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(Guardian)   Amazon's attempts to bury the Hachette group have backfired spectacularly   (theguardian.com) divider line 53
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4950 clicks; posted to Business » on 24 Aug 2014 at 3:08 PM (36 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-08-24 01:44:58 PM  
Don't fark with Colbert.
 
2014-08-24 01:53:13 PM  
It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.
 
2014-08-24 01:54:19 PM  

Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.


Yeah record labels certainly aren't around anymore.
 
2014-08-24 02:04:37 PM  

cameroncrazy1984: Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.

Yeah record labels certainly aren't around anymore.


There aren't as many of them, and their revenue is half of the glory days. I'd hardly call their temper tantrum about the digital era a success.
 
2014-08-24 02:43:59 PM  
Amazon's little shiat fest included telling people to order Hachette books elsewhere. By making such items unavailable they informed people about the existence of competitors. People who have never heard of alternatives are now using the alternatives for more than just the books from the publisher you're pissed at.

Someone at Amazon has a serious dotcommie hard-on for "free". Free this and that, we don't need a profit, we'll sell ads on the boxes and memberships. It doesn't matter if publishers need their hits to cost actual money to make up for the books that go to the remainder bins, everything should be 99 cents or free!
 
2014-08-24 03:16:38 PM  
What happened to Hachette?  I did it with my little cherry tree.....and a huge grant from Amazon.
 
2014-08-24 03:17:52 PM  

cameroncrazy1984: Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.

Yeah record labels certainly aren't around anymore.


The 80s/90s bubble when Wall Street got into the game and a music label bought a magazine (TimeWarner) is over.  We're back to the 50s/60s dynamic in the music industry.
 
2014-08-24 03:18:57 PM  
There was a story a while back that explained things a bit better and it turned out that Hatchette wasn't exactly freaking out nor was Amazon beating them over the head.
 
2014-08-24 03:19:34 PM  

Lsherm: , and their revenue is half of the glory days.


Funny what happens when you take an axe to your artist roster like several big labels did a few years back.
 
2014-08-24 03:53:31 PM  

wildcardjack: Someone at Amazon has a serious dotcommie hard-on for "free". Free this and that, we don't need a profit, we'll sell ads on the boxes and memberships. It doesn't matter if publishers need their hits to cost actual money to make up for the books that go to the remainder bins, everything should be 99 cents or free!


The dispute is over discounting e-books (Amazon wants to discount, Hatchette does not want Amazon to discount). You find a lot of e-books in remainder bins where you are?
 
2014-08-24 04:11:44 PM  

deaccessioned: wildcardjack: Someone at Amazon has a serious dotcommie hard-on for "free". Free this and that, we don't need a profit, we'll sell ads on the boxes and memberships. It doesn't matter if publishers need their hits to cost actual money to make up for the books that go to the remainder bins, everything should be 99 cents or free!

The dispute is over discounting e-books (Amazon wants to discount, Hatchette does not want Amazon to discount). You find a lot of e-books in remainder bins where you are?


A cheap e-book will push the hard copies into the remainder bin. This is a major publisher, and every work, even the ones that bomb, has been edited, reviewed, market tested, and has a marketing campaign behind it. Easily a quarter million dollars goes into a book with this publisher before a copy gets printed. The market values of all the classics have been plummeting since the Kindle came out. I used to actually sell large amounts of fiction through Amazon, now it's a market segment that has gone to $2.99 ebooks while the paperbacks get remaindered.  And Amazon pushes all it's sellers to match the lowest price, and there are seller tools that "price compete" which is idiot slang for "goes to zero".

Everyone wants things to be free but won't work for free. Free doesn't pay the rent. Profitlessly cheap doesn't keep the lights on. I can't eat losses on everything that Amazon touches.
 
2014-08-24 04:14:21 PM  

wildcardjack: Amazon's little shiat fest included telling people to order Hachette books elsewhere. By making such items unavailable they informed people about the existence of competitors. People who have never heard of alternatives are now using the alternatives for more than just the books from the publisher you're pissed at.


