Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/17/2011

How To Strengthen Indie Booksellers – And Why We Should!


Strand Bookstore in NY -Still Surviving

More intrigue RE Amazon! AA doesn’t stand for Alcoholics anonymous here (although a drink wouldn’t hurt) … it stands for ‘Aggressive Amazon’.

Since Amazon is gutting the publishing industry by selling e-books (and e-book versions) at or below cost just to sell their other products … it is becoming glaringly clear that something has to be done to stop this future monopoly-in-the-making from becoming the lord and master of writers and publishers.

After all … Amazon’s core mission is NOT the art of writing and publishing … it is selling digital products [that merely deliver the true gold]! Let’s not get the true artists, creators and drivers of this  fine industry back to the slaves they were under the old exploitative traditional publishing system … just with a new digital master. The cart has been before the horse for far too long!

Now there are some out there who think the current developing digital publishing field and Amazon, in particular, is just fine because of the new emerging advantages that have been kind to some … But, BEWARE, if Amazon becomes the complete monopolistic monster it is striving for, the present advantages will vanish.

We must develop and strengthen multiple sources for the selling and distribution of our works.

Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly has this to say:

The Amazon Workaround

The best way to blunt the e-tailer’s clout is to support a diverse marketplace

Fear that Amazon will come to dominate the bookselling market is nothing new in the publishing industry. But last week, as booksellers continued to decry the company’s price check app (which could be used to access prices on booksellers’ sideline items, like toys and DVDs) and as information about Amazon’s aggressive demands to publishers regarding co-op and retail discounts surfaced (PW Daily, “Is Amazon Pushing Publishers to Brink on Terms, Co-op?” Dec. 15), some insiders began suggesting that the time had come to actively explore ways to lessen publishers’ dependence on the e-tailer. With this in mind, PW asked a number of people in the industry what the best course of action would be. The consensus was that developing and supporting initiatives that would create a more level the playing field would be the best approach to ensure a diverse marketplace.

Publishers readily acknowledge that, after the collapse of Borders, independent booksellers have become more important, and while the indie segment has shown signs of revival this fall, booksellers will still need to work closer with publishers to develop more profitable relationships. The changes that need to be made can’t be around the edges, but need to address the fundamental selling model between publishers and bookstores, something ABA CEO Oren Teicher called for in an address at BookExpo America this spring. Some experiments are already taking place, including extended dating. This would allow booksellers to keep titles on shelves longer and give them a chance to build an audience while helping them improve their always tight cash flow.

Selling books on consignment is another method that some independent publishers are trying, but consignment sales haven’t caught on yet with the larger publishers.

Windowing—offering print books for a period of time before e-books go on sale—while enticing is seen as impractical since it is unlikely that publishers will return to a practice they have already given up. Moreover, there is some thinking that publishers could start charging a premium to customers for e-books before the print book is released, something a sizable portion of consumers said they would like.

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02/14/2011

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sales Tax


Question: Should e-book retailers have to charge sales tax in the state where their books are sold?

Hummm, interesting point; and all readers are encouraged to chime in…

Amazon is doing everything in their power to avoid collecting sales tax…even to the point of  threatening to terminate its affiliate program in certain states that may enact e-fairness legislation that requires Amazon to collect sales tax due on purchases by residents in those states and thereby putting their online affiliates out of business. Fair or unfair?

This Amazon conundrum has caused B&N to try and recruit the probably-pissed-off Amazon affiliates.

Sure, why not?

This blurb from Publishers Weekly: 

Barnes & Noble Courts Amazon Affiliates 

With Amazon determined to avoid collecting sales tax in as many states as possible for as long as possible, Barnes & Noble issued an open letter to Amazon affiliates urging them to sign on to its affiliate program, which it says has over 13,000 members. As part of its strategy to limit the states where it collects sales tax, Amazon has ended affiliate programs in a few states that have passed legislation calling for all online retailers to collect sales tax from out-of-state e-tailers. 
 
