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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Shadows in Flight ebook

   
Author Topic: Shadows in Flight ebook
kacard
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To those confused about the Shadows in Flight ebook publication:

The relationship between hardback publication and ebook publication is still in flux. For a long time, OSC did not allow any of his book to be published as ebooks – but that has changed. Many of his past books are available now and most of his current books. There have been serious struggles between book publishers and ebook providers and the issues are not yet all settled.

With Shadows in Flight, OSC and his publisher are trying a new pricing structure. The hardback edition is less expensive – and yes, it is a smaller book. But you must understand that ebook editions should not actually be competing with hardback publication – ebooks are a cheaper version like a paperback. Publishers need to make their overhead expenses from hardback publication. Moving the less expensive ebook release to be more like a paperback is what OSC and his publisher have decided to do with this publication.

Think of it like first run movies – you don’t expect to buy the DVD on the same day the movie is released in the theaters.

I really don’t think most readers want publishers to cease to exist. There are many authors who now publish straight to ebook and skip the publisher step. That is their choice. But think of your attitude towards straight to video movies. The quality control that you expect from first-run theatrical releases disappears. We don’t want that to be the fate of book publication.

I assume Amazon was not aware of this decision early enough to change the kindle publication date when the book was announced. I assume they figured it would be released at the same time. So, sorry for any confusion.

Will this become standard industry practice? I don’t know. Will it be standard practice for books by OSC? That also has not been decided yet. But it is not unreasonable for the ebook edition to be treated like a paperback. It will more than likely be the paperback that disappears from the book business – it is already seriously fading. I would not like that fate for hardcovers as well.

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ResIpsa
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While I am disappointed by that posistion, I understand it. It certainly would have been helpful if this was posted a few weeks ago when Amazon changed the release date of the ebook and everyone was questioning what was going on.

That said, if you expect ebooks to be like paperbacks, shouldn't they be priced cheaper more in line with paperbacks? Most ebooks are around $10-$12 while paperbacks are what, around $6 (I haven't bought a paperback in a long time, so I may be off here)? Ovbiously there is much less actual production cost of an ebook vs. a paperback so if it comes out a year after the hardback, I would hope it would be cheaper than the paperback.

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Willster3282
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Just further proof for me that I should just keep buying my physical copies of books so I can one day have a gigantic library. I'm still not convinced I should buy an e-reader.

1. For one, the books ARE more expensive than paperback (10 dollars compared to 7-8 dollars)
2. What happens if your e-reader breaks or you lose it? You lose ALL the copies of books you've purchased.
3. What about all the books I've already purchased? I cant convert them to the e-structure, so I'll have both paperbooks and e-books.
4. What happens when e-books somehow become obsolete? Wouldn't be the first time technology has become obsolete to be replaced by something different, I'd lose all the books I bought.
5. Personal library is way more impressive.

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Craig Childs
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Thanks for the update. I have no problem waiting for the ebook. Hopefully, it will be comparably priced to the paperback ($7.99 or so).

As a reader, I do want to say that nothing would please me more than to see the publishing house disappear as a middle man. One of my other favorite authors, Lawrence Block, has published numerous titles either through an e-Book exclusive publisher, or he has self-published his books. I've noticed no drop in quality in the self-published books.

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Craig Childs
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Thanks for the update. I have no problem waiting for the ebook. Hopefully, it will be comparably priced to the paperback ($7.99 or so).

As a reader, I do want to say that nothing would please me more than to see the publishing house disappear as a middle man, if it resulted in lower prices. I don't think quality has to suffer.

Case in point: One of my favorite mystery authors, Lawrence Block, has published numerous titles through a publisher that only deals in electronic books (Open Road), and most of those books are priced below $5. He has also self-published some books, and I've noticed no drop in quality.

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Taalcon
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quote:
2. What happens if your e-reader breaks or you lose it? You lose ALL the copies of books you've purchased.
When you purchase from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, all purchases are stored in the Cloud, and can be accessed and re-downloaded by any authorized e-reader (Kindle, phone app, iPad, etc) anywhere.

I do love physical books, but I've practically found I will do much more reading with a loaded Kindle, with books also accessable on my smartphone to read while in line at store, waiting for an appointment, etc at places and times where I would not have had a hardcover or paperback with me.

In fact, this way, I'm more likely to buy more books, and put more money into the industry - because I'm reading and plowing through more books!

