Ebooks on Crack Get your ebook fix.

10May/110

Random House UK moves to agency pricing

Images

That’s what The Bookseller is reporting.  In a statement Random House said:

“The Random House Group (RHG) is to make its full UK catalogue of e-books available for the first time on Apple’s iBookstore in the UK. The move is part of our mission to make our authors’ books available to as many readers as possible in whichever format they prefer. RHG titles will be available from today (Tuesday, May 10th). iBookstore is included in the free iBooks app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.”


According to the article, agency pricing is not being extended, at this time, across all retailers and Random House is still “evaluating all our options”.

6May/110

Fraser Speirs on ebook pricing

Fraser Speirs is a software developer (Mac and iPhone) and a teacher.  This is from his blog where you can find further exposition.


Let me make this very clear: I know absolutely nothing about publishing. I don’t know how deals are structured, I don’t know about advances or geographical rights or anything. All I know is that I’m being offered one package of words in, usually, three formats – hardback, paperback and ebook – at three different prices.

In The Design of Everyday Things Donald Norman famously wrote about the disconnect between the user’s mental model of how something works and how it actually works. I think I have this problem with ebooks.

Here’s how I think of it:

 

 

I made these numbers up and I have no idea if the relative proportions of these blocks are correct in any way. In a sense, that’s not the point. What I’m expressing here is how I think about the value proposition when presented with three different ways to read the same book.

The thing that rubs me the wrong way with being asked to pay a premium for an ebook is that, thanks to DRM, a publisher gets to sell a copy that can never ever be resold. I think that enforced reduction to zero of the resale value of a book should be reflected in the purchase price – particularly for higher-end titles such as reference books.

The graph above shows how I think of ebooks and my buying behaviour reflects that. I don’t see ebooks as luxury items. I don’t see how pricing ebooks above hardback prices is defensible when there has been no material to physically construct and ship. I particularly resent that pricing structure when so many ebooks that I purchase have obvious OCR errors or truly awful typography.

5May/110

France faces battle over ebook pricing law

French flag

That’s what The Bookseller is saying this morning:

France is bracing for battle with the European Commission with its parliament on the verge of adopting a bill allowing publishers to fix prices for all e-books sold in France.

The bill, which was approved unanimously by an all-party committee from both houses of parliament on Tuesday, said retailers inside or outside France must respect the fixed prices. Final votes in the Senate tonight (5th May) and the National Assembly on 17th May are seen as formalities. So far, Google and Amazon have said they will comply with the law and Apple is expected to do so too.


The cross-border clause has been the main stumbling block to the bill.

More info in the article.

5May/110

France faces battle over ebook pricing law

French flag

That’s what The Bookseller is saying this morning:

France is bracing for battle with the European Commission with its parliament on the verge of adopting a bill allowing publishers to fix prices for all e-books sold in France.

The bill, which was approved unanimously by an all-party committee from both houses of parliament on Tuesday, said retailers inside or outside France must respect the fixed prices. Final votes in the Senate tonight (5th May) and the National Assembly on 17th May are seen as formalities. So far, Google and Amazon have said they will comply with the law and Apple is expected to do so too.

The cross-border clause has been the main stumbling block to the bill.

More info in the article.

23Apr/110

Algorithmic pricing results in $23 million second-hand textbook

The-Making-of-a-Fly-9780632030484I’ve mentioned a ,200 Kindle e-book before (discounted from a ,800 print book), but here’s some Amazon pricing that has that beat by a long shot.

A few weeks ago, Michael Eisen noticed a very odd pricing pattern in a couple of Amazon resellers of the biology textbook The Making of a Fly. Whereas used copies of the book started around , a couple of resellers offering new copies were asking millions of dollars for it. The price eventually peaked at ,698,655.93 before someone noticed and reset the price back down.

The reason for this had to do with the algorithms the two sellers used to set their prices—based on each other’s prices. One reseller, profnath, was setting its price to about 99% of the highest—while the other, bordeebook, was setting its price to 127% of the next-highest. Every day, each algorithm would kick in off the other’s newly-adjusted price, moving the prices inexorably higher.

At the moment, profnath is the only listed reseller of the book in new condition, with a list price of 6.98—a wee bit high still for a textbook selling used in the -0 range. Bordeebooks has moved over into used, where it holds the high price—though I don’t know whether that’s because it sold its new copy and had a used one in reserve, or because it figured that was the best way to break the algorithmic feedback loop. Still, where one such loop happened, there could be others.

