Sunday, February 27, 2011

Free Kindle books, more info. Are new e-book royalties cheating authors?


At the end of most recent posts here you'll see a section of links like the one just below, so you won't have to wait for a blog entry to see the latest free nonclassics at Amazon.

  You can check for yourself at any time:

' Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. '

I recently added to the reference section a newer Amazon page of Kindle books that are tagged by Amazon customers as "99 cents kindle" to make these easier to find.

  A problem there is that e-book prices are always subject to change, so the tags on some are no longer accurate.  Amazon asks that customers use the tagging system to "vote down" those that are no longer related to the "99 cents kindle" tag.

  Kindle books that are tagged only "99 cents" might be missed using the link above, depending on other tags involved.  This link is to the shorter-tag results for Amazon products in general because the word "kindle" is not part of the tag and may interest those looking for low-cost products in general.

The ongoing Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources includes links to non-classic/contemporary ebooks that are within the range of $1 to $2 as well as free.

More important to many will be the section titled:
as many, if not most, gadget columnists are unaware that Kindle owners can download e-books from other sources.

New to me is a guide to some of the better editions of the classics blog that will be useful for many who may not know where to start with all that's available or who have been frustrated by the bad formatting too often seen in public-domain e-books.  Marilyn Sue recommends (for both US and UK readers) classics she's enjoyed and also warns of the downsides of some releases.  The blog header explains "Because some conversions are sloppily done, a free download can be a waste of time." The blog is ranked #1 on the Amazon UK Literature Blogs list & is in the Top Ten listing of Amazon US Literature Blogs.

NEWS: "How E-book Royalties are Cheating Authors"
andyrossagency writes that the Authors Guild posted an analysis of the dynamics of competition in the e-book market and "came down very hard on Amazon" but that they posted another analysis, this one showing how "the prevailing formula for author royalties on e-books unfairly diminishes authors’ income even as publishers earn more for each e-book sold."

  Many of us cautioned authors about this when their publishers sent them to the Kindle forums to explain how customers, publishers, and authors would be much better served under Apple's Agency model.  We explained in detail how the traditional reseller model used by the online bookstores was better for authors.

  The Big5 execs explained in interviews that the pricing of e-books was too low and "devalued" their books (their hardcover or paperback books).  They were also worried about the power that Amazon could have over publishers, explaining to us that Amazon, once they owned the market, would raise prices on us all.

  Their solution to that was to raise prices now.   :-)

The reality is that publishers were primarily concerned about Amazon's power over publishers, of course, and that's understandable.  What's not is their decision-making on e-book pricing and their open disinterest in what today's book customers want.

  At the end of the blog article, andyrossagency gives a breakdown on the numbers, as they read them, from the Authors Guild analysis (emphases mine) :
' Here’s the math:

“The Help” has an e-book list price of $13 and is sold under the agency model.  Publisher grosses 70% of retail price, or $9.10.  Author’s royalty is 25% of publisher receipts, or $2.28.  Publisher nets $6.32. ($9.10 minus $2.28 royalties and $0.50 encryption fee.)

“Hell’s Corner” is also sold under the agency model at a retail list price of $15 list price.  Publisher grosses 70% of retail price, $10.50.  Author’s royalty is 25% of publisher receipts, or $2.63.  Publisher nets $7.37. ($10.50 minus $2.63 royalties and $0.50 encryption fee.)

“Unbroken” is sold by Random House under the reseller model at a retail list price of $27.  Publisher grosses $13.50 on the sale.  Author’s royalty, at 25%, is $3.38. Random House nets $9.62.  ($13.50 minus $3.38 royalties and $0.50 encryption fee.) '

However, other analyses have shown that because Amazon took a loss on $10 bestsellers (making this up elsewhere) while guaranteeing publishers 50% of the list price set by the publishers -- under the traditional reseller model -- both publisher and author would tend to make less under the Agency model.

  The brouhaha has actually been over control rather than current profit-taking.  One publisher focus was to try to slow e-book sales because they hurt hardcover sales, and if customers were willing to buy e-books at those higher prices, all the better.

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-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. On the UK Kindle bestseller list, 34 of the top 40 paid books are under £3, the majority self-published.

    Does that not show a key part of the threat to the publishers is not that Amazon gains direct power over them through market dominance, but rather makes them redundant or at least much weaker because (a) Amazon allows authors to bypass publishers, and (b) Amazon allows readers to find new content at prices considerably lower than those charged by the mainstream publishers.

    It's interesting that this appears to be happening early on in the development of the ebook marketplace in a way in which it didn't in the digital music marketplace.

  2. lets you search a price range (as well as filter by a number of other criteria). Seems more accurate and flexible than tagging, at least for the criteria it lets you filter on.

  3. I think this is happening in the ebook market precisely because it did not happen in the digital music market ... the music market initially attempted to duplicate the physical market, and only after failing spectacularly in several ways did they manage to find better outlets for providing digital music to customers. By then, more than a few people had given up on finding a reasonable method of buying digital music.

    Unfortunately, publishers seem to be unaware of "history". I suppose it's not exactly the same situation, though. It would be a more accurate analogy if the first commercially-available mp3s were created not from master recordings but by an intern with a fancy tape recorder sitting in on studio sessions. (Unless I'm the only person buying ebook after ebook that's simply the work of an OCR tool ...)


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