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Monday
Feb012010

The eBook Wars Rage On; Amazon Loses One Battle

This is why it is important to stay abreast of the shifts in technology, especially as it advances, and especially as it concerns you and your publishing company. Over the weekend, something happened at Amazon, and come Monday morning, the eBook game has changed a bit. Turns out that things got a bit heated between a major European publisher and the world famous online retailer when Macmillan’s CEO decided to take a meeting with Amazon’s head over eBook pricing. Following the talks, Amazon pulled all of Macmillan’s titles from their online storefront, leaving only third-party vendors among those peddling the publisher’s wares on the Amazon.com site. By Sunday morning, however, Amazon had to concede, though with a few heated words that painted their regret and disagreement with publishers who wished to hike up the price on bestselling eBooks.

All this came on the heels of Apple’s official unveiling of the iPad, a said to be revolutionary tablet that will fill the space between smartphones and laptops. While not even on the market as yet, the iPad is already shaking things up in the publishing industry, as four of the five big publishers are already signed on with Apple, who promises to list many of their books no lower than $13.99, unlike Amazon’s bargain basement prices. Small publishers are already feeling the pressure, being caught up in the digital distribution war. Many independently published books saw their sales slow to a crawl over the weekend, and now you know why. Potential eBook buyers are eyeing the ongoing war with keen interest, and while some claim they are fully invested in Amazon come what may, seeing they’ve already purchased Kindles, many are poised to jump ship to Apple, while still others are waiting to see what rival companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Google will offer in the near future. This is like watching the Beta vs. VHS and HD DVD vs. Blu-ray on steroids, but with many more players involved. It’s World War III folks.

That said, my advice is to go with the flow. Follow the current trend if you want to stay alive in this business. If Amazon Kindle dies the death tomorrow and Apple rears its ugly head as the victor, who cares, just jump ship along with all the big publishes. If the Titanic is sinking, simply follow the rats and you’ll probably find safe haven. But don’t jump ship until the lifeboats are thrown down. That’s to say, don’t pull your books from Amazon or ignore their pricing structure and rules until they cease to be relevant, if in fact they ever do. In short: follow the current trend. Be fickle. Your publishing company depends upon this.

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