Eisen writes:

What’s fascinating about all this is both the seemingly endless possibilities for both chaos and mischief. It seems impossible that we stumbled onto the only example of this kind of upward pricing spiral – all it took were two sellers adjusting their prices in response to each other by factors whose products were greater than 1. And while it might have been more difficult to deconstruct, one can easily see how even more bizarre things could happen when more than two sellers are in the game. And as soon as it was clear what was going on here, I and the people I talked to about this couldn’t help but start thinking about ways to exploit our ability to predict how others would price their books down to the 5th significant digit – especially when they were clearly not paying careful attention to what their algorithms were doing.

Of course, you won’t see this kind of weird price war with e-books as long as agency pricing remains in effect (and e-books can’t be sold second-hand anyway), but it’s an interesting illustration of how the law of unintended consequences can apply to digital doings.

11Apr/110

‘Lower Kindle 3 pricing with…’ deals being offered… Ads. My thoughts. Update

Amazon's press-release is being distributed by many online newspapers and blogs of course, and at this point I can't say it's that much lower (!) for the ads you will agree to see. I'll show below what the press releases say so you can find out about this sooner than later, and I'm adding a few thoughts here.

  First, they are essentially Kindle display advertisements that are being offered, and for that you spend a bit less for your Kindle.  I wish it were a better deal, but some will want to see special deals on their Kindles, I guess.

"Amazon Introduces New Kindle Family Member: Kindle with Special Offers for 4"

' less for the same #1 bestselling latest-generation Kindle plus special offers and sponsored screensavers '

  What about our own personal screensavers???  Is this why we have not been offered that BASIC feature that other e-readers have ?   Why are personal screensavers not at all encouraged (as an Amazon feature rather than making loyal Kindle users search for workarounds that they have to redo with each software update) to go along with the screensaver (screensleeper) ads?

Special offers in the initial weeks include:
  . for Amazon.com Gift Card,
  . for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, and
  . a 0 Gift Card with a new Amazon Rewards Visa Card

There is more in the larger quote below from the body of the press release.

NOTE: There is no corresponding lower price for the Kindle 3G model that is 9.  I guess they're not encouraging use of the 3G wireless that way so now the difference between the lowest-priced Kindle and the 3G model will be rather than .

"Amazon also introduces "AdMash" - the new free Kindle app and website where customers vote for the most attractive sponsored screensavers. "

  I repeat:  What about our own personal screensavers???  Will those EVER be addressed?  Here's the rest of the press release, although I omit marketing paragraphs that most have seen on all the marketing and product pages

' SEATTLE, Apr 11, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

(NASDAQ:AMZN)-- ... Today, Amazon introduced a new member of the Kindle family - Kindle with Special Offers for only 4.   Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle, plus special offers and sponsored screensavers.

  Kindle special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen.  Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members--4 Kindle with Special Offers, 9 Kindle, and 9 Kindle 3G--at www.amazon.com/kindle.  Kindle with Special Offers is now available for pre-order to customers in the U.S. and will ship on May 3.

"We're working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO.  "Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle - and it's only 4. Kindle is the best deal in consumer electronics anywhere in the world."

  Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Amazon.com Reward Visa Card (Chase) are sponsoring the first series of screensavers specially-designed for Kindle's high-contrast, no glare electronic ink display (for screensaver examples, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers).
  Examples of deals that will be delivered directly to Kindle with Special Offers devices in the initial weeks include:

  * for Amazon.com Gift Card
  * for 6 Audible Books (normally )
  * for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
  * for of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop
  * Free 0 Amazon.com Gift Card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card (normally )
  * Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get Amazon.com credit
  * 50% off Roku Streaming Player (normally )

To make sure customers don't miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time.

  Note that this Kindle with special-deals advertising is a new "device" being marketed for the lower pricing.

' Amazon is also introducing "AdMash" - the free Kindle app and website where customers choose the most attractive and engaging display advertisements that will become Kindle sponsored screensavers.  Kindle's sponsored screensavers are specially-designed display advertisements that take advantage of Kindle's high-contrast, no-glare electronic-ink display.

