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.

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Monday
Jan252010

Maximizing Your Amazon Kindle Sales

After reading the two recent blog posts that refer to the ongoing digital eBook wars between Amazon and its emerging enemies, a client recently requested a little more info on the Kindle process, and some of the info I dispensed resulted in the following:

To recap, Amazon currently offers authors and publishers 35% in royalties from sales of digital downloads per book. They keep a whopping 65%. Due to the release of a new Apple tablet (supposedly due in March) Amazon is planning to revise the royalty scheme come June of this year, to compete with what Apple is currently offering in royalties, that being 70% to authors and publishers. But Amazon will match this only if your book qualifies by being priced between $2.99 and $9.99 in June, when the new scheme takes effect. The book must also list at a price that is 20% less than the print version, and the price listed for the digital version must match the list price of the same book while it’s listed on competing eBook retailers’ sites.

My advice to this client was to list the digital version of his book at a greater discount than the 20% threshold proposed by Amazon. The reason for this, based on experiments conducted by big and small publishers alike, is that potential customers are flocking to cheaper priced books in droves. New Kindle book titles listing on Amazon top off at $9.99 on average, while the hardcover versions are still being offloaded at brick-n-mortar stores with retail prices well above $20.00. Sales of hardcover books are dipping as a result. Amazon Kindle book downloads topped sales of print version books this past holiday, and the Kindle itself was their top selling product. There is a major shift coming in the book industry, and self-published authors and publishers would be wise to adapt and adopt now as opposed to later.

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Wednesday
Jan202010

Apple Also Throws a Monkey Wrench into Amazon's eBook Plans

Well, directly on the heels of my recent blog post, news comes out that Amazon has in fact planned to unveil a new program that will give authors and publishers the lion’s share of profit from sales of Kindle books beginning June 30, 2010. A whopping 70% will be reaped by qualifying books from publishers. The new program is said to be in addition to the old DTP royalty scheme, and will not likely replace it. In order for a book to qualify for the program, Amazon says that the list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99, in addition to being at least 20% below the list price of the physical book.

A report in The Wall Street Journal says that, in addition to the conditions highlighted above, the book must also “be made available for sale in all geographies in which the author or publisher has rights; the title will be included in a set of Kindle features, such as text-to-speech; and books must be 'offered at or below price parity with competition, including physical book prices.' "

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Wednesday
Jan202010

Will Google Editions Threaten Amazon Kindle's Dominance?

So, we’re really excited about the launch of Google Editions, which is set for some time during the first half of this year (extremely vague, I know). What has a lot of authors excited is the fact that they will be offering a 63% royalty to authors and publishers, thereby keeping 37% if books are sold via the Google Books database, but you'll only see 45% for sales from third-party retailers, because they have to offer the standard 55% wholesale discount to them automatically. That is how the eBook market works. But at least you as the publisher will no longer have to worry about print costs, so whatever you price the book at, 45% of the retail price is yours, if the book is sold by vendors other than Google Books (a whopping 63% is yours if it’s sold by them).

A client of ours recently forwarded an email they received from Amazon, which described an important amendment to the Terms and Conditions with regard to the “List Price” of Kindle books. Some of the language is as follows:

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Friday
Jan152010

Print-On-Demand and Chain Bookstores

A couple years ago there was a lot of talk about a major shift in book distribution on the traditional side of the publishing industry. That shift is being caused by something rather unprecedented. What is being called “long-tailed distribution” is a recent occurrence, where a variety of books are being distributed to a number of smaller niche markets, rather than a large mainstream market. Gone are the days when everyone is clamoring for the same book just because their friend’s friend is reading it. New book trends are cropping up almost on a weekly basis, and a lot of this is due in large part to the demand created by book clubs, specialty groups, and individuals seeking a particular niche title for purposes known only to them, especially as concerns non-fiction.

Smaller publishers are churning out titles to fill the demand, and the Internet, more than anything else, is being used to push these titles to the public, since there is limited shelf space in the chain stores nowadays. Self-published authors and micropresses employing POD technology would do well to focus on the Internet in their attempts to market and sell books. Seeking to have your book stocked in chain bookstores requires one very important thing: distribution.

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