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Sometimes there is even something that makes sense in strangest places.

In a curious twist I’ve actually got to commend an article in the Guardian, about an author’s organization that actually seems to have the interests of authors (not publishers and agents) at heart and be outspoken in support of them. This is so different SFWA and from the usual spittle-drenched fare provided by Damian Walter in the same newspaper that I could hardly believe the masthead. Normally the Guardian is a Traditional Publishing Establishment loyalist to the core, strongly opposed to any form of change in the status quo. Perhaps they’d been hacked… but no, it seems genuine, an article worth reading.

I want to quote Nicola Solomon – who apparently heads the 9,000-member strong Society of Authors : – ‘publishers, retailers and agents are all now taking a larger slice of the profit when a book is sold, and that while “authors’ earnings are going down generally, those of publishers are increasing”.

“Authors need fair remuneration if they are to keep writing and producing quality work,” she said. “Publisher profits are holding up and, broadly, so are total book sales if you include ebooks but authors are receiving less per book and less overall due mainly to the fact that they are only paid a small percentage of publishers’ net receipts on ebooks and because large advances have gone except for a handful of celebrity authors.”
On top of that, said Solomon, “publishers are doing less for what they get. There are still important things they do – a traditional publisher can edit, copy edit, design, market, promote, make your book better, deal with foreign sales. With ebooks, though, publishers’ costs are less, so authors should get a better share. They do not have to produce, distribute or warehouse physical copies. Even on traditional books, publishers’ production costs have gone down but authors have not benefited from these costs savings. And, increasingly authors are being asked to do a lot of marketing and promotion themselves.””

And later
According to Solomon, most writers would “still prefer a traditional publishing deal but the terms publishers are demanding are no longer fair or sustainable”.

Whoa Nellie! That, finally is an Authors’ Organization BEING an Author’s Organization! Bravo!!! Telling the traditional publishing the establishment the same home truths we at Mad Genius Club have been banging on about for years… Did you ever hear the like from Scott Turow (former president of the Author’s Guild) or John Scalzi (former president of SFWA), or Roxana Robinson (the current President of Authors Guild) – which I’ll talk about later) Or Stephen Gould, the current SFWA president? But hey, they’re all pretty good at shrieking Amazon evul in 50 different sharps and flats. Amazon may be evul… but compared to the thorough abuse that, as Solomon points out above, authors have got from traditional publishing, Amazon are saints. And speaking of which the same article mentions self publishing.

“Self-publishing meanwhile, is becoming an increasingly attractive option for writers, according to the survey, which found that just over 25% of writers had published something themselves. Writers were investing a mean of £2,470 in publishing their own work, with the median investment at £500, and typically recouping their investment plus 40%. Eighty-six per cent of those who had self-published said they would do so again.”
They’re spending money. They’re making a profit. They overwhelmingly will do it again.

My hat off to the Guardian’s Alison Flood for this article. It took courage and foresight. The Guardian is a far left wing newspaper. The publishing establishment both in US and UK are almost entirely fervently far left. Of course writers (and readers) come from across the spectrum. But… this still means that self-publishing is actually for everyone – if you can draw an audience. While a few darlings and the message got favored by traditional publishing, this was still bad for the vast majority (regardless of politics, just worse for anyone not left of Lenin.) and the longer term future of reading. People do not read because they have to, they read because they enjoy it. It is why, especially in tough economic times books (escapist books, uplifting books that leave the reader feeling better about the future, himself, and his world) have always sold well (along with vegetable seeds, beer, camping gear, and escapist movies – not movies in general, but ones with qualities like those mentioned when I spoke of books. Movies of hope, movies of dreams.) Dreams probably come in all sorts political guises, so long as they have the hope too. IMO this why the self-pubs are doing well with a cheap product that does exactly what the public want. I did read a whine from an award-winning author that while at the conferences she attends the queer and diversity and women topics are packed… so where are her sales? It’s an interesting question. I suspect that the cons are not a true reflection of the wider potential book buyers. Maybe the problem is also the hopes and dreams side? I have enough despair and nightmares without paying for extra. That’s why I write what I write – because I want read hopes and dreams too, and people I can identify with and want to care about. Maybe that is why Stardogs – which I finally have up as a dead tree —

has sold well, so far. I hope so.

