News: “Amazon’s Kindle opens new chapter for publishing industry”

News: “Amazon’s Kindle opens new chapter for publishing industry”

Los Angeles Times:

Amazon’s Kindle opens new chapter for publishing industry 

We don’t see a lot of interviews with Amazon executives, except for Jeff Bezos getting out there from time to time.

Russ Grandinetti is the head of Kindle content, and as such, he’s particularly important to the reading choices we have.

Let me start out with saying that the set-up for the interview has some serious inaccuracies. 

“Until this year, Amazon insisted that all new releases sold at its store be priced at $9.99 or less.”

This is not only incorrect, it reinforces a misconception people have…not a good thing in reporting.

Amazon had said that most bestsellers and new releases would be $9.99, unless marked otherwise.  That’s very different: even before the Agency Model, we had some books (certainly new releases not yet on the bestseller list) that were over $9.99.

The reason that matters is that Amazon is treated as though it had done a “bait and switch” or “false advertising” over the fact that some e-books are over $9.99…when they had never said that no books would be over that price. 

It also talks about a “promise in October” to give independent publishers who use Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform) a 70% royalty.  Um…the promise was made on January 20, and went into effect June 30…where does October enter into it?

So, let’s skip the intro (although I always recommend you read the articles), and talk a little bit about what Grandinetti had to say.

One of the interesting ideas was that Amazon chose a proprietary format so that it would be easy to export it to other platforms.  In other words, it’s easier to make reading apps for a Blackberry and an Android device if you control the format, not if Adobe does (which would the case with EPUB, for example).  That’s an interesting statement, although I’m not sure everyone will buy it.

I’m going to give you one more direct quotation:

“It’s not surprising that publishers who are raising prices are losing market share relative to publishers who decided to keep prices low. Customers aren’t stupid. Ultimately, the market will drive prices.”

I’d love to see those statistics.  As a consumer, I’d certainly hope that higher prices mean lower sales, but that’s not always the case.   When I last ran the number of December 1 (I run them at the start of every month in the Snapshots category), 14 of the 20 New York Times hardback fiction equivalents were over $9.99.  That doesn’t immediately make a market erosion clear for books at those prices, but it’s a complicated calculation…particularly when we don’t get sales figures.

I’d recommend you read the article to see what else Grandinetti has to say.

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


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