Archive for the ‘Agency Model’ Category

Settlement pay-outs are here

March 25, 2014

Settlement pay-outs are here

I just got this e-mail from Amazon:

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eBooks Antitrust Settlement Information

Dear Bufo Calvin,

Good news! You are entitled to a credit of $11.20 for some of your past Kindle book purchases. The credit results from legal settlements reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks.

You don’t have to do anything to claim your credit, we have already added your credit to your Amazon account. We will automatically apply your available credit to your next purchase of a Kindle book or print book sold by Amazon.com, regardless of publisher. The credit applied to your purchase will appear in your order summary. If your account does not reflect this credit, please contact Amazon’s customer service.

For more information about the settlements, please visit Information for eBooks Antitrust Settlement (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) [link added to e-mail]

Your credit is valid for one year and will expire after 03/31/2015. If you have not used your credit, we will send you another email 90 days before it expires to remind you that it is still available.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

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That’s more than I expected, since I didn’t think we bought that many books under the Agency Model, but it’s still nice. :)

Here is the breakdown:

Category Non-Minnesota Minnesota
NY Times Bestsellers $3.17 $3.93
Other Books $0.73 $0.94

Check your e-mail: you may have one, too. However, it’s worth noting that you don’t need to check anything: the credit will apply automatically when you buy a Kindle store book or a paperbook from Amazon.

A few notes:

  • This has nothing to do with Amazon having done anything wrong. I’m sure a lot of people will think, because they are being notified about the credit from Amazon, that Amazon is being forced to pay them for something. Amazon is simply the conduit for getting you the money that the publishers are being forced (well, agreed) to pay out for their actions
  • This is also unconnected to the US Department of Justice legal action against the publishers and Apple (Apple is appealing the decision against them). This is a separate legal action, brought by the Attorneys General of most of the US States and some US territories
  • This specific pay out is for Amazon customers. Customers who bought qualifying e-books from other sources are entitled to the settlement…but the mechanism for getting it may not be as easy as this

Here are Amazon’s FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on it:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements (at AmazonSmile)

and here is the general page for the settlement (not just Amazon):

https://ebooksagsettlements.com/

The short story on what made this happen:

Amazon transformed the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 and its own e-book store.

Amazon priced many (it was never promised to be all e-books) bestsellers and recent releases at$9.99, sometimes taking a loss on a sale.

The publishers didn’t like that. One of their concerns was “price value perception”…that the customers would get the idea that a book (paper or e-book) should cost $9.99, and that that would hurt their p-book business.

The publishers, prompted by Apple (according to the DoJ case) instituted a new pricing model, where the publishers set the prices customers paid (“the Agency Model”).

The Attorneys General sued on behalf of the customers, saying that this resulted in higher prices.

The publishers involved settled, agreeing to pay the customers back.

Now, I think one of the most interesting things here is that you can use this credit to buy books from any publisher.

That’s something to consider.

If you take your settlement and use it to buy books from a publisher which wasn’t part of this (an independently published book, perhaps…or, you know, ten of them!), that is really making a statement to the ones who did participate (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin…and all of their various imprints).

I am an independent publisher like that, in a very minor way (I’ve only published my own works through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing). I also am not particularly mad at the tradpubs (traditional publishers) who settled.

However, I can certainly see indies using this for advertising: in fact, I think I’ll suggest that over at

The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

after I finish alerting you. :)

I’m going to suggest an ad like, “Don’t give them your money back”.

It’s nice to see this chapter closed…enjoy your books!

What do you think? Did you get an e-mail? Was it more or less or about what you expected? Are you going to spend the money any differently (perhaps splurging on a more expensive book) than you normally would?  Is this a fair result, or should have there been bigger (or smaller) penalties? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Kindle New York Times besteller prices drop dramatically

September 4, 2013

Kindle New York Times besteller prices drop dramatically

Thank you, US Department of Justice!

I’ve been tracking the prices of New York Times bestselling fiction hardback equivalents in the USA Kindle store in my monthly Snapshot analysis posts since September 1, 2010, and this is the lowest I’ve seen them.

This follows on the heels of the last remaining publishers dropping the Agency Model, which had meant that Amazon could not discount those publishers’ e-book prices.

Penguin had been the last to settle with the DoJ, and Random House was bound by the settlement (that was sort of a condition of the two of them merging).

The average NYT bestseller hardback fiction equivalent is down to $10.08…that’s the first time it has been under $11 since I’ve been tracking it, and that’s way under!

No title is as high as $12.99, which had been the de facto standard after the Agency Model, although many books were higher.

While, interestingly, none of them are at exactly $9.99, several of them are below that.

