Archive for the ‘Agency Model’ Category

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.

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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.

Penguin settles with DoJ over Agency Model

December 19, 2012

Penguin settles with DoJ over Agency Model

Thanks to my reader Norma for the heads up on this!

According to this

US Department of Justice press release

Penguin has agreed to settle with the DoJ over its participation in the Agency Model. That’s a change in the way that e-books were sold, which turned former retailers (like Amazon) into “sales agents”, and thereby prevented them from discounting the books. Amazon fought it publicly, but it went into effect in April of 2010. For more information on that, see this category of posts.

It appears that this came about partially because Penguin’s proposed merger with Random House is currently under scrutiny.

Interestingly, the conditions proposed (which are similar to those already accepted by HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster) would also automatically apply to Random House if the merger goes through…and Random House was not named by the DoJ in their legal action.

Why didn’t they name Random House? Well, RH adopted the Agency Model almost a year after the others of the “Big Six” trade publishers in the USA, so it would probably be a lot harder to prove collusion. That’s part of the DoJ’s basis for the action…not just the Agency Model per se, but the concerted effort to set prices.

This will take a while to go into effect. A court has to approve it (but I don’t see a barrier to that). Then, they’ll have some grace period to negotiate new contracts. I would guess it would happen in the next few months.

That leaves Macmillan and Apple still fighting the DoJ.

The fight between Macmillan and Amazon over instituting the Agency Model in the first place was quite messy, and quite public:

Macmillan CEO John Sargent on the agency model

Amazon actually pulled the “buy buttons” from all Macmillan books during the process, but did eventually agree (under pressure of having e-books “windowed”, or delayed in release).

Apple has so much money, they can fight as long as they want. 🙂 They did just settle with the EU (European Union), though.

All in all, I think this is very good news for readers, and should result in lower prices on very popular e-books before too long.

Thanks again to Norma!

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

Agency Model ends for Hachette at Amazon

December 4, 2012

Agency Model ends for Hachette at Amazon

Thanks to reader Bailey for giving me the heads-up!

In April of 2010, five of the six largest USA trade publishers (Random House held off almost a year) adopted what is called the “Agency Model”. That system makes it so that the former retailers, such as Amazon, are no longer actually the “sellers of record”, but act as a “sales agent” for the publisher.

The key feature of that for consumers is that the price the consumer pays is set by the publisher, not by the former retailer. No discounting, and no price competition between e-bookstores on that front.

The US DoJ (Department of Justice) took a legal action against those publishers and Apple (which the DoJ says was part of implementing the Agency Model).

Three of those five settled with the DoJ, rather than continuing to fight: HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster.

We’ve been seeing the benefit of this with HarperCollins already, as their books have been featured in Amazon discounts.

It was only a matter of time before Hachette and Simon & Schuster worked out the new contracts with Amazon…and the phrase “This price was set by the publisher” went away from their books’ Amazon product pages.

That time has apparently arrived for Hachette!

Hachette books in the USA Kindle store

That search is only for books that say they are published by “Hachette”…imprints of the company (specific publishing lines) won’t be found by that one.

Let me give you a couple of examples of Hachette books where the price has dropped recently:

I was able to locate these quickly through the recently dropped prices listing at the website

http://www.ereaderiq.com/pricewatch/

which I strongly recommend. You can give them specific books to track, and they’ll send you an e-mail when those books drop in price. That’s how Bailey was alerted…and there is no charge for that service.

I would have thrown a few more books in here, but some of the ones I checked had text-to-speech blocked, in which case I don’t link directly to them. J.K. Rowling’s latest is in that category…but this does show a significant drop on a major bestseller. That’s likely to be the headline when other blogs report on this.

I checked Simon & Schuster…no change yet, still Agency Model pricing. I think we’ll see that change before too long, though.

Thanks again, Bailey! I always appreciate it when a reader takes the time and energy to alert me (and therefore you) to something of benefit.

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

Kindle store credits coming in States’ e-book settlement

October 13, 2012

Kindle store credits coming in States’ e-book settlement

You may have already gotten or may be getting an e-mail from Amazon letting you know about a store credit (or you can opt for a payment) as a result of the States’ legal action against some publishers over the Agency Model.

I’d reproduce the e-mail for you, but Amazon included a copyright notice on it.  Generally, the recipient owns the e-mail (as does the sender) unless it is marked private, as I understand it, but the copyright notice changes that. I’ll hit the high points:

First, here is Amazon’s Help Page on it:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements

Second, you’ll be entitled to the credit if all of these are true:

  • You bought a Kindle store book published by Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin or Macmillan between 4/1/10 and 5/21/12, and you did not return or refund the book
  • You have a US billing address
  • You are not in Minnesota (the Minnesota Attorney General did not elect to join the suit)

The amount is estimated to be something like thirty cents to $1.32 per book purchased.