“We understand that Amazon.com has threatened to terminate its affiliate program in certain states that may enact e-fairness legislation that requires Amazon to collect sales tax due on purchases by residents in those states.” the letter begins.”Barnes & Noble is disappointed to hear that Amazon would threaten small businesses’ livelihood rather than comply with state law.” In large part because its stores gives it “nexus” in all states, B&N already collects sales tax for both its bricks-and-mortar stores as well as its online business. “Barnes & Noble wants Amazon.com affiliates who have been terminated to know that you are welcome to join the Barnes & Noble affiliate family. If Amazon doesn’t want you, we do! And, we will take care of collecting and remitting all sales taxes due on BN.com sales to its customers so you and our customers don’t have to worry about being hassled or prosecuted by state tax auditors,” the letter, signed by John Foley, president of BN.com, said.
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01/28/2010

Books on iPad Offer Publishers a Pricing Edge


The iPad offers publishers more control in setting eBook prices…Much more so than Amazon with their restrictive $9.99 cap. Motoko Rich, writing for the New York Times, puts it this way:

With a few notable exceptions, the print world welcomed Apple’s new iPad on Wednesday, eager to tap into the 125 million customers who already have iTunes accounts and are predisposed to buying more content from Apple.

We have learned that it is never wise to stand between a consumer and a preference” for how they get their content, said John Makinson, chief executive of Penguin Group, the book publisher.

The iPad may offer an even more attractive prospect: the chance to reset the downward spiral in e-book prices.

When Steven P. Jobs announced the new iBooks app, he said five of the six largest publishers — Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster— had signed on to provide e-book content for the new tablet.

In negotiations with Apple, publishers agreed to a business model that gives them more power over the price that customers pay for e-books. Publishers had all but lost that power on Amazon.com’s Kindle e-reader.

With Apple, under a formula that tethers the maximum e-book price to the print price on the same book, publishers will be able to charge $12.99 to $14.99 for most general fiction and nonfiction titles — higher than the common $9.99 price that Amazon had effectively set for new releases and best sellers. Apple will keep 30 percent of each sale, and publishers will take 70 percent.

One book publisher did not sign on to the iPad: Random House, the world’s largest publisher of trade books. Stuart Applebaum, a Random House spokesman, said the company would “look forward to our continuing conversations” with Apple.

In the short term, authors and publishers will most likely earn less from book sales on the iPad. On the Kindle, Amazon subsidizes the $9.99 price by paying publishers a higher wholesale price equivalent to what booksellers typically pay for print editions. But publishers were concerned that Amazon, as the dominant player, would eventually demand lower digital wholesale prices.

The agreement with Apple gives publishers leverage to negotiate with Amazon on future pricing.

Publishers acknowledge that digital content should be priced lower than the print content. “We listened to what consumers have said,” said Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster.

Amazon and others are likely to continue selling e-books through the Apple app store even after the iBooks app arrives. No publisher wanted to discuss publicly what would happen if Amazon and others continued to charge $9.99 for new releases. But once Apple begins selling e-books at a higher price, publishers could withhold titles if Amazon continues to discount books to $9.99.

Antitrust attorneys suggested there could be legal complications if Amazon claimed that publishers were colluding to set prices, or dictating prices to retailers, which is illegal under a 2007 Supreme Court decision.

Newspapers had mixed reactions to the iPad. Martin A. Nisenholtz, senior vice president for digital operations of The New York Times Company, said the combination of iPad and app “joins the best of print with the best of digital.”

The Times has not struck any deals with Apple yet, making it too soon to say whether the newspaper would charge for the app or solicit subscriptions on the iPad.

But Christian A. Hendricks, the vice president for interactive media at McClatchy, which publishes The Miami Herald and The Kansas City Star, said, “We haven’t seen tremendous interest as far as demand for newspaper subscriptions on it.”

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