May You Live in Interesting Times…. by Nancy Brophy

“I feel the earth move under my feet.”

Shakeups are coming in the publishing world.

The Department of Justice and fifteen states sued Apple, Inc, and major book publishers for a conspiracy to raise the price of electronic books. The move was aimed to eliminate competition, specifically Amazon. Some of the publishers have already reached agreements and offered a rebate. Although how that rebate is accomplished no one is sure.

In related news, two of the big six have refused to sign new agreements with Amazon who they contend has exorbitantly increased pricing in co-op promotional fees. Because of the DoJ lawsuit, the publishers are being very careful not to appear to be operating as a unit. It is unclear whether the remaining four of the big six are refusing or are at different stages of the negotiating process.

 “I feel my heart start to tremblin’ whenever you’re around”

In terms of publishing numbers the big six look like it could be adding a seventh member to the group. Entangled Publishing is an on-line publisher who has rocketed to the top by offering a different business model including a better cut for authors, beautiful covers and wide distribution.

Liz Pelletier, founder of Entangled Publishing was in Portland a few weeks ago, talking about publishing costs. I was blown away when she mentioned that the window that pops up on Amazon and offers you the opportunity to buy another book by the same author as a package deal costs the publisher $1800 per day. As self published author do they sell half-day units? Cause that’s what I can afford.

And finally, Google is reportedly ending its program that allows independent bookseller to sell e-books through their websites, a big blow to small independent booksellers.

I feel the sky tumblin’ down, a tumblin’ down, a tumblin’ down, a tumblin’ down, a tumblin’ down, tumblin’ down

When all the dust all settles, what differences will have occurred? How will it have affected your livelihood?

Today the NY times ran a article that stated. “Amazon announced plans to push down prices on e-books. The price of some major titles could fall to $9.99 or less from $14.99, saving voracious readers a bundle.But publishers and booksellers argue that any victory for consumers will be short-lived, and that the ultimate effect of the antitrust suit will be to exchange a perceived monopoly for a real one. Amazon, already the dominant force in the industry, will hold all the cards.”

Will we think of the golden age of book publishing as pre-Amazon?

Special thanks to Carole King for setting my words to music.


Posted on April 13, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Even though I have a Kindle, I think about boycotting Amazon. I hate bullies and this feels/sounds like bullying. I could be wrong but oh well. Amazon’s entire mission is to make money for themselves, so why is it that they’re trying to keep authors from the same dream?


  2. I know I’d like to see prices become more realistic – both on the indie and publishing side. I have paid $9.99 once or twice for an ebook and I cringe each time. But that still beats the hardcover or trade paperback size. And for those free or .99 books? I’ve picked up a fair share. Now ask me how many have I read? I suspect that’s the case of more than a few readers. These cheap books are like the great deal on a shirt that sits in your closest for years until you finally clean it out. The value is less. And it’s a shame ’cause while people are buying up these cheap books, those in the $2.99 to $4.99 range are languishing and a lot of those are worth reading. I think the low price points are great tools to run for specials but all the time? I just think it weakens the industry to have the market so flooded with these. I’ve been watching and will continue to watch how this plays out.


  3. Great post, Nancy, and so germaine.

    Maggie, you bring up a very good point. What is going to be the best price point…$.99 (which some authors say can spur sales?…$2.99? …$4.99? It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.


  4. Nicely done, Maggie. i agree with you 100%. You summed it up in a way everybody could easily understand the consequences. Thanks.


  5. I think no one really knows what will happen with the DOJ suit. The three publishers who have settled are the smart ones (whether they really colluded or not) because they can move on. The two who are still fighting it I think are crazy. Even if they are innocent. Why, because they will have lawyers in their virtual publishing bedrooms for years. Yes, years.
    That’s how long it will take for this to settle. Remember Microsoft? 15 years of fighting and the finally won. Fifteen years and their stock is worth 1/4 what it used to be. Fifteen years of bad publicity and 15 years of lawyers watching every accounting transaction and signed agreement. Definitely scary!

    What does it mean to indies? I think the immediate meaning is that we can stop selling our books at bargain basement prices. Rick Dickenson posted in his blog: ““For those who might still fear the suggestion of raising their e-book novel prices above $2.99, or $3.99, or $4.99, think about what the general public will be hearing as this issue spins in the press for the next few weeks….Will your e-books priced at $6.99 or $7.99 (and even, gasp, $8.99) really be considered too expensive when the press spins a price of $9.99 as selling a book at a loss?”

    There will definitely be downward pressure on ebook pricing. Personally, I never understood why a publisher would price an ebook release higher than a paperback book (except for shear fear that more ebooks will be sold than paperback). It doesn’t cost as much to produce and those who did that missed in the market IMO. If the public thinks $9.99 is a deal, then selling an indie full length novel at $1.99 or, gasp! 99 cents is ridiculous. That’s like putting a box of books in front of your house and saying “free.”

    It will be interesting to see what happens over the next three to five years. But I’m not holding my breath for this to be resolved soon. Penguin and Macmillan, I understand that you are standing on principle. I’ve done it myself. When it comes to civil lawsuits though, I’m not sure it pays. Nobody wins but the lawyers.


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