Eh, not so much.  Amazon has given their customers knowledge.  In reality, this engenders trust and loyalty to Amazon because customers feel that Amazon is looking out for them.  So, while the customers may use other sources to get specific books, they'll remember Amazon doing them a solid and frequently return to them for other items.
 
2014-08-24 04:24:57 PM  

oldernell: Don't fark with Colbert.


cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org

/you're darn right
 
2014-08-24 04:48:23 PM  

WhyteRaven74: Lsherm: , and their revenue is half of the glory days.

Funny what happens when you take an axe to your artist roster like several big labels did a few years back.


Has nothing to do with that.It has to do with people not buying CDs anymore.  Look at the best selling CDs. The lists are topped by compilation albums and movie soundtracks. The sales numbers are ridiculously low. Digital music does sell, but mostly as singles instead of full albums, and full albums are generally cheaper for digital than physical. And digital music sales are not that impressive either. There are a ton of people like me who would rather just listen to pandora (or whatever) than buy a bunch of stuff.
 
2014-08-24 05:03:54 PM  

Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.


^ This.  An e-book has zero marginal cost.
 
2014-08-24 05:39:19 PM  

wildcardjack: [SNIP}

A cheap e-book will push the hard copies into the remainder bin. This is a major publisher, and every work, even the ones that bomb, has been edited, reviewed, market tested, and has a marketing campaign behind it. Easily a quarter million dollars goes into a book with this publisher before a copy gets printed. The market values of all the classics have been plummeting since the Kindle came out. I used to actually sell large amounts of fiction through Amazon, now it's a market segment that has gone to $2.99 ebooks while the paperbacks get remaindered.  And Amazon pushes all it's sellers to match the lowest price, and there are seller tools that "price compete" which is idiot slang for "goes to zero".

Everyone wants things to be free but won't work for free. Free doesn't pay the rent. Profitlessly cheap doesn't keep the lights on. I can't eat losses on everything that Amazon touches.


So... publish fewer hard copies and make your money on e-books.  Nothing goes in the remainder bin that way.  But that would require actually adapting your business model, so I guess that ain't gonna happen.  Hatchette is clinging to a bloated, outdated business model designed to make money at the expense of the author and reader, while propping up an army of unnecessary third parties and padding their own profits.  It's the exact same thing we went through when the music companies and motion picture companies decided digital would be the death of them, and I don't have any more sympathy for publishers clinging to the gatekeeper model of dead-tree publishing than I do for them.  Evolve or die.

And the market for the classics?  Really?  I'm not going to lose any sleep over Penguin not being able to charge me $15 for Oliver Twist after they went to all that trouble to pay someone fifty bucks for a five page introduction and a couple of hundred for a new cover illustration.

You are aware that you can often sell more copies at a lower price, yes?  Selling 10 copies at a $1 per copy profit makes you more money than selling 1 copy at a $5 profit.  No one is suggesting things be free (I'm not, at least,) and I'm sorry if you can't compete with other sellers on Amazon, but plenty of other people can and are.
 
2014-08-24 05:48:27 PM  
They greedy.
 
2014-08-24 06:04:48 PM  
So, um where did it backfire?

I see an article's writer outright lying or being so bad a reading comprehension that he shouldn't be allowed to write about books and reading.


TFA
This was the paperback, and apparently it was opposed by publishers who "dug in and circled the wagons". Which is a bit odd, as the person most widely credited with the popularisation of the paperback (but not its invention) was Allen Lane, who, as founder of Penguin Books, introduced paperback classics to the British public.

Yeah, and in their piece, Amazon cast themselves in the role of the newly-founded paperback publishers like Penguin (or their early non-bookstore distribution channels) who, at first, apparently sold their books through other channels than bookstores - wiki mentions Woolworth, TFA itself vending machines. Amazon just likens ebooks with paperbacks when it comes to selling books in a new format.
To quote the Amazon piece TFA references:

the literary establishment [..] believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution - places like newsstands and drugstores.


