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Amazon Now Discounting HarperCollins EBooks 136

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the publishing-industry-found-crying-in-corner dept.
Nate the greatest writes "Late last week three publishers and the Department of Justice finalized an agreement to settle the claims that the publishers conspired to raise ebook prices. One of the terms of the agreement was that publishers were going to have to allow ebook retailers like Amazon to set the price of ebooks. Today it looks like the new prices have gone into effect. Amazon, B&N, and a small indie ebookstore called BooksonBoard are all offering HarperCollins ebooks at a discount. B&N and Amazon seem to be using the same price book, while BoB is having a 24% off sale."
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Amazon Now Discounting HarperCollins EBooks

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  • Good for Whom? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I know many on Slashdot are going to proclaim this as a victory for the consumer because lower prices are always good. Yes. They are. I will never complain about getting something I want at a lower price.

    But.

    There is a very real danger that the drive to force prices down is going to harm a lot of businesses. Sure, companies like Amazon don't care that much if that happens, but book retailers, who are forced to attempt to make a living off of thinner and thinner margins are going to have troubles making ends

    • So, before you cheer this as a victory for the consumer, think about the bigger picture and imagine what would happen if your company was forced to operate on razor thin margins. How much would you be cheering?

      Capitalism is to economics as natural selection is to Darwinism.
      Would you contend that people should do something un-natural?

      • Re:Good for Whom? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Karlt1 (231423) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:03AM (#41298455)

        " Capitalism is to economics as natural selection is to Darwinism.
        Would you contend that people should do something un-natural?"

        The publisher is not getting smaller profits. What Amazon and the rest are doing are doing are selling books below the cost that publishers are charging them to distribute the book. Amazon is taking a loss on the ebook sell to encourage sales of the Kindle and to run other booksellers out of business. What do you think is going to happen when Amazon gets its monopoly status back?

        • Uhhh. . .in a fair market, cheaper competitors emerge?
          • by Karlt1 (231423)

            "Uhhh. . .in a fair market, cheaper competitors emerge?"

            How can cheaper competitors emerge when the monopolist is charging less than the cost of goods sold?

            • by mythix (2589549)
              because a fair market prohibits selling stuff at a loss. Government must regulate stuff like this, or a fair market is impossible... self regulation is impossible in a globalized world full of gigantic multinationals imo...
              • by Kalriath (849904)

                Not it mustn't. Government should stay the hell out of pricing decisions. If a company wants to take a massive loss on products, that's their problem. Once they come close to having a monopoly, the suppliers themselves will react to make competition viable again (for example when music publishers gave Amazon preferential pricing and DRM terms in order to damage the iTunes near-monopoly that was emerging). Self-regulation may be impossible, but supply chain regulation is not.

            • Uhhh. . .'monopolost' implies 'unfair'?
            • by radish (98371)

              If they were a monopoly they wouldn't need to sell below cost. The only reason to do that is to bring people into your store/platform where you hope they'll buy other stuff to make up for your initial losses. If they don't, of course, you eventually go out of business.

              If you're already the only player (i.e. a monopoly) there is no competition - that's where you raise prices - not lower them. Amazon may want to become a monopoly in eBooks, but this tactic indicates they're clearly not one yet.

              • by wiggles (30088)

                This is a classic anticompetitive tactic - and the reason that Standard Oil was broken up in the 20th century.

                Standard Oil would find a mom-and-pop gas station on a corner somewhere, set up shop across the street, and sell gas for below cost. Once they ran mom & pop out of business, they jacked up the prices of gas on that corner to well above cost.

                And that, friends, is how the Rockefeller fortune was made.

                • This is a classic anticompetitive tactic - and the reason that Standard Oil was broken up in the 20th century.

                  Standard Oil would find a mom-and-pop gas station on a corner somewhere, set up shop across the street, and sell gas for below cost. Once they ran mom & pop out of business, they jacked up the prices of gas on that corner to well above cost.