This is not yet approved: the hearing to approve it is scheduled for February 8, 2013.

You can opt out of it, if you want.

More information is available at the official website for the settlement:

https://ebooksagsettlements.com/

You do not need to do anything to make this happen. When it does, the credit will be automatically applied to Kindle book or paperbook purchases from Amazon.

Other retailers are also involved.

To be very clear, this is not a settlement against Amazon, but against the publishers. Amazon openly fought the Agency Model.

I think those are the key points. If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

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

An unsettling settlement

September 18, 2012

An unsettling settlement

recently wrote about Judge Cote approving a settlement agreement between 49 states, four additional American entities, and three publishers over the Agency Model pricing structure.

 The basic idea in this civil action is that the three settling publishers (HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster) damaged consumers by colluding (along with two other publishers and Apple…those have not settled yet) to raise e-book prices.

As I understand it, that’s how a civil suit works: someone is damaged, and someone else is found to be at fault and forced to “make right the wrong”.

That’s different from a criminal case. The criminal has broken a law, and is going to be punished…there isn’t necessarily a specific individual or other entity that has been damaged a certain amount. When you are speeding, you aren’t damaging another person. If you run over somebody’s petunias, they’ve suffered a specific loss. Speeding is criminal…running over the petunias would be civil.

So, the basic result of this suit is that consumers will get recompensed for the higher prices they paid…I’d be surprised if anybody got as much as $20, although it’s certainly possible.

That’s the way it works.

I want to thank regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for crystallizing my thoughts on this with a generous and wise comment.

In a comment on the above post about the settlement, Lady Galaxy said that essentially that getting the cash wouldn’t be the best result…buying the books at that price had been a choice. If that cash does come, Lady Galaxy would donate it to a library (you can read more of the details in the comment).

I thought that was very insightful.

Let’s say that someone bought a book for $12.99 that “should have been” $9.99.

Is that the person who was most damaged by the Agency Model?

I would guess that many (perhaps the majority) didn’t even know there was an Agency Model, didn’t even realize that prices were higher than they had been.

They were willing to pay $12.99 for the book…I respect that consumers can make an intelligent decision on that.

What about the people who decided that they couldn’t afford the book at $12.99? Weren’t they injured more?

Is getting a check for $3 (which may have cost more than that to process and send) going to make you feel satisfied?

I know…that’s the system. The directly injured person is recompensed, the indirectly injured person gets nothing.

The settlement is for $69 million dollars.

Just fantasizing, wouldn’t it be nice if that money could go to help people get books who couldn’t afford them?

Civil suits don’t punish, and aren’t really about the future, but if they were…

Let’s say they take that $69 million and donate it to Project Gutenberg to help digitize public domain books?

Honestly, I’d be a lot happier with that.

That wouldn’t really hurt the publishers…the public already owns those books. One could argue that having more public domain freebies available would hurt sales of current books, I suppose.

What if they were compelled to improve their deals (when they even have them) with public libraries?

None of that’s going to happen…I’m sure people will get checks.

Those same three publishers have settled with the Department of Justice in a separate action.

The two publishers (Penguin, Macmillan) and Apple, who haven’t? They may eventually be subject to criminal penalties…or, they could win, and owe nothing.

===

Two asides to people who have recently commented.

In a private comment, a reader urged me to write something for the KFHD (Kindle Fire HD). I am considering that. I’ve been working a lot, and I may have some “writing days” coming up as a result. There’s another book I want to finish before I do something else.

I think I wouldn’t do something as…formal as Love Your Kindle Fire. I may do something and introduce it at ninety-nine cents. There are lots of differences between the KFHD and the KF1 (Kindle Fire 1st Generation), and some of them are non-intuitive. For example, I got to listen to the new text-to-speech (TTS) today on a commute…I was impressed! It’s the Ivona software, and I think it is the Salli voice.

The surprising thing was that turning the KFHD from portrait (taller than it is wide) to landscape (wider than it was tall) stopped the TTS. That was disconcerting at first, but I can really see the value. If someone walks in when you are listening to something… embarrassing, perhaps, you can stop it quickly. 🙂

You can lock the rotation so it doesn’t turn off, if you want…swipe down from the top, and you can tap the “Unlocked” icon to make it “Locked”.

So, I appreciate your encouragement, reader, and I’ll certainly think about it.

As to the other comment…

That person wanted me to post it (or at least, didn’t say it was private).

I’m not going to do that.

It was really basically an ad…it linked to their own blog. I’ll sometimes allow that if I think it’s just an interesting article that would interest my readers.

However, the comment was partially this:

“Why not strip the drm, then you can read the ebooks anywhere any without limitaion.”