Kinda hard to miss that "literary establishment" and "early paperback publishers" are two different things in Amazon's argument and using new-founded (1935) Penguin as a counterexample for pre-WWII-"literary establishment" embracing paperbacks and innovation kinda misses the point when Amazon uses the same example, but argues that this innovation wasn't an industry embracing a new concept, but a new-ish player who was innovating around established players not believing in those new-fangled ideas or even innovating around blocks put in his way - and then the industry adapting afterwards to get slices of the pie when they saw the model was working.

While one could argue about which view of history is more correct than the other, the bit about Orwell is IMHO flat-out idiotic:
TFA:
Amazon's other bizarre decision, alongside the somewhat unnecessary second world war reference,..

Which is just a convenient way to establish a temporal point of reference for people who don't know when the referenced paperback revolution happened.
Not to mention (my guess) that WWII might even have helped a little to grow a market for books costing a tenth of what they cost before.
I admit, it's probably inconvenient if you want to use a founded-in-1935 company as an example for pre-WWII-establishment, but otherwise I wouldn't get to upset about starting an article with "Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention" instead of "In the second half of the 1930s, there was..".
Anyway, to continue:

.. was to quote George Orwell selectively on the subject and accuse him of "collusion".

Well, the out-of-context quote used by Amazon was:
The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if "publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them." Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

i.e. he was given publishers a suggestion, but not colluding himself or approving of it.
I mean, if I'm taking someone's side, I usually don't start by accusing them of having no sense whatsoever.

..In fact, Orwell was making a sarcastic dig in favour of the paperback,

Which is how I read it?!
The "full" quote is apparently:
"The Penguin books are splendid value for sixpence, so splendid that if other publishers had any sense they would combine against them and suppress them."
The whole point of Amazon's statement was that they - like Orwell - are in favor of a new, cheaper selling format (paperback / ebook).

But in any case, all this "Did they make Orwell sound like he was pro or against paperbacks?" seems to be mainly a big distraction if you consider how Hachette and other big publishers together with Apple were caught price-fixing ebooks, i.e. for following Orwell's suggestion to established publishers that want to suppress the cool, new, cheap. popular format.
Which is very likely the reason why Amazon included that quote in the first place.
/never thought I would end up defending one-click-Amazon on some issue
 
2014-08-24 06:05:54 PM  

420Gabriel: Has nothing to do with that.It has to do with people not buying CDs anymore.


Well you're not going to sell much of anything when you don't offer what people want.
 
2014-08-24 06:18:38 PM  
If Hatchette was around in the 15th century, they would be complaining about the printing press devaluing the hard work of monks, and how printed books were crap compared to illustrated manuscripts.
 
2014-08-24 06:46:46 PM  

Mad_Radhu: If Hatchette was around in the 15th century, they would be complaining about the printing press devaluing the hard work of monks, and how printed books were crap compared to illustrated manuscripts.


They could just rewrite In Praise of Scribes by Johannes Trithemius.  After they slapped a new cover on it and charged $20.

"He who ceases the work of a scribe because of printing is not a true friend of Scripture, because heeding no more than the present he takes no care to educate posterity. But we, dearest brothers, heeding the reward of this sacred labor we will not cease our work, even if we have many thousands of printed volumes. Printed books will never equal scribed books, especially because the spelling and ornamentation of some printed books is often neglected. Copying requires greater diligence."

From http://misc.yarinareth.net/trithemius.html
 
2014-08-24 06:52:41 PM  
I'm glad to see that at least one person noticed that the article in no way supports subby's contention. Nice try though.
 
2014-08-24 07:05:56 PM  
Where are the penny dreadfuls.
 
2014-08-24 08:28:39 PM  
There was never an industry that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century like the publishing industry.

People will always read, but just like Napster began the change of the entire music industry business model, there will be something that destroys, and then rebuilds, how people get their reading on.
 
2014-08-24 09:19:32 PM  
Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.
 
2014-08-24 10:13:09 PM  

AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.


Judging by past threads on the subject, we have ample moronic shills.
 
2014-08-24 11:55:59 PM  

AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.


