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Amazon Pulls Book Publisher's Listings; Ebook Wars Underway? 297

Posted by Soulskill
from the grab-some-popcorn dept.
As of last night, Amazon stopped listing all books from Macmillan Publishers, referring searches to other sellers instead. According to the New York Times, this is because Macmillan is one of the companies that now has an agreement to sell ebooks through Apple's new iBooks store, and asked Amazon to raise the price of their ebooks from $9.99 to $15. An industry source told the Times that the de-listing is Amazon's way of "expressing its strong disagreement" with the idea of a price hike. Gizmodo suggests this is the first volley in an Apple-Amazon ebook war. Quoting: "It feels like a repeat of the same s*** Universal Music, and later, NBC Universal pulled with iTunes, trying to counter the leverage Apple had because of iTunes' insane marketshare. Same situation here, really: Content provider wants more money/control over their content, fights with the overwhelmingly dominant, embedded service that's selling the content. Last time, everybody compromised and walked away mostly happy: Universal and NBC got more flexible pricing, iTunes got DRM-free music and more TV shows for its catalog to sell. ... The difference in this fight is that Macmillan is one of the publishers signed to deliver books for Apple's iBooks store. They have somewhere to run. And credibly. That wasn't really the case with record labels, who tried to fuel alternatives to dilute iTunes power, and failed."
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Amazon Pulls Book Publisher's Listings; Ebook Wars Underway?

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  • Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:13AM (#30962334) Homepage
    Amazon knows they're going to have to be way cheaper in order to sell any more Kindles. The problem with the Kindle is, well, it kind of sucks. I am a regular Amazon customer and have been using one since the second version came out, but there are some major problems wth it.
    1. Screen contrast. The Kindle's contrast ratio is worse than newspaper printing or the cheapest paperback. You can read it in direct sunlight, sure, but can you read it indoors without a 200W light bulb directly behind you? I get eyestrain with it after just 15 minutes, but I can read a good LCD for hours.
    2. Bad for illustrations. More than half the books I read are technical in nature and have diagrams and equations that require zooming to read. The problem is zooming is incredibly slow and laborious on the Kindle, and in most cases the bitmap image quality is not sufficient to read anyway.
    3. Freagin slow. Right, it doesn't matter when you're just paging through a novel, but this makes it useless for shopping for books, web browsing, or quickly finding something in a reference book.
    4. Titles are too expensive. Many paperbacks are SAME price delivered 2nd-day UPS to my doorstep (with Prime free shipping). What the fuck? And then more expensive titles are only a few dollars cheaper for the Kindle edition but of vastly poorer quality and without the ownership and durability advantages of a dead tree.

    Apple is going to absolutely slaughter them on 1 through 3, maybe not 4. I'm looking forward to having another eBook reader to choose from.

    Amazon dropping publishers is just an offense to me as their customer. I have no sympathy for them here. Maybe some day ePaper will deliver on its promise but for now I've given up.

    • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:23AM (#30962406)
      So you think the titles are too expensive, then you lambast Amazon for dropping a publisher which tried to hike their prices by 50%?
      • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:26AM (#30962436)

        It's entirely reasonable. They are a corporation. He is a customer. He shouldn't care too much about what they are up to as long as they are providing him a product that he desires.

        And as they say, if they aren't providing the product, they aren't providing the product.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by seanadams.com (463190) *

        So you think the titles are too expensive, then you lambast Amazon for dropping a publisher which tried to hike their prices by 50%?

        Exactly. eBooks are _already_ overpriced. Not available AND overpriced is even worse. I couldn't care less for them and I'm not even saying Amazon is entirely to blame. It seems the publishers have the upper hand, now that they can play them against Apple. waaah.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by falconwolf (725481)

          So you think the titles are too expensive, then you lambast Amazon for dropping a publisher which tried to hike their prices by 50%?

          Exactly. eBooks are _already_ overpriced. Not available AND overpriced is even worse.

          If $9.99 is too expensive isn't $15 even more expensive? That's an increase of 150%. The Gizmoto article says this though: "Update: It's known Amazon loses money offering some bestsellers at $9.99". Now I don't know how many tymes I've heard, er read, it but a number of people have said low

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MaskedSlacker (911878)

            You might be the worst /. poster I've seen in a while.

            If $9.99 is too expensive isn't $15 even more expensive? That's an increase of 150%.

            Obvious AND trivial math error. It's a 50% increase.