                  And that, friends, is how the Rockefeller fortune was made.

                  The obvious problem with your analogy is that Amazon has ALREADY run mom & pop out of business, and is still trying to keep prices low.

                  It's really a non-problem. If the publishers aren't making enough money, they will cease to publish. Clearly -- given that more books are being published than ever before -- they are not ceasing to publish, and are therefore making more than enough money to stay in business (just less on average than they were before their old business model became obsolete).

                  Let's fac

                  • by vakuona (788200)

                    They haven't yet run mom & pop out of business. Amazon's market share for ebooks fell from 90% to 65% when Apple and others convinced publishers to go down the agency route.

                    Once Amazon has made other ebook suppliers unviable, it will be able to jack up prices because if you want you book read, you have to buy a Kindle.

                    It is amazing that the justice department took this on. One wonders whether Amazon has been donating some cash to someone's charity who wants to run for public office at some point.

              • by Karlt1 (231423)

                "If they were a monopoly they wouldn't need to sell below cost."

                The Agency model is what caused Amazon's market share to decrease and allowed others -- not just Apple to be able to compete.

                "The only reason to do that is to bring people into your store/platform where you hope they'll buy other stuff to make up for your initial losses. If they don't, of course, you eventually go out of business."

                Unless you have another business to prop up your losses until all of the smaller competitors go out of business.

                • by radish (98371)

                  Why do eBooks (or books in general) need the agency model while no other products do? iTunes sells a lot of digital music (the large majority) but there are plenty of other companies doing just fine in that space as well (Amazon for one). They compete on selection, price, convenience, customer service, extras, etc. Whilst the agency model might be great for publishers & uncompetitive resellers, it isn't good for me - the reader. I'd suggest that the resellers who feel like they're losing out should star

                  • by Karlt1 (231423)

                    "Whilst the agency model might be great for publishers & uncompetitive resellers, it isn't good for me - the reader."

                    How good do you think it will be for you the reader if Amazon can sell at a loss, run competitors out of business, and then sale at a huge markup?

                    " iTunes sells a lot of digital music (the large majority) but there are plenty of other companies doing just fine in that space as well (Amazon for one)"

                    Who are these other companies making profits selling music?

                    If Apple is only breaking even a

                • No, the Agency model is a life-support system for Big Publishing, which is an obsolete throwback.
            • by cpu6502 (1960974)

              The smalltime bookseller is as obsolete as the smalltime shoemaker, tinker, or tailor. Their time has past..... they just haven't realized it yet but electronic distribution of books will be the final nail.

        • What do you think is going to happen when Amazon gets its monopoly status back?

          Since Amazon isn't doing anything with its ebook pricing to attract marketshare to its reading platform that its competitors aren't also doing, I don't expect it to get a monopoly through its pricing.

          • by Karlt1 (231423)

            What competitors? B&N is circling the drain. Who else is left that is a serious competitor?

            • by reub2000 (705806)

              Google

              Also, If the publishers where willing to do without DRM there is nothing stopping them from setting up their own store.

              • Google

                Also, If the publishers where willing to do without DRM there is nothing stopping them from setting up their own store.

                Google play isn't much of a competitor-- it looks like you can only read when you have a net connection (I'd like to be wrong about that).

                I totally agree about the DRM, though. Many publishers are so hard over on DRM that they'll sink themselves rather than go DRM free.

                • by reub2000 (705806)

                  Books purchased from google play are automatically downloaded to android devices. On a computer you can download them using Adobe Digital Editions, which will work with any device that supports Adobe's DRM. This includes my Nook Simple Touch.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Where does the Amazon monopoly idea come from?
          B&N's doing exactly the same thing.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>Amazon is taking a loss on the ebook sell to encourage sales of the Kindle

          That's ridiculous. Amazon already takes a loss on the kindle, on the presumption of making profit on the ebooks. They wouldn't take a loss twice. That would be like if Nintendo sold their Wii at a loss AND sold their games at a loss too..... thus making no money and eventually going bankrupt.