Yea, it's amazing how anyone with half a brain can tell that Hachette is the bad guy in this but fark headlines keep blasting Amazon. This must be a step up from the "Featured Partner" package that fark sells
 
2014-08-25 12:29:58 AM  
Publishers are dead, they just don't know it yet. Barring a Mad Max like apocalypse and a reset of humanity, the model of paper publishing will cease to exist. You can't go back.

King, Patterson, Child etc., will be gone one day and in 5-10 years no new author in their right mind would go the traditional publishing route. Once you cycle out of the current superstars you'll realize the publishers aren't really making any new ones.

Right now authors going straight to Amazon get 70%. With publishers, non-superstars get 12-25% depending on hardcover or ebook. PLUS paying an agent %15 forever!

Skip the agent, get an editor and a cover designer for a one-time fee and sink or swim by your own merits.

The 'great fear' is the future day Amazon lowers the 70%. No matter what they do, you'll be better off as a new author in 2014 and beyond by not going traditional.
 
2014-08-25 02:04:41 AM  

Mad_Radhu: If Hatchette was around in the 15th century, they would be complaining about the printing press devaluing the hard work of monks, and how printed books were crap compared to illustrated manuscripts.


Hey. I'd back them in the 15th century too. Have you seen illustrated manuscripts? They are gorgeous works of art. Have you seen the first printed books? Not exactly the same. Sure they made something that could now be consumed by the masses, but it devalued books overall. I own a huge library but I'll be the first to say maybe books should be harder to get. If you get one it's special. If you buy a dozen it's just another pile.
 
2014-08-25 02:53:36 AM  

AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.


Says the moronic Amazon shrill.
 
2014-08-25 02:58:33 AM  

Decillion: Publishers are dead, they just don't know it yet. Barring a Mad Max like apocalypse and a reset of humanity, the model of paper publishing will cease to exist. You can't go back.


I hear this from Amazon shrills a lot and it doesn't even pass the smell test. The day paper publishing will be dead is when someone figures out telepathy. Sure the book market will change and shrink but cease to exist? No way. The paperback book still offers some significant advantages over e-books in some situations.

Look, I don't think that society owes a duty to outdated business models. But the idea that Amazon can claim some type of moral high ground in this debate is ludicrous.
 
2014-08-25 03:02:59 AM  
 I did not know that authors could tour and give concerts.
 
2014-08-25 03:36:21 AM  

worlddan: AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.

Says the moronic Amazon shrill.


I know.  Amazon is applying downward price pressure on the publishers, who still charge the same for an e-book despite virtually nonexistent distribution costs, benefiting the consumer.  At the same time providing alternate distribution methods for authors to self-publish, allowing them to take home a greater share of the profit from their own intellectual property.

You caught me though.  I am in league with history's greatest monster.
 
2014-08-25 11:13:23 AM  

wildcardjack: Someone at Amazon has a serious dotcommie hard-on for "free". Free this and that, we don't need a profit, we'll sell ads on the boxes and memberships. It doesn't matter if publishers need their hits to cost actual money to make up for the books that go to the remainder bins, everything should be 99 cents or free!


Yup.  I think his name is Jeff.  Seriously, he's told his shareholders repeatedly "If you are looking for EPS you own the wrong stock".

/Does not own Amazon stock
//Does order lots of stuff from them - I'll take advantage of Jeff's willingness to take low margins.
 
2014-08-25 11:32:23 AM  

Marcus Aurelius: Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.

^ This.  An e-book has zero marginal cost.


I don't know why they seem to insist that they must make MORE profit from E-books. It's already more difficult to share and resell e-books. Surely you can just cut the manufacturing and shipping costs and pass those savings on.
 
2014-08-25 12:24:37 PM  

AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.


Amazon has the role of dominating middleman in this little story.

Dominating middlemen have a problem: After they drive everyone else out of the industry, they find they cannot serve every niche.  So they cut niches to stay afloat, and customers are not served.