            The Gizmoto article says this though: "Update: It's known Amazon loses money offering some bestsellers at $9.99".

            Links are for chumps.

            Now I don't know how many tymes I've heard, er read, it but a number of people have said low cost e-books drive sales for printed books. If so then the question that should be asked is if the increase in sales of printed books offsets the loss from e-books.

            Pointlessly pointing out the pointlessly obvious.

            Wait, who am I kidding? You must be CowboyNeal's second account.

        • Baen Books sells most of its backlist (the part it doesn't give away free) for $5-6 per DRM-free book. I regard that price as reasonable and probably have spent $150 on their product in the last year, which I might read on my netbook or PDA or even my desktop. That's what DRM-free means, no happy horseshit involving proprietary DRM software locked to a single machine in a time when most likely customers are going to want to read or listen on more than one device. IOW, readily available, decently priced, and
      • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:45AM (#30962554)
        As usual, there are two sides to this story.

        On the one hand, Macmillan are perfectly entitled to strike deals with whoever they want in order to get the best bang for their buck. Fair enough if they can make it work.

        On the other hand, they have managed to shoot themselves in the foot with pinpoint accuracy. They have failed to consider that by pinning their products to Apple's iPad, they are (a) gambling on the success of hardware that won't be commercially available for another two months and (b) failing to realise that iBooks is limited to the US for the forseeable future, so they have casually abandoned their international market.

        It seems to me that some MBA sales manager has gone charging off to the latest trendy bidder without saddling up his brains first.
        • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:13PM (#30962780)

          On the other hand, they have managed to shoot themselves in the foot with pinpoint accuracy.

          You speak as if MacMillan pulled their offerings from the Kindle store. They didn't. Amazon delisted them from their store because (according to Amazon) Macmillan demanded higher prices.

          Wether or not their books are entitled to sell at those higher prices is sortof an academic question-- I bought a new book on my Kindle last night for $15, so it's not like it's unheardof or anything. Since Amazon's explanation of their pricing issue makes no sense, the only reason for them delisting the books that remains is that Amazon is trying strongarm people that try to sell thru the iBook store. You're seeing Amazon get pissed because Macmillan DARES try to sell it's books thru another ebook store that doesn't suck.

          • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:4, Interesting)

            by BlackCreek (1004083) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:23PM (#30963468)

            the only reason for them delisting the books that remains is that Amazon is trying strongarm people that try to sell thru the iBook store.

            No, Amazon is trying to strong arm people trying to price hike in their store.

          • by zogger (617870) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @03:10PM (#30964498) Homepage Journal

            15 bucks may seem OK to you, that's your business, but you also brought it up in a commentary forum, so I will comment. From my perspective, taking a longer range view of technology and society and business, you are encouraging them to keep trying to get 10,000% (whatever, some huge amount way over real production and delivery costs) markup prices for digital copies of stuff. I think that's shortsighted. I guess you make fair pay, but what about the rest of the planet for whom 15 bucks is a very considerable sum? Tough crap for those people?

            You're force feeding the digital replicator tech monopolist trolls WAY too much there, bragging about it, and helping screw it up for the rest of the planet in the future by keeping prices just way way too high for these digital products. forced artificial scarcity. Just seems dumb to me to play make believe that some digital copy costs just so much to make and deliver, when it doesn't, it is nothing like a dead trees copy there, not even close.. Even ten bucks for some digital copy of a random book is way too expensive, it's ridiculous. Hey, why not brag about paying 200 grand for a toyota corolla? I'm sure there is some dealer out there would gladly markup to that level and take that much for one. Or maybe you can get one of those 999$ iPod apps that just says "I'm just so rich I can afford this app that does nothing but show how much it cost me, neener neener"? I mean, do you really want to encourage this price level for a few cents worth of electron transfer, and make it even worse? You said this was an academic question, so there it is in more detail, exactly why is this supposed to be a good deal for society in general terms, paying such a huge markup? How about the alternative, much cheaper per-copy costs, and have a MUCH larger sales potential then? How about that as a more fair alternative?

            I say people should do this, stop paying that much for digital copies of stuff, and then however they want to go about it, email or phone calls or whatever, tell those content sellers they would be perfectly willing to buy product x, y or z, but only at a much fairer price level, a price level that reflects TRUE digital replicator costs to make and deliver new copies, for anything really, books, music, movies, software..whatever. If it can be made into a digital copy and transferred that way, it should be really cheap now, because that's the reality of the tech/engineering level we are at now.

