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Amazon Caves To Publishers On eBook Pricing 236

Posted by Soulskill
from the bowing-to-ipressure dept.
AusPublishingWorker writes "With the iPad arriving on the scene, it seems that Amazon is feeling the pressure on eBook pricing from publishers. ITNews reports that Amazon has agreed to deals with both Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster which would allow the companies to select their own prices rather than the default US$9.99 price tag. Given the recent deal with Macmillan, it seems likely that we'll be seeing eBook prices moving up towards $14.99 in the near future."
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Amazon Caves To Publishers On eBook Pricing

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  • by feepness (543479) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:25AM (#31715214) Homepage
    Therefore I have the right to take it for free.
    • by Zumbs (1241138) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:39AM (#31715314) Homepage
      It is high. Particularly when you factor in that the DRM on eBooks locks you to read it using certain readers, and may cause you to loose access to the book you paid for if you buy a new computer, or the publisher takes the DRM servers offline (even accidentally). Unfortunately, putting DRM on books are expensive, as noted by Charlie Stross on his blog [antipope.org], and consumers get to pay the bill.
    • by kenj0418 (230916) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:44AM (#31715342)

      Therefore I have the right to take it for free.

      At your local library -- if you bring it back in 2 weeks. Otherwise,no, it doesn't. You not liking their pricing structure does not give you the right to violate their copyright. (Unless you are Google, that is.)

      • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:52AM (#31715376)
        You are correct. He does not have the right. What this kind of rip off gives him however is the motivation. He is not the only one either. There will be many others who feels that these greedy bastards deserve what they get. Too bad about the poor authors caught in the middle.
      • by eharvill (991859)
        So what is the difference between piracy and getting the book from your local library? The exact same amount of money was exchanged in both cases.
        • Incorrect, in the UK at least. We pay local taxes, a proportion of which goes to the libraries. They then use some of that to buy eBooks and the related lending rights. The author and the publisher get paid, you get to borrow it for "free"....or at least a relatively small proportion of your council tax.
          • by eharvill (991859)
            (I seem to have lost my original reply)

            Do authors and publishers get paid every time a their book is checked out from the library? If not, I fail to see the difference. You've paid your taxes support the library, who cares where the book comes from at that point?

      • by WCguru42 (1268530)

        Therefore I have the right to take it for free.

        At your local library -- if you bring it back in 2 weeks. Otherwise,no, it doesn't. You not liking their pricing structure does not give you the right to violate their copyright. (Unless you are Google, that is.)

        Two weeks, I get to keep mine for pretty much as long as possible (except on a few select books with exceptionally high demand) by simply calling or logging in and indicating that I'd like to renew. No questions asked.

    • by linzeal (197905) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:46AM (#31715350) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. When CD prices went from 10-12 bucks to 18-20 bucks suddenly during the mid 90's I stopped buying CDs and I never have bought one since. I go to 20-30 shows a year though and usually buy tour shirts at the show.

      I own a Sony PRS-600, a 1st gen Kindle and an Edge [entourageedge.com] and I have never bought a single e-book because they are worth to me about 3-5 bucks a piece, not 10 bucks. Maybe if you read a book a month that is worth it but I read 2-3 books a week and I'm not about to spend 100+ a month on books when for my entire life buying new and used paper books I have never even come close to that. Can't even sell the damn things. Powell's a book store in PDX where I live I used to be able to recoup 50-60% of the price I paid for the books by trading for store credit, with Amazon, Apple and Sony you get a 10 dollar book sitting in your Library that you will likely never read again.

      • I agree on the pricing. If a paperback is 7 or 8 dollars, why would an eBook version which is more restrictive than a paperback cost more? Certainly the cost to publish an eBook is less than actually printing a paperback. Not interested in an eBook reader until the publishing industry wakes up.
      • by WCguru42 (1268530)

        I own a Sony PRS-600, a 1st gen Kindle and an Edge [entourageedge.com] and I have never bought a single e-book because they are worth to me about 3-5 bucks a piece, not 10 bucks.

        Why would you buy a kindle if you weren't going to buy the books? That just baffles me.