Anyway, moving on: It’s interesting to pick up on these articles as well, on the ongoing Hachette/Amazon negotiations. (hat tip to Tully who brought it up on my last post, sometime midweek.

“If Hachette agrees, for as long as this dispute lasts, Hachette authors would get 100 percent of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell,” Amazon said in a letter sent to authors and literary agents. “Both Amazon and Hachette would forego all revenue and profit from the sale of every e-book until an agreement is reached.”

It’s been largely ignored, as most of the media are big five trad-pub affiliates or sympathizers. I think it is fair to say Hachette DOES want authors to act as human shields. Not only did they turn the offer down, just as they refused the Amazon offer of a fund to compensate authors (which Amazon has done before, with MacMillan) for losses incurred during negotiations, but they turned this offer down too, and no, they have made no alternate offers to their authors and it seems plain they want them very much in the middle.

The publisher responses to this fight seem to be that authors are cannon fodder. Hachette are first, and Harper-Collins next. It appears it’s not Amazon dragging its feet on settlement. The negotiations are set by the DoJ for 6 months apart, and I have a feeling it might have been the game plan to play for time (while not losing money, by playing business as usual) until they could be joined by Harper-Collins. On their own, Hachette are a tiny percentage of Amazon’s business (7% of Amazon’s business is actually selling books.). Unfortunately, they found that two could play the game and now they are losing money, because it isn’t business as usual.

I do think Hachette are right that it would be suicidal to agree to this, getting authors out of the middle. Having seen 100% and reliable transparent reporting and quick payment, they aren’t going to find returning to the ‘25% of net’ (which probably amounts to 12-14% of gross and is very many months late, and where the accounting is well… interesting) acceptable. It’s not about Hachette not being able to afford it – that is as Amazon put it, baloney. It’s about their cannon fodder deserting en masse or turning on them.

The response hasn’t been stunning from the utterly disinterested darlings… make of it what you will. I think changing the name to Publisher’s Guild seems appropriate. Konrath and Eisler pull it apart here.

Harper Collins are apparently planning to launch their own online store, as a strategy to cope. It’s something I advocated for years, and I’d guess Tor.com is trying. I don’t actually think either have any more chance than snowflake in Darwin in Midsummer on the tarmac, but that is because they tend drag their corporate culture with them. I will bet they don’t pay authors substantially more, or pay a referral fee to authors for sending the readers their way. Or try to gear their offering around reader demand, rather editorial taste. Baen, with far more savvy than these guys ever displayed, didn’t make themselves Amazon independent in the long run either.

59 Comments
  1. The way I’m beginning to see it is that writer’s groups, like the SFWA, essentially don’t have any power. Unlike say a Trade Union, they can’t restrict non-members from working in the field. but what they CAN do is promise the publishers that their members will be well-behaved little proles by working to impose group-think that is favorable to the Publishers. SFWA authors know they can easily be replaced by the next ten newbies off the slushpile, but by appealing to the publishers on an ideological basis, they promote their members as being agreeable to the political zietgiest the publishers wish to project.

    July 14, 2014
    • My feeling is that the connectivity between authors and readers is improving (just by my ‘recommended for you’ list) – which means that those without much connection… which is not a small number (both indy and probably moreso, trad pub) will be ‘disposable’ – but those who make connection with readers – not publishers – will not be. Any group that has a large number of those with a strong connection (following/readership) will de facto have a great deal of power.

      July 14, 2014
      • I’ve noted that just echoing each other’s books when they come out gets massive hits.

        July 14, 2014
  2. I read where one indie author said he was actually hoping Hachette won. His reasoning is that if Hachette wins, and assuming other publishers follow suit, the overall prices of Big Five published ebooks will increase obviously. As such, more and more readers will snag indie books and their lower price point.

    From a business standpoint, I get that. I mean, if your largest competitor is going to shoot themselves in the foot, you let them. Unfortunately, there’s a art of me that refuses to hope Hachette wins, in part because of the underhanded why they appear to have gone about all of this. They want to dictate to their largest seller how things are going to be. What they don’t get is that they need Amazon far more than Amazon needs them.