The answer for me is, because I believe it is likely to be illegal.

I don’t typically promote activity I believe to be illegal.

On top of that, the author made the deal with the publisher, and the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) protected DRM (Digital Rights Management) was part of that understanding.

While the author might prefer that there be no DRM, and I believe it disrespects the author to strip that. The author might have gotten more money if the book was being released without DRM, since that might, hypothetically, reduce the sales…meaning that the publisher pays a higher royalty to make up for that.

So for me, that’s why.

Some major publishers are releasing books without DRM…that’s a different story.

Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think. Is giving money to consumers who paid a higher price due to the Agency Model the right action? If the non-settling publishers lose their case, what would you like their punishment to be? Are you fine with stripping DRM? Should I write something on the KFHD? If I do, how do I handle the multiple models in that line? You can comment on this post…if you’d like it to be private, please say so in the post.

Thanks again to Lady Galaxy!

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

Harper’s Droppers: post Agency Model savings

September 12, 2012

Harper’s Droppers: post Agency Model savings

Thanks to my reader Bailey, I was able to  report yesterday that the “This price was set by the publisher” line was gone from HarperCollins’ books in the USA Kindle store.

Harper recently settled with the Department of Justice in the government’s legal action against the Agency Model.

That meant that Amazon could go back to discounting the price of HarperCollins’ e-books.

While that seemed very likely to mean lower prices, it was a bit more complicated than that.

The publisher could raise the list price, which would raise the cost to Amazon, which would make it more expensive for them to discount the book.

Let’s say HarperCollins was selling the book for $12.99. Amazon would get thirty percent of that for being the sales agent…about $3.90.

Now, let’s say that Amazon wants to sell the book for $9.99, and still make that $3.90 on it. $9.99 – $3.90 = $6.09.

Not counting costs of sale, if the publisher sets the digital list price at…higher than $12.18, Amazon doesn’t make its $3.90.

I know, that was math geeky. 🙂

Of course, Amazon doesn’t have to continue to make that $3.90…they could choose to make $2.90 or $1 or even lose money…

But would they?

That’s where

http://www.ereaderiq.com/

comes in.

I’ve recommended them many times before…eReaderIQ is the most valuable site for Kindle owners on the internet.

In addition to helping you find free e-books, giving you search capabilities superior to Amazon, and letting you know when a book you list has been Kindleized, they’ll send you a free e-mail when a book you choose drops a specified amount in price.

As part of that, the information-rich site tracks (even graphing) the prices of Kindle store books which have recently seen price reductions.

Of the last twenty most recent drops they see, nineteen are from HarperCollins or its imprints.

The price graph for all of those HarperCollins titles looks pretty much the same…and it looks like it fell off a cliff. 🙂

Stable price, stable price, stable price, boom!

I thought I’d list the ten most recent HarperCollins price drops for you, and note the percentage of drop:

As you can see, those are substantial drops.

I also did some spot checking…some HarperCollins books (especially teen ones) have dropped fifty percent and more. For example:

The Sharing Knife, Volume Three by Lois McMaster Bujold $7.99/$3.99/50%

It’s also worth noting that eReaderIQ has been tracking that since December 21, 2010 (which would have been when somebody requested the tracking)…and this is the first time the price has dropped during that period.

Two other interesting things: while I was writing the post, another wave of HarperCollins price drops happened…it may be taking them some time to adjust.

Also, many of the books have already dropped twice since September 9th…that could be due to automatic adjustment to prices at other retailers. There was no price competition between retailers under the Agency Model.

How would you know about these drops if I didn’t tell you? Sign up at eReaderIQ…if you don’t, you could be wasting a lot of money (if you can wait for prices to come down).

Thanks to the Department of Justice for bringing this case!

Thanks to Amazon for reducing the prices!

Thanks to HarperCollins for settling! Yes, they went in on the Agency Model, but we can be thankful they settled, rather than continuing to fight. One could argue that the publishers and Apple which haven’t settled are standing up for what they believe to be their innocence, rather than caving to legal pressure…

Thanks (once again) to

http://www.ereaderiq.com/

I use them for a lot of purposes, and I do buy through their links when I’ve signed up for something there and they notify me about it…that helps them, and I do want to reward them for their efforts.

Update: my Flipboard app had this story this morning:

paidContent:
“Apple is already fighting Amazon in the ebook price wars”

and I was also alerted to it by regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy.

Amazon’s price war right now might, ironically, be with Apple. As the hardware company continues to fight the Department of Justice in court to retain the Agency Model, which keeps the consumer prices the same everywhere, they are lowering the prices on iBooks, to counter Amazon. They are competing on prices, in a race to the bottom…which would seem to be  what they were complaining about Amazon doing before the Agency Model.

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


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