Amazon sent me a letter

And everyone who publishes via Kindle Direct got the same one, I’m sure. The letter asked me to write to Hatchette and plead Amazon’s case. If ebooks are priced lower, they say, they will sell more of them, and everyone makes more money, right?

Um . . .

It doesn’t work quite that way. There have been several responses to this all over the Web, but John Scalzi said it best in his blog last month:


 

Amazon’s math of “you will sell 1.74 times as many books at $9.99 than at $14.99″ is also suspect, because it appears to come with the ground assumption that books are interchangable units of entertainment, each equally as salable as the next, and that pricing is the only thing consumers react to. They’re not, and it’s not. Someone who wants the latest John Ringo novel on the day of release will not likely find the latest Jodi Picoult book a satisfactory replacement, or vice versa; likewise, someone who wants a eBook now may be perfectly happy to pay $14.99 to get it now, in which case the publisher and author should be able to charge what the market will bear, and adjust the prices down (or up! But most likely down) [emphasis mine KK] as demand moves about.


 

So I find myself seriously thinking of delaying publishing to Amazon until this whole Hatchette mess is resolved.  Not that Amazon is going to miss my small contribution to their bottom line, but as a reader. There are fine authors such as Lilith Saintcrow and Gail Carriger with new books I can’t pre-order while this mess continues.

I make more sales via Amazon, but I actually make a higher royalty at Smashwords. You can get .mobi format at Smashwords, so I’m considering publishing there and then publishing to Amazon when they get their shit together.

This is not a decision to be made lightly. Definitely not a decision to make when I’ve had maybe two hours of sleep.

I think I shall make like Zofia and have a cup of coffee

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1 Comment

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One response to “Amazon sent me a letter

  1. This is very simple for me:

    Who do I believe has more reliable data, Amazon which has vast reams of sales data on multiple A/B pricing plans, literally billions of exchanges, and nearly a decade of selling things to people who want them? Who makes more money from more sales and don’t care who it is or who represents them, only that I as a consumer buy more things I ultimately like and tell other people who like the things I do about?

    Or a fist full of successful writers and a publishing house, who don’t care about what I want at all, really, only that they have the power to set their own price as a hurdle to getting more writers who write about more things into the marketplace?

    Scalzi is right, insofar as Amazon should charge what the market will bear — but he’s an idiot because he has no sense of scale and Amazon is telling him straight out what the market will bear. Sure, some of the market will pay some arbitrarily stupid high price for any given book. But pricing that way is stupid, a fool’s game, because it cannibalizes the rest of the possible sales.

    Who profits from higher ebook sales? Hatchette, not to put too fine a point on it. The authors don’t, because they burn their sales numbers with the vanity of higher prices. Maybe they feel more valued by putting the price-point of their books higher. It reads a lot like a proxy dick-size war. Amazon makes more dosh from selling more books, which serves everyone. They have a vested and clear interest on maximizing their profits and, thus, maximizing those of a writer. Hatchette, frankly, doesn’t to anywhere near the same degree.

    Ultimately, Amazon will win this one and not just because they’re right and have the numbers to back it up. They’ll win because they control access to what Hatchette wants — people who’ll buy the books. They have, frankly, all the leverage. What, the big writers that get the biggest money at Amazon will decide to pass on Amazon sales? Never happen. Ego cracks as the wallet aches. This is an ego fight.

    If you make more money via Smashwords, but get more sales at Amazon, and you have the ability to sell on both, what kind of grade-A math-ass illiterate would you have to be to not sell on both and take your money all day long from wherever it comes? Do you not like money? Is eating and sleeping indoors no longer on your priority list?

    In the end, Hatchette and their publishing model are going to vape or mutate, just as when pulp, cheap, fast publication happened. If you’re not already pulling their wagon, why do you care? As a consumer, your interest, long-term, is firmly not on their wagon. You read books, you should know.

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