    • by fafaforza (248976)

      It may not justify piracy, but that doesn't mean people won't be doing it. And this is what publishers might be doing to a technology that is responsible for increasing readership. Kinda shooting yourself in the foot.

      The prices for ebooks will be the same, if not higher in many instances [1], as the paper versions for something you
      - can't resell
      - can't give away
      - can't lend [2]
      - might disappear from your device

      So you paid $300 to lose some of the weight and increase your consumption of the product, with t

    • My first thought was that competition should be good for consumers, as another dominate player enters the market prices should be forced downward. Stealing the book is a natural reaction to the publishers oligopolistic practices.
    • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:14AM (#31715512)
      and I'm not trolling. DRM has changed the way publishing works. Copyright as it is written in the US constitution has been fundamentally broken by new technology. This is why I hate conservatives. I can't get them to understand that a legal document written 200 years ago might, just might, not be 100% relevant any more. Principles are great when everyone subscribes to them, but when they other guy (the publishers) runs roughshod over them it's time to do the same.
      • Re:I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:34AM (#31715610) Journal

        This is why I hate conservatives. I can't get them to understand that a legal document written 200 years ago might, just might, not be 100% relevant any more.

        It's not enough to simply show that a law might not be relevant; you have to show that it is not relevant. The law prevents expedient copying from devaluing new artworks, which are both in demand and (unlike the copies thereof) scarce. The faster and cheaper the copying technology, the less likely a person is to support the artist, the less likely the artist will create a new work.

        Copying has only become faster and cheaper. Now, more than ever, copyright is relevant.

        Now here comes the difficult bit: convincing you that a legal document written 200 years ago might still be relevant. It wouldn't be the first, and I believe certain other documents (e.g. magna carta) break this record.

        • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

          by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @11:53AM (#31716180) Homepage

          The law prevents expedient copying from devaluing new artworks, which are both in demand and (unlike the copies thereof) scarce.

          If you consider works that were made 70 years ago new, that's a problem.

          If the purpose is to protect the artist, why are artworks from dead artists still under copyright? Who are we protecting? Are those artists, dead for 20, 40, 60 years going to produce new works?

          Now here comes the difficult bit: convincing you that a legal document written 200 years ago might still be relevant. It wouldn't be the first, and I believe certain other documents (e.g. magna carta) break this record.

          That legal document was produced to protect artist from producers. Now, it's helping the producers subdue others. See the title? "Amazon Caves To Publishers On eBook Pricing". That was not their intentions when they wrote it.

        • by Stray7Xi (698337)

          Copying has only become faster and cheaper. Now, more than ever, copyright is relevant.

          Exactly why our copyright system is broken. It's designed for publishers not artists. Publishers are quickly going obsolete and we shouldn't be using copyright to prop them up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ffreeloader (1105115)

        What give you the right to ignore the laws of the country you live in? You don't like a law? Work to change it. Work to change the laws concerning DRM and extending copyright.

        I'm conservative and I agree with you that DRM, and copyright, due to the never ending extensions that Congress keeps tacking on to it, laws are broken. But, that doesn't give either of us the "right" to break other laws. There's lots of laws I think are unjust and counterproductive but ignoring them is not the way to go. You onl

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dloose (900754)

          What give you the right to ignore the laws of the country you live in? You don't like a law? Work to change it. Work to change the laws concerning DRM and extending copyright.

          Disobeying laws is a way of working to change them. Just ask that skinny Indian dude... Ben Kingsley.

          • Ghandi didn't base his opposition in dishonesty. He based it solely on, and his protests in, highly moral principles and actions. That's why his opposition worked. He had the moral high ground and he kept it. What's being promoted here immediately takes to the "morally challenged ground", to put it nicely, and gets worse from there. It won't, and can't, work.

            • What dishonesty? He believe the law was broken, so he publicly broke it and encouraged other to break it.

              The fact that you believe he was right doesn't change the action.

              • You're missing my point, and whether I believe Ghandi was right or wrong is immaterial. Ghandi's behavior was entirely ethical. He didn't advocate anything that could even be misconstrued as dishonest, or violent, behavior. That's how he took the moral high ground, and that's how he kept it. That's why and how he won....