        • by chrismcb (983081)

          What do you think is going to happen when Amazon gets its monopoly status back?

          Not much, because if they do anything significant they'll be abusing their monopoly.

      • Re:Good for Whom? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:27AM (#41298707)

        Capitalism is to economics as natural selection is to Darwinism.

        And regulation is to capitalism as medicine is to natural selection.

        Would you contend that people should do something un-natural?

        Use medicine to prolong life? Absolutely.

        • Capitalism is to economics as natural selection is to Darwinism.

          And regulation is to capitalism as medicine is to natural selection.

          Yeah, and that medicine is what produced this outcome -- this isn't the unregulated market outcome, its the result of the DoJ enforcing regulations against price fixing.

          • by digitig (1056110)
            Sometimes medicine has undesirable side-effects. We don't stop using medicine because of that. We don't even stop using the medicine with the undesirable side-effects because of that. We might look for better medicines -- if the payoff looks to be worthwhile.
            • Sometimes medicine has undesirable side-effects. We don't stop using medicine because of that. We don't even stop using the medicine with the undesirable side-effects because of that. We might look for better medicines -- if the payoff looks to be worthwhile.

              Depends on the side effect.

              For example, cyanide can be quite an effective medicine for a number of diseases; but I doubt anyone would take it given the guaranteed side-effect - death, which of course is the ultimate cure for numerous diseases - but one that no one would like.

              So if the side-effect is simply a little extra heart burn, or something rather minor then yes people will continue with it. But it if something really severe (e.g. heart attack, death, etc.) then very few will continue to take it,

              • by digitig (1056110)
                I have to take medicine daily, one stated contraindication of which is "death". The condition for which I take it is non-fatal. I still take the medication (because death is a very rare contraindication, and there are usually enough warning signs to stop taking the medication and get medical attention in time). Does a six-monthly chat with my doctor count as "heavily monitored conditions"?
                • I have to take medicine daily, one stated contraindication of which is "death". The condition for which I take it is non-fatal. I still take the medication (because death is a very rare contraindication, and there are usually enough warning signs to stop taking the medication and get medical attention in time). Does a six-monthly chat with my doctor count as "heavily monitored conditions"?

                  I'd say its proportional to the risk of the side-effect. In your case, probably yes. Comparatively there are some medications that have a high risk of seizure, heart attack, etc; they're only used in a hospital setting or under supervision of some sort.

        • Uhhh. . .medicine isn't the human leveraging another aspect of natural selection against the virus?
          • by digitig (1056110)
            Uhhh...regulation isn't the human leveraging of another aspect of social interchange against certain social practices?
            • Uhhh. . .so, when regulation has accomplished destruction of fair, natural markets, and everything collapses into the regulator, then what?
              • by digitig (1056110)
                Same as when everybody has OD'd on their meds. Oh, wait, most people don't do that. By the way, those markets are "fair and natural" in exactly the same sense as the smallpox virus is and in exactly the same sense as the gut flora that break down carbohydrates are. That is, they're all natural and it's meaningless to apply moral judgments like "fair" to them.
                • Oh, get bent. Fair [wikipedia.org] has a perfectly non-moral usage in economics.
                  By which I mean, one can have a rational discussion about the ethics of this or that business practice without veering into the moral territory of whether you're going to hell because you sell on Sundays.
                  • by digitig (1056110)

                    By which I mean, one can have a rational discussion about the ethics of this or that business practice without veering into the moral territory of whether you're going to hell because you sell on Sundays.

                    Indeed you can -- but only if you take a view of economics that is incompatible with it being something that is entirely natural.

                    • by digitig (1056110)
                      The definition of "fair" referenced in the article still depends on the presence of moral agents acting willfully on the market. In other words, the concept of fairness doesn't exist in isolation from those moral agents. What is a "fair" market is what people find to be "fair", and although there is a particular legal and economical definition of what is called "fair", that is only what those agents consider fair. Notably, it doesn't take any account of externality, which I would suggest most market partici
    • The margin for ebook is speculative on how many copies you can sell at a given price. There's no cost to distribute, really.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is a cost to produce. Writers, editors, designers, artists, typesetters, and the rest cost money.

