Thursday, January 21, 2010
E-book Wars X 3
Being a writer ain't ever easy. Sometimes it's downright chaotic.
1. Amazon.com just announced it will change how it pays publishers for its e-books. Beginning June 30 of this year Amazon will pay publishing houses (or self-pubbed authors) 70% of the Kindle list price for books sold in the U.S., minus electronic delivery costs (which purportedly equal a mere six cents). As an example, Amazon said, a Kindle edition selling for $8.99 will begin paying publishers/authors $6.25 per book instead of the current rate, which would equal $3.15.
Not surprisingly, there are quid pro quos: (1) The Kindle edition must cost between $2.99 and $9.99. (2) This list price must be at least 20 percent less than the printed version.
Bottom line for publishers: More cut of each sale. Now, what percentage of that 70% the house will give its authors--aye, there's the rub.
Bottom line for readers: Keeps Kindle version costs down.
2. There's out-and-out war going on over the recently released political nonfiction Game Change. At the writing of this post the book had garnered 163 one-star reviews (out of 243 reviews in total), many of them merely to expression dissatisfaction over the lack of it being available on Kindle. Highly unfair for the book, of course--that people who haven't even read it would skew the review ratings just to express their anger at the publisher. And many reviewers are fighting back. There are quite a few discussions going on (linked from the book page), urging Amazon to delete the no-Kindle reviews.
This battle shows the disconnect between how avid Kindle users and publishers view Kindle versions. The former (Kinavidles, if you will) have moved totally to e-book format. Ergo, if it isn't available on Kindle, it doesn't exist. Meanwhile publishers are viewing the e-books as an alternate--and cheaper--form of the original hardback, much as they view paperbacks. It's long been standard that the hardback version of a title is released, then the paperback months later. This gives publishers a chance to first reap the revenues from the more expensive version. Readers who want cheaper books have been trained to wait for the paperbacks. But this is a new age. The Kinavidles won't wait, they say. By the time the Kindle version of Game Change comes out, they'll have moved on.
Bottom line: Who knows how this one will shake out. I would have suggested a compromise: publishers issue an immediate Kindle version but at a higher price than the standard $9.99, so they can recoup at least some of the money skimmed off from hardbacks. But--reference #1. After June 30 the pubs can't charge any more than $9.99 on Amazon if they want that 70% cut.
3. Meanwhile Apple is stepping into the e-book industry. Rumor is that their planned January 27th announcement will be about their new Tablet, a multi-media gizmo that can contain e-books, video, and all manner of way cool things. Word also abounds that Apple will be offering publishers a 70% cut of their e-book sales. (Sound familiar, anyone?)
Bottom line for readers: Another, even snazzier way to devour books.
Bottom line for authors: Heck, we're still trying to figure out how our royalties work in all this.