                What's being supported here is considered theft. That puts the adherents of what is being promoted here, in the public eye, as being dishonest. Maybe you guys don't consider it theft,

              • by xero314 (722674)

                He believe the law was broken, so he publicly broke it

                That is a far cry from privately violating someone's copyright. If you went out into the public and started making copies and distributing them, then you might be on the same level as Ghandi, and you would be undertaking Civil Disobedience. Breaking the law, and attempting to hide your actions, as is common with piracy, is not civil disobedience. The important part is that to undertake civil disobedience you have to do it openly, and be willing to suffer the consequences of your actions. Remember that Gha

            • by Joe Tie. (567096)
              Seemed to work pretty well with digital audio.
            • by nabsltd (1313397)

              He based it solely on, and his protests in, highly moral principles and actions. That's why his opposition worked. He had the moral high ground and he kept it.

              Once you bring the word "moral" into the discussion, then "opinion" also enters into it.

              A lady who is riding in the part of the bus where current law makes it illegal for her to ride because of her skin color is "moral" today to the vast majority of people, but when it happened, there were a lot more people who just thought she was "some damn scofflaw".

              Today, there is a growing opinon (i.e., morality) that says grossly overcharging for a product is wrong (i.e., immoral). In many cases of vital (milk, bread

        • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@ g m a i l.com> on Saturday April 03, 2010 @11:49AM (#31716154) Journal

          The problem with your "work to change it" theory? Let me point it out to you: Unless your last name is Gates and you live in Redmond you can't compete with these things called "bribes". See Sonny Bono and DMCA and the coming ACTA for really nice examples of this in action, or if you want something more current how Obama ignores the fact that repealing the stupid pot laws has been #1 on his little "hope & change" website every single year. Why does he ignore the will of the people? Because the people don't write big fat checks like the drug companies and the private groups taking over our prison systems, that's why.

          So I'm sorry, but short of armed rebellion things are only gonna get worse. You will be given a choice of "rich corporate ass kisser" A or B, no exceptions, which continues to support the rigged game we have now. As for TFA they will raise the hell out of prices and when nobody buys their little imaginary properties they will scream "piracy" and get even worse laws passed. One way or another you WILL give your money to the corporations, again no exceptions. See "too big to fail" for an example of this. Sorry but it just ain't our country anymore, it belongs to supermega corp inc. Didn't you know that?

      • ...conservatives...I can't get them to understand that a legal document written 200 years ago might, just might, not be 100% relevant any more.

        Let alone non-legal documents written much, much longer ago than that...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koran [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud [wikipedia.org]
        etc.

      • by caladine (1290184)

        This is why I hate conservatives. I can't get them to understand that a legal document written 200 years ago might, just might, not be 100% relevant any more.

        This would be why said document does have a method by which to change it. Liberals seem to forget about that part because it's difficult.

    • by paiute (550198)

      As countless posters following will point out, you don't have the right to take it for free. But at a certain price, you will have the motivation. It is only human nature. We make cost/benefit analyses all the time, often without even thinking deeply about them. An industry which prices its product above that price point which the average consumer thinks is reasonable is just begging for trouble.

      When VHS movies came out in the early 80's, they cost upwards of $100 or so. There were shortly illegal copies of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)

      Therefore I have the right to take it for free.

      Don't take it or nobody will be able to buy it. Leave a copy at least.

    • by WCguru42 (1268530)

      Therefore I have the right to take it for free.

      Or purchase the book in paperback where the price will hopefully be less. If not then 14.99 seems like a good deal as no other sales version of the book is cheaper.

    • by AJWM (19027) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @04:33PM (#31718484) Homepage

      A lot of authors (and I'm one) would agree with you on the pricing issue -- if not on the "right" to take it for free. Some of them will give it to you if you ask nicely (or visit their website) though.

