Fight’s Over — But who Really Won?

Amazon gives in to Macmillan

Macmillan has a monopoly on their books.

Of course they do. Surely Amazon wasn’t naive enough to think otherwise? Only St. Martin’s Press publishes Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter Series. If you want to read this series, you can only get the stories from a book that says St. Martin’s Press on the spine. Or a digital file provided by SMP.

I refuse to believe Amazon wasn’t fully aware of that fundamental fact about the publishing business.

So, is there a winner? It would seem to be Macmillan, since they got what they wanted — a higher price for their eBooks. And Macmillan authors get their Amazon buy button back. That’s good.

But is Macmillan really the winner? I’m thinking, maybe not.

Macmillan won an important right — to set the price where they THINK it should be. They’ve also established a different model for selling eBooks: the agency model, in which Amazon gets 30% of the price set and the publisher gets the rest. Previously, Amazon kept well over 50% of the price. I’ve heard as high as 70%.

On the one had, I admit to being a wee bit relieved that Amazon is no longer going to set digital prices since they’ve been doing that in a way that can only hurt publishers and the current Amazon price structure for the self-published is a disgrace and insult to a working writer.

But now I’m worried that publishers will set digital prices in a way that’s calculated to hurt the digital customer whom they seem to think of as a threat.

Macmillan and other publishers who follow suit — I think that’s inevitable, by the way — will soon learn what consumers think is a fair price for what they’re getting for their eBook purchases. It’s not a bad lesson to learn.

I’m afraid publishers will set eBook prices at levels intended to protect their paper versions. There’s no reason to think they won’t. That’s been what they’ve done at the other eBook sellers such as FictionWise and the like. This can only make the piracy problem worse since the potential legal buyers of eBooks will know they’re being ripped off.

It just makes me kind of sad to think about a new market being deliberately hindered.

With luck, I’ll be proven wrong. I hope so.


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