Amazon.co.uk

Go Read This | E-book price war “absurd” | theBookseller.com

You have to wonder how long this can go on for and who is going to lose. The sense I get is it sure won’t be Amazon, but it VERY WELL may be the Publishers!

However, another senior publisher attacked the pricing strategies of W H Smith and Amazon. He said: “It’s absolutely absurd to devalue our product but I’m not surprised because our industry is populated by nincompoops.”

He said Amazon’s move could make the agency model less attractive to publishers. He said: “In this instance, on the wholesale model, publishers are fine because it is retailers taking the pain. If we say a book is £10 and you get 40% discount, we get £6. If the retailer chooses to sell it for £2, we’re still all right.”

A review of e-book prices undertaken by The Bookseller shows that Amazon and WHS are offering the lowest prices. Kindle and WHS e-books are also significantly cheaper than their counterparts on Apple’s iBookstore, where prices are set by the publisher.

via E-book price war “absurd” | theBookseller.com.

Advertisements

Go Read This | W H Smith makes all e-books half price | theBookseller.com

I used to worry that the digital developments that seemed to be moving so fast in the US would outpace Ireland and the UK and result in UK and Irish publishers losing out.

It now seems to me that in fact the opposite is the case. The maturing of the ebook market in the US gave UK retailers forewarning and they decided not to just let Amazon waltz in and take their territory from them.

They spent money to develop ebook delivery platforms and while they may not have the range of devices that they have in the US, they can fight on price and so they are.

That said, the readers bonanza that the book prices being reporting today represents will be the lower profits of Booksellers later this year and the margin pressure on publishers this Autumn. but it’s also a sign that ebooks really are a big deal this side of the water too!

If publishers are able to resist the margin pressure in the face of this price war, they should end up doing well out of the ebook price war. Of course, if they can’t that’s a whole different ballgame.

All of that goes just for the UK, by my estimation neither Publishers or Booksellers in Ireland are ready for the ebook to any great degree.

When Amazon launched its UK Kindle store, Steve Kessel, senior vice president of Amazon Kindle, told The Bookseller the prices would be the lowest in the market. However, WHS is selling the Lampard memoir cheaper than Amazon.co.uk, which has it on sale at £4.86. It does beat WHS on the other titles mentioned above. The Pacific is on sale on the Kindle for £9.44 and McGiffin’s memoir for £7.97.

via W H Smith makes all e-books half price | theBookseller.com.

PS: I’ve finally succumbed and added Ebooks as a category rather than just a tag!

4 Reasons To Think That The Kindle International Was Released Early

[picapp src=”7/c/5/5/Amazon_CEO_Jeff_711f.jpg?adImageId=4721042&imageId=4728104″ width=”500″ height=”504″ /]

UPDATE: A bonus #5: No content on the Amazon Kindle Global Blog!
Update: Making it #6: UK Kindle buyers (and by extension Irish Kindles readers) pay 40% more for ebooks

This is just a short list but here are some reasons I suspect this is a rush release by Amazon:

    1) It’s not shipping till 19th October! Did they need the news before Frankfurt and not have the device ready?
    2) No country specific sites, you need to order the device from Amazon.com
    3) The iphone/itunes app is not yet live in Ireland, I doubt it is live in the UK yet either (Twitpic)
    4) No word on the extension of the Digital Text Platform to other countries (that would extend the device to independents and authors outside of the US, currently you need a US Bank Account)

I’m sure there are more, but this feels like something of a rushed and to my mind fluffed launch, despite the massive space given on four site home-pages to the product!

More on Kindle International here too,
Eoin

Kindle goes worldwide

Amazon announce the international kindle

Amazon announce the international kindle

IT WILL SHIP TO IRELAND (SEE BELOW FOR MORE)

So Amazon announced that they are now allowing pre-orders of the Kindle worldwide. They launched no country specific sites for this, just a letter on the homepage of Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr and Amazon.co.jp. You MUST order from Amazon.com

Kindle Germany

Kindle Germany


Kindle France

Kindle France


Kindle Japan

Kindle Japan

The NYT has a story on the release:

International users of the new Kindle will have a slightly smaller collection of around 200,000 English-language books to choose from, and their catalogs will be tailored to the country they purchased the device in. Amazon said it would sell books from a range of publishers including Bloomsbury, Hachette, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet and Simon & Schuster.