      Author J.A. Konrath has been blogging [blogspot.com] recently about how much he's been making ($4200 last month) off of his low priced ($1.99, $2.99) e-books on Kindle (books he's selling directly, vs others of his that his publisher is selling at higher prices). Unsurprisingly, lower priced books sell better than higher priced ones -- and in his and a few other authors' cases, they're selling pro-quality, professionally edited stories, not unreadable crud by a newbie author. His view is that the high prices publishers want to charge for e-books is a serious mistake, and in his next book deals he's not going to give e-rights to the publisher unless they fork over some serious (six-figure) cash for them, and a better percentage royalty.

      This very much parallels what some bands are doing with distributing their music themselves rather than going through RIAA companies. Indeed the term "indie author" is catching on.

      There still needs to be some vetting of an unknown author's work, either by traditional publishing or word of mouth and reviews from early readers, but the change is coming. I'm certainly considering making some of my own work (initially previously-published stuff to which I have e-rights) available that way. Even a little success that way gives a bit more leverage with a traditional publisher (which is still the most profitable route to go and will be for a few more years yet).

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:35AM (#31715284) Homepage

    let me just give a preemptive counterperspective.

    I buy ebooks and I'll buy them at this price, too.

    Yes, I prefer (by far) reading using ebook readers with eink displays. Since the first Kindle emerged I've probably read 10,000 pages or so using ebook readers. Love them.

    Also, tools exist to unDRM and convert between just about every ebook format, including Mobi, Azw, Topaz, ePub, PDF, Lit, PDB, and others, so books can in fact travel with you as you upgrade devices in the future, should you choose to go this route.

  • The Real Issue (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:37AM (#31715296)
    The problem with pricing books at $9.99 is the stickiness of the price tag. What is meant by this is consumer' perception of value. Although you can achieve large sales volume at price "below $10", if you ever try to raise the price by even a tiny amount, say $1, consumers *feel* like the markup was much higher than it really is, and sales subsequently drop off heavily.

    The same phenomenon could be observed with iTunes' .99 cents pricing. Attempts to raise the price higher (especially without unilateral price raises across the board of offerings and publishers) resulted in significant sales drops.

    It is also one reason we may never see a $99 netbook. That sub-factor of 10 number is quite magical for sales numbers, but kills any hope of raising prices in the future to combat inflation, increased salaries, admittedly raising profits, etc.

    • Re:The Real Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Scutter (18425) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:48AM (#31715362) Journal

      The problem with pricing books at $9.99 is the stickiness of the price tag. What is meant by this is consumer' perception of value. Although you can achieve large sales volume at price "below $10", if you ever try to raise the price by even a tiny amount, say $1, consumers *feel* like the markup was much higher than it really is, and sales subsequently drop off heavily.

      You sound like a marketing major. They seem to be the only ones who believe that garbage. I don't know anyone who is fooled by pricing at 9.99 and being told "under $10". Just call it $10.

      • Re:The Real Issue (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#31715474) Journal

        You sound like a marketing major. They seem to be the only ones who believe that garbage. I don't know anyone who is fooled by pricing at 9.99 and being told "under $10". Just call it $10.

        Almost everyone is fooled by 9.99 and "under $10" pricing.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_pricing [wikipedia.org]
        Endless studies have been done on the matter and it works.

        We like to pretend that demand curves are smooth, but they aren't.
        They go through all kinds of weird contortions because humans are not 100% rational market actors.

        • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @12:34PM (#31716446) Homepage

          Almost everyone is fooled by 9.99 and "under $10" pricing.

          Those people are known as women and they do that to justify their spending addictions.

        • by pizzach (1011925)

          Almost everyone is fooled by 9.99 and "under $10" pricing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_pricing [wikipedia.org] Endless studies have been done on the matter and it works.

          The trick is to call the $9.99 $10.00 and then stop looking at the damn number. (Out of sight out of mind anyone?) The longer you stare at it, the more of a phycological impact $9.99 will have.

          Prices like $2.98 still make me personally totter a bit, though. I mean, what the hell is with that number!? Thanks for the wikipedia link

      • Re:The Real Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kainewynd2 (821530) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#31715476)
        I know dozens of people who think that way. They're the people on the budgets.

