After reading some of the comments over on that ars technica article I linked to a day or so ago, a little lightbulb went blink! repeatedly, metaphorically speaking. Here's part of the comment:
[quote begins here] the primary factor in deciding to ditch deal after deal and opportunity after digital opportunity, was that exact threat from CD retailers.
But let's use your Harry Potter counterfactual to slam this home.
Imagine it's just before the release of the 4th Harry Potter (the one that started the whole "pre-order/lineup at bookstores" phase). Now imagine the publisher has just inked an online store deal, where they are undercutting the "preorder price" for hardback. Let's further imagine that two large booksellers -- preorders and all -- decide to ship every last copy they've been preshipped back to the publisher to make a point.
Are you seriously saying both: that 1) retailers wouldn't use exactly such a book to make a point; and 2) the publisher wouldn't have caved in if even the threat of that threat had been made? Are you even wondering any more why there were no digital distribs of Harry?!
Like I said: while the primary channel remains buying books in a shop, the primary reason for no good digital distribution will be those retailer concerns. [quote ends here]
Er. Hmm. The argument is sound, but the premise is stinky. At this point, the primary channel for buying books _is_ Amazon. Which, now that someone puts it the way this guy did, helps explain just why so damn many publishers who would like to charge godawful amounts for ebooks are shockingly unable to do so on the kindle, even in those initial days when the hardback is fresh (and, I might add, heavily discounted, but who's counting?), seem unable to do so. I had been a little confused about this -- I kept thinking, hey, you don't want to sell on the kindle, Just Say No.
But I have no idea just what Amazon is threatening the publishers with if they don't play along. Sort of an interesting idea, actually. I'm guessing there aren't a lot of threats, other than the observation that people are buying the kindle and reading on it, in great hordes, and wouldn't you rather have them paying for and reading _your_ book, rather than someone else's?
ETA: R. notes that it is also more desirable to get some money for something, than to have everyone pirating it and get nothing. That might explain the undesirability of listing for full list with no DRM and not selling for less than list over on the kindle with DRM. *shrug* Or even without DRM, should such a heavenly day come to pass.
The rest of the comment I quoted above is _really funny_ because the guy seems to think that out of print books might conceivably have a substantial audience. *snicker*
ETAYA: From a different comment on the same article:
"I don't read more than a couple books at a time for pleasure."
I had previously been formulating the natural market for the kindle based on how many books a year a reader goes through. This may not be the only relevant metric. In much the same way that the vast majority of readers are quite shocked to discover that some of us are reading triple digits every single year, I'm betting the vast majority of readers would agree with the above sentence. And would strongly suggest there's a problem that I usually have a dozen or so books going at the same time. Eeeep! (I _admit_ to a dozen or so. That's actually still being in denial.)
ETA one more time and then I'm going to bed:
Another comment, same article:
"I read a lot - 6 or 7 books a month if my other responsibilities permit. Even at $10 apiece, I'd still go broke if I were to buy these books."
It is to laugh. _Not_ _the_ _market_. Dude, you don't read a lot. You read some. And as for your go-broke-on $840/year worth of books? Again, _not_ _the_ _market_. Until the bust made it oh-so-fashionable to talk about how frugal we have all become, a whole lot of people had latte habits on the order of your go-broke-buying-your-reading non-habit. Kudos for prioritizing your spending, tho.