Among the apparent holdouts: Random House, which is owned by Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate. Stuart Applebaum, a Random House spokesman, said the company’s “discussions with Amazon about this opportunity are ongoing, productive and private.”

As does our own Irish Times (though, to be frank, it’s basically a rewrite of the NYT piece).

I’ve checked and Amazon will allow preorders for Ireland, but the full cost is

    Items: $279.00 ($20 more than the US version for no apparent reason)
    Shipping & Handling: $20.98
    Total Before Tax: $299.98
    Estimated Tax:* $0.00
    Import Fees Deposit $64.50 (Customs will make us pay this anyway so that’s free money for Amazon as far as I can tell)
    Order Total: $364.48 (For an ereader, you must be joking!)

But think on this
Amazon devoted the front page of FOUR of their international sites to this product. It must be making them money in large amounts or else why would they do that. Two posts I read yesterday pointed to royalty statemenst reflecting good sales for ebooks, this one by Andrew Savikas (from an author perspective, well an author who is a publisher) and this one from kirstin Nelson (so from an gents perspective). I wonder what the kindle element of that is? Perhaps we really have passed the point of no return.

Interesting times as they say,
Eoin

Fidra asks: What ten books would you love to see in a bookshop?

Eoin Purcell

Fidra Books posted a query on their blog today designed to help them figure out what books to order for their new store:

We’re resigned to the fact that we will open with a stock that has gaps and biases and it would be hard not to – this can be rectified in the next few months as we discover our customers’ tastes – but in an attempt to be more balanced we’d like you, our lovely blog-readers, to make some suggestions in the comments section below as to say, your top ten books that you’d love to see in a bookshop.

I loved the challenge this presented and so I went to work straight away, this is what came up with!

In an vain attempt to spread my bets and make sure I cover as many bases as possible I think this list may well get a bit rickety but here goes! In no order particularly:

    1) AJP Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (for the thinking general history reader, this will launch them on the path of a thousand questions)

    2) Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Civilizations or Millennium (in terms of broad brush history of the epic kind, you’d be hard pressed to find better than these)

    3) Mark Kurlansky, The Basque History of the World (a travelogue, a cookbook, a history and all wrapped in the neatest little package, sweet as)

    4) Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination (clever science fiction for the fan who hasn’t yet mined the Science fiction cannon)

    5) Stephanie Swainston, No Present Like Time (genre bending, adventure and all with an inconstant narrator, boy does Steph write fantasy well)

    6) Ernest Hemmingway, The Old Man & The Sea (maybe its a guy thing, but this may well be one of the few fiction books I can stand to re-read)

    7) Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honour Trilogy (yes this cheating slightly because its a trilogy but lordy this is great writing)

    8) Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization (this revives the full horror and the depth of the tragedy that was the end of the Roman empire, and moves the debate on from the hole I believe it fell into by trying to pass the collapse of Rome off as merely change rather than regression)

    9) Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (a nicely thought through book on the global political lanscape, not as radical as any of the Kagan books [Paradise and Power/The Return of History and the End of Dreams] but better for that)

    10) William A. Draves & Julie Coates, Nine Shift (one of the most prescient and forward thinking books, I have ever read. Calmly and plainly explains where the world is going, why and looks at how it will change society utterly. A great book)

Two notes. Children’s books from picture books, to fiction, Food & Drink, Sport, Modern Fiction and quite a few other topics got a raw deal here but that’s the nature of top 10 lists. The last space took some time deciding.

I think it’s a good list!
Eoin

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 02/05/2009

Eoin Purcell

Some fascinating data about iPhone app downloads and how they flow.
Story on Techcrunch & Original Source

The Digital Market is worth £80million in the UK according to this piece in the Bookseller.

A pretty interesting build-your-own-textbook offering from Norton is the US. The story is here and the actual etextbook website here.

A really interesting piece by Tim O’Reilly on books and reinventing them for the web.

A great post by Michael Hyatt on building a platform for authors!