We can also thank Amazon, of course…they didn’t have to lower prices just because they had the power to do so again, but they have.

This is the current list:

  1. The Cuckoo’s Calling: $6.50
  2. Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon): $10.99
  3. Mistress: $11.99
  4. And the Mountains Echoed: A Novel: $10.99
  5. The Third Kingdom (Richard and Kahlan): $11.04
  6. Night Film: A Novel: $10.99
  7. The Bone Season: $4.99
  8. Gone Girl: A Novel: $10.99
  9. The Kill List: $10.99
  10. The Husband’s Secret: $6.50
  11. The English Girl: A Novel (Gabriel Allon): $9.00
  12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane: $8.00
  13. A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five: $11.99
  14. Rose Harbor in Bloom: $10.99
  15. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: $7.48
  16. Book published by Atria (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) not listed due to blocking text-to-speech access*: $10.67
  17. The Girl You Left Behind: $11.99
  18. Compound Fractures (Dr. Alan Gregory): $11.99
  19. The Last Witness (Badge of Honor 11): $10.99
  20. Book published by Simon & Schuster not listed due to blocking text-to-speech access*: $12.60

While some of you may be wondering why the average is over $9.99 if Amazon is setting the prices, well, there were always some (the original November 19 2007 press release said “…current New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases, which are $9.99, unless marked otherwise…”). That price was set more than four years ago…and the Agency Model did create price inflation.

On the other hand, look at the books on this list that are under $7.50! Also, compare these to the p-book (paperbook) prices. That weird situation where the e-book prices were sometimes higher also ended with the Agency Model (although it can happen from time to time due to other reasons, like the paperback being a pre-order and the Kindle price still being based on the hardback).

It’s a great time to be a reader. :)

Here are some of the earlier stats:

August 1, 2013:

11.99 12.99 9.99 12.99 11.99 10.99 9.99 12.99 9.99 9.99

12.99 12.99 11.04 12.99 8.52 12.99 14.99 10.91 11.04 11.84

Average: $11.71

July 1, 2013:

7.99 12.99 11.04 12.99 12.99 11.04 11.04 7.99 11.04 11.04

12.99 12.99 7.99 7.49 11.04 14.99 7.49 12.99 10.99 12.74

Average: $11.09

June 1, 2013:

12.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 8.99 12.99 13.99 12.99 12.99 9.00

14.99 12.99 9.99 9.99 10.99 14.99 10.99 12.80 9.68 12.99

Average: $12.12

May 1, 2013:

12.99 10.99 12.74 12.99 7.99 12.99 10.99 12.99 12.99 12.99
12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 10.99 10.99 12.99 7.49 14.99 12.59

Average: $12.23

April 1, 2013:

12.74 12.99 11.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 9.45
11.99 14.99 14.99 9.68 12.99 12.99 12.99 9.78 11.04 10.67

Average: $12.36

March 1, 2013:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 N/A 10.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 12.99
12.74 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99

Average: $12.92

February 1, 2013:

N/A 12.99 12.74 12.99 9.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 11.04 12.99

9.99 8.00 12.99 11.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 13.59

Average: $12.38

January 1, 2013:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 11.04 11.04 12.74 11.43 12.74 12.99

11.99 9.99 12.99 7.50 12.99 8.00 19.99 13.49 13.99 14.99

Average: 12.49

December 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 11.99

12.99 12.99 19.99 9.50 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

Average: $13.22

November 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 19.99 12.99 9.50 12.99

11.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 12.99 13.99 14.99 12.80 11.99 12.99

Average: $13.26

October 1, 2012:

19.99 12.99 12.99 9.50 12.99 12.99 9.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

12.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 11.99 9.45 12.99 11.99 12.99 12.99

Average: $12.84

September 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

12.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 12.99 12.99 9.99 14.99 12.99 14.99 1.99

Average: $12.49

August 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99

12.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

Average: $13.04

July 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 14.99 12.99 12.99

Average: 13.29

June 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 11.99

12.99 9.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 11.99 12.99 14.99

Average: $12.94

May 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 11.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

Average: $13.04

April 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

14.99* 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 11.9912.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

Average: $13.14

March 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99* 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

9.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

$13.04

February 1, 2012:

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99* 12.99 9.99 12.99 12.99

12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 14.99 12.99 12.99 12.99

Average: $13.04

* There was also an enhanced audio/visual version of this book for $16.99. I chose to enter it here only in the standard version, since that most closely represents the comparison between paper and e-book versions. It isn’t necessary to pay $16.99: it’s an additional payment for more features

