Round up #55: AMZN vs CA on The Daily Show, EU vs Agency Model
EU vs Agency Model
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a bit surprised that the Agency Model hasn’t been front page mainstream news in the USA.
It might have to do with it being about books. If the movie studios decided that all movie theatres were going to charge the same ticket prices…and by the way, raise the ticket price for popular movies to $20, I suspect we would have seen some stories.
So, it seems a bit ironic to me that the European Commission investigating the Agency Model was in the crawl on a 24-hour news station this morning and is featured in USA Today.
You know, because retail competition seems so much more European than American? Maybe it’s because books seem more European…
Just kidding, but I would love to have seen the news selectors make reading a slightly higher priority here in the USA.
Instead, it may be class action suits that effect a change in the United States.
That, and the fact that I don’t think the Agency Model has been a particularly good thing for the publishers which have adopted it. I think they may have been dazzled by the Apple’s promise of an iTunes for books and huge sales through that channel. Instead of the iPod, they’ve gotten the Newton. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but iBooks hasn’t changed the digital landscape.
As the Fire has reportedly moved solidly into second place for tablets (although that’s a bit like like being the second best known bodybuilder in America to Arnold Schwarzenegger), Apple may have less influence.
If the publishers can have an excuse to get out of the Agency Model in the USA as a way to settle the class action suits without a litigative conclusion, they may go for it.
The Daily Show on Amazon versus California
I watch The Daily Show…well, every day. It’s usually very timely, and I often see the actual news clip I want there before I see it somewhere else.
On the issue of collecting sales tax, they are late to the party, though.
The story (reported by John Oliver) is about Amazon using “direct democracy” to work to overturn a so-called “Amazon law” which would have redefined what a “nexus” is in California, compelling Amazon to collect sales tax.
That’s over. Amazon and the state reached a compromise, and Amazon is not pursuing that legislation any more.
I’m guessing that somebody has been pushing for this story in the writers’ room for months…and it’s been pushed aside (darn dynamic Republic Presidential campaign).
One of the people interviewed is John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party. Burton says some remarkable things that are thoroughly different than my understanding of equal collection legislation:
“Why the sh*t should Amazon skate when we have a state where we’re shutting down schools, shutting down hospitals, firing teachers, firing cops, firing firemen, screwing mental health people, because they don’t want to have a g*ddamn sales tax like everybody else?”
Okay, let’s back up here.
Equal collection legislation is not about having or not having a sales tax. It’s about whether the seller collects the sales tax at the time of sale, or the purchaser pays it later separately.
Since many consumers don’t pay the sales/use tax on their annual taxes, that’s why states want to compel retailers to collect it. You could just as easily swear about the people who shop with Amazon…they are the ones who are often failing to pay the taxes that are now on the books.
Prosecuting grandparents for not reporting and paying the tax on their Polident purchases isn’t very good politics, though.
Burton goes on to emphatically say
“My daughter gave me a Kindle for my birthday present and I will not use it because of these g*d damn people at Amazon.”
Burton’s comment continues through an um…colorful…illustration of where one might read a paperbook. That particular bathroom use can be done as easily with a Kindle, but that’s beside the point.
You can see the video here (following an ad):
Burton’s stated anger at Amazon seems misplaced. As I’ve reported recently (and repeatedly), Amazon supports a national sales tax policy.
Is Burton perhaps agitated because equal collection might be settled nationally rather than by California? Isn’t the point to get the sales tax so you can put those firefighters back to work?
Regardless, I love that Jon Stewart often promotes authors on The Daily Show…nice to hear the Kindle mentioned, even if it is in conjunction with a bodily function.
Audio input on the Kindle Fire
One of my regular readers and commenters, Tom Semple, mentioned that the Kindle Fire might be able to have audio input (record or transmit) your voice. No, it doesn’t have a dedicated microphone, but by using a TRSS (no, no, not The Real Slim Shady…a Tip Ring Ring Sleeve), you can apparently record low quality sound. Tom and John Tobison (who has also made several comments about the Fire) have both reported success with that. Tom tried Skype (which Tom had sideloaded), which would have allowed you to make phone calls with the Fire. Unfortunately, that didn’t work.
I really appreciate readers taking the time to comment, experiment, and report back. I also like you asking questions, of course, but I’m always happy to learn something new.
If you try this out, let me know what your results are.
E-book sales doubled in September, mass market paperback fade continues
The Association of American Publishers
used to a nice job of putting monthly sales figures on their site. Now, I find that you can get them more easily somewhere else, like this
The headline for a lot of people will be that e-book sales doubled comparing September 2011 to September 2010, while adult mass market paperbacks (those are the smaller ones you see in racks in places like grocery stores, as opposed to the trade paperbacks, which are about the same dimensions as a hardback, except for depth) are down 54%.
No question: adult mass markets are rapidly losing marketshare to e-books. They were positioned as the cheap, more portable alternative, and e-books do both of those better.
I have thousands of MMPs…I can’t really say I’m feeling regret about this, though. Hey, I think I miss Ace Doubles more than most paperbacks.
I think there may be an important message being missed in this data (which I recommend you read).
It may be telling us that the grip of the traditional publishers is slipping…it may be showing us a shifting away from the Big Six.
For a while, publishing was increasing over all in the AAP figures. This time, it’s down close to 6 and a half percent.
Does that mean people are reading less?
I would guess people are reading more…that’s certainly what I hear anecdotally.
I think it’s shifting away from the members of the AAP. Naturally, digital publishing is going to affect the sales of hardbacks and printed books more, which will hurt the traditional publishers more than it will affect others.
I can’t prove the hypothesis that these figures are showing that shift…I wouldn’t even say I can raise it to the level of a theory. We just don’t have good data on the independent sales to do a comparison.
It’s just my intuition. If it’s true, it will be interesting to see how the tradpubs respond…
What do you think? Is John Burton right to publicly excoriate Amazon? Does what you say on The Daily Show stay on The Daily Show? Will the European Union action have any impact on the Agency Model in the USA? Will you miss mass market paperbacks? When did you buy your last one? Should the next Kindle Fire Skype? Feel free to let me know…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.