Enjoy the bank holiday if you have one!
Eoin

SXSW – Far From The Madding Crowd

Eoin Purcell

Twitter it up
There has been extensive coverage of the New Think For Old Publishers panel at SXSW on 14 March. By most accounts it was a complete and utter disaster for publishers. Here’s a sample of opinion more here, here and here

As per usual Kassia krozer @ Booksquare summed both sides up pretty well in my view:

Let me be clear. Absolutely clear. Not one word spoken in that session, either from the panelists or from the audience, was new or innovative. The panel, well, we’ve all heard job descriptions before. The audience? That was one very long line of people saying the same things we’ve been saying to the publishing industry for ten years. And yet the publishing people treated our comments as if they were items to be added to a list.

It got me thinking?
What do we as publishers actually want to change? Are we, like the frustrated audience members angry at things in the industry that we would see change? In an ideal world where we got to direct digital change what would we like that change to be? Would authors join us in this campaign?

What would publishers do?
I think most publishers would like a simple platform that allowed them to offer their content online and be paid up-front for it. That seems easy doesn’t it. Except our cousins in newspaper land have lost their lunch trying to monetize their content online and almost all of them have surrendered to free service with ads and most of them are failing even with that.

What’s more the book is pretty much the most simple platform there is right now and lots of people like it. So moving away from it seems a little wild for most publishers. On top of that authors don’t seem keen to hang round waiting for the digital world to start rewarding them either. Whenever a book deal presents itself, bloggers and journalists all take them.

Where does that leave us for digital distribution and selling? Well e-commerce is nice, except you get Amazon and its crazy glitches and its harsh terms. On the other hand, ebooks seem to be starting to break through but you still have to deal with Amazon for those too!

Of course you might take the perspective that if we were to drive digital change, we would drive it along a path that gave our books (content) more attention (such tools even exist). If we were to drive change we would use it to sell more books directly to our customers in order to learn about them at the customer level and so tailor our products to their taste and their pocket. If we could drive digital we would build communities about our content and aggregate content from other publishers to help support our own. But then I’m just talking crazy!

Maybe I am talking crazy but
The problem I have with the current penchant for beating publishers up is threefold:

1) Many publishers (not to mention authors) are doing some pretty amazing things. Tor is building a wonderful, engaged and exciting community of readers around SF&F, Osprey have already done so around Military History. Penguin have spent a small fortune on trying new tools for reading and writing fiction. Macmillan and Random and Harper have all embraced blogs and Facebook and twitter and the web in general seeking new audiences, fresh feedback and platforms for their authors.

2) Despite the urge for the new, it doesn’t yet pay for itself and it may never do so. Andrew Keen is right about that if nothing else. Without money, artists will not create and currently the system that rewards both the artistic and the serious (or not serious) non-fiction author is breaking (if not entirely broken) and the chances of fixing it anytime soon are slim. Unless we revert to older methods of financing art and journalism, campaign funding, endowments, patronage and subscription (all being tried in modest enough [and a few large scale] ways) we may lose something pretty valuable.

3) Radicals are not always right. Even if we might accept that in this case it seems like digital is the way forward, that doesn’t mean publishers will survive the shift. Its not unreasonable of them to be reluctant to leap when right now there is a damaged but viable system in place that delivers unspectacular but solid enough revenues and profit figures.

To wrap it up!
Which leads me to my final thought, despite my own leaning towards a digital future, it is still entirely possible that the paper book remains the preeminent (I note not only) form of publication well into the next century and beyond. It currently seems likely to remain the most profitable (not the only profitable form) form of publication too. If you are an exec at a leading paper book publisher, then it’s a big bet right now to put the house on digital. If you get it wrong you’ve cut open the golden egg laying goose to show her insides to the public and have only the guts to show for it, the public were not that impressed and have watched the show for free on youtube. If you get it right you might still loose the golden goose and the people who benefit are your authors.

So to the radicals I say, lay off the publishers, some of them don’t care, but others are actually succeeding in changing the system and many many more are trying to figure out a way to make it happen without going out of business or destroying their companies, a not inconsiderable consideration in the current environment!

Eoin
PS: None of which changes the fact that I want to be able to buy an ebook version of a novel even if it is only just released in the US and I live in Ireland!