Monday, January 16, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: Conspiracy To Fix E-book Pricing?

There has been a lot of chatter on blogs and social media about the price of e-books. In particular, charging the same price for an e-book as the hardback print book. Sometimes, the digital costs more than print books and the publishers themselves set those prices.

You remember the hoopla this past year between Random House and Amazon over the lower prices Amazon was charging for e-books and Random House insisting on higher prices (among other things).

I knew Apple (with the ipad) was willing to price e-books at the higher price from big publishers (and their “agency-model business”). What I didn’t know was Apple was paid a 30% of revenue for cooperating with the higher e-book pricing.

What I found interesting was the European Commission (Press release statement)  launched an investigation to look into whether Apple and the big 5 publishers were in cahoots with anti-competitive practices.

The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition…The Commission has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU).”

Apparently, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading had been also investigating the matter, prior to the Commission’s investigation, “whether arrangements for the sale of e-books may breach competition rules.”

Conspiracy to fix prices is a pretty telling accusation. The target of this alleged conspiracy: Amazon. In the UK, Amazon dominates the book market selling 70% of the e-books bought there.

Not that Amazon is sitting on its hands over this. They’re fighting it claiming the readers are the ones to suffer with such publisher ‘deals’ by paying higher prices for e-books.

And this is a point stressed by Amelia Torres, spokeswoman for European Commission,
This is an important issue for consumers, for people like me and you who love to read books, including on an electronic platform.”

The other side argues that such publisher deals is a good thing because it keeps Amazon from crushing the e-book industry.

Whether you’re a publisher, author, bookseller, or reader, e-book pricing is a touchy subject these days

Dan Gillmor’s book blog (12/23/10) calls it, The great ebook price swindle
Publishers are facing an uncertain time in the digital world – but increasing the prices of their ebooks is a retrograde step.” You can read his thoughts on this. 

Personally, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t buy e-books priced over $10 and I rarely buy print books over $10. I’ve been visiting used bookstores more. As one blogger pointed out, why pay over $10 for e-book when I can buy the same book in print from the used section on Amazon. She makes a good point.

What are your thoughts?


Tonya Kappes said...

Pricing is so hard, especially when you are a self published author like me. My publisher set my price, and I set my self published prices. I have to say that my self published novels have found a GREAT home at $2.99 price point.
We can debate and debate, but the publisher is not ever going to agree that anything over $3.99 is a lot for an ebook.
I do buy ebooks priced under $10 because most of them are my friend's novels.

Jo said...

I think a lot of ebooks are way over priced and won't buy them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm with you - I won't pay over ten bucks for an eBook. I have noticed that sometimes books in the iBookstore are higher than on Amazon. One could also say Amazon is undercutting prices just to get more sales. Just like WalMart I guess.
I usually buy from the iBookstore anyway.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh yah, Amazon is the Wal-mart of books.

I read a lot of news stuff from all over the place. This caught my eye and I followed quite few stories on it. I just found the subject interesting.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tonya, honestly, most print books are still $10 and under. I try to buy most of my friends'books if the story line interest me. Trade print I think twice about buying when they start at around $13. That's not to say I haven't but I'm much pickier. Usually I'll buy them in e-format.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Nit having a Kindle I can't really comment abou E books, My friends has one and is quite pleased. I know on Amazon they ask me if I want my books made into ebooks but don't quite understand this new technology.

Jo said...

Different topic, I don't understand, I checked Yvonne's blog site (Welcome to my World of Poetry) and nearly got my ears blasted off and yet I cannot hear music on your blog page at all Sia.

Yvonne - you don't have to understand the technology, I assume they (Amazon) will convert your book, if not, its probably much the same as writing a blog. Amazon can then sell it and they deliver it to the customer electronically.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. I prefer to pay low - don't we all .. but if I want something I'll buy it. I'd rather not shop at Amazon and won't if I can find a way round it .. sadly it has it all.

One day I'll get an e-reader - I've read a short book on the laptop .. but it wasn't terribly conducive - too much sitting!!

Cheers Hilary

Shirley Wells said...

I think this debate will run and run.

I do think eBooks should be cheaper than print. As an author though, I do worry that people believe eBooks should be very cheap or even free. If authors can't afford to eat, they can't write. :)