        Printing and distribution is a small portion of the overhead for book publication.

        • There is a cost to produce. Writers, editors, designers, artists, typesetters, and the rest cost money.

          Printing and distribution is a small portion of the overhead for book publication.

          Authors get upwards of 10% of the cover price. Editors are typically paid a flat fee (per page, per book, etc.), as is the cover artist (a few hundred to maybe a thousand), and the typesetter (something like $30 per page).

          The publisher gets around half the money from the sale, not a "small portion".

        • by Drathos (1092)

          And an ebook version of a book does not need any more than the physical version. I would argue less (no typesetter, for example). You should, in theory, be able to take the same text and output it in whatever ebook version you want without much extra effort.

          There is absolutely no reason why an electronic copy of a book should cost more than a physical version. The lack of printing and distribution costs (distribution cost to the publisher is negligible; just one copy to each retailer) should guarantee th

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            And an ebook version of a book does not need any more than the physical version. I would argue less (no typesetter, for example). You should, in theory, be able to take the same text and output it in whatever ebook version you want without much extra effort.

            A typesetter doesn't just set type and hit print, they're responsible for the layout of the entire book.

            This includes formatting of chapter headings and layout of images, tables, headers and footers, as well as table of contents, indicies, etc.

            All an aut

            • All an author does is submit a manuscript. The editor catches stuff like mispellings, typos, and other grammatical errors (but never about content). The manuscript goes back to the author for corrections and it's submitted again.

              There are different levels of editor. There's generally a lot of "macro" editing where an editor will give general suggestions for changes, as well as identifying plot problems (for fiction) or clarity problems in non-fiction. The copy editing is what you describe, which can be after months or even years of macro editing. Very few authors generate manuscripts that are ready to send straight to a copy editor and then into the print process.

      • The margin for ebook is speculative on how many copies you can sell at a given price. There's no cost to distribute, really.

        Bandwidth and transaction processing aren't cost-free. There may be a very small marginal costs, but there is not really "no cost to distribute".

      • There are costs of distribution.

        a) holding the data (the ebook, aka running servers and the internet connection)
        b) holding the customer data
        c) tracking the bought books (aka building the software and running it to do so)
        d) billing the customer (after delievery/download)
        e) paying royalties to the copyright owners (publisher/author)
        f) tracking of e) ofc
        g) paying sales taxes

        And likely a few more costs I forgot to mention ...

    • Re:Good for Whom? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @08:54AM (#41298363)

      You mean the fat middlemen publishers who live off the writers and provide little value to the consumer? Once publishing is all digital and instant they might have to get a real job! As far as limiting choice that is pure FUD, anyone with a computer could write a novel and have it published. Unlike the old days of publisher monopolies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You clearly have never read an unedited manuscript. If you had, you'd never suggest anyone with a computer writing a novel and having it published.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          But an editor / proof reader is not the same as a publisher - there is nothing stopping an independent author using them.

          • by cdrguru (88047)

            True, you can contract for that separately. And contract someone for cover art.

            The publisher is just a one-stop shop for all of it and you would be amazed how many people think they can bypass the publisher, editor, proofreading and cover art.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Judging by the adult fiction/fanfics you can find online, other than maybe needing an editor I'd say unless the average writer is turning in manuscripts of a lesser quality than that of online fiction (some of which are quite good, and novel length themselves), then yes, the majority of services a publisher used to provide are no longer sufficiently necessary in modern society to offset the lost profits to the writer taken by having their writing go through 'traditional' publishing channels.

        • by Joviex (976416)

          You clearly have never read an unedited manuscript. If you had, you'd never suggest anyone with a computer writing a novel and having it published.