            I just hate large scale industry collusion to maintain artificial high prices in most anything, I don't care what the product is, tangible or intangible. It's even worse when people encourage that behavior and business practice by paying those bloated prices.

                I thoroughly like the idea of ebooks and whatever, so that people all over the planet can get access to that, it is just ridiculous to think those sort of prices are fair or even a long range smart business decision.

              Huge volume sales and really cheap prices are where it is at long range I think, at least it certainly should be. Charging 15 bucks for an ebook just knocks out about 3/4ths of the humans on the planet now from considering purchase, and even in the remaining 1/4 it is still serious price gouging.

            I'm really not trying to be flambeau-bate here, just I seem by nature to take a longer range view of things, that's just how I look at stuff, always have. Digital copy prices today are a bad precedent now, and it needs to change.

            • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @04:07PM (#30964992)

              The book is $35 retail, so I saved $20 and a tree. As far as I'm concerned the information in the book and the enjoyment of reading is well worth the expense. Books shouldn't be gratis, and while it's a bit of a pill that it's DRMd, I was really only going to read the thing ONCE...

              Thats the thing about books, and to a greater extent TV and movies: you generally only consume them a couple times. DRM is a pretty tolerable model for such media. Music is different, but then again people don't seem to buy music at ALL any more, unless they're going for something specific: they usually just start up Pandora, which is an example of an even LESS libre model than DRMd media.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Ihmhi (1206036)

                A major problem, though, is that 5 years from now the book will likely be around $15 retail, and the ebook will probably still be $15.

                Also the "save a tree" argument is facetious. The paper industry is not stupid. Just as farmers use crop rotation (to prevent too much of the good stuff in soil being burned up and thus hurting their yields), they plant crops on different land every season. Many logging companies plant 2 trees for every one they cut down so when they come back in however many years it takes f

    • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:31AM (#30962466)
      While I'm oh so certain the omission of LCD screen quality has nothing to do with any possible bias of yours, I would like to remind you that the Kindle has a e-ink screen is much easier on the eyes than an LCD is. The development of new kinds of e-ink tech (both color and faster refreshing) also gives Amazon a road-map for future screen improvements. Apple's tablet requirements mean they will be stuck with LCD for the foreseeable future. OLED would solve their problems I imagine, but it will be years before 10 inch OLEDs are affordable enough for mass market adoption.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by seanadams.com (463190) *

        I would like to remind you that the Kindle has a e-ink screen is much easier on the eyes than an LCD is.

        Saying it doesn't make it true, but thank you for "reminding" me of the points I already specifically addressed. Have you actually used a Kindle in typical indoor lighting conditions for any length of time?

        The development of new kinds of e-ink tech (both color and faster refreshing) also gives Amazon a road-map for future screen improvements.

        Agreed, I like what ePaper manufacturers are promising for the f

        • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:53AM (#30962620)

          I would like to remind you that the Kindle has a e-ink screen is much easier on the eyes than an LCD is.

          Saying it doesn't make it true, but thank you for "reminding" me of the points I already specifically addressed. Have you actually used a Kindle in typical indoor lighting conditions for any length of time?

          I'm an amusingly good test subject for this. For the last few weeks I've been reading off my Kindle almost every night by the light of a single Candle two feet behind my shoulder. I've had no eyestrain problems at all. If I did I'd light more candles, or maybe use a book light. This let's me read in a relatively dim room without bothering my sleeping wife. It's a lot more pleasant than the hours of reading I do on an LCD every day.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by jonbryce (703250)

            What's this wife thing you talk about? Remember, you are posting on Slashdot.

          • For the last few weeks I've been reading off my Kindle almost every night by the light of a single Candle two feet behind my shoulder. I've had no eyestrain problems at all.

            That's nice, but I can read whole books on an LCD with no light source - and have done so. So we're pretty much back to square one as to saying which technology will work.

            Personally, the lower contrast of the Kindle screen bothered me enough that I decided to wait until that aspect had improved.

            But really, I think the arguments about wh

        • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tirk (655692) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:06PM (#30963276) Homepage
          I for one prefer my Kindle (ver 1 for that matter) over an LCD screen any day, but not for the eyestrain reason. I can read my kindle by the firelight of my fireplace, or a candle, and not have any issues with eye strain at all. While I can read my LCD in a completely dark room, or by any indoor light, it does eventually give me eyestrain, but it's really not very much. For me the big difference is in power. I can read my kindle for two weeks and not have to plug it in. Even my best LCD laptop only goes about 5 hours. On a 10 hour plane flight I'd either have to bring extra batteries, or only read for half the flight. And on camping trips, forget it, but with the Kindle I can be on a week long camping trip and still know I'll have something to read.