Just some thoughts.

I did pick up Shadows in Flight hardcover today, although I would have preferred to have purchased the Kindle edition.

Thanks for the note and the explanation.

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Jeff C.
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I understand the logic here, but I don't think it will pan out in the long run. For something like this to work, everyone in the industry (or at least the majority) would need to get behind the idea, and that just doesn't seem to be the case since most books are currently being released the same day on both formats. What's more, publishers are getting more and more criticism for not adapting to the e-book markets, a move that is actually costing them money, and this kind of decision doesn't help. It will be interesting to see where OSC takes his future releases based on the performance of this particular novel.

We're in an interesting time right now as far as the publishing industry goes. The next decade (probably less) will ultimately decide where the industry goes and whether or not traditional book stores will be a thing of the past. Look at blockbuster, if you need an example from another, yet similar, industry. Netflix destroyed them (although you can still find the occasional store). Now you're seeing the same thing in Books A Million and Barnes and Noble as more and more stores close down.

Never underestimate the laziness of the consumer.

Regardless, I prefer to buy the books I really care about in hardcover, especially my Ender/Shadow books. There's just something about it that I find more appealing.

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scifibum
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I wrote a longer reply, but it seemed like a really long way to say this:

What you seem to be saying is that the publisher and OSC want to do things the old way, because that's how they used to make sure they made a profit. And we wouldn't want self-publishing, right? Because we know that's mostly dreck.

That's a little disappointing, if that's all there is to it.

It would be reassuring to hear that the publisher conducted some analysis to indicate that eBook sales at a first-run price (discounted for lack of printing and distribution overhead, but with a little bit added back in to help cover that overhead for the hardcover sales which might be a bit lower - definitely not so cheap as to compare to margins on a paperback) - that those sales would be so dismal as to be worse than no first run electronic edition.

Instead we're getting strained analogies to other industries, and doomy warnings.

The choice isn't between 1. Full price hardcover and nothing else until the overhead is earned back, and 2. Paperback margins in the first run, and publishers go out of business, because there's absolutely no way to price an ebook that can cover the editorial overhead.

It's between 1. Giving consumers what they want and 2. Becoming irrelevant.

Because some publisher somewhere is going to realize they can make money with electronic editions and the necessary overhead for "quality control" can be part of that business model.

Consumers do expect an electronic format discount, but if they would otherwise be eager enough to pay the hardback price, they'd pay a comparably profitable price for the ebook. The ebook price would be significantly lower, after all. Wouldn't they?

(I would)

And if they wouldn't, how much could it possibly hurt just to release it anyway, at that non-hardback-cannibalizing price? You can lower the price later, when you release the paperback.

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scifibum
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This in particular sticks out:

quote:
ebooks are a cheaper version like a paperback.
Please don't tell me this decision was based on the comparable price between an ebook and a paperback. Because there's no way a paperback sale is as profitable as an ebook sale at a comparable price.
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Craig Childs
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Here's a thought: The U.S. library system has already set the value of a book's contents at $0. Think about it: with a free library card, you can consume the contents of just about every book ever written for free.

When you purchase a book, you are not really paying for the contents of the book anymore; you are paying for convenience. You don't have to drive to the library, worry about late fees, etc. You get full rights of ownership, so you can go back and look at the contents of that book at any time.

eBooks are just the ultimate expression of that convenience. Other than people who just like to use books as decorations in their home, I think it is highly probable the e-Reader will replace the physical "print" medium.

The last gap in the e-Reader technology to be developed is a device that can switch back-and-forth between e-ink (which is how I like to read; easier on the eyes) and the traditional backlit computer screen (like Kindle Flame, Nook Color, or iPad readers).

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Sean Monahan
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Thanks for the info, Mrs. Card. However and whenever OSC chooses to make his books available to me is fine with me.

- a fan who awaits his books without complaint

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Kelly1101
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quote:
Originally posted by Willster3282:
Just further proof for me that I should just keep buying my physical copies of books so I can one day have a gigantic library. I'm still not convinced I should buy an e-reader.