This inevitable lack of service makes Amazon, in the long run, a Bad Actor.  Just like Wal-mart has become a Bad Actor, in spite of bringing more diverse goods and services to more Americans than anyone did before.  Just like the publishing industry became once mass electronic typesetting allowed books to print so cheaply they could profit after throwing away 80% of them.

In order to not become the bad guy, Amazon will have to offer some reasonable pricing floors to keep the writing and editing industry from contracting.  I don't see them doing that yet.
 
2014-08-25 12:30:21 PM  
What pisses me off is $40 for an audio book.  Want the first Game of Thrones book on your kindle?  That'll be $42.  That's more than buying the first season of the show, in HD.
 
2014-08-25 01:12:33 PM  

AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.


They're both the bad guy.  There is no good guy in this story yet.
 
2014-08-25 01:36:19 PM  

thrasherrr: This inevitable lack of service makes Amazon, in the long run, a Bad Actor.  Just like Wal-mart has become a Bad Actor, in spite of bringing more diverse goods and services to more Americans than anyone did before


Oh, bullshiat.
 
2014-08-25 01:42:20 PM  
So, just real quick I'm going to go over the publisher view of this again.

There are two models for ebooks: agency and wholesale.  Amazon prefers the wholesale, Apple was the major force behind the agency.

For wholesale models, the publisher sets the list price and there is a fixed "wholesaler" cost that Amazon pays per unit, but Amazon sets the price to the customer/reader.  You'd expect this number to be the wholesale cost plus some number to make a profit for Amazon.

For agency models, the publisher sets the end sale price of the book, and the retail outlet gets an "agency" fee for selling it, typically 30%.

What was happening was that Amazon was selling books at a loss: selling an ebook with a list price of $40 for $9.99 and then paying the publisher the wholesale price, which was about $26 in this case.  This specific example is from a cookbook that I worked on, which is why the price is so high.  That means that Amazon was actually taking as much as a $16 dollar loss for every unit sold.

Obviously, when other retailers (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Overdrive, whatever) sold the same book, they couldn't do that.  So Apple decided to step in and gathered the book companies together and tried to move all of the business relationships to the agency model, and (here's one of the primary illegal things) got the publishers to sign deals where they wouldn't allow Amazon to undersell Apple, removing Amazon's ability to undersell everyone else.  The courts found that this collusion between the publishers and Apple was illegal, especially where they were trying to force Amazon into the business model.

Interestingly enough, the agency model isn't dead.  Some publishers are still able to use it between vendors that aren't Amazon and themselves.  But it's gotten insanely confusing because the price on Amazon.com is so variable that the people using the agency model haven't been able to figure out how to price their books at the same price as Amazon without scraping all of Amazon's specific book prices everyday.  So most agency stores just sell at discounted rates compared to the list price but are still often undersold by Amazon.

Whatever, what people care about is cheap ebooks: Amazon is currently the driving force behind lowering ebook prices and they don't care what the publishers think.  They assume that once everyone is used to paying $10 for an ebook, the publishers won't be able to charge them wholesale rates based on list prices above that.  They're probably correct (and personally I think they're about right about what the prices of ebooks should be).  They're also creating a monopoly on ebooks.

The thing is, Amazon is trying to become an outlet monopoly, basically.  They pretty much already are, from the publisher perspective, because whatever Amazon says now goes.  The publishers were fighting to retain control of their sales in a more direct fashion, but the way they did it resulted in a smackdown from the courts.  Now, things are leading toward a situation where they have to stay on Amazon's good side or Amazon's going to just put them out of business, like they've been doing with Hachette.

None of this is good news for the actual reader.  The agency model would have resulted in higher ebook prices, the wholesale model means that publishers will have less money to buy new and niche books to publish.  We're all getting screwed one way or another.

Also:

 

Marcus Aurelius: Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.

^ This.  An e-book has zero marginal cost.


That's kinda bull.  Only if you define the amount due the author/artist/whatever as not a cost.
 
2014-08-25 01:49:16 PM  

SphericalTime: AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.

They're both the bad guy.  There is no good guy in this story yet.


Ding ding!

What amazes me is that the traditional publisher has any backers at all. They wrote the book on ripping off authors.
 
