Amazon.com has recently decided to pull Macmillan books from their online store due to a spat over ebooks pricing. Essentially Macmillan wants ebooks prices to be more flexible, ranging from $15 to $5 depending on the title and age of the book.
This makes a lot of sense for a publisher, they want prices to float in line with most other real world goods.
So publishers, looking at supply and demand, think that there’s low enough demand that they can up the prices a bit and overall, in that first while, make a little more. There are enough people who are excited about an author no matter what the cost, that they’ll make more. This way they’re covering the cost of the guy who makes sure the books get converted into nice eBook versions. And over time, they’ll drop the price.
Amazon certainly has the right as a business to choose to not sell books from a publisher, and the publisher also has the right to not offer their books to Amazon to be sold. Unfortunately this is a part of the battle where publishers don’t have a lot of sway with consumers. My loyalty is with Amazon, I buy most everything online through Amazon, which is most of my shopping outside of food. I don’t know who or what publishes my books, all that I know for sure is that I like Amazon and they make me happy. Whenever I read up of a new gizmo, book, movie, basically anything that I want it goes on my Amazon Wishlist, I have over 1,300 items on there most to set to be purchased directly through Amazon.
Recently, it has come to my attention that some of you are having a bit of a spat with Amazon, centering over release schedules, pricing issues, and, above all, control. This sent me walking over to my book shelf to check whether those of you who are having the spat with Amazon actually publish authors I read. The fact that I didn’t know this off the top of my head, and that this is the first time I’ve thought about individual publishing companies in my entire life, should be a preview of coming attractions for you as regards to which company I am backing in this fight.
That all being said there are things that Amazon does with their ebooks I’m not happy with, DRM being the largest of these. However you know what I have done, I’ve spent several hours going through and changing all my books in my Amazon Wishlist to Kindle ebooks. I love the idea of an ebook, the ability to own a book forever, never to worry about it being destroyed due to a flood or over reading. I’ve literally destroyed books that keep getting read over and over. While I may not today purchase as many books as I used to due to being in college, I love reading and I love books.
The publishers are going to try a new tactic, join forces with Apple and the iPad and hope that Apple creates an second wind for publishers much like the record industry. In a sense Amazon is viewed as the peer-to-peer networks and Bittorent of this battle with publishers, I guess? This idea doesn’t even make a lot of sense, because Amazon unlike the peer-to-peer networks is a legal business, they simply aren’t in the eyes of the publishing industry charging enough for their products.
Apple does have a few things going for itself, it probably has just as much customer loyalty as Amazon does, it has a huge customer base already using the iPhone and iPod, it does have a lot of music sold but it isn’t the WalMart of the online world, Amazon is. When you need to buy anything other than music, you are probably looking at Amazon or a store selling items through Amazon. Personally, I also buy my music through Amazon as I get in MP3 format as opposed to AAC, however I’m not most consumers.
Okay, so let’s try to sum this up, Amazon is an awesome company, Apple also an awesome company, both have loyalty, publishers don’t. The iPad and the ability to buy books via Apple is not out today and won’t be for 2 months. Amazon is easily outclassed in terms of hardware design, but can you read your Apple purchased books on your iPhone, laptop, etc? Thus far I haven’t heard anything about that and that is an important point. One of the benefits to the Kindle App on the iPhone is that I don’t have to own a Kindle to read the book and it makes it really easy when walking or traveling to pull it out and read a few pages. I would assume you would be able to, but who knows Apple might be crazy and not let you read your books on your laptop or iPhone. That all being said, I would think Amazon would love the iPad, it’s far superior hardware design will make it an awesome ebook reader. Amazon shouldn’t really be in the business of selling hardware.
As for Amazon, they might wind up delighted with this thing. Apple’s in the business of selling devices first, content second. I think Amazon is in the content business first, the device business second. A world where Kindle hardware sales pale in comparison to the iPad but where there’s a very popular Kindle app for iPad that competes against iBooks is not a bad situation for Amazon. Apple is only selling e-books for use on their own devices; Amazon is willing to sell e-books anywhere they can.
Amazon give into publishers and float your prices, consumers will pay for it as long as the value is still perceived to be there, you don’t want even a chance that you lose out to Apple. While you are at it, try moving to ePub as opposed to your own goofy format, open standards matter to consumers like me and the real goal of ebooks is the ease of holding onto a book and moving it from device to device, much like MP3 does for music. Also stop screwing over consumers by denying them to purchase content from you, that just pisses people off including me.
But Amazon, in declaring war on Macmillan in this underhand way, have screwed me, and I tend to take that personally, because they didn’t need to do that.
Apple keep doing what you are doing, and don’t you dare try to deny Amazon from publishing an awesome iPad Kindle App.
Publishers we don’t know who you are and we don’t care, we just want to buy books, give it up the ship of being loyal to a content producer died a long time ago. Also ebook prices should always stay under the physical copy prices. Essentially learn from what happened with the record industry.
Right after I posted this Amazon came out and said they are giving in and will sell the books again and float ebook prices.