    Yes, this is true for indie writers too. I read somewhere that Amazon only paid 35 percent to indie authors before someone else opened up an ebook store, and Amazon raised what they pay. “If Amazon becomes and monopoly, what do you think will happen to your royalties?”

    First, Amazon’s not in danger of being a monopoly any time soon. The great thing is that if they do, someone else will step up and compete, possibly even better.

    Second, even if they do, and even if they drop royalties to authors, 35 percent is still better that the 12 percent or so that traditionally published authors bring home. Oh, it’ll piss me off along with a lot of other indie authors, but we’ll adapt somehow. We’ll still be ahead of our traditionally published brethren.

    July 14, 2014
    • robfornow #

      If Amazon had only paid 35% and then kicked it up to 70% in response to the market, it would show that Amazon respects it’s meat and potatoes more than desert. They could have simply dropped prices alone to gain market share; instead, they keep the price low (comparably) and treat their suppliers well. Most Japanese companies have business plans that go for centuries. Sounds like Amazon intends to keep in their company.

      July 14, 2014
      • Most likely. FWIW, I agree for the most part.

        Also, I don’t see Amazon ever becoming the only game in town. They’re the biggest, and right now it seems they’re doing everything right to stay that way, but there’s always going to be someone trying to take a bite out of their pie. Indie authors are always going to have options. The technology basically makes it impossible to prevent at this point.

        July 14, 2014
        • Eamon J. Cole #

          Amazon’s success is largely as a product aggregator: They put more eyeballs on more things.

          I suspect this is why Baen came to terms with them. Not because Baen wasn’t making money or bringing in new readers or spreading the word about their authors, they assuredly were. (We all know Baen’s got brand identity to spare, they know how to make it work.) They made a deal with Amazon to snag some eyeballs.

          Amazon has succeeded because they have maximized an old retail maxim: get them in the store! Once folks are in the store, there’s time to sell other stuff, but get them in the store!

          How many folks only buy books on Amazon? Or only *random category*? How many affiliates are linking to Amazon for *specialty category associated with their blog* and reaping the benefits of *other thing I needed to buy*?

          When Amazon stumbles and starts losing eyeballs Baen and other smart book pushers are going to wander over to the next gal stacking eyeballs on webpages and make a deal with them.

          Other publishers seem immune to the value of quantity. I suspect it’s killing them, and as their midlist thins out they’ll go ahead and die.

          July 14, 2014
        • They’re smart enough to network with the folks that could take a bite of their pie– the suggested external links, for example.

          They don’t have to see EVERYTHING, and I bet they get some cash for linking to outside websites…..

          July 14, 2014
    • Yes, I keep hearing this ‘they’ll destroy the publishers and then cut your royalties.’ The flaw as i see it, is it takes a lot of cramming to get the genie back in the bottle – they’re pretty insubstantial, and hard to cram (publishers, being large entities might be hard to get to fit in the bottle, but they can be grasped as a lump. Not so easy when you have several million small suppliers, who often have established a personal connection with their readers – unlike publishers. Having had 70%… they might accept 65%… and slowly slowly down… but it’s a LONG LONG way to 12%

      July 14, 2014
  3. Christopher M. Chupik #

    Oh, hell, even Damien is sounding like a Hun on traditional publishing on Twitter these days. Though I have to wonder how he’d respond if someone told him that a bunch of evil reactionary regressives beat him to the punch. 😉

    July 14, 2014
    • Damian has been frantically kissing up to try and get himself in with one of the trad pubs – probably Tor or the like, in my opinion. He’d fit right in. They should take him.

      July 14, 2014
  4. “Baen, with far more savvy than these guys ever displayed, didn’t make themselves Amazon independent in the long run either.”

    Baen still does run their own store, though, and I’m sure it runs at a decent profit. Bets that Harper Collins manages to come up with some over-designed and complex pile of crap that winds up racking up massive losses before getting scrapped? ‘Cause that’s just the way they do things. 🙂

    July 14, 2014
    • gingeroni #

      It’s already a piece of junk. I can browse by genre (scifi) but I can’t get to the second page of listings. The “next page” button dumps me on the first page of the all books listing.