        I've seen it consistently at my mother-in-law's consignment shop and she confirms the behavior over the entire lifetime of the business (which has been in business for 14 years). Price it at $X.99 instead of $X+1 and you'll see almost twice as many sales. Similarly--though much more confusingly--people tend to buy stuff marked "Buy One, Get One 50% off," instead of "Buy One, Get One Free!"

        I really don't get that one...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MartinSchou (1360093)

          I really don't get that one...

          I can top that. Back in 7th grade, my cousin and I were selling lottery tickets door to door for charity. As a joke at the first house on our route, I said:

          Five kroner a piece, four for an even twenty

          And the guy at the door wanted to buy four for twenty.

          Figuring it was just a fluke, we tried it at the next house. Same thing. So we did it the entire route. Out of about a hundred houses, only a handful of people batted an eyebrow and asked if we didn't mean five for twenty.

          I susp

          • by residieu (577863)
            I was at the movie theater recently, and at the concession stand, they had a number of "Combos", listing for example 1 Large Soda and 1 Large Popcorn. Or 2 Large Sodas and 1 Large Popcorn. Curiously, they had no prices attached to the combos. Sure enough, when the price came up, the price for Combo 1 was exactly the same as the price for 1 Large Soda plus the price of 1 Large Popcorn.
          • by Skreems (598317)
            Some less than totally honest stores actually charge more per unit for multiples or larger containers counting on exactly this behavior. It's especially bad with things where the small and large are something like 3.7 oz and 16.2 oz, and people are forced to do math to figure out which one is cheaper.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Pawnn (1708484)
          I have a theory for that last conundrum. It's a long shot, but here it is: You offer "buy one, get one 50% off" and Jane Doe thinks "Wow! That's a good deal!". You offer "buy one, get one free" and instead of thinking "Wow! That's a really good deal!", she thinks "That's just a marketing ploy! They can't actually afford to do that. They must have inflated the price first! Grrr..."

          This reminds me of something that happened when I was in highschool that I found really funny. I was selling candy bars f
        • The psychology of pricing is pretty weird.

          Science Friday interviewed someone that wrote a book on pricing "Priceless":

          http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201001015 [sciencefriday.com]

          For most people, the psychology of pricing probably isn't conscious.

          I'm not sure what the prices should be, but I don't think the low-ball pricing advocated by some in this thread is necessarily going to yield sales volumes that offset the lost per-unit profit, I'm not sure it's necessarily sustainable.

      • Would it kill you to admit that a marketing major might know a little more about this than you?

        • by Joe Tie. (567096)
          Might, yes. But marketing often seems like a retarded bastard child of psychology. And I was a psychology major, and was often horrified by just how bad the science there often was.
      • by queequeg1 (180099)

        While I don't doubt that reasonably intelligent consumers see through pricing psychology, there are numerous studies that clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of pricing endings (the cents) that are just one penny below the dollar (or euro or whatever) when large groups of consumers are involved. In fact, consumer preference for the $8.99 product over an identical product priced at $9.00 (or similar differences) is so commonplace that the questions being asked now aren't about whether it happens but why.

        • It might have something to do with the next evil trick in the marketing book.

          If your Fast Food Chain offers "Burgers for 99c" as a consumer it's easy to see that. But once it becomes "Burgers for $1.00" it's like a glass barrier broken. Then after some hand wringing, it will be "$1.25" and then "$1.35" and then it takes off like a bottle rocket.

          It's harder for a consumer to price compare $1.35 at Ye Olde Tourist Trappe vs $1.25 Strip Plaza.

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        I was at a store the other day and was rounding the numbers like that when talking about prices. Every time I said '$15' he would correct me with '$14.99'. I tried in vain to show how annoying it was, but he never got the hint.

        I didn't buy from him. (I'm pretty sure I didn't even buy from that store.)

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:37AM (#31715298)
    I don't think the predicted $14.99 price will be for all eBooks, though it will probably be the 'release price' when new titles come out by big name authors (and maybe some or all of the textbooks). If the eBook version is more expensive than the paperback version then I think we'll see eBooks sales stall.

