Something I've been pondering

About the whole Amazon/MacMillion/iPad thing. (and man, I must say again, I really hate that name…iPad).

Okay, it’s no big secret that with the kindle and the majority of the $9.99 bestsellers, Amazon has the dominant place, for now, in the digital market.

And it’s also no big secret that the digital publishing industry is getting bigger. It is. Bottom line. But for now, Amazon’s pretty much been in control. They can afford to sell the books they sell @ $9.99 (even if it’s at a loss to them). They make money from the Kindle-that’s their selling point. But other bookstores can’t afford to sell at a loss. Other places can’t compete.  (Although with Apple moving into the game, I suspect things will change.)

Without competition, the ebook market isn’t going to grow the way it needs to.

Competition is a good thing for business, right?

I’m not business minded, but competition is one of things that helps drives the industry, right? Isn’t competition something that drives businesses to create a better product, a friendlier format, etc, etc? Competition will bring (hopefully) about more choices for the reader. Maybe competition will bring more affordable ebook readers to the market.

Me? I’m not reading on a phone anytime soon (read… never), and I know a lot of people are interested in a dedicated device, but they won’t buy one until it hits under $149 or cheaper.

More competition will bring that about.

Does all of this mean I want to see higher ebook prices for readers?  No-I want fair ebook prices that will allow the publishers to turn the profit they need, and still be affordable to readers.

I’m a reader, and I spend an unreal amount of money on books every year.  Unreal…shudder.  Don’t ask.  And as books are one thing I don’t tend to curb my impulse buys very well, if prices go up, that means I’m spending more money-I’d rather not be doing that-if I’m spending more money, I’d rather it because I’m buying more books, not spending more money per book.

And I’m not saying this because I want to see people buying me hardback over buying me in ebook-I’m not in hardback and it will be a few years, at least, before that happens, assuming it does happen.  So the price of hardbacks really doesn’t affect me at this point, at all.

I want fair prices…but I mean fair…all around.  Fair means just that… fair. Fair all across the board-something that is affordable to the reader, yet still benefits the author, the publisher and the bookseller, because it’s all one big circle.  One very big circle, often with overlapping parts-booksellers are often readers.  Readers are often authors.  Authors are often readers.  One big, interconnected circle, so I’d like to see something fair…across the board and I can want fair, all across the board.  I’m allowed to do that.  Maybe it’s Pollyanna of me to want that, but hey… it’s kind of my blog and if I want to overly optimistic, I can do so.

I’m not entirely sure if $9.99 (for the ebook version of a hardback) ‘is’ fair.  I don’t remember where I heard it, but somebody said Amazon openly admit they lose money selling books at that price. I do know that other bookstores can’t afford the ‘loss’ Amazon can, so as long as Amazon continues to sell at a loss, relying on the sale of Kindles (assuming that’s how this works) to make up on those losses, then real competition isn’t going to really happen.  Until there’s serious competition, the ebook market isn’t going to become what I think it can become.  That’s just my two cents on it, but as long as one major place stays in control, there’s not really any growth.  It’s just maintaining the status quo.

Competition is what makes a market thrive.  Competition, ultimately, will offer readers more choices.   Competition will bring about other ebook reading devices, it will hopefully get the focus on issues like DRM and how it doesn’t do crap to solve piracy and all it does is annoy users (me included).  Competition leads to growth and as the market grows and expands, maybe the price issue will level out.  It wasn’t that long ago that Amazon was selling the Kindle for how much?  Wasn’t it originally like $399 or $359?  Then they dropped it $259?

They’d expanded the market, leveled things out-those who really got the device when they really wanted it were willing to pay the price and now it’s available at a cheaper price and more are willing to pick it up.  It’s likely that price will drop again at some point, especially with the iPad coming out, and there’s also the very cute Barnes and Noble Nook and even though I’ve got a Sony Touch that I love, I may be taking a second look at a Nook (say that fives times fast).

I think once the publishing industry gets a better feel of the ebook market, once things level out, the current turmoil will settle down.   Right now, things are a mess.   But it doesn’t surprise me, really.  As things start to grow, they often get…messy.  Anybody who has ever had a kid in their house knows that.  The digital age is probably nearing its ‘teen’ years, so to speak, right?  Growing pains are to be expected.  And as traditional publishing tries to merge with digital publishing, there are going to be bumps along the way.  Some people are going to screw up, probably more than others.  Unfortunately, some of us just don’t learn without falling down along the way-I can see this honestly because I know-I’m one of those people who see the light once I’m on my butt and looking upward.

And I still like my idea-a ‘fair’ idea, in my mind-pubs could developed a ‘tiered’ pricing system to use with online booksellers.

When a book is released in hardback and ebook-set the ebook at 50% of the hardback ‘s suggested retail-for say the first 6-8 weeks of release.  A book that retails @ $25 would be $12.50 in ebook.  This would give the publishers the time they need to make their profits-which they do need to do-profits are what make it possible for the publishers to keep investing in new authors, new voices, etc, etc.  (Yes, they are also pocketing profits, but we have to be realistic-this is business, businesses are in business to make money-I’m not trying to be greedy here-this is just realistic.  Besides, again, those profits are what enables pubs to take risks on the ‘new voices’…and one of those ‘new’ voices may very well become a fave voice of yours)

After that?  Drop it to $9.99.  Would give book’s sales an extra boost and those who don’t want to pay more than $9.99 will just a few more weeks.  I don’t even know if something like this is possible, but if it is, it could be something offered to all vendors so one particular vendor doesn’t get a stranglehold on the market.

And for crying out loud, when it’s in paperback?  The price needs to drop to the paperback price-or even a little lower.  No ebook should ever cost more than the print version. Period.