      July 14, 2014
      • What a surprise, Gingeroni. You’ve got to look at their priorities, and there is no money for this. They need the money for essentials… like NYC premises, not trivia like good programmers and pleasing customers!

        July 14, 2014
    • The problem? ALL OF THEM including B & N and Amazon Kobo (Edited to make sense. Sometimes I need IV drip of caffeine.) seem to set out to “not be Amazon” — but that means they seem to be dealing with either feeble minded children (B & N. REALLY Nook, you think I’m going to write my “book” on your website? How long is this book and may I use crayons?) or computer programmers (Kobo is SO visually oriented that for someone like me who has ZERO visual memory just putting a book up is an endurance run and takes my son helping me. If I’m on my own, all I can find is the videos telling me how to put up a video book (IV drip. STAT) FROM WHICH PAGES THERE IS NO LINK TO THE ACTUAL PAGE TO PUT IT UP. Yes, this pisses me off. Note, that except for the brief hour that Amazon thought my native language was Japanese, I’ve never, not even when tired/sick had issues putting a book up. Okay, fine, I once priced one at 99 dollars… for an hour.) But these people want to compete with Amazon in HOW TO PUT UP BOOKS. Which is mind boggling.
      What Amazon can be competed with on, is different. Offer all formats of ebook, “beamable” to the reader’s reader, and offer four copies per book any format, with re-downloads possible indefinitely to instruments registered to that reader. That alone will skim a bunch of people off Amazon, like, you know, people with families. The only reason we haven’t gone fully digital is that sometimes all four of us want to read a book.
      On the writer side, allow pre-ordering for indies and allow sales with no exclusivity. (Amazon is actually shooting itself in the foot on that last. Hell, maybe on both of them. The only reason it hasn’t felt it is that its competition sucks rotten eggs.)
      Publisher sites? Unless they also open to self pub (AH!) they’re always going to be gnat on publishing’s butt. Besides, as publishers should learn fast and well — no one outside Baen has brand recognition. NOT ONE OF THEM. And that includes romance and Harlequin.

      July 14, 2014
      • Eamon J. Cole #

        The only reason we haven’t gone fully digital is that sometimes all four of us want to read a book.

        I can download a book I’ve purchased to any device registered with my account. This is how my dad reads the books I’ve bought (my mom is still stuck on paper) on ‘his’ reader. It’s registered to my account, so it’s actually ‘my’ other reader.

        Now, this means he could go on a crazy spending spree and buy books through his reader that I’d be paying for, so you have to trust the folks on your account. But is there a limitation I’ve not run into that blocks you guys from doing something similar?

        July 14, 2014
        • Yes. I don’t want younger son finding out some of the goopy romances I download.
          Look, there should be the possibility of a “family” account.

          July 14, 2014
          • Eamon J. Cole #

            😀

            Ahem. Sorry. Guffaw moment.

            On the family account? Complete agreement. Families with shorter children would probably appreciate the ability to guide which of the family’s books the kids found, as well. Not to mention the possibility of setting up readers without buying privileges.

            Mr. Bezos (I know you read MGC, but it’s okay, I won’t tell), can you get on this?

            July 14, 2014
            • Amen!

              I’d even be willing to pay an extra ten bucks a month on our Prime.

              My husband would REALLY like to be able to “merge” his account into mine (he gave me Prime for Christmas, with the Kindle!) but he doesn’t want me getting an email with all the details every time he orders a gift for me!

              July 14, 2014
              • Eamon J. Cole #

                See! There’s another good aspect for privacy walling within one account! Good stuff.

                July 14, 2014
              • Eamon J. Cole #

                I also strongly suspect Amazon would find an increase in sales with family accounts, much as they have with Prime accounts. Strengthening the perceived relationship with families can have real long-term benefits for a retailer.

                July 14, 2014
                • I’m still trying to figure out if Amazon Pantry is worth it for my parents. They live in BFN, so getting a box of pantry goods at roughly city store prices would be a BIG selling point.

                  July 14, 2014
        • I believe you’re limited to one of each type.

          July 14, 2014
          • Eamon J. Cole #

            I’m not sure what limitations exist, but I do have two K’s, a phone and two PC’s active on one account.