    I think the shift to the eBook model will affect the publishing industry's current practice of releasing a hardcover first (at a higher price) and then a paperback once the hardcover has run its course. We're not going to get rid of hardcovers all at once but there will probably be more 'straight to paperback' titles than we're used to now.
  • Amazon was to some extent using its pricing power to push the Kindle platform, and indeed to their credit, despite the monopoly this handed them, without their effort the ebook market may have continued to flounder. Now, as their monopoly collapses, they have the choice of seeing publishers vacate the platform possibly moving competing devices to the fore, or letting the prices rise.

    The rise in prices, however, IMO cannot stand, and I don't think even the $10 price point can be maintained for long. Self-p

    • by fafaforza (248976)

      That, and freely available classics. At least to supplement reading new bestsellers. But the end result would be lower sales.

  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pop69 (700500) <billy@nOspam.benarty.co.uk> on Saturday April 03, 2010 @09:46AM (#31715354) Homepage
    If I have to pay that much for an ebook I'll just buy the real thing.

    I can resell it when I've read it, I can take it wherever I want and I don't have to worry about someone pressing a button and removing it from my read.

    Best of all, I don't have to spring for the price of a reader before I can even start reading a book
  • It is the shortage of bits that is driving this. This has been a growing problem since 1995: http://ifaq.wap.org/computers/bitshortage.html [wap.org]
  • ...to stick a little bit of completely unrelated paid viral marketing right in front of the “article”.

    With the iPad arriving on the scene,

    If you paid twice the price of the same thing from an other manufacturer, now you know where that money went. ^^

    One could even make a meme out of it, since it really fits anything:

    With the iPad arriving on the scene, the Haiti earthquake victims were all saved!
    With the iPad arriving on the scene, war in Iraq ended and peace broke out!
    With the iPad arriving on the scene, 351 people died in the latest terror attack!
    With the iPad arriving on the scene, the Teabaggers finally managed to overturn the government and proclaim a theocracy!
    With the iPad arriving on the scene, fanbois around the world came for a week straight. ...

  • Oh look... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:15AM (#31715518)

    14.99! Yay! I'll buy the PAPERBACK!

    There is no reason why an ebook needs to cost more than a paperback, let alone 15 bucks. At least it can't be removed remotely from my reader. I suspect that brick & mortar book stores don't need to worry about their futures the way things are going.

    --
    BMO

  • by IceDiver (321368) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:32AM (#31715584)

    Considering the fact that you get no physical copy and are encumbered by DRM, it seems to me that fair pricing is as follows:
    $9.99 for the period when the only physical copy available for sale is hardcover,
    $4.99 once the paperback comes out.

    Anything above these prices is, to me, a rip-off.

    This explains why I have never purchased an e-book, yet the bookshelves in my home are overflowing.

    • by teg (97890)

      The problem with your reasoning, is that just a little bit of the cost is actually paper. Sure, you get rid of one middleman, but you replace it with another who want their cut (30% seems to be the going rate).

      The "lack of value" you see doesn't show up as a saved cost for the publisher and author [nytimes.com], and most of the work is done anyway. And AFAIK, publishing isn't a business making money hands over fist. A few authors do - J. K. Rowling and Dan Brown are not exactly median earners - and publishing them is

      • by IceDiver (321368) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @12:02PM (#31716248)

        How does the existence, or non-existence, of middlemen affect my perceived value?

        I see a hardcover at $20 - $30. I get a physical copy that can be used anywhere without special technology. I get the right to resell it when I am done with it. A hard drive crash will not delete it. To me, that has value.
        A $14.99 digital copy that has none of these advantages seems to me to have little value. That perception does not depend on middlemen, or the cost of paper. It depends on the usefulness of the product. Whether or not the publisher and author save costs by publishing electronically is not my problem.

        • by teg (97890)

          How does the existence, or non-existence, of middlemen affect my perceived value?

          Indeed, it doesn't. I'm just pointing out how it looks on the other side - publisher and author. Their costs are almost the same, and the point that I was making is that while one middleman is removed, another is added. Thus, there isn't a lot of savings to pass on to the buyer.

