Macmillan books gone from Amazon?

[Contact Me]] | [FAQ]

[Some "Dougisms" Defined]

[About Dickens of a Blog]

Summary: Macmillan seem to have disappeared from (USA) this weekend. Speculation runs rampant and some are calling for arms (against forces various). I'm not sure what's up, but it's weird enough to point out.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

(10:02:52 CST)

Macmillan books gone from Amazon?

Cory Doctorow posted an article last night—"Amazon and Macmillan go to war: readers and writers are the civilian casualties"—which referenced an article from the Bits Blog on the website: "Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement". Today, John Scalzi (and I am sure many others) has weighed in with "A Quick Note On eBook Pricing and Amazon Hijinx".

The gist of all of this is that Amazon may or may not have pulled all Macmillan and associated content (which includes Doctorow and Scalzi's books, which are under Tor) from all but it's Marketplace in retaliation for Macmillan trying to force them to raise ebook prices. I say "may" or "may not" since the only source saying they have actually pulled the books is an anonymous source as quoted in the NYTimes blogpost. Sure enough, if I go to look at, say, Cory Doctorow's Makers on the US Amazon site, it seems to have scampered off. However, I go over to the Makers listing for or; it is still there. Likewise, Audible, which is under the umbrella, they...well, don't have Doctorow's Makers but they have other Tor books.

There is not much else to say until the actual reason gets quoted by one of the companies involved. It is interesting to see what is actually up, though. Like Google, has gotten so big as to become sort of a de facto website in its field. There has been some argument in the past that said websites are less free in how they handle content (the reasoning being, I suppose, that since people are still unsure how to use the Internet, they have to rely on such de facto sites to make do?). Of course, as I've said before, Amazon gets treated like the Black Hat in all similar arguments, and sure enough there are those who decry Amazon for daring to price ebooks different from what a publisher wants. Presumably these people only buy hardcovers at full price, right? No? Hmmm... It's like, they are ok with every bookstore in existence having their own discount system for real books, but have trooped out some argument about how the publisher should set the price on ebooks as proof of why Amazon is evil here. That is weird.

I guess I should get my opinion out there on this, and here goes: publishers should set the price they are willing to sell it to distributors, discounts and such notwithstanding. The distributor should set the price they are willing to sell it for. The profit is up to the distributor. The ebook model with its more complicated royalty schemes and such is just going to get worse if the current machinations keep up. Not all bookstores will have the same discounts and such, and some ebooks will go on sale from time to time. Both of these strike me as ok. Then again, I see our current ebook model as merely a stopgap of mistakes until we get our feet under us and start realizing that removing ownership for books is amazingly NOT the magical formula to make books sell better (believe it or not, fair reader...there are those who think that used books and book traders have destroyed the industry, so the DRM is not quite as accidental as you might hope).

None of this even addresses the question about ebook pricing itself. Is $10 too little for a new ebook? Should ebooks really cost as much as a discounted hardcopy? The answer, by the way, is no. In my opinion, definitely not. There are many things (sell on, give away, use outside of an approved device list) that I can do with a hardcopy that I cannot do with an ebook. Ebook pricing must reflect the change in user rights embodied within.

As for the question, "Is Amazon punishing Macmillan (or Macmillan punishing Amazon)?" I don't know. Maybe. Frankly, I can't see Amazon pulling all of Macmillan's books rather than just the digital copies to make a point about digital pricing. That's like Wal-mart refusing to carry any Unilever brand because Unilever wanted some SuchandSuch snackcakes to cost more (especially since Amazon's other websites all seem to carry the products, still). Stranger than fiction, truth is, it might just be true.

Si Vales, Valeo


If you wish to comment, please use the form below or contact me in some other way and I'll add it as soon as possible. Thanks!

file under (...on Libraries & Books)

Where did the comment box go?

Due to most of my friends using alternate means to contact me, and mostly SPAM bots using the comment box method, I have removed it. If you wish to contact me, please feel free to use any human-friendly contact method you wish. Thanks!

Written by W Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."