by clicking on "Reply to" on a public tweet and people will be able to click to see what you were replying to.

    So, mine would be @kindleworld to reach me with a tweet. Be sure to include the '@' sign or the person won't see it.

    To see who might be trying to write you publicly on Twitter using the @Chanteuse64 twitter ID, click (while AT the Twitter page) on '@Chanteuse64' link that is in the right-hand column. That link is right under the 'Home' link on the right-hand side.

    Thanks again for your nice words and for contributing thoughts here as you do.


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