January 1, 2012

Average: $13.14

December 1, 2011

Average: $12.40

November 1, 2011:

Average: $12.45

October 1, 2011:

Avg: $13.09

September 1, 2011:

Avg: 12.99

August 1, 2011:

Avg $13.29

July 1, 2011

Avg $13.09

June 1, 2011

Avg: $12.81

May 1, 2011

Average: $12.84

April 1, 2011

Average: $12.69

March 1, 2011

Average: $12.83

February 1, 2011

Average: $12.25
Agency Model average: $12.86
Non-Agency Model average: $9.99

January 1, 2011

Average: $12.52

Agency Model: $12.99

Non-Agency: $9.99

December 1, 2010:

Average: $12.78
Agency Model average: $13.52
Non-Agency Model average: $9.99

November 1, 2010:

Average: $12.83
Agency Model average: $13.59
Non-Agency Model average: $9.99

October 1, 2010:

Average: $12.38
Agency Model average: $12.79
Non-Agency Model average: $10.87

September 1, 2010:

Average: $12.52
Agency Model average $12.99
Non-Agency Model average $9.99

* A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Agency Model ends for Random House, Penguin: new discounts

September 1, 2013

Agency Model ends for Random House, Penguin: new discounts

Earlier today, I gave you a heads-up that something was happening, when some of the New York Times bestseller hardback fiction equivalents were unavailable in the USA Kindle store. I noticed they were from Random House (including its imprints), and speculated that it had to do with the end of the Agency Model for that publisher.

Well, that was it!

It no longer says, “This price was set by the publisher.” for Random House or Penguin (they merged recently).

Penguin was the last of five publishers to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice in a legal action against them (and Apple) for price-fixing, utilizing the Agency Model.

That is now over for e-books in the USA.

The Agency Model could return in a couple of years, but the situation would be different.

The key thing is that Amazon (and other retailers) can now discount e-books from Penguin and Random House again…and we’ve started seeing those already.

This will allow for price wars for the holiday season..yay!

We should also stop seeing e-books priced higher than the p-books (paperbooks) as much…it will still happen sometimes. A few reasons it happens that are unaffected by this:

  • The paperback price is a pre-order, and the e-book price is still based on the hardback
  • The p-book is either used, a bargain copy, or not coming from Amazon
  • Someone is looking at two different territories when doing the comparison (the USA and France, for example)

There are many imprints (typically, a part of the company that specializes in a particular sort of book, like mysteries or science fiction, and that has a different name) for Random House and Penguin, which makes a comprehensive search complicated. Here are a couple of links for their books in the USA (outside the USA will not be directly affected by this change) Kindle store, and then I’ll link to some books that recently dropped.

Penguin books in the Kindle store
Random House books in the Kindle store

Note that the price-changing won’t happen on every title, and it make take a few days for them to process it all. Amazon now gets to decide the consumer prices again, and there is a lot involved in that (as a former bookstore manager, it surprised me that the publishers wanted to set the consumer prices, which the Agency Model enabled them to do…it wasn’t their area of expertise).

Here are a few titles I noticed. I got these by going to the most useful site for Kindle owners on the internet:

eReaderIQ

Among their many free and excellent services is tracking price drops for you. You can list books, and they’ll send you a free e-mail when it drops an amount you specify. You should go check those lists, your wishlists, and any other way you are tracking books to see what has gone down. They list the most recent drops…that’s what I checked.

I specifically chcecked price drops in the past 24 hours, and went down at least a dollar.

As usual, I won’t knowingly link to books which block text-to-speech access.

There are, of course, many, many more.

By the way, I’m going to try some new code here…it’s supposed to let you see a preview of the book cover when you hover over it (that probably will work in a browser, maybe on a Fire, but probably not on a non-Fire Kindle. I’d appreciate feedback on it…I don’t want to cause anybody any problems with it, and I hope it helps. I just tested it on this computer (which I have borrowed), and it didn’t seem to do or hurt anything. :)

Enjoy the discounts!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Amazon makes an announcement about e-book settlement pay-outs

August 31, 2013

Amazon makes an announcement about e-book settlement pay-outs

In this

Kindle Forum Announcement

Amazon gave more information on the e-book pay-outs from the settlements between publishers and most US states (Minnesota chose not to participate…they may be pursuing something separately).

This is not the Apple Agency Model court case: we’ll likely hear more about that one next week, but it’s not likely that one results in direct payments to customers (which this one does).

Amazon says in part that the amouts are :

“… estimated that it will range from $0.73 to $3.82 for every eligible Kindle book that was purchased. To be eligible, customers must have a U.S. billing address and must have purchased a Kindle book published by Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin or Macmillan between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.”