          In the end, I think each has it's place, just as people debate which is better, a PC or Mac, each has strengths and each has weaknesses. The Kindle, Nook. iPad issues will be the same, and in the end, it comes down to what do you want out of it, and what are the most important features to you. That will be all the difference in making one better then the other.

    • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:43AM (#30962544)
      I wouldn't be surprised if iPad e-books cost even more than on Kindle, since they're higher resolution and in color. What difference does that make to publishing costs, you ask? Virtually none! But whether from tape to CD, or VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray, publishers always use any bump in functionality to increase the price as well.

      But is it more functional? Personally, I think the backlit LCD screen is the achilles heel of the iPad as a e-book reader. Being readable outdoors, and consuming no power at all unless turning pages, is what virtually defines the usefulness of an ebook. But I look at how color screens ruined the mp3 player market by pushing out B&W LCD screens that were sunlight visible and had great battery life, with color screens that were in no way superior for an mp3 player, and I fear the same for e-paper.

      CNN is running an iPad vs Kindle [cnn.com] fluff piece thought experiment this morning and give virtually no weight to the utility of e-paper vs. the pizzazz of color, and unfortunately I expect the same from most consumers.

      • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jimfrost (58153) * <jimf@frostbytes.com> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @05:08PM (#30965488) Homepage
        Amazon's books are color too, if you have a color-capable device (such as an iPhone). The real reason why books from Apple are likely to be more expensive (as are those from Sony today) is that Apple is a small retailer relative to Amazon. Amazon has much more negotiating strength. The same things that Apple can and does do in negotiations with record labels Amazon does with publishers.

        Apple, which sells no paper copies at all, really cannot strong-arm the publishers. The only lever they have is that they are an alternative to Amazon. But so is B&N. It will really come down to who sells the most readers, and Amazon is way ahead and it is unlikely that a $500 reader is going to compete well in volume versus a $260 Kindle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mejogid (1575619)
      1. I've had the exact opposite experience - reading long journal articles and the like on a kindle is a far nicer experience than trying to do the same off my laptop. Given its glossy screen, I can't imagine the iPad will cope too well either if you sit with a 200W light behind you. I still prefer books given the choice, but spending a significant amount of time in front of an LCD sucks in my experience. 2. That's fair enough - it's more of a fundamental problem with e-ink, although I'm sure Amazon cou
      • by jra (5600)

        It has a glossy screen?

        Oh, then I wouldn't ever buy -- or recommend -- one, and I'm certainly not alone.

      • by Graff (532189)

        Given its glossy screen, I can't imagine the iPad will cope too well either if you sit with a 200W light behind you.

        That's pretty easy to fix with some inexpensive anti-glare film [photodon.com]. Because this stuff exists I'd rather they sold devices with glossy screens so people have the option of simply applying the anti-glare film if they want a matte screen.

        Of course it'd be nice to have a choice between glossy and matte screens from the device manufacturer but that would double the type of models that need to be produced. Since most people care about how the display looks they tend to go for glossy screens since the depth and cont

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Just to pick up on your 1st point, it's the glossy screen that gets me. I have an HP notebook that has a touch sensitive screen that swivels around and folds down over the keyboard, turning into a tablet. If I I tell it to rotate the display then it is perfect to show an entire 8.5x11 page so I can easily read pdf's of magazines, reports etc. But the screen is glossy like most new notebooks and that just sucks. Amazingly so. Yes it is also a bit heavy and the battery only lasts about 2.5-3 hours but those a
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      You are absolutely correct, few people recognize that iPad is taking on the Kindle, and on screen contrast, which is a weakness of current e-ink. I bought a Kindle 2 last year myself, only to return it on that issue alone. It was also painfully slow at everything else - the web browsing capability was painfully bad. However, one big thing Kindle has in it's favor is (now global) whispernet. Being able to buy books anywhere. Free Wifi isn't exactly pervasive - but it's around. However, I'm not enough o

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pacoder (1148701)
      Battery life is a big point....I recharge my kindle every few weeks of constant use. Make sure you iPad is charged daily or you'll be sol.
    • Re:Kindle v. iPad (Score:5, Informative)

      by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:20PM (#30962826) Homepage

      In Britain, ebooks tend to be expensive relative to paper books because paper books have 0% VAT (sales tax), and ebooks have 17.5% VAT, or 15% if they are delivered from Luxembourg, which they quite often are. Is it a similar situation where you are?