2014-08-25 01:54:07 PM  

JohnBigBootay: SphericalTime: AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.

They're both the bad guy.  There is no good guy in this story yet.

Ding ding!

What amazes me is that the traditional publisher has any backers at all. They wrote the book on ripping off authors.


Really? Out of curiosity, what makes you think that? Publishers aren't the music industry.
 
2014-08-25 03:04:27 PM  

SphericalTime: Marcus Aurelius: Lsherm: It's only backfired in the minds of delusional book publishers who continue to gouge customers. I wonder when they've finally killed off the industry altogether if they will stare stupidly at the wall and wonder what happened, just like the music morons.

^ This.  An e-book has zero marginal cost.


That's kinda bull.  Only if you define the amount due the author/artist/whatever as not a cost.


It's true.  It does not cost the author anything more to produce another electronic copy.  The costs of distributors to do it (DRM, advertising, display assets, etc) are self-imposed beyond hundredth pennies of bandwidth and storage.

The royalty burden is a different, far more complex discussion.   Part of the complexity comes from creators not understanding that residuals are not distribution costs.
 
2014-08-25 03:06:16 PM  

SphericalTime: JohnBigBootay: SphericalTime: AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.

They're both the bad guy.  There is no good guy in this story yet.

Ding ding!

What amazes me is that the traditional publisher has any backers at all. They wrote the book on ripping off authors.

Really? Out of curiosity, what makes you think that? Publishers aren't the music industry.


Giving authors essentially a buck a book for decades is not going to make you seem like the good guy when the war starts.
 
2014-08-25 03:27:01 PM  

JohnBigBootay: SphericalTime: JohnBigBootay: SphericalTime: AngryDragon: Anyone who thinks Amazon is the bad guy in this is either a shill or a moron.

They're both the bad guy.  There is no good guy in this story yet.

Ding ding!

What amazes me is that the traditional publisher has any backers at all. They wrote the book on ripping off authors.

Really? Out of curiosity, what makes you think that? Publishers aren't the music industry.

Giving authors essentially a buck a book for decades is not going to make you seem like the good guy when the war starts.


That's assuming that the book actually makes money in the first place.  Remember, most books don't earn out their advances and go out of print in a few years.  That means that publishing companies are actually giving most authors more money than their books are worth to them.

Publishers are the good guys, but they're very far from the bad guys.  I mean, after working in publishing, the music label model disgusts me to no end.  I was serious above when I referred to them off-handly as miserable jerkwads.
 
2014-08-25 03:27:49 PM  
Whoops, that second paragraph is supposed to begin "Publishers aren't the good guys, . . ."
 
2014-08-25 03:42:35 PM  

SphericalTime: That's assuming that the book actually makes money in the first place. Remember, most books don't earn out their advances and go out of print in a few years. That means that publishing companies are actually giving most authors more money than their books are worth to them.

Publishers are the good guys, but they're very far from the bad guys. I mean, after working in publishing, the music label model disgusts me to no end. I was serious above when I referred to them off-handly as miserable jerkwads.


Publishers aren't the music industry. I agree. But here they are going down the same path and fiddling while rome burns. FUD, FUD, FUD, litigation, litigation, cry for public appeal, then layoffs and contraction while they lie in bed and asked how the hell this happened. This is happening because they sat there and pretended it wasn't happening and looked for protectionism and the courts to save their asses instead of innovating and adjusting their business model.

Meanwhile hollywood and the record labels went through the same shiat. The world didn't end after they made all the same arguments. Now I pay a buck a song and $6 for a downloaded movie rental and $9.99 for an ebook and the sun still seems to come up.

We still have a music industry and ad-driven radio. We still have terrestrial tv and tv networks. We still have movie theaters and movie studios. We'll damn sure still have writers and books far into the future. Hachette can participate if they'd like but we'll be fine without them. And no, I have not forgotten they have already and quite recently paid a huge fine for colluding against their customers.