          So, for the first 5k years writings/books only made it because someone else edited someone else's work? That smacks of elitism and is a pretty poor counterpoint to the above.

        • by swillden (191260)

          You clearly have never read an unedited manuscript. If you had, you'd never suggest anyone with a computer writing a novel and having it published.

          I've read several of them. If you'd like to, go to Baen.com and buy some "eARC" editions of their books. There may have been some minimal editing done on them, but they're supposed to be "basically straight from the author's word processor". Granted that the ones I've read have all been from established authors whose experience may allow them to produce slightly more-polished output, but the errors have been fairly minimal, and not all that annoying or distracting.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        There is where you are very, very wrong. Sure, anyone can write something. But if the author bypasses the very necessary role of the publisher they have a piece of crap. Ask any author that has sole more than one book what the publisher does for them and if they would like to go it alone without separately contracting for the same services.

        A book without an editor - one of the functions of the publisher - is almost always going to be unreadable drivel. Check out some of the $0.99 ebooks by unknown autho

        • ... Check out some of the $0.99 ebooks by unknown authors with self-publishing "publisher" listed on Amazon. You will find they are - surprise - unreadable drivel.

          And then spend 5 seconds on Google and find millionaires who've made their fortune self-publishing. [google.com] Clearly, Big Publishing is superfluous for a talented writer. (Also, you can go to any B&N and find shelves and shelves of "drivel" -- publishers don't guarantee quality.)

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        You mean the fat middlemen publishers who live off the writers and provide little value to the consumer?

        As long as the publishers are still editing the manuscripts, fact checking, and formatting them correctly, and advertising for the authors, then I say they are adding a lot of value for the consumer.

    • Can an author survive (and thrive) self-publishing? Retailers and publishers are certainly important for physical copies of a book; how well can an author do publishing only digitally?
      • It depends on the diversity of the author's skill set. If they are a good writer (and employ a good editor), they'll also need to be a typesetter/designer, good business person, marketeer, & etc... to be a successful independent self employed ebook author. Now some may be able to do so, but many good authors may not be able to perform these steps on their own. So, the publisher usually fills the same role as a business manager for the small independently owned physician's or dentist's clinic. Sure s
      • by Em Ellel (523581)

        Can an author survive (and thrive) self-publishing? Retailers and publishers are certainly important for physical copies of a book; how well can an author do publishing only digitally?

        According to Bezos in the Kindle HD presentation, something like a quarter of Kindle top 100 sellers are self published.

        • by ibwolf (126465)

          Can an author survive (and thrive) self-publishing? Retailers and publishers are certainly important for physical copies of a book; how well can an author do publishing only digitally?

          According to Bezos in the Kindle HD presentation, something like a quarter of Kindle top 100 sellers are self published.

          Hmm, I wonder how many of the top 100 grossing titles are self published.

          Self published titles tend to be very cheaply priced and Amazon frequently has a (virtual) monopoly on the sale of the title. This places them higher on the list of most units sold for the Kindle. Even with that advantage they only occupy a quarter of the list.

          Writing a good book is very hard. Editing a book is very demanding as well. Add on top of that the need to market it yourself ...

          Just being a good writer is hard enough.

          • by Em Ellel (523581)

            Can an author survive (and thrive) self-publishing? Retailers and publishers are certainly important for physical copies of a book; how well can an author do publishing only digitally?

            According to Bezos in the HD presentation, something like a quarter of Kindle top 100 sellers are self published.

            Hmm, I wonder how many of the top 100 grossing titles are self published.

            Self published titles tend to be very cheaply priced and Amazon frequently has a (virtual) monopoly on the sale of the title. This places them higher on the list of most units sold for the Kindle. Even with that advantage they only occp>

            Writing a good book is very hard. Editing a book is very demanding as well. Add on top of that the need to market it yourself ...

            Just being a good writer is hard enough.