This is higher than previously announced, because two more publishers had settled since the first estimates were made.

Random House isn’t part of this, because they didn’t join the Agency Model when everybody else did…they joined it later. The concern here is an alleged conspiracy, not the Agency Model iteslf. You can’t be a conspiracy by yourself. :)

You don’t need to do anything, and it isn’t quite all finalized yet (the next big date is December, 2013…and then there could be appeals, although since the publishers have already agreed to this, I think appeals are unlikely). The total pay-out is something like $165 million.

You can see more information here:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements

I also see a lot of people confused about this, and think that Amazon is being punished. The money is being sent to you by Amazon, but they didn’t do this…the publishers did, and appear to have forced the Agency Model on Amazon, according to that Apple trial. Think of it like your local store giving you a manufacturer’s rebate…the store gives you the money, but it comes from the manufacturer.

Update: thanks to reader jjhitt for letting me know I had a broken link…should be fixed now. I’m away from my normal resources, which is making things a bit more complicated.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

DoJ proposes Apple punishment…and it’s a doozy

August 2, 2013

DoJ proposes Apple punishment…and it’s a doozy

It’s not approved yet, and Apple will appeal…but the Department of Justice (DoJ) is definitely looking to have Apple punished for their behavior in the e-book pricing conspiracy…and it goes way beyond just addressing specific consumer losses.

The

DoJ press release

gives you the highlights…and some of them will certainly affect some of my readers.

One interesting one: Apple would be prohibited from stopping Amazon (and others) from having links to buy books in their apps (for two years).  That’s a biggie: right now, if you are using Amazon’s Kindle for iPad app, you can’t buy books directly from it…you have to leave it and use a browser. There was a lot of talk about that when that prohibition was put into the Apple Appstore (I wrote about it in Bye-bye, Buy: Apple changes app policy? more than two years ago).

The proposed rules would also go beyond e-books, affecting music and movies in specific ways.

Here are some of the proposals:

  • Apple would have to terminate its contracts with the five publisher co-defendants (who all settled before it was in court). Terminating contracts can cost you big money, since negotiations begin again…and who doesn’t think Apple would be more constrained in negotiating this time?
  • For five years, Apple can’t enter into e-book distribution contracts which would “constrain it from competing on price”…I would think this means no “most favored nation” contracts (“you can’t sell it for less somewhere else), and possibly no Agency Model
  • Apple can’t serve as a conduit of information between publishers. That means they can’t say, “We have three on board with our deal already”, for example. Again, that hurts negotiations
  • Apple can’t retaliate against publishers that don’t adopt an Agency Model (maybe they are okay…I need to read the actual proposal, and we need to see what the court approves)
  • I’m going to quote this one: “Apple will also be prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” I doubt Apple expected videos to get pulled into this court case
  • A full-time external compliance monitor would be hired…and Apple would have to pay all of the salary and expenses? I assume somebody like that makes six figures. I was also amused by this part of it: “The antitrust compliance officer will be responsible for training Apple’s senior executives and other employees about the antitrust laws and ensuring that Apple abides by the relief ordered by the court.” Like they didn’t already know the rules…I couldn’t help but be reminded of being sentenced to Traffic School ;)

Again, this is not final, and Apple will almost certainly fight it.

It feels a little to me like the DoJ is trying to seize on a rare legal victory over Apple…like putting Al Capone in Alcatraz for tax evasion. ;)

We’ll keep an eye on it (this one might even affect Apple stock), but feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #191: certified refurbished Kindles, Google Chromecast

July 25, 2013

Round up #191: certified refurbished Kindles, Google Chromecast

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Google introduces Chromecast, new Nexus 7

It was announced today…and it’s already sold out.

What is it?

Google Chromecast

It’s a small device you plug into the HDMI port on your HDTV. It then uses another device, such an iPhone or an Android phone to show video on the TV…wirelessly.

It apparently will work with Netflix and YouTube.

It could enable some people to “cut the cable”, and stop paying for cable TV.

How much does it cost?

$35.

That’s cheaper than a Roku, cheaper than some other alternatives.

Assuming it works well (and it’s too soon to tell), this could be a real game changer.

There are some obvious questions for us:

Will it work with a Kindle Fire?

My guess is that it will. From what I’m reading, I don’t think you need an app specifically for Chromecast on your device. I think the Netflix app on our Kindle Fires might work with it.

Will it work with Amazon Instant Video (including Prime streaming)?

Don’t know.

Will it display a game while we play it? Not sure. This isn’t true mirroring, like you get with the HDMI cable…that shows you everything that’s on your screen…unless it is blocked by the app (which is the case with some content from Xfinity).