  Before these advertisements can be presented to Kindle customers, they are first previewed by customers using AdMash.  Users are presented with pairs of sponsored screensaver candidates and asked to select which one they prefer.  Screensavers with the most preferred votes qualify to become sponsored screensavers.  The AdMash Kindle app will launch in the coming weeks - for a preview, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers.

In addition, Kindle with Special Offers customers can give Amazon hints on the style and types of sponsored screensavers they would like to see.

  From the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com, customers can use Kindle Screensaver Preferences to indicate whether they like to see more or less screensavers that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, photography, and illustrations.

  Together, AdMash voting and Kindle Screensaver Preferences help Amazon present sponsored screensavers that customers find attractive and engaging.  For screenshots of Kindle screensavers, AdMash and Kindle Screensaver Preferences, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers.
. . .
"The opportunity to offer custom-designed Kindle screensavers was a natural fit for
Kindle with Special Offers includes all the same features that helped make the third-generation Kindle the #1 bestselling product in the history of Amazon.com:

  * Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display, no glare even in bright sunlight
  * 8.5 ounce body for hours of comfortable reading with one hand
  * Up to one month of battery life with wireless off eliminates battery anxiety
  * Kindle Store with over 900,000 books - largest selection of the most popular books
  * Seamless integration with free "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" Kindle apps for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices.

Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members--
  4 Kindle with Special Offers,
  9 Kindle,
  9 Kindle 3G --
at www.amazon.com/kindle.  Advertisers and agencies interested in learning more about Kindle sponsorship opportunities can contact [email protected] '

I couldn't help adding a bit of editorial stuff in there and omitting a paragraph that actually says that the deal is a good fit for Buick because of the "unique device surrounded by a community of intelligent, passionate people" - Whaaat?  Amazon, yes we are..therefore, that sentence is not ideal, shall we say, in the press release.

I understand you're there to make a profit and not a loss for your shareholders, but I do wish you had not made the lower price only less for the advertising, even if the advertising of deals is something probably many won't mind, I think, and some always want to know about when they're available.  Will it stop there?  With the Buick ads, I would guess no. Then the price should be lower.

I love my Kindle as a quiet refuge away from the advertising that surrounds me. But people will still have the choice of paying the usual 9 while the price remains at that level.

Update - After thinking on it more, I'll add that
  1. at least it is not (at this point) going into our Kindle books, and
  2. some who want a 'magazine' feel might like the ads :-)

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite


Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

11Apr/110

Lower Kindle 3 pricing with Ads. Andrys’ thoughts

Amazon’s press-release is being distributed by many online newspapers and blogs of course, and at this point I can’t say it’s that much lower (!) for the ads you will agree to see. I’ll show below what the press releases say so you can find out about this sooner than later, and I’m adding a few thoughts here.

First, they are essentially Kindle display advertisements that are being offered, and for that you spend a bit less for your Kindle.  I wish it were a better deal, but some will want to see special deals on their Kindles, I guess.

Amazon Introduces New Kindle Family Member: Kindle with Special Offers for 4

‘ less for the same #1 bestselling latest-generation Kindle plus special offers and sponsored screensavers ‘

What about our own personal screensavers???  Is this why we have not been offered that BASIC feature that other e-readers have ?   Why are personal screensavers not at all encouraged (as an Amazon feature rather than making loyal Kindle users search for workarounds that they have to redo with each software update) to go along with the screensaver (screensleeper) ads?

Special offers in the initial weeks include:
. for Amazon.com Gift Card,
. for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, and
. a 0 Gift Card with a new Amazon Rewards Visa Card

There is more in the larger quote below from the body of the press release.

NOTE: There is no corresponding lower price for the Kindle 3G model that is 9.  I guess they’re not encouraging use of the 3G wireless that way so now the difference between the lowest-priced Kindle and the 3G model will be rather than .

“Amazon also introduces “AdMash” – the new free Kindle app and website where customers vote for the most attractive sponsored screensavers. ”

I repeat:  What about our own personal screensavers???  Will those EVER be addressed?  Here’s the rest of the press release, although I omit marketing paragraphs that most have seen on all the marketing and product pages

‘ SEATTLE, Apr 11, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) –

(NASDAQ:AMZN)– … Today, Amazon introduced a new member of the Kindle family – Kindle with Special Offers for only 4.   Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle, plus special offers and sponsored screensavers.

