August 6th, 2010

More epublike blogs

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2010/08/06/is-amazon-a-robber-baron-id-say-no/

"And the other detail everyone seems to have forgotten is that ebook prices have a natural upper limit: the price of a paper book. Ebooks aren’t being sold in a vacuum; they are just one segment of the market. If one f0rm costs to much more people will get the their books another way."

This is less true than you might think. Certainly, the market for full list plus ebooks was limited, witness Sony Reader failing to get going or for that matter Rocket ebooks. However once the market has taken hold, there is reason to think that small differences in price in either direction between paper and ebooks become less important. You can already find top sellers on kindle where people are paying more for the ebook than for the brand new discounted trade paper simultaneously available. Once a format commitment is made, it may be easier to substitute titles than editions. Pricing for the same edition is where the competitive pressure occurs. That is, when I decide to buy a trash series novel, I might decide who to buy an ebook from based on price, but I won't decide to buy it in paper no matter the price.

This gets weird with backlist, where a like new hardcover might be available for a penny plus shipping used but cost ten dollars on the kindle.

ETA: The post in particular and the blog in general seems to be really excellent.

Amazon and giving kindle books

This is something that has been bugging me and some of my friends for a couple gift giving cycles now, but lately it has been getting more visibility. Joe Wilkert at:

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2010/08/02/maybe-amazon-just-doesnt-want-us-to-gift-kindle-books/

Has, unfortunately, little of interest to add. And some of what he is saying indicates that people are not doing stellar analysis of how much amazon is making on kindle books.

"Someone receiving a gift card might buy something other than a Kindle book with it.  Don’t forget that Amazon loses money when it sells many of those Kindle editions.  From a profitability point of view, Amazon is much happier selling you the print edition of that book than the Kindle edition."

The source on the losing money assertion is himself over on his own blog. Not cool. Also ignores the Prime shipping issue with heavy buyers. But it does not matter. If you look at what amazon is charging for kindle books available as trade paperbacks, it is impossible to miss just how much they must be making even on sub $9.99 ebooks. Also the agency model effect.

I know how to write code. I really do. And honestly, there are a few hairy little issues associated with gift ebooks. They can be resolved but it is probably not a priority until this Xmas at the earliest.

dorchester moving to ebook/print on demand

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/44085-dorchester-drops-mass-market-publishing-for-e-book-pod-model.html

Dorchester is, IIRC, a paperback only house that does a bunch of genre fiction. The print on demand stuff will be listed with Ingram (which makes sense). Apparently, 2009 was bad for them, and 2010 wasn't any better. Ebooks were growing, but still a small component, so there were layoffs, too. Not being able to get shelf space was listed as a factor as well.

I've bought Dorchester stuff before, which I noticed when I was analyzing the last year or so worth of book purchases by imprint.

This is a little weird. It's like things like Ellora's Cave (started e-only, now does some print) and things like Dorchester (started print-only, then did some ebooks, and now is right where EC is). The model has some interesting attributes: fewer employees (you don't need anyone to get your books out on shelves), lower returns, more predictable revenue. But overall sales will drop in the transition, and may or may not ever recover to the previous level. I had not expected to see any paper house do the transition this quickly.