            July 14, 2014
            • But are they the same flavor of kindle? My mom had two of the same make at one point, and her account didn’t like it. (one broke)

              July 14, 2014
              • Eamon J. Cole #

                They were at one time, then dad dropped his K-Keyboard and bought the newer generation basic reader. As to PC’s, no. One’s a desktop the other’s a PC OS tablet.

                July 14, 2014
      • I recently went through the mill with all of the different sites (even some of the minor players) in connection with a project and agree that Amazon is the smoothest. That’s not to say that there isn’t considerable room for improvement even there. For example, changing the price shouldn’t incur any review delay at all (there’s going to be some delay while the new price propagates to the scads of servers that Amazon is running, but no reason I can think of why it should require human approval).

        July 14, 2014
        • And yeah, that pseudo-WYSIWYG editor on the B&N site is utterly useless.

          July 14, 2014
        • Yes. Agreed on the price thing. And their tags suck toes. SERIOUSLY. They’re just plain bad. You have to get into cryptic keywords to get it to key right, and some of them aren’t immediately obvious. Let’s face it slashfic had a better tagging for all this (including adult categories) decades ago. No reason Amazon shouldn’t allow me to tag my mix of time travel romance and adventure fantasy with mythical resonance as what it is. They’re too stuck with bookshelf categories from brick and mortar bookstores.

          July 14, 2014
        • I’m not sure it takes ACTUAL human review, but the propagation delay is obvious.

          July 15, 2014
      • Having just fought with Smashwords and Createspace (and I am certainly a long way up the tech curve on many writers, and have access to help) Amazon KDP licks them all flat.
        They’re none of them ‘competing’. There are no advantages (besides entry to Apple-snobbery – which is worth oh… 0.5%) No different offers, no packages for different markets, that I’ve seen.
        And yes, without getting authors (who have brands and have following – which they don’t) to promote them, they’re dead in the water.

        July 14, 2014
    • Yes, they do own the store, and it’s a wise thing to do, both for them and HC. Hell. I want to do it myself too.It won’t be a flood of money, but a trickle is better than nothing.
      And I agree with you. I don’t think they can do it well, because they regard customers/readers as a nuisance who should just turn over their money and take what they’re given and be grateful.

      July 14, 2014
  5. … the accounting is well … interesting …

    I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T-I-N-G. That’s a curious way to spell “criminal,” Dave.

    I will give John (him called Scalzi) a modicum of credit. He’s pushing the “Amazon is a business, too” line. But then, he’s been moderating his tone a bit recently, which is fun to watch. I tell a lie: it’s fun to watch his commenters fall into line when he says something. “Oh. Yeah. Amazon’s in the business of business, too. Yeah, just like Hatchette, man.”

    This is the thing. As Tor, Harper Collins, and others put up their own online bookstores, their editors will push their authors to promote it. Sure, Amazon will lose some business. Some. (This is the part where I beat things. I’d beat my head against the wall, but I don’t need anymore windows.) Thing is, Amazon is not a publisher. Oh, yeah, they have their imprints, but that’s dabbling. Amazon’s primary business model is not selling books; Amazon sells everything. Book are a part of their income, but by no means the lion’s share. (I expect. Not being a shareholder – and being lazy (I mean, c’mon: author) and not looking it up – I don’t know for certain. I think it’s a safe bet, though.) If someone comes up with a better way to sell books and ebooks, I expect Amazon to try to buy them out. See CreateSpace. Also, Audible. One the other hand, with the continuing technological (r)evolution, it may be that something really big is around the corner, and once one person does it, the door is open. Amazon will eventually be dethroned. From books, from food, from electronics. Somebody is going to come along and introduce a technology that cuts deep into Amazon’s profits, and the Big Bad (*snort*) will have to adapt or fall. Welcome to reality. 3D printing could do it. I hope it does. I want my own fabber.

    July 14, 2014
    • Eamon J. Cole #

      Jeff Bezos is on record noting that every company eventually falls. He’d just like Amazon to last until after he’s dead…

      But I think that underlying awareness informs the business environment and decision making. They look to the long-term, yes, but they chase innovation and opportunity like it’s the last nickel. It’s a constant fight to stay on top, so their attitudes (so far) haven’t taken their position for granted.