Kindle special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen.  Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members–4 Kindle with Special Offers, 9 Kindle, and 9 Kindle 3G–at www.amazon.com/kindle.  Kindle with Special Offers is now available for pre-order to customers in the U.S. and will ship on May 3.

“We’re working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO.  ”Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle – and it’s only 4. Kindle is the best deal in consumer electronics anywhere in the world.”

Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Amazon.com Reward Visa Card (Chase) are sponsoring the first series of screensavers specially-designed for Kindle’s high-contrast, no glare electronic ink display (for screensaver examples, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers).
Examples of deals that will be delivered directly to Kindle with Special Offers devices in the initial weeks include:

* for Amazon.com Gift Card
* for 6 Audible Books (normally )
* for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
* for of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop
* Free 0 Amazon.com Gift Card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card (normally )
* Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get Amazon.com credit
* 50% off Roku Streaming Player (normally )

To make sure customers don’t miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time.

Note that this Kindle with special-deals advertising is a new “device” being marketed for the lower pricing.

‘ Amazon is also introducing “AdMash” – the free Kindle app and website where customers choose the most attractive and engaging display advertisements that will become Kindle sponsored screensavers.  Kindle’s sponsored screensavers are specially-designed display advertisements that take advantage of Kindle’s high-contrast, no-glare electronic-ink display.

Before these advertisements can be presented to Kindle customers, they are first previewed by customers using AdMash.  Users are presented with pairs of sponsored screensaver candidates and asked to select which one they prefer.  Screensavers with the most preferred votes qualify to become sponsored screensavers.  The AdMash Kindle app will launch in the coming weeks – for a preview, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers.

In addition, Kindle with Special Offers customers can give Amazon hints on the style and types of sponsored screensavers they would like to see.

From the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com, customers can use Kindle Screensaver Preferences to indicate whether they like to see more or less screensavers that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, photography, and illustrations.

Together, AdMash voting and Kindle Screensaver Preferences help Amazon present sponsored screensavers that customers find attractive and engaging.  For screenshots of Kindle screensavers, AdMash and Kindle Screensaver Preferences, visit www.amazon.com/aboutkindlespecialoffers.
. . .
“The opportunity to offer custom-designed Kindle screensavers was a natural fit for
Kindle with Special Offers includes all the same features that helped make the third-generation Kindle the #1 bestselling product in the history of Amazon.com:

* Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display, no glare even in bright sunlight
* 8.5 ounce body for hours of comfortable reading with one hand
* Up to one month of battery life with wireless off eliminates battery anxiety
* Kindle Store with over 900,000 books – largest selection of the most popular books
* Seamless integration with free “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” Kindle apps for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices.

Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members–
4 Kindle with Special Offers,
9 Kindle,
9 Kindle 3G –
at www.amazon.com/kindle.  Advertisers and agencies interested in learning more about Kindle sponsorship opportunities can contact [email protected]

I couldn’t help adding a bit of editorial stuff in there and omitting a paragraph that actually says that the deal is a good fit for Buick because of the “unique device surrounded by a community of intelligent, passionate people” – Whaaat?  Amazon, yes we are..therefore, that sentence is not ideal, shall we say, in the press release.

I understand you’re there to make a profit and not a loss for your shareholders, but I do wish you had not made the lower price only less for the advertising, even if the advertising of deals is something probably many won’t mind, I think, and some always want to know about when they’re available.  Will it stop there?  With the Buick ads, I would guess no. Then the price should be lower.

I love my Kindle as a quiet refuge away from the advertising that surrounds me. But people will still have the choice of paying the usual 9 while the price remains at that level.

Via Andrys Basten’s A Kindle World Blog
2Apr/110

E-books, hardcovers, and pricing: Will publishers ever learn?

The Digital Reader is carrying an article by Eric Landes, a technical writer dabbling in fiction, looking at the question of e-book pricing from an outsider’s perspective. Landes considers the changes that are taking place across the publishing industry, how the industry is responding by pricing its e-books, and how the industry ought to price its e-books.

Landes starts off by noting that the mainstream print publishing world has two major sales factors that account for most of its money—hardcovers and bestsellers. Hardcovers cost little more to manufacture than paperbacks but retail for twice (Landes is being conservative here, he should be saying “up to three to four times”—but on the other hand, I suppose few people pay full retail price for them these days) as much, and being a bestseller make those expensive books sell better.