            Well let's do the math and see - the #1 and #2 on kindle top 100 paid are kdp(self) published, #3 is a publisher book. They are priced $3.99, $6.59, and $12.99. Assuming they all sell same number of copies (which giving their rankings they don't, but let's assume) author of the first gets about $2.79 a copy, author of the second one gets about $4.54, and the third is lucky if he is getting $1.29 a copy. You think the first two authors would rather be with the publisher?

            And by the way, kdp is not only digit

      • by will_die (586523)
        No.
        Based on just Amazon the top moneys can but once you hit the top 20 and lower they are making less than a below average physical book using normal means.
        Even then the top people are not making as much as a upper normal publishing person.
        • by 0123456 (636235)

          I know many people who aren't in the 'top 20' on Amazon who make a living from self-published fiction.

          At least in SF, a typical mid-list advance for a 'physical book using normal means' seems to be around $20,000; if you don't believe me, read some of the posts on the web from mid-list writers complaining that advances are lower today than they were twenty years ago. A typical advance for a new writer seems to be around $5,000.

          If you sell an e-book for $4.99 you need to find about 6,000 fans to make $20,000

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Publishers don't have to shrink their margins. They can charge amazon whatever they like for each copy that Amazon wants to sell.

      Sure if amazon prices other retail businesses out of existence that will likely allow amazon to raise prices, but that's a different matter to price fixing.

    • by morcego (260031)

      You are working under a wrong assumption. As far as I know, publisher can still charge amazon whatever they want for those ebooks. They just can't stop amazon from selling at 0 profit, or even under cost. There are valid commercial reasons for that (multiple sales, recurrent business, ebook reader sales etc).

      That publishers shouldn't be able to do is to tell Amazon how much they must sell for.

      Will that still impact small retailers ? Yes. That's part of capitalism. You didn't think it was all good, did you ?

      • by SB2020 (1814172)

        But affect the publishers ? It shouldn't.

        Until Amazon are the only retailer and then they can start to make demands to force publishers to reduce prices. See also the current fight over milk prices in the UK. The big supermarkets are abusing their virtual monopolies to force farmers to sell milk for less than it cost them to produce, driving farmers out of business. Clearly unsustainable.

        Publishers profits from the 50Shades and HarryPotters are used to support and nurture titles/authors that are only marginally profitable or even unprofitable but

        • by morcego (260031)

          I can understand your worry but, again, that is just part of capitalism, albeit the bad part.

          However, in this particular case, Amazon has enough strong competition (B&N, Fictionwise, Apple etc), this isn't likely to happen.

          Actually, there is a bigger problem than price setting that can affect this: availability. I live outside the US, and there are several books that are only available to be from Amazon. Even when they are available somewhere else, like Fictionwise, the publisher
          will tell them they can'

        • by radish (98371)

          Let's imagine Amazon are the only place in the world you can buy written material. So they force publishers to sell for less, squeezing their margins. Eventually it's just not going to be worth being a publisher, and they'll shut up shop and open a bar or something. Now Amazon have nothing to sell - and hence no income. That doesn't seem like a good outcome for them.

          Another option is that someone else (or Amazon themselves) would see a way to run a publisher for less money and so provide Amazon product at t

    • and the video store. Technology was bound to push the book store out as well. So while I see the concern we have to face it, each industry evolves and those where the principle product can be delivered in a new form will adjust too.

      Plus this digital move opens up the door for wanna be authors everywhere. No longer are you stymied by the inability to get your book "in print". There will still always be jobs for editors and the like for the big names in writing, however the little guy can now be heard for muc

      • by Quirkz (1206400)
        Of course, you are now stymied by trying to get your "in print" book into a reader's hands. After all, you're just one person in a sea of about twenty times as many authors as there used to be. Nobody's heard of you, nobody has any reason to find your book and try reading it in the first place. You've not only committed the huge amount of time it takes to write, but you now also need to commit money for editing and other services, or you have to skip those pieces and suffer from inferior quality. (Unless yo
    • What is the point in these "publishers" and "book retailers" when we can buy and sell our books online now?

