Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dust Up Your Dust Covers

Have you been following the corporate dust-up between Amazon and Macmillan? It's like high noon out there in cyberspace, except the duellers have seriously bad aim and keep killing bystanders instead.

The overview is that Macmillan (and presumably other publishers as well) feel that e-books should be priced on a scale similar to the way a hardcover and a paperback are - not because of what they're made of but based on when they come out. You pay more to get it hot off the internet press, as it were. Since Amazon made the Kindle and it's currently the most popular e-reader they stand firm about keeping e-books at one price, $9.99 (even though some e-books are already price both above and below that), since they want people to spend their extra dough on a Kindle and keep buying books for it. So, shortly after the announcement of the iPad (coincidence?) and which publishers would be working with Apple on that (Macmillan is in the middle of the graphic on all the photos) Amazon pulled all of their Macmillan titles from the cyber shelves. They didn't announce it or explain it they just disappeared (reminiscent of AmazonFail so many months ago) on a Friday afternoon. By Monday it became clear that the disappearance was deliberate, the debate raged and eventually Amazon said that it would put Macmillan titles back on the shelves. So far, 5 days after that announcement of reinstatement, no Macmillan titles are available directly from Amazon.

Don't take my word for it. Take Scalzi's or Rob's or any other person in the publishing industry who has a link to Macmillan or Amazon. It's an interesting debate if you're literarily or economically minded.

However, the people who are actually being hurt by this are authors. Sales are down for many of them and many of them don't have Kristine Scalzi doing their finances so in already troubled financial times this is a steel toed kick to the livelihood. That is why I'm writing. Are you looking for something to read? Want to buy a book this week? Think about buying a Macmillan title (many, many imprints are under the Macmillan umbrella) and buying it from someone other than Amazon. How about Powell's? Or someone from IndieBound? Could be fun and it sure would help a writer out.

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