  • Yoda says (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:15AM (#30962342)

    begun the book wars have

  • No comment on the technical legality of Amazon's de-listing, but it's certainly an abuse of power by conventional standards. What we might call "strong-arming." And yes, refusing to sell merchandise can be strong-arming when you're by far the dominant seller.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:33AM (#30962486)

      No comment on the technical legality of Amazon's de-listing, but it's certainly an abuse of power by conventional standards.

      No. Amazon sells eBooks for less than $10. MacMillan doesn't like that idea, and wants $15. Amazon is under no obligation to sell MacMillan's books if MacMillan won't agree to Amazon's terms.

      I don't even like the idea of a $10 eBook, much less a $15 one, so I guess I won't be buying any MacMillan eBooks either....

      • by iluvcapra (782887)
        What are you talking about? I just bought the Vieira biography of Irving Thalberg (Univ of California Press) for $15.99. There is no hard-and-fast one-price rule on Amazon's Kindle store.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mobby_6kl (668092)

          IIRC, the rule is that the Kindle book can't be more expensive than the dead-tree version (or has to be below X% of the paper thing), rather than an absolute price ceiling.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      When your supplier pulls a 50% price increase on you, that's a pretty big provocation!
  • by Albanach (527650) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:15AM (#30962348) Homepage

    I'm wondering if Apple's ePub books are DRM free? If so then folk do have somewhere to run - they can buy any one of the myriad of other e-ink readers out there.

    If they have DRM that resticts users to an iPad, then it's a different story. The 1.5lb iPad with a backlit lcd screen is unlikely to be the reading choice of the masses.

    • by cob666 (656740) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:37AM (#30962508) Homepage
      I agree with the parent here regarding the actual viability of the iPad as a ebook reader. I read books on my tablet PC when I first got it and after a book or two I found myself not reading as much. I got my self a Sony eReader a few years ago and I couldn't be happier with my decision.

      The backlit screen is not comfortable to read on and I would be surprised if the iPad is ever considered to be a true eReader.
      • by aussersterne (212916) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:47PM (#30963738) Homepage

        I am essentially a professional reader, and I go through 1,000-2,000 pages a week easily, if not more.

        I've also been a gadgeteer since the same time as many of us greyhairs on /. I can remember when the Newton was the coolest new tech thing on the block and I was busy reading books on it. In the meantime, I've gone through desktops, tablet PCs, laptops, netbooks, smartphones, and Palm devices galore.

        Laptops suck for reading in volume. They discipline your body; you must adopt a specific narrow range of postures and locations in order to use a laptop, which is heavy, hot, and fragile. Not good by page 800 when you're still trying to plough on. Not to mention eyestrain and headaches from the backlight.

        I can get through a couple hundred pages on my iPhone, tiny as it is, but suffer many of the same problems in the end.

        Kindle has been a revelation. I have nearly switched to Kindle entirely for my secondary research, and it's clearly a reading device. Light, endless battery, no eyestrain, nonfragile (no hinges, worries about pressure on the LCD, popping keys off when they catch on your zipper, etc.), no heat generation, legible in anything other than pitch darkness.

        I'm tempted by the iPad, but it certainly would NOT be a Kindle-killer for me until/unless high-refresh color e-ink emerges.

    • by mejogid (1575619) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:49AM (#30962590)
      It's DRM'd to high hell [teleread.org] - books, movies and apps. The only reason the music isn't is thanks to competition from the likes of Amazon. There's something slightly frustrating about using an explicitly open format and then spewing their own brand of DRM all over it.
      • by Graff (532189)

        It's DRM'd to high hell - books, movies and apps. The only reason the music isn't is thanks to competition from the likes of Amazon.

        Erm, no. It's been Steve Job's and Apple's stance for a long time that DRM is a bad thing, even before Amazon sold music. The problem is that publishers want DRM on their products and when they enter into agreements they usually insist on DRM as part of the deal. Do you see any other major player offering DRM-free movies? You can get some DRM-free e-books but it's pretty rare too.