The profits they make on hardcover bestsellers funds most of publishers’ less-profitable sidelines. But e-books are threatening both the “hardcover” and “bestseller” aspects of that profit channel.

On the “hardcover” side of things, paper book sales are dwindling, while e-book sales are going through the roof. After Amazon started discounting e-books to .99 as loss leaders, publishers instituted agency pricing so that they could dictate higher prices.

What the big-6 seem to be doing as a result is pricing ebooks in a way that attempts to protect hardcover revenues. While this has the initial appearance of pricing ebooks fairly (hardcover retail price is , ebook is ) the effect on the street is to make the hardcover and ebook price nearly equal. This produces a disconnect with customers. (“Hold it, you have to pay real money to print the hardcover, and digital is produced for free, why do they cost the same?”) Many people will buy the hardcover in this case, but many won’t buy either. They want the digital, but at a cost they deem fair. Nearly equal to print in their eyes doesn’t equate to fair. There’s also cases where publishers have not dropped ebook prices after the paperback comes out, making the ebook significantly more expensive than paper.

And “bestsellers” are under siege by the vast number of under- (and in many cases under-) self-published titles that are crowding out the more-expensive pro-published books. Publishers are starting to panic because they can’t afford to keep up (or, rather, keep down) with self-publishing authors who can keep a lot more per sale than traditionally-published authors so don’t feel they have to price as high.

Landes thinks that revenue rather than units sold might be a better yardstick for judging success of a book—since marginal costs for digital media are essentially nil, the publisher is free to price the book at a level that will maximize overall revenue—and past evidence tends to suggest that pricing between and maximizes revenue for an e-book. The problem is that publishers still make more money per sale on even a hardcover, and see cheap e-books as cannibalizing hardcover sales rather than as generating more digital sales and hence more revenue.

And THAT is why publishers are freaking out. They see that revenue difference, and price the ebook higher – - or so. They can then net the same revenue in the ebook (.80 – .80) that they get from the hardcover. They’re pricing the ebook to fit their existing, per-unit revenue model instead of fixing their model to fit a market with a rapidly increasing digital component. You know – the ONLY part of their business that’s growing…

The problem, of course, is that most of those ebooks aren’t making bestseller lists because they’re priced too high. They see books on the bestseller lists, plug the numbers into their unit-based revenue model, and collapse from heart failure.

Landes suggests that publishers should bite the bullet and bring their e-book prices down to maximize their revenue. It might hurt their print sales quantities, but the print market is shrinking anyway—whereas e-books are growing. Cheaper e-book sales could not only sell more e-books, but could help the overall market for e-books grow faster, meaning even more e-books would sell eventually.

He points to Baen as an example of doing exactly the kinds of things he recommends—selling DRM-free e-books for each (or cheaper if you buy them in a bundle). And yet, every time he sees Baen brought up in discussions as an example, other publishers say, “That model may work for Baen, but it won’t work for us.” Yet none of them seem to be trying very hard to make it work.

I find Landes’s post to be quite insightful, though that could just be because I agree with it. Either way, the more the e-book market grows and the print market shrinks in spite of publisher pricing, the more pressure publishers will be under to give up pricing to protect the hardcover market and price to maximize revenue from e-books instead. Sooner or later, it will have to happen if publishers want to stay in business.

26Mar/110

Apple iPad 2 pricing announced|Lastest Ipad News]

Apple iPad 2 pricing announced
Apple Australia has announced that pricing for the Apple iPad 2 will start from AU9 when it goes on sale at 5pm this Friday, 25 March.
Read more on cnet.com.au

25Mar/110

The French move toward net pricing deal for ebooks

Frederic Mitterrand

We’ve written before about how some European countries benefit from what’s generally known as a “net pricing” deal — that is, a rule that prohibits significant discounting of book prices, so that retailers share a level playing field. In France and Germany, for example, net pricing has resulted in little stores having a higher survival rate, making for a greater variety of bookstores, which in turn supports a greater variety of publishers and writers, which in turn makes for a healthier book culture.

Now, a report by Nicolas Gary on the French website Actualitte.com notes that the French government is considering similar net pricing rules on ebooks sold in the country. But Gary also reports that the French minister of culture, Frederic Mitterrand, is trying to impose the net pricing rule on booksellers from outside the country who are trying to sell ebooks in France: Amazon, Google, and Apple.

What’s next — making them collect sales tax? Bon chance, mes amis.

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