1. For one, the books ARE more expensive than paperback (10 dollars compared to 7-8 dollars)
2. What happens if your e-reader breaks or you lose it? You lose ALL the copies of books you've purchased.
3. What about all the books I've already purchased? I cant convert them to the e-structure, so I'll have both paperbooks and e-books.
4. What happens when e-books somehow become obsolete? Wouldn't be the first time technology has become obsolete to be replaced by something different, I'd lose all the books I bought.
5. Personal library is way more impressive.

All this, plus I hate reading from a screen. I like to read words on a page. I'm a 28-year-old Old Fogey in this way. Damn modern technology.
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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by Kelly1101:
quote:
Originally posted by Willster3282:
Just further proof for me that I should just keep buying my physical copies of books so I can one day have a gigantic library. I'm still not convinced I should buy an e-reader.

1. For one, the books ARE more expensive than paperback (10 dollars compared to 7-8 dollars)
2. What happens if your e-reader breaks or you lose it? You lose ALL the copies of books you've purchased.
3. What about all the books I've already purchased? I cant convert them to the e-structure, so I'll have both paperbooks and e-books.
4. What happens when e-books somehow become obsolete? Wouldn't be the first time technology has become obsolete to be replaced by something different, I'd lose all the books I bought.
5. Personal library is way more impressive.

All this, plus I hate reading from a screen. I like to read words on a page. I'm a 28-year-old Old Fogey in this way. Damn modern technology.
To be fair, all of these points can be pretty easily refuted.

1. Not all ebooks are more expensive than paperbacks. In fact, a lot of them are free. Then you've got the 50/75/100 book collections that cost 1 or 2 dollars. Can't get that in a regular book store.

2. Amazon/Barnes and Noble backs up what you buy and you can redownload it to another machine, including your computer.

3. We are talking about future book releases, not stuff you already bought and read. You don't expect Books A Million to personally insure your copy of The Princess Bride, do you? Books don't have insurance policies in the real world, so why would you expect them to give you a free digital version of that book? You paid for that copy of the book, not multiple ones. If anything, buying an ebook is an improvement on this, because, with an ebook, you actually ARE buying an indefinite number of copies. When you go to the bookstore, you don't get that at all.

4. E-books are digitized books. We live in a digital age. How would they become obsolete? If you mean that the hardware will become obsolete, like the Kindle will be replaced, that doesn't matter, either. You can read the book on your PC, your phone, and whatever reading device you have. Even if they stopped making ebooks (which is extremely unlikely), you will still be able to read them on any number of devices for quite some time (if not forever). In fact, the only way digital copies of novels will ever become obsolete will be if we have some kind of robot/nazi/zombie apocalypse where the internet ceases to exist and society can no longer make use of electricity, which is, admittedly, a pretty realistic and highly probable scenario.

5. It's also entirely vanity-based. A personal library requires much more space (for some people, an entire room) and is a huge pain to pack up and move (whereas a Nook or a Kindle weighs one pound and takes up less space than just one of those books).

I'm not saying I don't enjoy physical copies of novels, but I think all of the previously mentioned objections are weak and somewhat ignorant of the way things actually work. There's nothing wrong with preferring to read a book you bought in a store, but saying that it is the only way, that it should be the only way, only shows a fear of change and a refusal to admit that maybe the other option isn't wrong, that maybe there's room in the world for both. Look at the music industry for a similar situation: you can either buy a CD in a store, or you can go on i-tunes and buy the songs individually (or together). It took a while for the music industry to adapt effectively into this new structure(they didn't have much of a choice with all the pirating going on), but eventually they were able to figure it all out. Time will tell if the publishing industry follows suit, or if they fall behind and wither away like what seems to be happening with newspapers. I guess we'll know in a few years.

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Gavelwrench
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Thanks for the explanation on this. While I completely understand the need to cover the overhead and have a greater profit margin on the hardcover release, I'm disappointed to see the industry label an ebook edition as a "cheap" edition, equivalent of a paperback and a threat to hardcover sales.

I don't think the first-run movie analogy fits here, because seeing a movie in a theater and buying a copy to take home are two very different ways to consume the media, a greater difference certainly than exists between buying a hardcover and buying a paperback.

I may be wrong in this, but aside from the format difference between a hardcover and paperback (size, cover, binding, etc.), it seems that the main *idea* (and necessity) behind the initial hardcover run is to have a higher profit margin to cover the costs and overhead involved in publishing. Later on, the paperback edition can possibly sell a higher volume because of the lower price, but obviously with a lower profit margin.