        The only reason that Amazon has DRM-free music is because of Apple. Apple got control of the online sales for the music industry

        • by metamatic (202216) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:37PM (#30962976) Homepage Journal

          Erm, no. It's been Steve Job's and Apple's stance for a long time that DRM is a bad thing, even before Amazon sold music. The problem is that publishers want DRM on their products and when they enter into agreements they usually insist on DRM as part of the deal. Do you see any other major player offering DRM-free movies?

          If only Steve Jobs had some influence with movie studios like Pixar, he could persuade them to make their movies available DRM-free...

        • by cervo (626632)

          So you can thank Apple for your DRM-free music. Let's hope that they do the same to the book, movie, and television industry!

          Agreed. Even if the iPad device sucks, I don't care. This is my single hope that Apple takes care of. If the iPad sucked but had DRM free books I would buy it for the books. Eventually something better would come along and I could take my books and read it on that (or the next version of the iPad). Even now it seems that some other guys making tablets have way better hardware and way less locked down than an iPad.

          But anyway if apple manages to crack book DRM for everyone the way it cracked music DRM

        • by mejogid (1575619) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:26PM (#30963518)

          Yup, they're *so* anti-DRM that they chose to restrict application sales on the iPhone/iPod Touch to iTunes, with mandatory DRM even for developers who don't want it and no way to distribute or install outside of their proprietary methods.

          Apple were happy to go anti-DRM for a bit of geek cred once iTunes and the iPod were both already dominant and they no longer had to rely on technological lock-in. When it gives them more control they're all for it. Ars [arstechnica.com] have an article that sums up the iPad's restrictions on freedom.

          Your argument that Apple succeeding with a closed DRM'd model forced open music is also counter-intuitive - their leverage over the music industry may have hastened DRM-free music, but that was at best an unintended side effect. Indeed, it's possible that without the success of iTunes the industry would never have bothered shoving DRM on us and we'd have seen a natural progression from CDs (although that may be a bit optimistic...)

      • by cervo (626632)
        Well this is the thing. If you jack up the price to that of a paperback, what incentive do I have to buy a DRMed proprietary format? However if you charge the same price as a paperback and the book is not DRMed, then I am likely to buy it just for the convenience of not filling up my book shelf....

        Publishers need to learn the same lesson as the music industry about DRM. I did not see a giant drop in itunes sales when they started selling DRM free tracks. Also there is an article on slashdot about peo
  • My first thought when I read that a publishing group was being delisted was how am I going to know what was delisted?

    I use amazon because I feel (dont really know) that it gives me access to pretty much every book that I can buy and so if Im researching a topic or want to read about something now IM not so sure that I'll use amazon.

    Yeah, I know I could use a library but I live somewhere where its not that great and I dont know how to seach for books in other way, but now that I think of it, I'll do some goo

    • If it's available in dead tree form (which amazon still lists) but not in kindle format, that's how you'll know. You can still buy it in dead tree form. This is a temporary spat between the two. I suspect the truly avid readers are going to be Kindle folks (or other eInk). The iPad folks will be casual readers, and will likely have far less volume.

      This is extremely common in business. Fights between behemoths happen all the time - didn't Costco just have a fight with Coke that resulted in all Coke products

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:37AM (#30962512)
    and no doubt sales will drop while this shenannigans plays out. Although the executives and staff will still collect their pay the authors will not get the royalties they may have been expecting, now that a large (very large?) percentage of the book-buying public no longer have easy access to their wares.

    Hopefully this will cause more than a few authors to reflect on who they want to be in charge of their livelihoods: a bunch of suits playing politics with the authors prospects, or some other distributor (or collective) who has their wellbeing foremost.

  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:37AM (#30962514)

    No printing, distribution, warehousing, etc.
    I want to pay _less_ for an ebook than a paper book, especially considering I can't easily resell an ebook.
    No Kindle for me, thanks.

    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      Me either. With Bookr installed, a cracked PSP works just fine for me.

    • by fermion (181285)
      A used paperback is $2. I don't see any reason to pay more than that.

      The only real issue I have is that $10 for an ebook is unattainably low. Distribution for the book is pennies. As the parent say, no printing or distribution costs. No pulping. A book sells or it does not.

      I can see one drawback. Nowhere to go if a book does not sell. If all ebooks are 9.99, then is there a mechanism to make the book $5 if it is not selling? At least that way the publisher might get cover some costs.

