- Posted by Johanna on January 30, 2010 at 7:56 am
- Category: Graphic Novel News
Due to a dispute over ebook pricing, Amazon.com has stopped selling all books from the publisher Macmillan from its site. However, Macmillan’s titles are still available from independent, third-party sellers.
Macmillan thinks ebooks should be priced closer to $15 than the current price point of $9.99. (Many potential customers, on the other hand, think $10 is still too high for a transaction with no physical object exchanged.) This is an opinion shared by other publishers, but as of now, Macmillan is the only one removed from Amazon, who is “expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books.” Details are not known, since both companies refused to comment. Ironically, this is the title being promoted on Macmillan’s home page right now, a book that states, “prices are a collective hallucination.”
Macmillan’s imprints include First Second Books, publisher of such titles as Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, Vampire Loves, The Color of Earth, The Professor’s Daughter, and many others, including The Photographer, Prince of Persia, and American Born Chinese.
Other Macmillan graphic novels come from the manga publisher Seven Seas and Hill & Wang, which releases graphic histories and biographies, including J. Edgar Hoover (by Rick Geary) and The 9/11 Report.
This dispute illustrates the danger of having such a powerful online bookstore as your enemy, especially one that wants to keep its Kindle successful in the face of new competition. On the other side, I’m guessing that publishers see what happened to the recording industry when they let Apple’s iTunes set a price point and want to avoid being trapped into the $9.99 value they see as much too low.
Update: Lots of discussion around the net on this:
- Author John Scalzi (published by Tor, a Macmillan imprint) advocates free-market pricing and says he doesn’t want a Kindle due to Amazon’s behavior and its use of DRM. The comments cover lots of aspects of pricing from various perspectives and pluses and minuses of ebooks.
- Some posters at the Amazon Kindle forum want to boycot the publisher for trying to raise prices.
- Dear Author points out that driving customers to the secondary market, as Amazon has done, means no money for the publisher or author, while the retailer still gets their cut. The site also sums up Macmillan’s negative history with ebooks overall.
Update: The NY Times has updated its story to include this information about the proposed deal:
Macmillan offered Amazon the opportunity to buy Kindle editions on the same â€œagencyâ€ model as it will sell e-books to Apple for the iPad. Under this model, the publisher sets the consumer book price and takes 70 percent of each sale, leaving 30 percent to the retailer. Macmillan said Amazon could continue to buy e-books under its current wholesale model, paying the publisher 50 percent of the hardcover list price while pricing the e-book at any level Amazon chooses, but that Macmillan would delay those e-book editions by seven months after hardcover release.
Commenters have pointed out that Amazon may be damaging itself by removing Macmillan books, since they can no longer be considered the world’s most complete bookstore.
Update: (1/31/10) Here’s why you don’t pick fights with the literate. How’s this for a call to arms with plenty of classic allusions?
Last Update: Amazon gives in. I don’t see the pulled books back on the store, yet. Maybe tomorrow. Part of their statement says: “Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan.”