      • Re:Good for Whom? (Score:4, Informative)

        by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:35AM (#41300429)

        What is the point in these "publishers" and "book retailers" when we can buy and sell our books online now?

        Good luck selling eBooks from your collection.

        The point in "publishers" is that they take care of the proofing, typesetting (yes, even an ePub looks better if it was formatted as something other than a raw text dump), marketing, artwork (nice covers sell better), and so forth.

        The point in "booksellers" is that you get one-stop shopping, and the publisher and author don't have to set up and maintain retail accounting systems and delivery servers (or did you think the Internet is powered by fairies? Those books come from tangible source machines with tangible operators powered by real live electricity).

        Yes, one person can do it all, but doing everything yourself doesn't always mean it gets done well. If my favorite author can be more creative and more productive because he or she or they or whatever have outsourced the grunt work, I'm willing to pay for a middleman or 2.

        Not being an idiot (no matter what they say), I won't pay more for electronic books than their dead-tree versions, but I don't consider paying a resonable price for intermediary services as a complete waste of money.

        • I meant selling books that we'd written ourselves, not selling on books that we've already read. If eBooks were sold at reasonable prices then the "used" market would be redundant anyway.

          "Book retailers" in the post I was replying to was intended to mean brick-and-mortar book stores, and I was using it in that context. Of course sites like Amazon and other eBook sellers are still worthwhile in today's world.

          I don't want to pay more either. I haven't even bought the latest DiscWorld novel because it's still

    • by anethema (99553)

      Far and away now a days I read more self published books on amazon. Their editing standards are not usually up to published quality, esp for an author's first book, but I'm more and more convinced that publishers have been more harm than help in the book work anyways.

      For example here is a category of books I enjoy, and the top books in it:

      http://www.amazon.com/High-Tech-Science-Fiction-eBooks/b/ref=amb_link_7192512_3?ie=UTF8&node=158595011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=left-1&pf_rd_r=18Z89FB [amazon.com]

    • by mythix (2589549)
      I also saw an interview with Dubravka Ugrei in which she also speaks about the impact of this trend, not only on the consumer but on literature itself. She stated the same thing you did, that nobody will publish a book without being sure about the numbers beforehand. The result of this is that it is no longer important what you write, but this importance shifts to who wrote it. We are already seeing this everywhere, people with a famous face are all producing books (and other nonsense) and it is selling. T
    • by JDG1980 (2438906)

      Sure, companies like Amazon don't care that much if that happens, but book retailers, who are forced to attempt to make a living off of thinner and thinner margins are going to have troubles making ends meet. Publishers are similarly going to have troubles paying the bills as their margins shrink further and further.

      Book retailers are just middlemen with no real value-add, so why should society care if they go out of business? (At the present time it would probably be a bad thing because there aren't eno

    • There is a very real danger that the drive to force prices down is going to harm a lot of businesses. Sure, companies like Amazon don't care that much if that happens, but book retailers, who are forced to attempt to make a living off of thinner and thinner margins are going to have troubles making ends meet. Publishers are similarly going to have troubles paying the bills as their margins shrink further and further.

      There's a very real danger of an actual free market. I've been looking to buy an ebook--instead of a hardcover--for the next book in a series I'm reading. Eff HarperCollins. The ebook is listed at $15 on Amazon, right next to Amazon's listing of the _hardcover_ book for $16. How does real-world printing machines, paper, and transportation costs add up to $1? They don't, of course. Someone is artificially controlling ebook prices.

      The more slapdowns like this, the better. The only danger is to obsolete

    • Re:Good for Whom? (Score:4, Informative)

      by boyfaceddog (788041) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:58AM (#41300753) Journal

      I write stories and have a book coming out next year so I have a dog in this one.

      What I have seen and what I have been told by Tor is that ebooks will split the market. You will have a flood of cheaply produced, low-cost titles and you will have a small boutique market of high-end interactive books that cost a fortune and will be updated from year to year.