What I would love to see is taking that general idea and applying it to ebook sales: Have an equivalent of the "hardcover" time period with a higher premium price on the ebook for a certain duration, and then later drop the price of the ebook to coincide with when the paperback is released (assuming there are physical editions of each!). Even though the actual "content" of the ebook I'd be buying during each period is the same, I'd be paying a premium to read it when it's first released, which isn't so different from buying a hardcover right away or waiting until a cheaper paperback version is out. In some ways, it wouldn't be very different from DVD sales -- you're paying full price when a movie is first released for home video, but a year later that DVD has usually come down in price. As a consumer, I wouldn't be surprised to pay more for an ebook on release versus paying less later down the road -- it's how most other media works today and it's what I expect when buying movies, games, etc.

That said, considering the current situation I'll be picking up Shadows in Flight in hardcover instead of waiting on the ebook [Smile]

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dandy_andi
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I appreciate the information regarding the e-book (although I consider it a little late, considering the uproar this caused both here and on book seller websites like Amazon). However I have to respectfully disagree with e-books being like the DVD of a movie, or even a paperback.

Speaking as someone who just completed a masters degree in library and information science, I have had this discussion with innumerable librarians and professors over the last several years. E-books are less expensive because they cost less to produce. Publishers don't like to admit this, and when they try to refute this argument they inevitably point to the cost of editing, carrying new authors etc and ignore the savings of not printing, binding or shipping the books. They also like to ignore a lower intrinsic value to the users. Publishers (and authors) like to assume that the total value of any book is in the story it contains. They don't like the used book market and refuse to acknowledge that by purchasing an e-book, users are losing their ability to loan the book to whomever they want, or trade it in for credit at a used book seller, or sell it used on e-bay or at a yard sale.

Publishers like to treat e-book readers like the gum they scrape off of the bottom of their shoe. Never mind that according to this Harris study e-book readers are reading more books per year than those who read from traditional print media. They are also more likely to purchase books.
quote:
E-Reader users are also more likely to buy books. One-third of Americans (32%) say they have not purchased any books in the past year compared to only 6% of e-Reader users who say the same. One in ten Americans purchased between 11 and 20 books (10%) or 21 or more books (9%) in the past year. Again, e-Reader users are more likely to have bought, or downloaded books, as 17% purchased between 11 and 20 and 17% purchased 21 or more books in the past year.
When I purchased Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan this year, the e-book version was full of mistakes. To Amazon's credit, a replacement version of the book was available at no cost almost immediately, but it sends a message to e-book readers that they aren't worthy of the consideration a print book purchaser would get.

quote:
There are many authors who now publish straight to ebook and skip the publisher step. That is their choice. But think of your attitude towards straight to video movies. The quality control that you expect from first-run theatrical releases disappears. We don’t want that to be the fate of book publication.
There are also many authors published by well-known publishing houses, who have books riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, and just really bad writing. Self-published e-books tend to be less expensive. And just because they are self-published doesn't mean they are not edited. I could write a book and hire a "book doctor" for a few hundred dollars. Someone who worked in the book industry and now edits freelance to make my e-book look just as professional as one produced by a major publishing house.

In my (and many others) opinions, publishers and authors are trying to force e-books to work in their old model. Instead of adapting to a new medium to make it work for them early in the process, they are trying to force the new medium to work in an old model and it will not work. Publishers are scared that they will go the way of the music industry. Unfortunately, they are failing to see that they are behaving exactly the same way the music industry did a decade ago when digital music first started to gain popularity. By repeating the music industry's patterns, they may well condemn themselves to the fate that they are so desperately trying to avoid.

I can tell you that what was once a guaranteed sale of a book to me is now not certain for this particular book. Not because I am protesting OSC's new practice, but because I don't pre-order e-books. There's no point, because, unlike pre-ordering a physical book to guarantee a copy within a day or two of release, I can buy an e-book the day of release and know that I will get a copy. For a book in a series that I read, I know the release date of the book, and I buy a copy on that day. But a year from now (if Amazon has the correct date, @torbooks on Twitter advised me to expect an e-book this March, not Feb. of 2013 as Amazon has listed) I may not be looking for the book. Or I may have already borrowed it from the library and decided I didn't like it enough to purchase it. If the e-book had been available the day the print book was released, I would have purchased it that day. Now I might never buy it.