          Given this, it may be the case that for most people the paper edition is indeed the best value. The idea "but all this paper isn't needed and the

    • Overflowing bookshelves is one of the reasons I got myself an e-book reader. I read a fair bit, so I thought I'd give it a try and so far I am not disappointed. Most of the ebooks I buy are around $5, and many are DRM-free. The only problem is that I wanted an 8" reader and those are still rather pricey.

      Books that I will want to re-read, or if I know someone else who would like to borrow it, I'll get a paper copy. If I don't plan on re-reading or loaning the book, or if it's DRM-free reference books
    • by vanyel (28049) *

      I believe that's basically what they're doing. I've purchased a number of reasonably priced ebooks, un-drm'd, more than I have time to read. I did cave and buy a number of drm'd books that I really like, as I'm trying to get rid of my paper library (I'm *really* tired of lugging it around), but *only* after the kindle format was cracked last winter so I could guarantee my books were portable. They'll rip people off for the $10 as long as they can, just like with hardbacks (which at least have a justifiab

  • by MogNuts (97512)

    I can't believe no one even mentioned this: /. all praised the iPad and Apple's scheme to make the publishers more money. Well here are the results of your joyous praise!

    Now instead of Amazon keeping e-books at $9.99 and the industry in check--we now have a locked down, DRM-laden, inferior versions to the paperback, for...

    $14.99! And that's only the beginning of the price increase!

    Thanks Apple fanboys!

    • by dloose (900754)
      If you believe that e-books are locked-down, DRM-laden, and inferior to paperbacks -- and I agree with you on all 3 counts -- then why do you care what they cost? Just buy the paperback. That's what I'm going to do. Sure, they're a bit more expensive, but they're convenient, incredibly easy to use, and they look cool sitting on a shelf. I'm willing to pay a premium for that.
    • by ctmurray (1475885)
      Blame the publishers for hanging onto their "agency" model (where publishers set the prices and the ibookstore is just the agency). The Amazon model will eventually win out, but the publishers have to go through their death throws.

      In the mean time, look at the indie authors on Kindle. They set their own prices. There are some very good books and authors out there. The Amazon book review and rating method helps you find good quality books. You are no longer beholden to some publisher's decision about what
  • While I am upset that they feel the need to jack up the prices, it is nice to know that my local used book store will still feel a market niche. To some degree, it is almost feels better to buy a used book than a new one. With a used book, you can see the wear and tear on it, that someone actually has enjoyed this book and that they are passing it on to you.

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @10:45AM (#31715690) Homepage Journal

    They were only trying to protect publishers from themselves. Amazon knows a lot more about what customers will pay for ebooks than publishers do, and their tactics which appeared heavy handed existed because it was the point where the maximum amount of profit could be obtained. Yes the $9.99 price point would hurt the sale of physical books, but you sell so many ebooks at that price that makes up for it tremendously.

    The only concern publishers had was that in public you couldn't tell what books other people were reading if they all had Kindles. They felt they lost some free advertising when going to ebooks. What they failed to realize is with an ebook reader attached to a network you can tie it into twitter or facebook which is a far more powerful advertising vehicle than some random stranger in public.

    It's really pitiful that publishers are incapable of adapting to the realities of the 21st century. Amazon tried to drag them there kicking and screaming, but have failed.

    (ex Amazon employee, so my views may be biased)

    • Yes the $9.99 price point would hurt the sale of physical books, but you sell so many ebooks at that price that makes up for it tremendously.

      Do you have any basis for this statement? My understanding is that physical book sales still outpace ebook sales by far.

  • Fuck e-books; fuck e-book readers, including, but not limited to the Kindle, the iFad, & all the others I've not heard of. May they all go belly up, bankrupt and take the crooked publishers with 'em. Why anyone would want a crippled computer to read crippled books which can be stolen back by the "publisher" on any whim, "Just because we felt like it ... Buzz off, Sucker!" completely escapes me. Preposterous.
    • Re:More Media BS (Score:5, Informative)

      by B5_geek (638928) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @11:30AM (#31715990)

      I suggest you look into the Sony PRS-505. Sony & the publishers can't do shit to the stuff I have put on my reader.

      It supports damn near every format of displaying books (use Calibre if you don't like a format), it reads the data from an SD-card.