      Publishers, on the other paw, seem to believe their position is right and just. Eventually the world will balance and they will be returned to the lofty heights their station demands. This is not a smart business plan. It’s not a plan at all. Poor fools.

      July 14, 2014
      • And that’s the thing: they’re not businessmen. Not at all. They’re literati, cognoscenti, and intellectuals. They are the elite who will lead those of us in the unwashed masses into enlightenment. They don’t need to understand business; they have a destiny.

        July 14, 2014
        • Eamon J. Cole #

          I wish them well of their destiny. Now, if they’d just step off on the leading thing, and leave off the exhorting thing, so those of us who are going to stay behind can get on with the getting on.

          More to the point, you’re right. They’re not businessmen. Or in the least business savvy. Kristine Katherine Rusch has been telling authors for years, learn the business you’re engaged in. Trad-pub/indie/hybrid, doesn’t matter, realize you’re in a business and learn it.

          I despair of them ever taking that advice so if they’d just get on down the road to their glorious future the rest of us capitalist dogs could be about our — um — business.

          July 14, 2014
        • You’re right. They’re not. Their own words pretty much bear that out.

          One of the things they accuse Amazon of is not seeing books as cultural artifacts, rather than another product. Well, books are products. They may be artistic in origin, but they’re still products. Amazon knows this and treats them accordingly.

          Hachette and similar publishers approach it like they’re bringing enlightenment to the masses rather than providing a product people want.

          Which kind of explains why they publish some of the crap they do, rather than stuff people would actually want to read.

          July 14, 2014
    • Amazon’s books are IIRC 7% of the business. As for interesting… it could be criminal theft. I don’t know for certain, but like many I suspect the worst because it is unjustifiably opaque. The figures of independent sales vs publisher royalties certainly suggest they’re selling 1/4 what I do on my own. If they have nothing to hide, why not show us.

      Yes they’ll push their authors to promote this. But will they pay (as Amazon does) for it? Will they offer a better royalty? Look, Amazon gives me 6% for my inept efforts at referral. I only do my books and occasional books I wish to commend. It adds up to a surprising bit of income for me – much appreciated! and means I’m getting as much as 76% of a book’s sale price. Ya think ANY publisher is going to match that?

      July 14, 2014
      • I wasn’t sure how to set up that referral website thing, considering the number of different blogs I have, none of which are dedicated to trying to sell Amazon items.

        July 15, 2014
        • Amazon associates. – and the number of websites is irrelevant – the code for paying you is imbedded in the html codes you get off their site, showing book cover etc. I find it pays about 50 dollars a month, and I only really refer to my own books – which I would be doing anyway.

          July 15, 2014
          • Odd, when I was trying to enroll, it had some specific questions about the nature of the site I’d be using it on. I should look again, if I can find the link.

            Might get me a buck or two, given my traffic rates.

            July 15, 2014
  6. As long as the traditional Publishers are the gatekeepers, THEY are the customers, not the readers. The SFWA and other authors who support tradPub are playing to this entrenched system. (Which may explain why readership has fallen so much). Amazon provides a gap in the fence authors can slip through to reach the readers directly.

    July 14, 2014
  7. f #

    Call me crazy, but I think The Guardian has discovered the color of money. That is, they get more controversy when they publish conservative faire. So they do it. I have seen The Huffpo bend that low… occasionally. I think we are going to see it more and more. Because sometimes you can get more eyes on the page if you tweak your readers. But I think the Trad Pub on this side of the pond is to vested, and well paid by their sponsors to veer off message.

    July 14, 2014
    • f, it is to be hoped you are right. A bit of common sense might also creep in…

      July 14, 2014
  8. I’ve been trying to think of one author-publisher combo (besides [name] and Baen), and the only ones that come to mind are all with Regnery. Otherwise I look for the author first, or the title, looonngg before I’d think to hunt up a publisher’s website (Baen excepted, as usual).

    July 14, 2014
    • Eamon J. Cole #

      Yeah, I have several favored authors across multiple genres and I couldn’t tell you who publishes any of them outside of Baen.

      I can only think of a few imprint names, without respect to who they might publish… It’s just not important to me.

      Except for Baen. Odd, yes? That Baen keeps following that word, except?