That's the way e-book readers consume books. And while we may not make up the majority of readers right now, that will change in the future. If publishers and authors don't accept that and adapt their practices to accommodate those who choose to read electronically, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple will dominate the industry. Or they will fall to smaller niche publishers who recognize that they can afford to take risks on more new authors so that Amazon doesn't get to snap up the good young authors like Amanda Hocking, who self-published and has a great career.

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Gabberkooij
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I've just started to read the whole serie in english, buying the ebooks as I progress. I will wait for the ebook edition.

Years ago i lended some of the books in a public library and read them (in the wrong order, started with xenocide :-) ) for almost free (being member of the library is very sheap in the Netherlands)

I've now started with a kindle reader and I did not buy that many books in years. (it is so easy to buy the next book in a serie digitally!) I've also replaced a lot of books by a digital copy and thrown away the paper version. Leaves me room to use the bookshelfs for other things.

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Minerva
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Why not just price the e-book so the profit is the same as on a hardcover? It would still be a lower cost than the hardcover since you don't have to pay for binding, shipping, etc. The e-book price could then be lowered in a year when the paperback comes out.
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neo-dragon
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Aren't some currently priced so that they should yield greater profit. Looking at the recently released Dune novel on amazon, the hard cover is $18.47, and the e-book is $18.40. Am I to understand that binding, printing, and shipping only cost 7 cents a book? [Razz]

I don't know much about the business, but I don't understand why e-books can't be cheaper than hardcovers and still yield the same profits like you said. Even better would be if they were like those combo packs where you buy a movie on Blu-ray and it comes a free digital copy. This would please a lot of consumers, and I don't see how it would actually cost the publisher or retailer anything.

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Taalcon
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From what I understand, Amazon rakes publishers dry for the pleasure of selling their ebook through their service at a competitive price. I know small publishers who had to split larger books into two parts for the Kindle Version in order to circumvent the ridiculous pricing scale.

So when it comes to profits, I don't think it's as clear cut as 'no physical manufacturing = more profits'.

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neo-dragon
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So it's because Amazon has the market cornered and can therefore bend publishers over a table?
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Jeff C.
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What about Barnes and Noble?
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Phane
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First off, I love the Ender series and hope that OSC continues to write more.

That being said, I cancelled my pre-order and placed a reserve on this book with my local library instead. So you can add my $10 to the pool of lost revenue caused by this decision.

Amazon doesn't "bend publishers over a table", by the way. They never have. Do a google search on "Apple e-book anti-trust" and you'll see what Amazon was doing (and is now being forced to do) with eBook prices.

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dandy_andi
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quote:
Originally posted by Taalcon:
From what I understand, Amazon rakes publishers dry for the pleasure of selling their ebook through their service at a competitive price. I know small publishers who had to split larger books into two parts for the Kindle Version in order to circumvent the ridiculous pricing scale.

So when it comes to profits, I don't think it's as clear cut as 'no physical manufacturing = more profits'.

I'd love to find out where you are getting your information.

In reality, the argument is this. When e-books first came out, they were treated like regular books. The publisher set an MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price). The bookseller paid the publisher a percentage of the MSRP but could then set their own retail price and sell the book for whatever price they wanted. For many of their e-books, and nearly all of the best seller lists, Amazon chose to set the e-book pricing at $9.99. This meant that they were taking a loss on most e-books that they sold at that price point. The publisher was making the same amount on the book regardless.

Then came Apple. I have a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, so don't think I'm an Apple hater when I say this, but they basically ruined e-book pricing. With the release of Apple's iPad, Apple wanted to enter the e-book market and they entered into agreements with several of the major big 5 publishers (I believe the initial number was 4 with the final company holding out because they didn't agree with the original terms but I would have to double check). The agreement was that they would offer the publishers agency pricing, something that the publishers wanted with Amazon but couldn't get. In return, the publishers would agree that their e-books would not be sold with any other e-book seller for a lower price than in Apple's iBooks. Amazon fought the publishers for the right to set their own prices, but lost after yanking even the physical books of some of the publishers in question from their site (including Tor Books who publish OSC). Ultimately if Amazon wanted to continue selling e-books they had to cave to the new agency pricing format. The books were made available for sale on Amazon's site again and the new pricing was implemented.