      The fact that it doesn't connect wireless to the world is a GOOD THING.

  • Apple's customers are media conglomerates.

    So they cut deals with them and it trickles down in smacking us the paying customers who used to use their service and use other services. In other words, they came to the realization that real money is making deals with publishers of content, not the users. This causes the publishers to lean hard on anyone moving their product as they can hold "Apple" up as an example saying well we have Apple on our side and we don't really need you.

    Yeah. thanks a lot Steve

  • Considering that they are not manufacturing anything nor paying for shipping, warehouses (including workers), etcetera. If I thought the authors were getting more out of it then I might not bristle as much but I have no illusion that anyone but the publisher is benefiting from the price hike. As long as there are libraries, if won't be a problem. As an aside, I wonder how long it will take before publishers challenge libraries in court?
  • by Sounder40 (243087) * on Saturday April 03, 2010 @11:08AM (#31715844)

    I'm traveling a lot now, so I'm reading a lot. I picked up the James Patterson "Alex Cross" series on my Kindle. I tried to buy the next book in the series Thursday only to find that no James Patterson books were available. Turns out that Hachette books had blocked all book sales while Amazon switched to the "agency model". Agency model means that Amazon acts as an agent for the publisher instead of a middleman/retailer like they do for paper books.

    It was a short-lived outage, and I was able to buy the next book this morning. For a dollar more. Not a big deal, but I see the end of my love affair with the Kindle real soon now. If this is the way they're going to play, I'm just not interested.

  • Usually when competition enters a market prices fall. In this case, Apple's entry seems to be raising prices. I suppose offering a higher price point is how Apple was able to get the publishers to partner with them after what happened with the music publishers, who are not happy with the $0.99 defacto single track price point. Hopefully once Apple gets a good foothold in the market prices will again fall as Amazon, Apple, B&N and other ebook vendors battle for marketshare, willingly cutting their own pr
  • It works both ways (Score:3, Informative)

    by the Dragonweaver (460267) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @11:35AM (#31716036) Homepage

    These stories never seem to mention that while the publishers want $14.99 at the high end, they also want the ability to price below $9.99 for back titles. Amazon has pushed the $14.99 price point so hard in the hopes that people wouldn't notice the cheaper part.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @12:35PM (#31716450) Homepage

    Hundreds of thousands of people bought Kindles on the basis of their perception of the overall deal. I think most buyers know that the cost of the razor (Kindle) is dominated by the cost of the blades (eBooks). Of course there was no written contract, but those hundreds of thousands of buyers thought they were buying into an ecosystem of $10 eBooks. An eBook delivers less value than a trade paperback, but that was OK because it cost less than a trade paperback.

    Now, suddenly, the whole proposition is changed. They're being asked to pay meaningfully more than when they signed on. A big jump. Pretty much all at once. And they're now being asked to pay more than the price of a trade paperback for something that for most readers is less valuable than a trade paperback.

    If you don't believe eBooks are less valuable than trade paperbacks, then please name your price for my copy of Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything." It's only six years old, and in mint condition (bits don't rot), and I'll sell it cheap. Oh, did I forget to mention it's a GemStar DRM-protected eBook edition, readable only on one GemStar eBook device in the world--mine--which I'd throw in for free if I hadn't already thrown it out when it crapped out last year. You can't buy a new one because they don't make 'em any more. And if you have a GemStar eBook device, GemStar customer service can't transfer my book to you because they're long since out of business

    I believe this price increase, whether it's Amazon's fault or not, and despite the fact that $10 eBooks were merely an expectation set by Amazon, is going to make a lot of Kindle owners angry. Obviously publishers think they hold the balance of power and that it doesn't matter if their customers get angry. Maybe they're right.

  • If you like sci-fi or fantasy, buy your books from Baen Books. They sell eBooks directly to the customer, no DRM, pricing at about $2 per book (more for collections). Also, they give many books away for free - the first book in a trilogy, etc.

    The free books are in the Baen Free Library [baen.com], the shop is called Webscription.net [webscription.net]. Support publishers like this, and the other publishers will have to fall in line.

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