What can you do about rising e-book prices?

What can you do about rising e-book prices?

Rising e-book prices are here. 

Some books are up 50% in the past couple of days.

This is largely due to what is called the agency model.

This isn’t just true at Amazon…it’s true at Barnes & Noble and Sony as well.

You certainly might be mad.  I could understand that.

But just because you are frustrated doesn’t mean you are powerless.

Stress can kill you.  Do you know what the difference between stress and hard work is?

Stress is unresolved.

If your job was to dig ditches, and you dug ten ditches in a day, that’s hard work.

If, though, when you go home, you don’t have to think about digging ditches because you got done what you were supposed to get done, that’s not stress.

If you worked in an office and were supposed to reach somebody by phone, and weren’t able to do it, that’s not hard work.  Maybe you called a couple of numbers a few times…really, not a lot of physical (or mental) effort.

When you go home, though, you are worried because you didn’t reach that person.  Your body is still hyped up over it, still in the “ready state”…that’s stress.

That “ready state” is only supposed to be for short term, urgent situations.  The key to managing stress is to feel like you’ve done what you can do…type to step off that intense resource usage platform.

So, what can you do about rising e-book prices?

1. Find alternatives

Lots of books are not going up in price.  Independent publishers generally aren’t part of this deal.  Those prices probably aren’t going up.  There are also thousands of free books.  Take this opportunity to expand your reading horizons.  That’s something you can for yourself.  Read those classics, discover those unsung (and unmarketed) authors.  Will it help the overall situation?  It will if enough people do it.  Publishers are practical: if they lose enough market share, they’ll lower the prices. 

2. Express yourself

Let’s get this out of the way.  Don’t blame the authors.  Most authors you know by name sold the rights to the book they wrote to a publisher.  Traditionally, that’s the only really effective way you could make money as an author.   You were the creative person: you wrote the book.  The publishers knew how to market it.  Many authors didn’t even want to deal with things like pricing, of course.  The publisher isn’t going to buy a book and then let the author decide how to market it. 

Most authors can’t influence the prices.

What if you are a super-duper brand name author?  Will the publisher listen to you?

They might…you could threaten to walk, to take your next book somewhere else.

However, you’ve probably already signed a contract for the current books.  You could ask them to change the price, but there isn’t any reason they need to do that.

Authors might be able to publish future books independently, but that may also depend on contracts.

Don’t yell at the authors…they can’t help it.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony can’t do much about it either. 

The publishers insisting on the agency model have reportedly made it pretty clear: do it our way, or we withhold the books (at least for a while).

They made the agency deal with Apple.  If Amazon held out, those books would still be sold at iBooks.  When Amazon got that latest bestseller three months later, what would the market be like?

The publishers are setting the prices.  Tell them what you think.

You can find contact information for all the major publishers here:

The Association of American Publishers

I’m going to list some of the ones that are showing as setting the prices at Amazon:


  • Angus & Robertson
  • Amistad
  • Angry Robot
  • Avon
  • Avon Red
  • Avon A
  • Balzer + Bray
  • Caedmon
  • Collins
  • Collins Design
  • Collins Education
  • Collins Geo
  • Ecco
  • Eos
  • Flamingo
  • Fourth Estate
  • Greenwillow Books
  • Harper
  • HarperBusiness Essentials
  • HarperCollins Children’s Audio
  • HarperCollins Children’s Books
  • HarperCollins Speakers Bureau
  • HarperFestival
  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Harper Perennial
  • Harper Perennial Modern Classics
  • HarperPress
  • HarperAudio
  • HarperCollins
  • HarperCollins e-Books
  • HarperElement
  • HarperEntertainment
  • HarperLuxe
  • HarperOne
  • HarperTeen
  • HarperTorch
  • HarperTrophy
  • HarperTrue
  • HarperSanFrancisco
  • HarperSport
  • HarperVoyager
  • Julie Andrews Collection
  • Katherine Tegen Books
  • Moonstone
  • Morrow Cookbooks
  • Rayo
  • Voyager
  • Walden Pond Press
  • William Morrow
  • Zondervan

10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212-207-7000

feedback2@harpercollins.com (They don’t identify that specifically as Customer Service, but it seems like a good bet)

Hachette Book Group

  • 5 spot (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Back Bay Books (Little, Brown)
  • Bullfinch (Little, Brown)
  • Business Plus (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Center Street
  • Faith Words
  • Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Grand Central Publishing (Grand Central Publishing)
  • LB Kids (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Little, Brown (Little, Brown)
  • Orbit
  • Poppy (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Reagan Arthur Books (Little, Brown)
  • Springbroad Press (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Twelve (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Vision (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Wellness Central (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Windblown
  • Yen Press

3 Center Plaza, Boston MA 02108
Fax: 800-331-1664

Customer Online Contact page (send e-mail)


  • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • FSG Hardcovers
  • FSG Paperbacks
  • Hill & Wang
  • Faber & Faber
  • First Second
  • Henry Holt & Co.
  • Henry Holt Hardcovers
  • Henry Holt Paperbacks
  • Metropolitan Books
  • Times Books
  • Macmillan Audio
  • Behind the Wheel
  • Nature Publishing Group
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Picador
  • Quick and Dirty Tips
  • Scientific American
  • St. Martin’s Press
  • Minotaur Books
  • Thomas Dunne Books
  • Tor/Forge
  • Tor Books
  • Forge Books
  • Orb Books
  • Tor/Seven Seas
  • Bedford, Freeman and Worth
  • Bedford/St. Martin’s
  • W.H. Freeman
  • Worth Publishers
  • BFW High School
  • i>clicker
  • Hayden-McNeil
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Trade Books For Courses
  • FSG Books for Young Readers
  • Feiwel & Friends
  • Holt Books for Young Readers
  • Kingfisher
  • Roaring Brook
  • Priddy Books
  • Starscape/Tor Teen
  • Square Fish
  • Young Listeners
  • Macmillan Kids

 175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

customerservice@mpsvirginia.com or call 888-330-8477

Simon and Schuster

  • Aladdin Paperbacks
  • Atheneum Books
  • Atria
  • Beach Lane Books
  • Fireside Books
  • Free Press
  • Howard Books
  • Karen Hunter Publishing
  • Libros Para Niños
  • Little Simon
  • Little Simon Inspirations
  • Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Paula Wiseman Books
  • Pocket Books
  • Ruckus
  • Scribner
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Simon Pulse
  • Simon Scribbles
  • Simon Spotlight
  • Simon Spotlight Entertainment
  • Strebor
  • The Touchstone and Fireside Group
  • Threshold Editions

1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
PHONE: 212-698-7000

Contact page (e-mail): http://www.simonandschuster.com/about/contact_us

Penguin Group USA (has not reached agreement with Amazon at time of writing)

  • Ace
  • Alpha Books
  • Amy Einhorn Books (Putnam)
  • Avery
  • Berkley
  • Dial Books
  • Dutton Books
  • Firebird
  • Frederick Warne
  • Gotham Books
  • G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Grosset & Dunlap
  • HP Books
  • Hudson Street Press
  • Jove
  • NAL
  • Pamela Dorman
  • Penguin
  • The Penguin Press
  • Perigee
  • Philomel
  • Plume
  • Portfolio
  • Prentice Hall Press
  • Price Stern Sloan
  • Puffin
  • Razorbill
  • Riverhead
  • Sentinel
  • Speak
  • Tarcher
  • Viking Press

Penguin books are currently in the Amazon store, but the current set would reportedly not include those published after March 31, 2010.  The books that are there are not (at least what I’ve seen so far) saying that the prices are being set  by the publisher.

375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3657
Phone:  212-366-2000
Customer service e-mail: ecommerce@us.penguingroup.com

At this point, Random House has not signed with Apple’s iBooks and has not reportedly gone with the agency model.

So, you don’t have to just sit there and fume.  You’ll feel better if you take action, even if it doesn’t achieve the ultimately desired result.

NOTE: I would always recommend that you express yourself politely.  I could be wrong, but I think that’s more likely to influence people.  If you tell them you are never going to buy from them again, why should they listen to you?  You aren’t a customer any more.  If you start the conversation with telling someone that the position that person has taken is wrong, you’ll get a defensive response immediately.  If you write to the publishers and tell them you are disappointed that you can’t buy their books, that’s different.  If you like their books, let them know.  You may just get a canned response, but they are counting your comments, I’m sure.

Tip of the day: you can find my Focus on Free profiles of places to get free e-books here.

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


4 Responses to “What can you do about rising e-book prices?”

  1. Goldarn Says:

    I’ll be making more trips to the library, myself.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Goldarn

      Well, the library can largely make trips to you…at least for older books. 🙂

      Lots of free stuff out there, and 65,000 coming to the Kindle from the British Library.

  2. Dave Freer Says:

    Try the Baen Free Library if you want sf/fantasy. And good on you Bufocalvin for this – “Let’s get this out of the way. Don’t blame the authors. Most authors you know by name sold the rights to the book they wrote to a publisher. Traditionally, that’s the only really effective way you could make money as an author. You were the creative person: you wrote the book. The publishers knew how to market it. Many authors didn’t even want to deal with things like pricing, of course. The publisher isn’t going to buy a book and then let the author decide how to market it.”

    I wish more people knew this. I also wish they knew just what the author’s share actually is.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dave!

      I do think it’s funny (and sad at the same time) that many people seem to picture authors as being rich folks. Of course, the majority of authors don’t make enough in royalties to be above the poverty line. It’s like actors: a very few make a lot of money, most don’t make much at all. A few brand name authors do get rich from their writing. But even they don’t make much from each copy (or license) sold. They make more than most authors per copy (even twice as much as the average author), but they sell magnitudes more.

      Baen was the subject of the first in my Focus on Free series: you might find the article interesting:


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