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Tag: Amazon (11-20 of 81)

Amazon: Ebook prices are 'unjustifiably high'

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Amazon’s fight with Hachette over ebook prices isn’t ending anytime soon.

For weeks, Amazon and Hachette have been deadlocked in a dispute over how much ebooks published by Hachette should cost, and how much of that revenue should go to the publisher, author, or Amazon. During this period, Amazon has delayed the shipment of Hachette’s books, removed the preorder button for some titles, and made the books harder to find on Amazon’s website.

Over the weekend, the Amazon Books Team posted an open letter arguing for lower ebook prices. According to the letter, many ebooks are being priced at $14.99 or $19.99, which Amazon believes is unjustifiably high, given that ebooks have “no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs,” and aren’t sold secondhand.

In 2013, Hachette—along with HarperCollins, Penguin (now Penguin Random House), Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan—was found guilty of conspiring to fix ebook prices. Amazon says the movie was disrespectful to readers and demonstrated a misunderstanding of how ebooks play a role in the publishing industry. According to Amazon, Hachette is afraid that cheaper ebooks will ruin book culture—but its own data suggests that ebook prices are elastic in a way that’s good for the publishing industry. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Barnes & Noble and Google team up for same-day shipping

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Barnes & Noble is teaming up with Google Shopping Express, a service that will let the bookstore provide same-day delivery to Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The service will help the two compete with Amazon, which already provides same-day shipping in 10 cities in the United States. From Amazon, same-day delivery costs $5.99 for Amazon Prime members and around $10 for other customers. Users who have subscribed to Google Shopping express do not have to pay any additional fees for same-day delivery, and the service costs $4.99 for other customers. [The New York Times]

Nine hundred writers have signed an open letter to Amazon—to be published in this Sunday’s New York Times—asking them to stop singling out authors for “selective retaliation.” Amazon is delaying shipments of books published by Hachette, which they are negotiating contracts with. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: American authors land on Booker Prize longlist

Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt, and Richard Powers are the Americans who made this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist. For the first time, Britain’s most prestigious literary award is open to authors in the U.S., as long as the books are also published in Britain. The list is male-dominated: only three of its 13 writers are women. The toast of America’s literary establishment last year, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, was snubbed. Last year, 28-year-old author Eleanor Catton won for her 800-page novel The Luminaries. A shortlist will be announced on September 9th, and the winner on October 14th. [The New York Times]

In Amazon news, vice president of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti has asked authors to stop complaining about the company. A group of authors—including Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham, and James Patterson—are planning to publish a full-page ad in The New York Times explaining why they are siding against Amazon in the Amazon-Hachette dispute. Grandinetti asked the group to stop publication of the ad, and proposed a plan where Amazon to stock Hachette titles and give authors standard royalties on ebooks. While Amazon and Hachette continue to negotiate among themselves, the proceeds each company normally earns would go to a literacy charity. [Publishers Weekly] READ FULL STORY

Amazon launches all-you-can-read service Kindle Unlimited

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Just yesterday, Amazon launched a page announcing a new subscription service titled Kindle Unlimited before quickly making the page unavailable. But today, it’s been made official. Amazon is now offering Kindle Unlimited, where readers can pay $9.99 a month for unlimited reading and listening on any device. Users will have access to more than 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks.

Basically, Kindle Unlimited works like a Netflix for the book world. And as EW pointed out yesterday, its main rivals will be Scribd, which offers over 400,000 titles for $8.99 a month, and Oyster, which offers over 500,000 titles for $9.95 a month.

Amazon appears to be testing unlimited ebook subscription service

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On Wednesday, a webpage for Kindle Unlimited—a subscription service where users can “enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month,” according to the page—went live and then was quickly made unavailable. Google cache is hosting a copy of the webpage, however, and Gigaom posted a copy of what they claim is Kindle Unlimited’s advertisement video on YouTube.