      As TFA says

    • Here's why they're so expensive: Amazon takes 30 - 60%. It really costs near nothing to print and ship a paperback, maybe $0.60 or so. The Amazon fees on paperbooks are 15-30%. The math is simple to the publishers - they get $4.40 contribution toward covering fixed costs for a seven buck paperback and $4 for a ten dollar eBook. While some paperbacks are destroyed as not sold, most of them will sell for more than $0.60 as remainders.

      Add in that they probably look at eBooks as eating into the hardcover

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:42AM (#30962542) Journal

    I really don't understand why people keep trying to shoehorn epaper and netbooks into the same category. I wish apple luck, and I think i might get iPad if i didn't already have an apple laptop: iPad + iMac would cover more use cases than Macbook + iMac, and cost less as well*, although just a macbook + generic LCD external monitor covers a lot of those cases as well.

    *presuming of course, an all-apple home.

    But it's not an ebook reader, and the Kindle is not the only e-reader, nor is it the only widely-held e-reader. Sony has a number of mature offerings, and Barnes & Noble's device looks very interesting, although it can't possibly have the numbers to compete with amazon yet, it's only two months old and it's been sold out for one and a half of those months.

    I think publishers would be making a mistake if they think they can play apple and amazon against each other in this case, or if they think that trying to do that worked for them in the last case (e-music)

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      I really don't understand why people keep trying to shoehorn epaper and netbooks into the same category.

      The fact that Apple are launching their iBooks service along with the iPad may have something to do with that. There's also a Kindle app for the iPhone, which presumably will work on the iPad.

      At the moment, epaper displays are optimal for ebook readers, but virtually useless for general use (because of their glacial refresh rate) while LCD/OLED displays produce excellent colour and smooth video but are unpleasant for sustained reading and power hungry (because they emit light or need a backlight).

      Long

  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:57AM (#30962650)

    Interesting. I'm curious how this will play out relative to the iTunes defection.

    I expect Apple to:
        1. outsell Kindle with iPad
        2. be stubborn about pricing (look at iTunes history)

    The fact that Apple is not the first big mover makes this interesting, as it will be years (if ever) until they'll have the same market power in books as they did after a year of the iTunes Music Store.

    With iTunes it was, from the consumer's perspective, a benevolent hegemony. With books the price pressure from Apple is upwards, and Amazon is holding the line. Though they're differentiated products - kindle is B&W e-ink, iPad is color backlit LCD.

    From a strategy perspective, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Probably won't hurt book publishers in the same way as music labels - book sales will not degrade into chapter sales in the same way that album sales degraded into single track sales.

    • by Tom90deg (1190691)

      I disagree with point one, but then again, I've just talked with other techy people, I have no clue what this'll do in the open market, It could go for the same target as the Wii, and get that, Or it could not. Opinion seems rather meh on it.

      As for point two, Yes. I have no doubt they'll do this, they won't budge from pricing if you used a big crowbar.

      But! I think they will do something else also. Expect the Kindle App to get dropped from the App store and disabled on people's iPad's and maybe even iPhones

  • by n0dna (939092) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:58AM (#30962664)

    Until all of this crap blows over and the industry pulls its collective head out of its collective ass I'll continue to do it the way I have for years now...

    Buy the dead tree version so the author gets paid and then download the ebook from a torrent site.

  • by Lil'wombat (233322) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:12PM (#30962770)

    I wonder how far Amazon will take this? Since the retail book industry is essentially consignment sales, does Amazon have the option to return all Macmillian books in inventory as unsold? What about pre-orders for unreleased books? Now Macmillian is owned by Simon and Schuster which is a division of CBS.

    Will Amazon expand their conflict to all Simon and Schuster Titles?

    Maybe stop selling CBS and Viacom products as well. (DVD and CD's)?

    This could get real interesting, real fast. FYI: Amazon stock closed at $125 friday, CBS at $12.93

