Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good-bye Amazon

I have been an Amazon customer almost since they were on-line. I signed up for Amazon Prime membership the first month it was offered and have had it on automatic renewal ever since. I also own a kindle. Yesterday, however, I was shocked and angry at the bullish tactics Amazon used when MacMillan wanted to alter the pricing structure of its e-books. The New York Times has a summary of what happened here. Publisher's Lunch carried a letter from MacMillan explaining what had happened.

Essentially, Amazon yanked all MacMillan books, which includes Tor, in both e-book and paper formats from their website. However, they do still allow third party vendors to sell these books through Amazon.

There has been a flurry of blogs and responses by authors as a result. Here are some of my favorites:

http://www.sfwa.org/2010/01/why-my-books-are-no-longer-available-on-amazon-com/
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/01/30/a-quick-note-on-ebook-pricing/
http://jaylake.livejournal.com/2042910.html
http://suricattus.livejournal.com/1200903.html
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsiders.html

I think John Scalzi and Charlie Stross' posts sum up my thoughts on this matter quite nicely.

In a free market society, Amazon has the right to pull or sell whatever they want. However, their goal has been to monopolize e-books and eventually force publishers to sell their books to Amazon on Amazon's terms, not the other way around. From my understanding, all of their e-books priced at $9.99 are sold at a loss to them. They have been taking this financial hit to sell more kindles and garner the largest market share in that area. The kindle, unlike most other e-readers is DRM (restricted format). With enough market share, they could turn to the publishers and force them to lower their prices to meet Amazon's model.

With Apple entering the picture, Amazon has a viable competitor where it really didn't before. Whether you like Apple or not is irrelevant. The point is Apple has a huge following and is capable of bringing more pressure to bear on Amazon than Sony or B&N.

Also, MacMillan was willing to keep the old pricing model they had with Amazon. Their only caveat would be that they would not release the e-book version until several months after the hard copy version (meaning paper or hardback). In this way, the $9.99 e-book price would not divert from the revenue generated from a new release.

Amazon didn't like it because doing so would allow people who wanted to buy the new release to pay full-price for the hard copy and not an immediate discounted price for an e-book.

This is no different than any other industry. It is not only accepted, but expected, that new releases will ALWAYS cost more than the same product purchased later on. You see this with movies, cars, televisions, everything.

Authors and publishers have a right to make a living as best they can. Amazon's efforts thus far have been to turn books in the equivalent of drive-thru creations. Demeaning the time and talent it took to create the books.

Just as it's their right to sell what they want. It's my right to take my business elsewhere and it's the publisher's right not to give in to Amazon's terms.


I gave Amazon the benefit of the doubt during the Amazon Fail fiasco (in which gay/lesbian books mysteriously vanished). While I didn't approve of their method, I did understand their reason for removing copies of 1984 from kindles when that occurred. I've watched as publishers fretted of the lower and lower prices of new releases while Amazon, and later WalMart and Target, got into a pricing war. Like everyone else, I love to save money. However, one of the best ways to save money in a free economy is through competition. Let supply and demand set the price. If people think it's too expensive, they won't pay. But if they are never given the choice, then you'll never know what the price could be. Amazon's decision to drop MacMillan because they didn't want to test the market by altering e-book pricing was the last straw. Amazon has lost my business. For those interested, I cancelled my Amazon Prime membership as well as the two pre-orders. Instead, I purchased them through my new account at Powells.com.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Curious to see what Amazon was up to this time, I followed the link to your blog. Well! So they yanked MacMillan. In a free market economy, though, this is their right; just as any storekeeper can suddenly decide not to carry Chef Boyardee, or Jiffy peanut butter, or Oakhurst milk. Afterwards, the customers who favor those brands will just have to shop elsewhere.
That said, these little spats between companies, these so-called pricing wars, these seemingly arbitrary tactics to further healthy economic competition, are completely illusory.
I see them as an ocean's surface, foaming with ripples and waves to distract the eye of the observer; while beneath the waters are calm, and the fish swim without much impediment. In short, it is all a show, my dear. At bottom these corporations are in cahoots, and so the 'free market economy' is not so free after all- since we, as consumers, will eventually have to pay one of them. So whether it's Amazon or Walmart or another, what does it really matter?
As long as the merchandise is delivered as promised, we will have no legitimate reason to gripe; they will keep turning profits, while our wages will stay the same. Those are the issues that we should bring to light and defend- our right to a decent living wage, to healthcare as a necessity in life (and not a fee-based service), to be privy to a full disclosure of the political process, to pursue an education without sacrificing our economic security to attain it. And yet we don't. Why? Because distracted by these corporate tactics, we are simply too busy shopping around for the right price.

Christa said...

Thank you for the comment. I wrote a reply that was much more detailed than my original post, so I decided to add my comment it to the end of the post.