If it’s blocked to an HDMI cable, will it be blocked to this? Not sure.

As you can tell, it is too soon to tell much…but this may be a very big story.

This

Google Blog article

has a video for it, and another announcements. There is a new version of Jelly Bean (an operating system), a new Google Play App…and the new Google Nexus 7 (being introduced July 30th in the USA for $229).

It looks to me like evolutionary change, rather than revolutionary…better sound, better screen. I’m not yet seeing features that are shocking. :)

Salon interview with Martin Amis

This

Salon article by Jane Graham

is a nice, lengthy interview with author Martin Amis. I quite enjoyed it…I’d love the bit in which Amis compares different authors to the type of hosts they would be if you appeared in their homes. Amis wants to make things pleasant for the reader…and doesn’t think some authors (and names are named) do. :)

“Here’s how Amazon self-destructs”

This is another

Salon article

this time by Evan Hughes.

It’s been getting some play in the blogosphere, but honestly, I think it depends on a basic intellectual fallacy.

The argument is that Amazon is going to put brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) out of business, and then Amazon is doomed because people depend on the stores to discover books:

“According to survey research by the Codex Group, roughly 60 percent of book sales — print and digital — now occur online. But buyers first discover their books online only about 17 percent of the time. Internet booksellers specifically, including Amazon, account for just 6 percent of discoveries. Where do readers learn about the titles they end up adding to the cart on Amazon? In many cases, at bookstores.”

Um, yes…they depend on bookstores now.

Just as the book sales themselves have shifted to online, the discovery of books can (and has been) shift to being online.

It’s a case of mistaking form for function, and I’ve commented on that before.

It’s like when someone would say, “I want an SD card slot in my Kindle Fire!”

That’s not what they really want. They want the functionality of an SD card slot. If there was another way to easily store and access information, would they really care that it wasn’t that specific technology? I don’t think so.

It would be like saying, “CD players will never be popular because so many people own vinyl records.” The CD players themselves changed the percentage of vinyl records being bought…and Amazon (and other e-book retailers) can change the way people discover books.

They are still looking for the best ways, but it is going to work…someone will really crack it.

It also seems obvious to me: as people buy more books (e-books and p-books…paperbooks) on line, the value of the brick-and-mortar as a showroom will diminish.

Suggesting that Amazon is hurting itself by diminishing book discovery in brick-and-mortars (and therefore diminishing book buying) only works if some other mechanism doesn’t replace it…which seems like an unnecessarily reductive assessment of social behavior.

Australian officials decline to investigate e-book price fixing

Thanks to mobileread (which is one of the most valuable sites about e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers) for the heads up on this

Financial Review article by James Hutchinson

The European Union already dealt with the e-book price fixing issue. The US Department of Justice recently won against Apple over the alleged (now found evident in court) conspiracy (and got the publishers to settle), although there will be appeals.

What about Australia?

Well, Nick Xenophon, and independent Senator there, asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look into possible misdeeds connected with e-book pricing.

The Commission replied, “…the conduct of concern occurred in the US and we note that conduct is being sanctioned by the regulator in the US”.

Wait, what? ;)

I don’t think the behavior has been sanctioned…since Apple was just found guilty in Federal court. I know the prices for e-books aren’t the same in Australia that they are in the USA (although some of that may have to do with taxes and the like), but I would think that decisions are made in Australia…prices don’t just get set in the USA and then transferred unfiltered to Australia.

The door wasn’t closed, but the case wasn’t opened, either.

Weirdly, to me, they give over the last part of the article to Jon Page, former President of the Australian Booksellers Association, who thinks investigators shouldn’t look at Apple, but just at Amazon. Take a look at the statement yourself, but that seems strange to me…why not look at them both, if you think there’s a problem?

Certified Refurbished Kindles from Amazon

I think this makes sense for a lot of people.

Amazon is now selling

Certified Refurbished Kindles

That means that they are used, but they have been inspected, repaired if necessary…and they come with the exact same warranty as new Kindles!

Not only does that mean you can get a Kindle Paperwhite for $104 (although they are out of stock on that one right now), you can also get discontinued models, like the Kindle Touch.

Personally, I would not hesitate to do this…I like a refurbished model, just like I like a used car from a reputable source (we’ve bought from rental agencies on the latter). No, it’s not new…but it goes through more of a check. If a Kindle is a lemon and you buy it new, it doesn’t work. What do you do with it? You send it back…and Amazon assesses it. If it’s unfixable, it’s gone. If it’s fixable, so it works like new…it’s refurbished. You just have to be okay with someone else having tried it first.

