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Author Topic: Oh, come on OSC.
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The Amazon situation isn't so simple as the dynamic between a schoolchild and a bully. It's just a lot more complex.

Macmillan is trying to raise the price of e-books, which have no physical cost--no paper, no transportation, no shelf space. I've heard analyses suggesting this is part of a forthcoming contest between the iPad and the Kindle; I've heard people decry Macmillan's actions as an attempt to make ebooks nonviable.

But the fact is that Macmillan made a move just as direct as Amazon's. And all Amazon is doing is making sure people know about it, saying "Macmillan is forcing us to raise prices." Is that bullying, or is it just honesty?

And because of our publishing system, because you are bound to Tor, which is bound to Macmillan, you feel personally aggrieved when something happens to an entity that is _not you._

Your attack dogs are acting just as ferociously as Amazon's. The battle isn't about authors, it isn't about "just selling books." It's about such shallow things as market dominance, and such important things as loosening the hold corporations have over artists.

And so your statement just brings emotions of persecution into a debate that really isn't about you personally.

Do you really think Macmillan is acting in _your_ best interest?

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I Am The War Chief
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I understand the desire to interact with OSC but it seems like this conversation


would be the place to go . . . possibly ?

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That conversation is about Amazon and Macmillan and the whole issue generally.

I was aware of it while writing, but: my point is about OSC's actions in particular; therefore, I hold it to be distinct.

(And I don't necessarily expect OSC to read, much less respond to this post.)

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Can we just rename the "Discussions about Orson Scott Card" portion of the site "Oh, come on OSC"?

Frankly I was a happier man before I discovered World Watch and OSC Reviews Everything. It was like watching my Grandpa go senile again, with the added suspicion that maybe he was senile from the beginning but I just hadn't really paid too much attention to him before. After reading his little columns for so long I really wouldn't expect a balanced analysis of something like this Amazon situation.

EDIT: He was spot-on about 500 Days of Summer in my opinion, though. Note that I haven't seen the film but found his analysis refreshing.

[ February 07, 2010, 04:28 PM: Message edited by: Clumpy ]

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I'm going to bump this thread now that OSC has written about the Amazon v. Macmillan battle in his own words, because I think that something he said needs to be refuted. For those who followed the thread on the other side of the forum, you've probably already seen most of this. In his article he stated that booksellers don't set the price of books, publishers do.

This is a misunderstanding of retail at the best. Publishers, like all manufacturers, set the MSRP for their product. That's the cover price of a book, for example the $25.95 cover price of my hardcover copy of Ender in Exile. However, retailers are under no obligation to sell the book at that MRSP, and many of them don't, especially if the book makes the bestseller list. Barnes and Noble sells all bestsellers for 25-30% off the list price. Which means that the book likely sold for around $17.50-$19.46. If you are a member of their book club, you can get an additional 10% off of the lower price, meaning that book club members get the book for $15.75-$17.51.

I understand that as an author, OSC is of course, upset about the fact that his books were not sold by a retailer of such size as Amazon for several days, it feels like bullying. What Macmillan seems to be saying to their authors is that they will make more money off of e-books as a publishing company than they did at the $9.99 price (and btw OSC Amazon does not sell ALL books at the $9.99 rate, some are more and some less, though many are $9.99). In the former model, Amazon paid Macmillan (or other publishers) 1/2 the list price of the book and then they set their own price. So, for Ender in Exile with a list price of $25.95, Amazon paid Macmillan $12.975 for every copy sold on Kindle before the paperback was released. With the new "agency" model, Amazon will make 30% on the price of the book, depending on what price Macmillan sets. So, if Macmillan sets the price of a new book at $14.95, Amazon will pay Macmillan $10.465, $2.51 LESS than they paid to Macmillan with the previous model.

The real hope of Macmillan and publishers is that they will get to double dip on customers, at least in my opinion. Meaning that they are hoping if a book price on Kindle and other e-book readers is within a couple of dollars of the hardcover copy of the book, that readers will buy the hardcover first, and then buy the e-book later. I don't think that's going to happen. Many of the people who purchased an e-reader did so because they intended to use it as their primary method of book purchasing. Apartment dwellers, like myself, who has filled every available shelf with books and doesn't have the space for any more.

Many customers who use e-readers, also don't want to pay the same for an e-book as they do for a physical book. Why? Because there is less value in an electronic copy of a book. Authors and publishers will argue against this, after all the story is the same, and it is the story that consumers are purchasing right? Only partly. Physical books have a resale value that isn't available in the electronic copy. When I was finished with a hardcover or paperback I could sell it on ebay, or take it to a used book store and trade it in for credit. Once I've purchased an e-book, it's mine, and I can't sell it or trade it for something else. Why should I pay the same for a book that has no resale value? Because publishers don't like to think of their products as something that has a resale value at all. Much like game companies that dislike stores such as GameStop because it takes away from the sales of new products by selling used games.

Will the new agency model work? Maybe. However, there is already a boycott of Kindle users against titles priced over $9.99, and there's a feeling that this isn't really over. Users have pointed out that with sites that already use the agency model, Macmillan has been extremely slow to actually lower prices, and if other publishers don't follow suit, Macmillan may see sales losses when users simply buy other, less expensive books.

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