Amazon has not yet officially announced Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon did not immediately reply to EW‘s request for comment, so many details are still unclear—but the webpage’s existence suggests Amazon may have an unlimited ebook subscription service on the way.

The service would rival Scribd and Oyster, two other ebook subscription companies. Oyster boasts more than 500,000 titles at $9.95 per month, while Scribd advertises over 400,000 titles for $8.99 per month. These services function like Netflix for ebooks, where subscribers can access an unlimited amount of ebooks from the website’s limited offerings at a flat monthly rate. Just as Netflix was a game-changer in the movies and television industries, Scribd and Oyster have been making waves in publishing—so it’s not surprising to note that Amazon has expressed interest.

Many of the books Amazon appeared to be offering before the Kindle Unlimited webpage was taken down were titles from their own publishing imprint, according to Gigaom. However, none of the titles featured in Gigaom’s video or on the website were from the five biggest publishers—HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, or, of course, Hachette. The webpage, however, has titles from some of the bigger independent houses, like the Harry Potter books from Bloomsbury. HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are both on board with Oyster and Scribd. It appears Kindle Unlimited could also, like both other active services, offer self-published work.

Amazon already offers a sort of book subscription service for Amazon Prime members, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Through that, Prime users can borrow one book per month from a selection of more than 600,000 books for no additional cost. Kindle Unlimited appears to be a separate service that won’t be included with Amazon Prime, which costs $99 per year.

Amazon and Hachette's literary showdown continues

The negotiations between Amazon and Hachette are getting uglier. Last week, Amazon proposed a plan to offer Hachette authors 100% of ebook profits until negotiations are over, a plan Hachette swiftly rejected.

According to Amazon, the prolonged negotiations put authors in a bad position. With their proposed plan, authors would at least be able to make more money while the two companies resolve their differences. “Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate … They can afford it. What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage.” It’s unclear what percentage of Hachette’s book sales are ebooks, but for the industry overall, about 30% of book sales are ebook sales, and 60% of Hachette’s ebook sales are from Amazon.

An Amazon representative told EW, “You have to look at the parent company — Lagardère Group — rather than just the Hachette division. They can afford it, and should stop using their authors as human shields.”

A spokesman for Hachette Livre said Amazon’s statement misrepresented Hachette’s finances, telling EW that “amalgamating Hachette’s and its parent company’s finances as if they were just one big budget is childish and can fool no one with a minimal knowledge of business practices.”

Amazon offers to pay Hachette authors 100% of ebook profits

In the latest development of the ongoing negotiations between Amazon and Hachette, Amazon may be trying to sidestep the publisher altogether and work directly with the authors. David Naggar, VP of Kindle content and independent publishing, contacted several Hachette authors, book agents, and The Authors Guild offering a temporary truce until negotiations are over: “For as long as this dispute lasts, Hachette authors would get 100% of the sales price of every Hachette ebook we sell,” he wrote in a letter. “Both Amazon and Hachette would forego all revenue and profit from the sale of every ebook until an agreement is reached.”

For months, Hachette and Amazon have been negotiating what percentage of revenue from ebook sales should go to each company. Presumably, the revenue lost by giving all book-sale profits directly to authors would “motivate both Hachette and Amazon to work faster to resolve the situation,” as Amazon said in their letter. It isn’t clear which authors Amazon contacted, but Hachette is one of the biggest book publishers in the world, and publishes books by J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and James Patterson, among others.

Roxana Robinson, president of The Authors Guild, publicly declined the offer. “This seems like a short-term solution that encourages authors to take sides against their publishers,” she told The New York Times. “It doesn’t get authors out of the middle of this—we’re still in the middle.”

For the proposal to work, Hachette would need to agree to it. It appears as though Amazon meant to make this deal a kind of meta-negotiation to speed up the process of the more important negotiations. However, Amazon addressed the letter to authors and members of the publishing industry to solicit feedback. They didn’t initially bring the proposal up with Hachette, saying that they were unresponsive to negotiations.