That's where we stand today. However, there are currently anti-trust investigations occurring in the EU regarding the agency pricing model. The US Justice Department is also looking into the issue. The concern is that Apple and the major publishers colluded to raise consumer prices through the use of a preferred seller contract.

Personally, I don't like being asked to pay as much as the hard cover, or even the paperback for an e-book. Publishers and authors often use the argument that you are paying for the story, not the medium used to display the story. But physical books have additional value that e-books don't have. I can trade away, sell or donate a physical book if I don't want or like it anymore. I can loan it to whomever I want as many times as I want. And it's my book. Perhaps that is the most important point: when I buy an e-book, I do not own a copy of the book. I own a license to use the book, and if the company I purchased the book through goes out of business, I could potentially lose access to my book. I don't think that there is any way to give me back the value I lose through those issues, and I refuse to purchase more expensive e-books as a result.

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Taalcon
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quote:
I'd love to find out where you are getting your information.
From a small-ish publisher of niche books, who has had to split several of their larger page-count books into two parts for the e-books in order to take advantage of a pricing policy that would allow them to a) maintain a reasonable and competitive price, while still b) making a profit.

I recognize this may be mostly just a reality of the Niche Publishing market, and while it may not be as big of an issue for big giant publishers who sell books by the millions, for a small niche publisher where thousands are hoped to be sold, it can be extremely difficult to e-publish a large book with a competitive price. Even though that would otherwise be seen as THE way to recoup funds and make a profit, since the cost of binding and printing becomes a non-issue.

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scparlee
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The problem with this analogy is that the kindle book price is not on par with a paperback -- as it would seem reasonable to be. It is up to 50% more than the paperback.

I love OSC books and have gone back and bought just about every book I have ever read on my kindle -- especially as I have introduced our now 11 year old son to all of them. Books that I owned in hardback or paperback previously. We just do not have the room to maintain the physical books anymore.

I do wish that the notice on Amazon had been clearer -- we thought we were pre-ordering it for Feb 1st of this year. I had no idea it was more than a year down the road.

That said, I do understand the economics. We will borrow it from our library to read today and buy it for our kindle library in a year.

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Craig Childs
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quote:
Originally posted by scparlee:
The problem with this analogy is that the kindle book price is not on par with a paperback -- as it would seem reasonable to be. It is up to 50% more than the paperback.

This seems to vary greatly by publisher. Hard Case Crime books (not sure if HCC is a publisher, or an imprint) are actually usually $7.00 for a new e-book, and $9.50 for a new trade paperback.

The e-books for George R.R. Martin's Fire & Ice series are $8.99, which is exactly the same as the price for the mass market paperback version of the same book.

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clownbox
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I'm sorry, but this rationale for waiting on ebooks is just crap.

I travel 50%+ of the time and read all books on my nook. I would gladly pay more for the convenience of an ebook than for a hard cover - which would allow the author/publisher to make much more money per sale (small cost of goods sold).

The first run/DVD argument is not logically sound either. It costs much more for a family of four to go to a movie than rent a DVD - profits are maximized through theater showings rather than via DVD per viewer. However, with ebooks, the amount of profit per sale is greater due to lesser cost of production.

I hope Mr. Card plans to move beyond the 1990s and embrace ebooks, or his readership will decline.

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Stephan
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How is Shadows in Flight cheaper? Seems to be about the same price as most first run hardbacks on Amazon. Bestsellers like King and Rowling often come out at $9.99 on Amazon and places like Sam's Club.

I don't really understand hardbacks. They can be a pain to read, carry, and travel with.

Comparing ebooks to dvd releases really bugs me. Sure I might buy a Harry Potter dvd after seeing the movie in the theater, but who buys an ebook after buying a hardback? How about just setting the price of the ebook to that of whatever edition is currently available in physical format?

I got the book on Audible, and with the platinum subscription essentially paid less than $10 for it anyways.

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dandy_andi
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Hardbacks are good for collectors. Before e-books, I preferred hard cover books because they are hardier. I tend to re-read books over and over, and paperbacks fall apart and then have to be replaced. Also, because I live in the south where it can get extremely hot, a hardcover accidentally left in the car is less likely to fall apart afterwards, the glue on a paperback spine can melt if left in a hot car for as little as an hour, ruining the book. Because I was concerned about durability, I didn't mind paying a premium for a hard cover book.