It's a bloody business - is amazon the good guy? Not if you are hachette. But if you buy books or are trying to publish one and have a file folderfull of rejection letters they certainly seem like a more attractive alternative than hachette. There is a shake up going on and there is a lot of collateral damage. Meanwhile there's more to read than there's ever been. A lot of shiate gets published but let's be fair - there has always been a lot of shiate published.

For every 'who will shepherd and develop the young authors?' there are two new amazon direct best sellers who couldn't get a traditional publisher to even read their book. It's not a black and white situation - nothing in big business is that clean - but from where I'm sitting hachette is reaping what they have sown. If I had to choose whether or not we'd be better off with amzon or hachette? Please. I'll take amzon all day long.
 
2014-08-25 07:15:47 PM  

SphericalTime: That's assuming that the book actually makes money in the first place.  Remember, most books don't earn out their advances and go out of print in a few years. That means that publishing companies are actually giving most authors more money than their books are worth to them.


Gee, if only someone could come up with a distribution system that costs almost nothing per copy to minimize the effort and money publishers had to put into a lemon.  Books traditionally went out of print because publishers couldn't make their money back from the cost of another run. Now you can just let a copy sit on a server somewhere.  Hell, publishers don't even have to take as much risk as they used to if they don't want - they can shuttle out an ebook and see if it runs up the flagpole.  If it does, then they can commission a print run.

Frankly, Amazon was almost on the ball when it positioned itself to be its own publisher, but in true Amazon fashion they overshot and now the authors are getting screwed on both ends.
 
2014-08-25 08:44:36 PM  
Actually ebooks still go out of print. It's just based on copies per six month sales period. The important thing is that publishing rights revert to the author after a book has been out of print for about a year, which means that the author can put the book on sale by himself and collect all further proceeds.

The publisher is out of the equation at that point: they can't recover further money from that investment. It's still true that books aren't perpetual long tail money makers for publishing companies.
 
2014-08-25 08:52:39 PM  

JohnBigBootay: SphericalTime: That's assuming that the book actually makes money in the first place. Remember, most books don't earn out their advances and go out of print in a few years. That means that publishing companies are actually giving most authors more money than their books are worth to them.

Publishers are the good guys, but they're very far from the bad guys. I mean, after working in publishing, the music label model disgusts me to no end. I was serious above when I referred to them off-handly as miserable jerkwads.

Publishers aren't the music industry. I agree. But here they are going down the same path and fiddling while rome burns. FUD, FUD, FUD, litigation, litigation, cry for public appeal, then layoffs and contraction while they lie in bed and asked how the hell this happened. This is happening because they sat there and pretended it wasn't happening and looked for protectionism and the courts to save their asses instead of innovating and adjusting their business model.

Meanwhile hollywood and the record labels went through the same shiat. The world didn't end after they made all the same arguments. Now I pay a buck a song and $6 for a downloaded movie rental and $9.99 for an ebook and the sun still seems to come up.

We still have a music industry and ad-driven radio. We still have terrestrial tv and tv networks. We still have movie theaters and movie studios. We'll damn sure still have writers and books far into the future. Hachette can participate if they'd like but we'll be fine without them. And no, I have not forgotten they have already and quite recently paid a huge fine for colluding against their customers.

It's a bloody business - is amazon the good guy? Not if you are hachette. But if you buy books or are trying to publish one and have a file folderfull of rejection letters they certainly seem like a more attractive alternative than hachette. There is a shake up going on and there is a lot of collateral damage. Meanwhile there's more to read than there's ever been. A lot of shiate gets published but let's be fair - there has always been a lot of shiate published.

For every 'who will shepherd and develop the young authors?' there are two new amazon direct best sellers who couldn't get a traditional publisher to even read their book. It's not a black and white situation - nothing in big business is that clean - but from where I'm sitting hachette is reaping what they have sown. If I had to choose whether or not we'd be better off with amzon or hachette? Please. I'll take amzon all day long.


Uh, you realize that Apple and Hachette tried to implement a new business model and were rebuffed by Amazon, right? They weren't the ones arguing for the status quo, Amazon is/was in order to maintain an effective monopoly that their competitors can't break.
 
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