  • MacMillan (Score:5, Informative)

    by arkenian (1560563) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:17PM (#30962808)
    I've got to say that MacMillan has never liked the concept of e-books to begin with, has been one of the fiercest supporters of strong DRM, and have ALWAYS wanted to price their e-books way too high. MacMillan is, for those who don't know, the owners of the TOR imprint (read: Wheel of Time) as the one most likely to be known by /. readers. That's right, the same people who will price an e-book like a hardcover after the paperback is out, and who regularly charged $15 for the PROLOGUES of the wheel of time books in electronic format. Plus they almost always delay the e-book publications, which annoys me. I have never liked MacMillan, and the only reason they get away with it (from me) is because while I don't like their company's policies on digital media, they actually do have pretty high quality editors and authors.
    And while they could probably care less at Amazon de-listing their kindle books, if they've delisted the dead tree books, that's a real threat. And they deserve it, probably. That said, this is a game of chicken. Amazon can't afford to de-list their dead-tree for very long, and MacMillan can't afford to have them de-listed for very long. Who will blink first?
    Or it could just be a glitch, there's no official reasons posted and TFA even admits they're not sure of the link, here. Amazon has had some wierd glitches before.
    In another note, I do a lot of e-book reading on both my Kindle and my Laptop and other devices, and if what I want to do is 'sit and read a book' for several hours, the kindle wins every time.
  • ...competition was supposed to lower prices, not raise them?
    • by Kreigaffe (765218)

      Not when the Reality Distortion Field is in effect. That's why a computer will go up in price if it's branded with that A-name. You're paying a premium because what you're actually purchasing is a small portion of Steve's Coolness Factor, guaranteed to make a room full of people believe the crap you're saying unquestionably.

  • The difference in this fight is that Macmillan is one of the publishers signed to deliver books for Apple's iBooks store. They have somewhere to run. And credibly.

    You mean to a marketplace that doesn't exist yet and a device that is 60 days out with unproven market traction? Doesn't sound very credible for me; two months of lost sales from your biggest retailer is a pretty big deal for all companies.

  • by metamatic (202216) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:32PM (#30962936) Homepage Journal

    My book club picked a book from Tor, which seems to be a Macmillan subdivision. I had sent the preview to my Kindle, and went to buy it yesterday. It was no longer available, so after thinking "WTF?" for a while, I bought a used paperback copy instead.

    Way to go, Macmillan!

    Since Amazon say 60% of their book sales are Kindle, I imagine Macmillan are going to be hurting.

  • It feels like a repeat of the same s*** Universal Music, and later, NBC Universal pulled with iTunes,

    Seems to me Apple is pulling the s*** with iTunes, resulting in price hikes, more DRM, and even less availability.

    Anyway, maybe we'll get lucky and Amazon and Apple destroy each other.

  • by uassholes (1179143) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:02PM (#30963242)

    What's wrong with real books?

    Used bookstores are great. Can you re-sell your used "eBook"? Can you buy used "eBooks".

    This consumer toy horseshit is a way to funnel money from you to them.

    Content will be more tightly controlled and the whole thing only means higher prices to read anything.

    People are stupid if they fall for this bullshit.

    • I don't want the bulk personally, I don't like having loads of possessions, all my music and film is digital. I haven't bought any ebooks yet either. So i'm happy to sit on the side lines for the moment. As long as I get Copy and Paste and the ability to highlight text within an ebook then I'll be happy. I want features that go beyond the paperback, adding value and making it worth the price.
  • The kindle was designed for book junkies, and for people who like to read newspapers/periodicals. Does it have limitations, yes, but it does do its key functions well, deliver text content anywhere there is a cell signal with a very long battery life.

    There are several key markets for books.

    Premium customers - new books in hardback
    technical customers - technical books.
    children books
    paperback customers
    bargain hunters
    periodicals -

    The kindle is aimed at the premium, paperback, periodical, and bargai
  • As far as I can tell, Apple's iBooks store is electronic only. So the claim, regarding Macmillan, that "They have somewhere to run. And credibly." is not true.

    Where is Macmillan going to make up the revenue from sales of print books that they'll forfeit by not being on the Amazon store? Unless the third-party sellers are expected to make up the difference, in which case Amazon's move hasn't accomplished anything punitive at all and is an empty gesture.

  • by CrypticSpawn (719164) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:37PM (#30963620)
    Talk about jumping on a bandwagon before you know where it is going. I guess if I looked at Apples track record and saw everything they have done up to date, I would probably say, it is a good bet it will be a hit. However, they don't even know what type of people will buy the ipad. I was just thinking it would be a cool mini tablet system, depending on what applications it comes already installed on it, but now that I know what the applications are, they are going to have to make a whole lot more for me to spend over 700 dollars for wifi and 3G.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#30963974)

    Barnes and Noble, especially if Amazon's tactics include delisting print publishers that sign deals with Apple for ebooks.

  • by EEBaum (520514) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:14PM (#30964032) Homepage
    People are paying $10 for an eBook???

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