I won't reiterate my post here, you can read my opinion above, but I don't think that e-books have the same value, I only paid once for more than $9.99 and it is unlikely I will do so again. As a result, I may never buy the book, and my money will go to another author.

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Humphries72
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I understand the logic that the author and the publisher need to recover the overhead of the book. And I do believe publishers ad value to the finished product. But I think you are missing the point.

I pay a premium on hardbacks for one of two reasons: 1. I want to read the book when it first comes out, or 2. Because I want to buy a book I plan to read multiple times over years. The bad thing about them is that they are heavy. That is why I love ebooks.

I am very willing to pay the hardback price for a new release ebook.

What I will not do is buy a book in hardback when i really want the ebook (my hardback library is already too heavy). So I will probably get this book from the library, and than purchase the ebook when it comes out in a year.

What does this means to the author and publisher? It means that a book that I would have been willing to pay $15 for now if it were in ebook form, I will only pay $10 for in a year. Of course that is assuming that I still want to buy it after I read the libray's copy.

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Stephan
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One model they could copy from dvds is giving a free digital download copy with the hardback purchase.

I don't own a blu-ray player yet, so I love it when I can buy the dvd/blu-ray/digital download all in one small case.

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Don Domande
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THANK YOU! I was just about to post a new topic suggesting exactly that - some offer to give a digital download with each hard copy sold.

I've been waiting for this for a while, and would be more likely to purchase both the hard and the electronic copy of a book this way. My suggestion would actually be not to offer the e-book free, but at a greatly reduced price. (ex: purchase the hardcover for 25, get an e-book for 2) Of course, you could just roll over the price into the hardcover.

As a book lover, even when I read books on my Nook, I still want the hard copy in my house - I like the look, the permanence - everything about it. (I also have to have physical CDs for any albums I own...) As new books have come out, I have to make the decision right now whether I want the e-book or the physical book, and don't see why we shouldn't be able to do both, since I really don't see how it could be possible that the e-book is as expensive to manufacture as the physical book.

In a circumstance like this one, I'll be buying the first available, and forgoing the other one entirely.

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Craig Childs
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quote:
Originally posted by Don Domande:
THANK YOU! I was just about to post a new topic suggesting exactly that - some offer to give a digital download with each hard copy sold.

I'm skeptical of this idea. B/c here is what I would do: I would read the book on my kindle, then I would immediately sell the hardback on ebay for about 50% of the retail price.

This strategy would almost immediately flood the secondhand market with new books.

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Don Domande
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Interesting - Had not thought of that. Is this what happens with the DVDs/downloadable movies, too?

Grr...

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shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by Craig Childs:
I'm skeptical of this idea. B/c here is what I would do: I would read the book on my kindle, then I would immediately sell the hardback on ebay for about 50% of the retail price.

This strategy would almost immediately flood the secondhand market with new books.

I'm not sure that it would have that effect. It would only make sense to go through all of that trouble if the price of the digital book were significantly more than half the price of the hardcover.
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Don Domande
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I wonder, though, if the pricing were arranged correctly, (if the pricing can be controlled enough by the publisher) if even in the case that a great number purchased them for the exact reason that Craig mentions, the publisher would still net more sales and profit? I would imagine there would be a fair number who would be like me and keep both. For example, if the hardcover were priced at $25 by itself (I don't know what hardcovers are going for now...), and included a digital download that was ONLY available to purchasers of the hardcover (Delay the digital copy for a period of time), I would be very likely to go for that. I would expect that there'd have to be some code included in the book, (like games often do) that allow you to access the digital copy, and would not allow secondary purchases to access the same.

Then again, I'm just a musician and only count to 4...such math to figure out how that would work financially is WAY beyond me! [Smile]

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Dogbreath
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You're going to lose a lot of business from people like me with this sort of policy.