What do you think? I have readers in Australia…do you think action should be taken there to investigate e-book prices? Would you buy a refurbished Kindle, or is it worth more money for a new one? Are you intrigued by Chromecast? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Judge Cote rules: Apple loses Agency Model case

July 10, 2013

Judge Cote rules: Apple loses Agency Model case

“…the Plaintiffs have shown that Apple conspired to raise the retail price of e-books and that they are entitled to injunctive relief. A trial on damages will follow.”
–Judge Denise Cote, decision in Apple Agency Model case (quotation added in update to post)

This is the breaking news, and I haven’t yet read the decision, but I thought you’d want to know right away.

I’ve praised Judge Denise Cote before on how quickly decisions come down, and this one seems fast to me.

According to this

Reuters article

and others, Judge Cote has found Apple guilty of conspiring to raise e-book prices.

What does this mean?

It likely means Apple will appeal. ;)

That would be my guess, but I need to look more into what was said and exactly what happened. I’ll expect to update this post when I have more data.

Update: here’s the decision:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/152915071/United-States-v-Apple-Inc

Update: more quotations from the decision:

“Apple seized the moment and brilliantly played its hand.”

“It [Apple] provided the Publisher Defendants with the vision, the format, the timetable, and the coordination that they needed to raise e-book prices.”

“…the prices in the nascent e-book industry shifted upward, in some cases 50% or more for an individual title.”

“…removed Amazon’s ability to price their e-books at $9.99.”

“…many publishers set a wholesale price for e-books at a 20% discount from the equivalent physical book wholesale price to reflect the many cost savings associated with the distribution and sale of e-books. For instance, there is no cost for the printing, storage, packaging, shipping, or return of e-books.”

“This Opinion has already described several instances in which testimony given by Cue and Sargent was unreliable. Other witnesses who were noteworthy for their lack of credibility included Moerer, Saul, and Reidy. Their demeanor changed dramatically depending on whether Apple or the Plaintiffs were questioning them; they were adamant in denials until confronted with documents or their prior deposition testimony; instead of answering questions in a straightforward manner, they would pick apart the question and answer it narrowly or avoid answering i taltogether. Thus, the findings in this Opinion are informed bythe documentary record, the circumstantial evidence, including an understanding of the competitive landscape in which these events were unfolding, and that portion of each witness’testimony that appeared reliable and credible.”

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #179: updates, DRM that changes the words

June 18, 2013

Round up #179: updates, DRM that changes the words

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Playing “Hangman”…

Amazon claims in this

press release

that its publishing division has had a million seller. It’s significant that Amazon could, with its traditional publishing business, sell enough of a work to challenge the Big Six publishers. As I wrote about a couple of years ago in A Tale of Two Middles, that’s one way that Amazon can potentially work around the publishers. The e-tailer has tended to lose when going up against them (text-to-speech, and the Agency Model, for two examples), but as indicated in the current Apple trial, the publishers are worried about Amazon gaining more power and luring away their authors.

Congratulations are definitely due to Oliver Pötzsch, who is the author featured in the press release.

However, this isn’t exactly Stephen King territory yet.

Here’s the telling part of the press release:

“… the first Amazon Publishing author to sell 1 million copies in combined print, audio, and Kindle English language editions worldwide.”

That’s right…this is not the same thing as selling a million copies of a hardback book: it combines hardbacks, paperbacks, audiobooks, and e-books. This is also the combined figure for three different titles (the fourth, The Poisoned Pilgrim: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale, can be pre-ordered for July 16th, 2013).

Still, this is no small accomplishment, and can’t make those other tradpubs any happier.

Steve Jobs in the Apple trial

We are winding down in the Apple Agency Model trial, and today, Eddy Cue talked about Steve Jobs role, as reported in this

AllThingsD article by Peter Kafka

Honestly, I looked at another article first to bring you, but it was too tacky. Steve Jobs didn’t always do things with which I agreed, certainly, but I do think that respect is reasonable here.

Cue talked about how Jobs got into the iBooks project, once it was decided it was a go…including picking Winnie-the-Pooh as part of the launch.

It looks like we’ll have closing arguments on Thursday, and I would expect there to be a decision fairly quickly…I like Judge Cote, and I don’t think this will get stretched out for months.

As this point, I do think it’s possible Apple will prevail…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of years…”

Just doesn’t have the same ring as the original, right?

Well, according to this

PaidContent.org article by Janko Roettgers

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is working on an anti-piracy DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme that would change words in books so that you could identify which copy belong to whom, as a way to combat piracy.

