The blog article's subject title is from the headline on the article by Philip Jones at Futurebook.net commenting on the higher-priced e-books not appearing very much in Amazon's topmost besteller lists (UK).
Actually, he's commenting on The Guardian's article by Sam Jordison on "EU anger over ebook deal suggests hard times ahead for publishers."
Describing again (1) the circumstances leading to the use of Apple's "Agency Plan" by the Big5 (and now Big6) publishers, which raised e-book prices by 30-50% average, this last year, and (2) the raids by the European Commission on publishing houses in the UK to investigate possible anti-trust violations, seizing not only paperwork but also "smart phones and laptops from senior executives," the Guardian's Jordison sides with the publishers against what he describes as a monopolist Amazon against angelic publishers who are just trying "to get a good deal for everyone."
They do, however, have the sense to see a valid point in the complaint "The only reality we readers know is that we want to buy the book but can't."
They continue, nevertheless, "But the fact that customers have a distorted view of how much ebooks should cost is hardly the publishers' fault. Especially since a new breed of "self-published" authors are starting to sell millions of the things at $0.99 or less on Amazon – which casts an interesting light on the recent declarations about ebooks outselling paper books."
Imagine that! But then, new technology has been a problem through the ages for those wedded to older technology and unwilling to adjust to it.
Philip Jones thinks that Sam Jordison is an advocate of publishers setting of bookseller prices "but he is concerned that publishers may lose the battle legally, and that they have already lost the battle in the hearts of the consumers."
Yes, and Jordison might do a bit more wondering about why that is so, and it's not just about pricing. It also says a lot about what publishers think of their reading customers. I've seen publisher statements (and reprinted them) that anyone well-off enough to buy an e-reader can afford the high book prices. (Thanks to Joe Besser for the correction.)
In marking books up by almost 50% when new, and also OVER the price of their paper back copies too often, they display a real disdain for e-book customers who are expected to spend almost as much OR MORE on a product that cannot be resold, and in most cases still cannot be lent to anyone.
This goes against the traditional attitude toward books. The publishers prohibit, for the most part, lending as is normal with paper books, and prohibit entirely re-selling the books. Yet they price them higher than paperback books, and often only a few dollars less than a hardcover. And now they're targeting libraries, with e-books to be disabled after x number of loans. And the latter is with publishers willing to lend e-books at all to public libraries. Macmillian and Simon & Schuster won't. Jones points out:
'... publishers such as Hachette, Harper, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, should be getting their titles into the Kindle charts, even at higher prices. But I just checked the hourly Kindle chart, and there are no agency priced books in the top 20. The highest placed title is David Nicholls' One Day (Hodder/Hachette), which also happens to be the fourth most expensive Kindle Edition in the current top 50.
Furthermore, and this is even more worrying. The average price of paid-for books in Amazon's Kindle top 50 chart today is £1.79. It is little wonder Guardian commentators [people commenting on the article] think e-books should cost less than agency publishers are making them available: they do.
Read some of the reviews appended to those self-published titles in the Kindle chart, and we could be forgiven for thinking that price has superceded quality in the minds of Kindle users. This is not just worrying it is tragic. Agency publishers have a limited period of time to prove Amazon wrong by getting their titles up the Kindle bestseller chart, before the OFT rules one way or another. The concern must be that by then, the war may already have been lost. '
His numbers are from the Amazon UK Kindle store, but in the U.S. the UK site's Kindle book pricing is not displayed except in the Bestseller listings.
Actually, there ARE e-reader customers who give cost a very high weight in the economy we're in today. Many are also finding quality writing although they may have to dig deep and wide, but when they find it, word of mouth is a huge factor in online book sales.
The online community is important for those not wanting to wade through it all, and there is actually a way to find quality writing without depending on large publishing houses and publicity machines, to the extent that some writers discovered by price-conscious readers have been offered contracts by large publishing houses; an important trend now is seen in authors who are hesitating to go with the contracts offered, as it may be more beneficial for them to continue to 'self-publish' because the large publishers have not had a reputation for paying the authors/creators what they are due.
For the Amazon UK customers' rather raw feelings on all this (and publishers should really pay more attention to what is said), see the Agency pricing thread on their Kindle forums. It's similar to what is seen on the U.S. forums but UK customers are even more angry about it because the increases by the Big5 publishers have been quite outrageous in the UK where general e-book pricing had been lower than it had been Amazon US's Kindlestore.
BESTSELLER E-BOOK listings for UK and US stores
Here is the current Bestseller listing (paid and free) for Amazon UK,
and here's the current Bestseller listing for for Amazon US.
Kindle 3's (UK: Kindle 3's), DX Graphite
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. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.
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