I have a job that requires frequent travel, often times unscheduled, often times with only with what I can carry on my back. The Kindle was a godsend for people like me. It's light, it lasts several weeks on a single battery charge, and you can download books onto it from literally any place in the world with a cellphone network. (and there are no service fees for doing so) Since I got my Kindle, I've probably spent a good $200 or $300 more on books every year than before I had it. (when I did read, I'd check books out from the library)

The other day I noticed on Hatrack that Shadows in Flight had been released. I had a few hours to spare, so I turned on my Kindle and searched for it, only to find it wasn't there. And you lost a sale. This isn't a matter of pricing - I'm fairly affluent - it's a matter of I don't have much storage space and don't want to drive to a bookstore and buy a book I'll just give away as soon as I'm done reading it. (and therefore not be able to access again)

Instead, I'll check it out from the library. I'll probably like it, and may still buy the ebook version when it comes out, but you've gone from a 100% chance of me buying the book to something less certain. And I'm a big OSC fan. Imagine your average impulse buyer who sees an article about Shadows in Flight and is interested enough to download it on his Kindle (and makes enough money where $10 or so makes no difference), but doesn't really have the time/inclination/ability to drive to a bookstore and buy a physical copy. It's a much larger group of people than you would think. (including a lot of my coworkers)

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Jeff C.
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Being in the military and having traveled around a bit myself, I can understand Dogbreath's perspective. I know several other deployed military personnel and they each have a Kindle because of the convenience. It just doesn't make sense to have physical books if you're going to the desert for six months to a year.
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Dogbreath
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Speaking from personal experience, the Kindle has revolutionized literacy and reading in the military in the past few years. Now when deployed, the same guys who 5 years ago would be rereading the same magazines (porn and cars, mostly) and handful of Tom Clancy paperbacks for 7 months now all have Kindles and are voracious readers. This is having an impact on education as well. The Marine Corps Institute, for example, is in the process of adapting their correspondence courses for e-readers.

The Kindle is making a subtle but significant impact on our society. This may not seem apparent to those with sedentary lifestyles, but among the military, and those with transient lifestyles in general, it's made a huge difference.

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markphilip
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(Post Removed by Janitor Blade. Legible Spam.)

[ May 11, 2012, 10:38 AM: Message edited by: JanitorBlade ]

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El JT de Spang
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For me, as much as I travel, the kindle has significantly impacted how much I read. And I've always read a TON. But when I traveled I'd be stopping at bookstores in every town. Now I have a backlog of hundreds on my kindle, and a few physical books with me as well.
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Chris Bridges
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So the model is "we need to make X amount for our hardcovers and the increasingly popular ebooks are cutting into that, therefore we must cripple ebook sales and readers will love hardcovers again"?

Or the publisher could, I dunno, stop printing as large a print run of the hardcovers and price the ebook just under the hardcover price?

Ebooks are not the enemy. Ebooks are, judging by the percentage of sales, the future. There may well be an industry out there that's held off the future to maintain profit margins and succeeded, but offhand I just can't think of any.

I have written and deleted the rest of this post five times now, because I want to express how I feel but I don't want to sound harsh or critical of one of my favorite authors who is, I know, simply trying to keep making a living in the face of a wildly changing industry.

All I can tell you is this: I didn't buy an OSC book tonight.

I went to Amazon fully intending to. But I did not want a physical book I have no room for, and I didn't want to settle for a prettier-but-abridged ebook. I wanted the complete text in ebook form, something I fully expected to find. I expected to pay a reasonable percentage of the hardcover price, because it's new and I was willing to pay more for the convenience of getting it now. Instead I found a desperate windowing experiment that penalizes me for using a Kindle.

I did buy a book. But not an OSC book -- I have them all already -- and not a Tor book (although that wasn't by design). Instead I added "Shadows in Flight" to my wish list and maybe in a year I'll get to read it.

Anecdotal results of Tor and OSC's experiment: 1 lost ebook sale, 1 disappointed, frustrated reader.

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El JT de Spang
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Count me as a lost sale, too, for the exact same reasons.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
What I would love to see is taking that general idea and applying it to ebook sales: Have an equivalent of the "hardcover" time period with a higher premium price on the ebook for a certain duration, and then later drop the price of the ebook to coincide with when the paperback is released (assuming there are physical editions of each!).
The video game industry has already gone through this cycle. The losers: physical game stores. The winners: pretty much everyone else.
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
What I would love to see is taking that general idea and applying it to ebook sales: Have an equivalent of the "hardcover" time period with a higher premium price on the ebook for a certain duration, and then later drop the price of the ebook to coincide with when the paperback is released (assuming there are physical editions of each!).
The video game industry has already gone through this cycle. The losers: physical game stores. The winners: pretty much everyone else.
Game Stop seems to be doing pretty well, at least in my area. A new one just opened less than 5 miles from another.
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