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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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:
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)
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.