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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yes, our books still exist...

...they just don't exist anymore on Amazon.com:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/technology/30amazon.html?ref=economy

In brief: Books published by the Macmillan group, which include all of mine, Uzee's Trespassing (pub'd by Picador) and many others (Hilary Mantel, Ishmael Beah, Janet Evanovich) have been removed by Amazon because of a disagreement over pricing of e-books. Amazon, which sells e-book downloads for its Kindle reader, prices everything at $9.99, which doesn't leave much to go to the publisher and author after Amazon takes its cut. (Typically, I make between 75 cents and one dollar per new book sold; if a new book is ten bucks, I'll get 50-75 cents per copy. Publishers will also receive less, which leaves them less cash to pay writers for their books. Amazon will net less also, but will be spending less on warehousing, shipping, paying staff to pull the book and pack it, etc).

Publishers have been pressing Amazon to raise prices to around $15, which would be more in line with a new book price after Amazon takes its usual huge discount (which us writers also pay for, by the way). Amazon has been refusing; meanwhile Macmillan has offered its list to Apple, which is launching its own e-reader and has agreed to a pricing formula more in line with what Macmillan wants.

So in retaliation, Amazon has pulled our books. Thanks, guys! This is why I hate business, pretty much.

I can't tell people where to buy their e-books, so I won't; but I will say that if you're shopping for something of mine, or for Uzee's Trespassing or anything else that's suddenly vanished from Amazon, you can still find it all at barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, or--maybe best of all--through an order at your local independent book store, the one run by the nice old lady and/or the cynical bearded guy and/or the weird grad students with all the piercings. Hey, stop in and say hi, they'll appreciate the business...

6 comments:

Nicole Del Sesto said...

wow, this is the first negative thing I've ever heard about Amazon, and I hate to hear it. I hope they work it out.

DAVID MAINE said...

Hi Nicole

Yeah, it's a shame. I hope they reach an agreement of some sort too. I have mixed feelings about Amazon, personally, mostly positive (they keep my books in stock, most stores don't; they allow me access to absolutely tons of stuff, etc); but they are a busines and they do really put the squeeze on publishers, and therefore writers, which I think contributes to the "looking-for-the-next-blockbuster" mentality that has, admittedly, been part of the industry for a long time but which I think has gotten stronger in the last 10 or 15 years.

DAVID MAINE said...

PS -- Nice to hear from you! It's been a while!

TNBBC Super Mod said...

I suppose it's one of those fights that are worth fighting. But it really upset me to see the "ugly" side of Ebooks...

For me, a digital e-book will never replace paper and ink novels.
No matter how they are priced.

noco82 said...

As an artist I work with paper alot, as a comic book nerd and avid reader I make connections with paper objects quite a bit. I am not a fan of the e readers and I am terrified that one day they may do away with traditional books. I was never a huge fan of amazon to begin with but if they are going to argue with artist over the cost of their art then I'm realy done with them. I'm sure my local indie book store (peirced grad student variety) will be excited to hear this. Hope all is well, keep up the great work.

DAVID MAINE said...

I think a lot of people feel this way, but I think a "lot" of people also feel this about, say, newspapers, which are disappearing nonetheless. I certainly hope real, physical books stick around for a while, but I'm not optimistic. For one thing, there's a lot of money to be made by selling people a $300 electronic device that requires replacement/ upgrade every couple of years--more than is made by selling someone a book that lasts forever, and never needs a battery or new software. Sad to say, but I think a lot of people are falling for the e-hype.

Noco82, welcome aboard! I love comics myself. Do you read Northlanders by any chance? Great book. Unwritten is fun too.