In the original letter, Amazon wrote:

We heard nothing from them for three full months. We extended the contract into April under existing terms. Still nothing. In fact we got no conversation at all from Hachette until we started reducing our on-hand print inventory and reducing the discounts we offer customers off their list prices. Even since then, weeks have gone by while we waited for them to get back to us.

Hachette responded. “We believe that the best outcome for the writers we publish is a contract with Amazon that brings genuine marketing benefits and whose terms allow Hachette to continue to invest in writers, marketing, and innovation,” the company published in a letter. Hachette also denied Amazon’s accusations that they’ve been unresponsive to the ongoing negotiations. A representative of the company told The Wall Street Journal that it “made an offer in April that was the largest we ever made to any retailer, and in May made another that was higher still. Both offers were rejected.”

Amazon, however, said that turning down the offer to give authors a higher percentage of ebook revenue is bad for authors. “We call baloney,” they said in a statement. “Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate … They can afford it. What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage.”

In 2013, Amazon accounted for 60 percent of Hachette’s ebook sales.

On the Books: Lena Dunham discovers Alice Munro

Lena Dunham wrote an essay about discovering Alice Munro for Zoetrope, the literary journal run by Francis Ford Coppola. “I came to Alice Munro after her Nobel Prize win, like a girl discovering Maroon 5 circa 2014 and deciding they are an indie band,” she wrote. “Because, new as I am to her, and sure as we all are that she is the queen of her form, I still feel that Alice Munro is mine. I am the perfect audience for her brand of quiet, seething feminism.” The essay is titled “Hateship, Loveship, Viewership, Readership,” riffing on the title of the Munro’s classic story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,” which is reprinted in the magazine. [Zoetrope All-Story]

Barnes and Noble is splitting its retail and Nook operations into two separate companies. Though there’s no guarantee that the split will be successful, the company hopes to complete the process by the first quarter of 2015. As it is, Barnes & Noble isn’t doing to0 well—retail sales are down 6 percent this year, Nook hardware sales are down 45 percent, and digital content sales are down 21 percent. Earlier this year, Barnes & Noble announced that it would invest fewer of the company’s own resources into the Nook division and would instead partner with Samsung to develop a tablet. Hopefully, one of the companies will be called “Barnes” and the other “Noble.” [Publishers Weekly] READ FULL STORY

Amazon picks best books of 2014 so far

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2014 is about half over, and the Amazon team has already chosen their top 10 books of the year so far, just in time for you to make a few additions to your summer reading list before the avalanche of prestige titles hits in the fall. There are already books here that will likely make plenty of top 10 lists at the end of the year, including Redeployment by Phil Klay, as well as some books that should have been a bigger deal: Red Rising by Pierce Brown, anyone?

In case you’re wondering, none of the books in Amazon’s top 10 is a Hachette title, although a few made the top 20: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (#11), The Fever by Megan Abbott (#14), and Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta (#19). See below for Amazon’s list: READ FULL STORY

On the Books: James Patterson will give a free book to every sixth grader in New York City's public schools

Author James Patterson has promised to donate almost 45,000 copies of his young-reader series Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life to the New York City Public School System before the end of the 2013-2014 school year, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, the head of New York City’s Department of Education, announced today at an event at the Community Eastside School in Manhattan. Every current sixth grader in New York City is eligible to receive the donation.

“I love New York City, and I’m so delighted to be sharing the gift of books and reading with the city’s sixth graders,” said Patterson in a press release. “These students have the potential to do great things, and supporting and nurturing that potential is our most important job as parents, and as citizens.” The goal of this donation, according to the press release from Little Brown and Company, is to encourage students to read over the summer and “avoid the ‘summer slide’ when students lose ground in their learning progress during long breaks from class.” Recently, Patterson also donated approximately 28,000 copies of his books to sixth-grade students in the Chicago Public School system. READ FULL STORY

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