      Every house wants their boutique titles. In the early 2000s those would have been the Harry Potter series. Tie-ins and marketing galore. That was a publisher's wet-dream. The boutique titles, as seen right now, will be a mixture of interactive magazine, tv show, and music video. Sort of like a subscription to a super-version of your favorite cable channel. Words will make up some of the content but a lot of it will be pictures and music. Like mystery novels? Think what you could do if you had four or five top writers pumping out a dozen titles, all tied together, and with it's own episodic tv show. Science fiction is a no-brainer, as are fantasy and spy 'novels'.

      By the way, we already have all of this, only the stuff is spread out across a dozen studios and publishers. What will happen is a single house making all things. Okay, maybe a little cooperation.

      On the other end of the scale are the books I will be writing. Text edited by a professional and thrown into an ebook template. IF my book sells and IF there is a little interest by Barnes & Nobel and IF I can pull together a tour, Tor *might* do an actual print run - paperback - very limited. Tor said they will help with some local tour dates in the midwest but all travel and hotel costs are mine to cover.

      Nearly everyone can be published now. The downside is there isn't any more money to o around.

      Welcome to the new publishing.

      • On the other end of the scale are the books I will be writing. (...) Nearly everyone can be published now. The downside is there isn't any more money to o around.

        So your point is: "There is a lot of crap, and the good stuff, like my books, won't be noticed. And if they'll be noticed, I will barely earn any money."

        But you act like that's some special case. It's actually normal, don't you see that? People have to work long and hard to get noticed in some markets. I'm a part-time iPhone app developer. What is the chance I'll earn an honest wage for my time? Take a guess. A friend of mine is a musician. Another friend of mine is an actor. I could go on and on.

        I'd like

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      I'm not following your argument. Are you suggesting that the only way book retailers and publishers are staying in business today, because of artificially high prices? How will the publishers lose money? If anything they should gain money. The publishers should still be selling the book to Amazon at the same price as before. BUT now Amazon can sell it at whatever price they want. If Amazon sells it for less, they might sell more and the publishers make more,
      Yes book retailers might be hurt. But they were
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.booksonboard.com/

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:38AM (#41298837)
    From a different article about this story:

    The one place you won't find such discounts, however, is the iBookstore, Apple has opted to fight the Justice Department and go to trial alongside Penguin and MacMillan next year.

    Why am I not surprised? Price fixing and monopolistic bullshit even when they don't actually have a monopoly is Apple's bread and butter.

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      Unfortunately, that also means that the MacMillan (tor) eBook that I want to buy is currently listed as $18.74, half a dollar more than the hardcover.

    • From a different article about this story:

      The one place you won't find such discounts, however, is the iBookstore, Apple has opted to fight the Justice Department and go to trial alongside Penguin and MacMillan next year.

      Why am I not surprised? Price fixing and monopolistic bullshit even when they don't actually have a monopoly is Apple's bread and butter.

      I believe that Amazon selling eBooks for less than they pay publishers to drive out competition is more monopolistic bullshit behavior than not providing discounts.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        I believe that Amazon selling eBooks for less than they pay publishers to drive out competition is more monopolistic bullshit behavior than not providing discounts.

        And that's a problem to be dealt with when it arises. It's not an excuse for Apple to get together with the publishers to collude and force prices up across the industry. Monopolies are bad, so is price fixing and collusion.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        I believe that Amazon selling eBooks for less than they pay publishers to drive out competition is more monopolistic bullshit behavior than not providing discounts.

        Where do you get that Amazon is selling eBooks for less than they pay publishers?

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      And yet one of the links in the summary claims:

      Second Update: A reader pointed me at the iBookstore, where Harpercollins titles are now being discounted.

      And goes on to say that Apple is usually the cheapest

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        The publishers control the prices there, not Apple. And since the Apple contract for iBooks/iTunes/AppStore actually requires that Apple customers receive the cheapest prices at all times, the publishers are contractually obliged to discount their titles below Amazon in this case.

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