Wait, what? ;)

I mean, I’m sorry, but authors sweat blood sometimes picking just the right combinations of vowels and consonants to tell their tales. I can’t imagine that this kind of “finger-printing” is going to be embraced. I hope-I hope-I hope… :)

Netflix to introduce user profiles

The video giant has figured out that not everybody on the same account has the same tastes. ;)

Huffington Post article by Alexis Kleinman

My adult kid and I share an account (my Significant Other just doesn’t use it), and that does make for some odd recommendations. For one thing, my kid is a linguist…we aren’t even always watching things in the same language! We don’t know quite how it will work yet, but it is supposed to be here by the end of the summer.

Why report on that?

We’re still waiting for Amazon to get something like that going for Kindle accounts. Yes, we have FreeTime for the Kindle Fire, and parental controls on the RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Fire at this point), but we could certainly use something simpler. My SO is not going to read the Doctor Who book I borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library this month, so it just sort of clutters things up.

I mentioned that we might see more software/service changes from Amazon this year than radical hardware changes (although I would figure that we’ll get new hardware), and this “profiles within accounts” kind of thing could certainly attract a lot of people.

Kindle for Windows 8 update

In this Amazon Kindle forum thread

Kindle for Windows 8 update 2.0

Amazon announced a new version of Kindles for Window 8. It’s bringing quite a few new features:

* Ability to search from inside a book
* Redesigned home screen and in-book navigation
* Easier bookmarking
* Filtering of Notes and Bookmarks
* Option to sample recommended books
* Live Tile displays of the book you’re reading
* Updated view options menu, library and search views

I’ve seen quite a few threads where people complain about the limited functionality of this version, so this should help. I’m intrigued by “filtering of Notes and Bookmarks”…I’ll look for more info on that.

Kindle Paperwhite update 5.3.6

They also announced the

Kindle Paperwhite Update Version 5.3.6

While it appears to have brought some other minor changes, this is the big new feature:

* Improvements when buying from a book sample – While reading a sample of a book, you can view the price of the full book and purchase from the reading toolbar with one tap

That seems nice…we all want things that make it easier for us to spend money with Amazon, right? ;) Well, if it’s money you were going to spend anyway, making it easier is a plus for the consumer.

How to support a blog

I do get asked about this, and I’m reluctant to bring it up. I don’t accept payment for ads (any ads you ever see here are added by WordPress, and they get the money. You don’t see that in the regular blog feed, I think, but I have seen it on individual articles on the website.

You can certainly subscribe (thanks, subscribers!) if the blog is in the Kindle store…but that doesn’t work for a lot of people (if you are outside the USA, I think, or if you are using a reading app).

I’ve had people ask me if I accept donations, or if they can just send me money. I’m not a non-profit, and reporting money given to me for the blog on my taxes would really befuddle me.

One thing you can do: if the blog has a link for Amazon Gift Cards, that can be a good way to do it. You can buy gift cards for other people, or you could just buy them and apply them to your account. That’s a pretty painless way to help out. :) It doesn’t change what you pay for anything at all.

As long as I’m writing about this (and so I can get back to something where I feel more comfortable), let me talk about Amazon Gift Cards a bit…I often see questions from people who are confused about how they work with Kindle books.

There are no Kindle gift cards…there are Amazon gift cards with pictures of Kindles on them, but when you buy a gift card with a picture of a birthday cake, that doesn’t mean you can only buy cake. ;)

You apply the gift card to your account.

The way that we buy books in the Kindle store is with “1-click”. 1-click will draw from any available gift card balance on your account until it is exhausted, then go back to whatever 1-click payment method you’ve designated (if any).

Let’s say somebody gives you a $25 gift card, and you want to spend it on books. You apply it to your account, and someone else on your account buys, oh, mouthwash (I’m not suggesting anything about their personal hygiene here, by the way). ;) If they use 1-click, it will take away from that gift card balance.

You aren’t asked if you want your gift card balance applied to your current Kindle store purchase, because you would have to click on something to do that…and it’s called 1-click. :)

That’s why some people have an account just for Kindle purchases, so they can keep them separate.

Infographic of mysteries in different US states

This

Ebook Friendly article

has a nice infographic from Open Road with e-book mysteries in different states in the USA.

I have to say, I’ve never gone to this site before, and I’m impressed! I don’t follow a lot of sites on Twitter, but I’m going to start following this one, which will put it in my Flipboard read in the morning.