      July 14, 2014
      • Synova #

        It was interesting watching Baen starting with when they included a CD in each hardcover. That was a great idea but quickly became obsolete. (I’d really like to see a free ebook copy with each hardcover sold.) I recall the birth of the Free Library. Revolutionary! But it doesn’t seem like there are too many new entries. Webscriptions. Now, I haven’t tried that yet, but may do so because I’m a little bit soured on paying for eARCs when we don’t get a copy of the final product but at the same time, but I don’t like waiting longer than I have to. (Am I insane to think that originally we did get a second proofed copy when it came out?) It was annoying that books I knew were published didn’t exist when I looked for them through my Nook and it was probably important to do what was necessary to add other distributors (not just Amazon) for Baen ebooks. But the most important and revolutionary choice from Baen, to price ebooks in a rational manner significantly below even paper-back prices… well, I suppose that had to go, and I’m sad, though I didn’t expect ebook new releases of best sellers to stay at $5 forever. And it seems like Toni is doing everything she can to keep them as low priced as she can.

        All other publishers seemed to see the future as a threat, even other science fiction publishers. Ebooks are/were a threat instead of a wonderful innovation. The first time I fired up my Nook and browsed my first $12.99 new release ebook it was clear to me that actually *selling* books was somewhere far below other priorities for publishers. Blew. My. Mind.

        July 14, 2014
        • Peter O #

          The Free library got gutted when they signed the deal with amazon. It was apparently messing with Amazon’s pricing bots, as they were registering the books as 100% discount and auto-applying the same discount to the amazon price, so they had to remove most of the current titles.

          July 14, 2014
        • KDP and Createspace combine to offer something called Matchbook through Amazon, where you can offer your ebook free or at a reduced cost to someone who has purchased the paper copy from Amazon. I have all my novels enrolled in this. Can’t recall off the top of my head on teh Noir series, but I know you get the ebook free if you buy Vulcan’s Kittens or The Eternity Symbiote.

          July 14, 2014
          • I’ve put out four books through CreateSpace. I haven’t done matchbook, for two reasons. (1) I was appalled by even the lowest allowed price on the books, and shaved my royalties till they squealed for mercy, trying to make the paper version more affordable. If I’m making less than a dollar on a paper book, I’m not going to give away the ebook that gives me $4 profit with each sale. (2) Sales so low it was pointless, no matter how I felt about it.

            July 15, 2014
            • Hmm… wouldn’t that only be true if you assume that all of those people would have bought the ebook at full price even though they already had the paper copy? I don’t think many people do that. I’ve bought a few books in ebook form where I had the paper copy (or vice versa) but the number is vanishingly small. It’s almost always just one or the other.

              If they wouldn’t have bought the ebook at all, the amount of revenue lost is zero, and you get a happy customer out of the deal (or so I see it).

              July 15, 2014
        • Well, when you rule the system (even if it is rapidly declining and breaking down) any change is viewed as potentially threatening that.

          July 14, 2014
        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

          “Am I insane to think that originally we did get a second proofed copy when it came out?”

          Insane, No.

          Mistaken, Yes. [Smile]

          I followed the whole Baen eARC thing from the beginning and I never got the final version of the ebook when I purchased the eARC.

          Now at first, the price of the eARC “went down” over time until the final version was released. That is, when the eARC first went up, it cost $15, later the price dropped to $12 with the final price of $10. I suspect that stopped partially because of the problems the changing price caused Arnold (chief guru of WebScriptions and Baen’s Bar) and partially because too many “crazy people” didn’t wait until the eARC price dropped. [Very Big Grin]

          July 14, 2014
      • Most publishers don’t have a brand. Tor is now trying… from my point of view – given the editorial direction they’re producing a brand to avoid, which can also happen. The same has been the reaction of some readers to Baen (which is fine by me in general, as they probably would hate my book).

        July 14, 2014
        • Tor is trying to create a brand by being even more so than the rest of the field. Hard that.

          July 14, 2014
        • Eamon J. Cole #

          If it’s signaling right for their target audience, then they’d be doing something smarter than I generally give them credit for.

          ‘Course, I think their target audience is vanishingly small, leaving me to question their strategy. But, still…

          July 15, 2014

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