I’m going to explore

http://ebookfriendly.com/

more, and then report back to you on it. I always figure there is room for a lot of good writing on the web about e-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and publishing. You’ve probably noticed that I tend to link and credit…I like being a place you can find the good work that others do. :)

What do you think? Is changing words in a book an acceptable way to combat piracy? Will you just be happy when the Apple Agency Model trial is over, however it goes? ;) Am I making a mistake when I promote other sites, or do you like it? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Confirmation: Macmillan e-book prices no longer set by publisher

April 6, 2013

Confirmation: Macmillan e-book prices no longer set by publisher

Yesterday, when I was telling you about a bunch of bargains with Amazon apparently price-matching Barnes & Noble on the latter’s half-off sale on top NOOK Books this weekend, I noticed that many of them were Macmillan and suggested that perhaps Macmillan and Amazon had renegotiated terms after the former settled on the Agency Model. Whew, that was  a long sentence! Let me catch breath…okay, to go on… ;)

I’ve checked several Macmillan books this morning, and the line that “This price was set by the publisher” is now gone.

If you’ve been tracking books at

eReaderIQ

which is a great free service that will send you an e-mail when a book you are tracking drops in price an amount you specify, you may have gotten some pleasant surprises in your Inbox.

Macmillan has a number of imprints (specialized lines of books). If you were tracking something from one of these, you may have seen the change:

  • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • First Second
  • Henry Holt & Co.
  • Nature Publishing Group
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Picador
  • Quick and Dirty Tips
  • Scientific American
  • St. Martin’s Press
  • Minotaur Books
  • Thomas Dunne Books
  • Tor/Forge

What does this mean for the future?

We should start seeing Macmillan books discounted at Amazon, including being featured in Kindle Daily Deal and  100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less. I’ll certainly be interested in seeing how things are affected when I run my next Snapshot on May 1st. It’s possible the average price of a New York Times bestseller hardback equivalent may drop, for example.

So, where are we on the Big Six US trade publishers and the Agency Model at Amazon?

  • Simon & Schuster: can be discounted
  • Hachette: can be discounted
  • Macmillan: can be discounted
  • HarperCollins: can be discounted
  • Penguin: can not be discounted (still under the Agency Model, but they have settled…we need to wait for the new terms to be worked out)
  • Random House: can not be discounted (still under the Agency Model…they will be bound by Penguin having settled, if their merger with Penguin is approved)

It will take some time after the Agency Model is gone before we really see the impact, because we have to get back into price competition between sellers. I think we might really see an impact this holiday season, though.

Here is a search for books published by Macmillan (this won’t cover all of the imprints):

Macmillan titles in the US Kindle store

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Macmillan settles with the DoJ over the Agency Model

February 9, 2013

Macmillan settles with the DoJ over the Agency Model

Ding dong, the Agency Model is dead!

In this

press release

the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) announces that it has reached a settlement agreement with the last of five publishers against which it took a legal action over a pricing structure referred to as the Agency Model.

The four other publishers had already settled. Random House (the other publisher in the “Big Six”) will also be bound by the agreement that Penguin made, presuming that their merger is approved (and the settlement is approved).

This settlement won’t happen instantly (there is an approval process, and then it takes a bit of time to make new arrangements with the retailers, like Amazon).

Once that all happens, though, the “This price was set by the publisher” line will have disappeared from Amazon’s website.

However, the DoJ’s announcement does say that Macmillan agreed to allow price discounting immediately. I don’t see the price drops yet, and the price-setting line is still there…might happen soon, though.

While I don’t think that all New York Times bestseller hardback equivalents will drop to $9.99, I do think we’ll see specials on more books, and that the NYT list average will go down. Part of that may be driven by the return of competition between retailers on these books…and Amazon’s price-matching policy.

John Sargent, Macmillan’s CEO, had been public during the dispute with Amazon in first implementing the Agency Model (it didn’t get any messier, publicly, than it was between Macmillan and Amazon).

In this

statement

Sargent says

“I like to believe that we would win at trial. But outcomes are hard to predict with certainty, particularly in a civil case with a low burden of proof. And so we agreed to settle with no admission of guilt. As with the other settling publishers, retailers will now be able to discount Macmillan e-books for a limited time. This change will take effect quickly.”

The statement clearly suggests that they will find other ways to fight in the future, referring to this as a “round” (as in a boxing match).

Apple still has not settled, and may actually go to court in June of this year. Unlike Macmillan, Apple can probably afford to fight for a very long time…although it’s worth noting that Apple did settle in the European Union.

As I understand it, the Agency Model is now gone in the USA for e-books through December 2014 (at least). That’s long enough to change the pricing in the market, and to make it so that the conditions that first engendered the Agency Model are not in place at that time.

I suspect Macmillan’s investors will be happy to hear this, since fighting the court battle has been expensive.

When I start noticing price drops on Macmillan books, I’ll let you know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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