SFWA removes Amazon.com links from website

Due to Amazon.com’s removal of many of our authors’ books from its ordering system, we are removing Amazon.com links from our website. Our authors depend on people buying their books and since a significant percentage of them publish through Macmillan or its subsidiaries, we would prefer to send traffic to stores where the books can actually be purchased.

To that end, our volunteers are in the process of redirecting book links to indiebound.org, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, and Borders.

Many authors are being hit hard by this, so we encourage you to seek out new places to find their books.

Edited to add: It is worth noting, that if a book is only available on Amazon, we are leaving the link in place. Our goal is to make sure that it is possible to order our members’ fiction. Hurting authors to make a point about a publishing model is bad business, for anyone.

86 Responses

  1. terena

    Makes a lot of sense. Perhaps the Amazon situation will encourage people to shop around more. Personally, I’m a big Powells fan.

  2. Geoffrey Kidd

    I needed to order a gift for an author, to express appreciation for his work. I specifically ordered the gift from Barnes and Noble, and emailed a copy of their acknowledgment to Amazon customer service, using my Amazon ID/account.

    The header of the email told them flatly that THIS was only the beginning of what the Macmillan Holocaust would cost them.

  3. plutosdad

    Shouldn’t you be removing links to Macmillan instead? Amazon was standing up for your readers against a publisher who would rather sell less books for more money. Seriously, as a consumer and avid reader, if I’m going ot boycott anything, it won’t be Amazon, it will be Macmillan.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      On the issue of pricing, people have differing opinions on whether Amazon or Macmillan is pursuing the correct strategy. What we’re responding to is Amazon removing links to our members’ works. Amazon is in its rights to remove those links, but we prefer to send our links to stores where readers can find our members’ work.

  4. IreneD

    @ plutosdad: I hope you noticed that Amazon suddenly stopped carrying nearly every Macmillan title, both in print and in Kindle edition? Without warning. For several days. If that is respecting customers, I wonder what planet they are living on!

  5. Mark S.

    With the Macmillan strategy, the publishers will make less money per book. Since many authors get a percentage of the net, that means that the authors will receive less money. So go ahead and pick the side that will reduce the income of your members.

  6. figment

    Fair response, and kudos to you for enacting an opinion many have voiced. Whether or not amazon’s pricing model is the correct one, their actions, which directly harm the innocent authors, are quite reprehensible.

    More and more I find myself skipping amazon and shopping powell’s or gohastings.com–used books are better, anyway.

  7. SMD

    I don’t think it matters who is in the right: Macmillan or Amazon. What matters is that Amazon is not hurting Macmillan. It’s hurting authors. Macmillan will still be around if they lose Amazon as a retailer. Some of the authors Macmillan publishes might not be because their books might not sell well enough due to a sudden drop in availability at a major retailer.

    So, the SFWA standing up for the people it’s supposed to stand up for: the authors. In the end, if Macmillan wants to raise prices for ebooks, let them. When their ebook sales tank, then they’ll learn their lesson and rethink their model. But Amazon is saying “no” to that and throwing a temper tantrum because Macmillan won’t back down. The result is that a lot of others didn’t sell books this weekend, and some of them might not get a renewed contract because of it.

    So, good for you, SFWA.

  8. venusmom

    That’s okay; now you won’t make any money from affiliate links when I continue buying from Amazon anyway.

  9. Jess

    *sigh*

    What an obnoxious, dramatastic, inconvenient mess for all involved- authors, readers, author associations, publishers, etc. The discussion needed to be had, but it would’ve been nice if it could be had between grown-ups.

    Luck and support to SFWA and all the authors and groups being hurt by this. I’m going to try to make a couple Tor purchases this week, on general principle.

    Maybe even as Ebooks. *blows raspberry in general direction of Amazon*

  10. Scott Franklin

    i’m surprised here.

    I’ve seen your statement of removal of Amazon because of their disagreement with Macmillan here and Im shocked. So much so that as a casual visitor to this site I felt moved to say something.

    As far as I’ve read elsewhere, Macmillan wants to charge your audience somewhere around 50% more per book. The way *I* see it, that will NOT get them into the hands of said audience any faster or more successfully.

    Ok, perhaps you can get a few pennies (and I’m sure the SFWA writers get a whole doller a book or something, right?) more perhaps per sale, but I’d still take that “thousand pennies from a thousand,” than a dollar from five.

    You would bite the hand that feeds you? Foster bad feelings? And accomplish what? Because they “removed links to your authors books,”? Their issues are with your *client*, not your authors.

    As far as I’ve read, the disagreement is Amazon’s desire to keep the price down, not only for themselves, but to kick-start a fledgeling new industry that needs low prices and LOTS of titles to get it going well. Ebooks aren’t widely accepted yet *despite* the Nooks, the Kindles and the others (now the iPad).

    Perhaps there’re monies being moved around that I’m not aware of; percentages in dispute.

    With a medium that has no real distribution costs (that I’m aware of, please inform me if I’m mistaken; but I’ve worked at record labels and I KNOW what goes into encoding and distribution to iTunes and the like) or manufacturing in itself after the formatting stage, it’s a taylor-made solution for people like me and I’m SURE many others.

    Seems like someone just wants their profit margins to match a system that doesn’t reflect the current tastes in it’s audience.

    I’ve been in the music industry; I know a few things and high-priced stuffs aren’t what’s cooking anymore.

    Give the people non-revocable books we can move from place to place when we want to and put them on the machines we want to, and I for one will be content.

    I’d imagine you should be too.

  11. shane

    @plutosdad

    I agree completely.

    Perhaps the Macmillan situation will cause readers to demand good science fiction and fantasy from authors not published by MacMillan or their imprints.

  12. Randy Susan Meyers

    This author–only 2 weeks into her debut launch–thanks you, thanks you & thanks you. I’m not a SWFA author (more domestic drama) but am impressed by your standing up for authors.

  13. Reena Jacobs

    @plutosdad

    Removing links from MacMillan would prevent people from gaining access to author’s published by the publisher. Kind of defeats the purpose of supporting the authors, don’t you think?

    I’m not sure why MacMillan is the demon here. The publisher didn’t restrict readers from purchases, Amazon did. MacMillan didn’t put a block on potential funds Authors might receive through purchases, Amazon did. MacMillan certainly didn’t force Amazon to boycott, it was a choice Amazon made.

    That’s not to say I promote either companies’ pricing strategies, but boycotting a company for the actions of another company seems rather off, in my opinion.

    Personally, I think this goes beyond publishing. Amazon has used this type of strategy in the past. Amazon stopped offering Amazon association accounts in NC because it didn’t like NC’s new tax laws. Again, punishing the little guy.

    Amazon uses monopoly-type strategies to force compliance. This time I think it just backfired.

  14. Lisa L. Spangenberg

    Authors’ royalties in most cases are based on cover price, not on the price paid by a distributor or wholesaler or retailer.

    The fact that Amazon removed links to printed books from Macmillan and Macmillan’s subsidiaries like Tor and Farrar, StraussS And Giroux because because of a disagreement about ebooks is telling.

    The fact that they only removed links to Macmillan’s consumer titles (fiction and non fiction) and have not as yet removed links to textbooks from Macmillan’s subsidiaries like Bedford/St. Martins, suggests that Amazon’s strategy was to hurt authors, and frustrate readers.

    Given that SFWA is an organization primarily for writers of SF and F, I support SFWA’s actions. I note that http://www.indibooks.org lists local independent bookstores, for those who are not in urban areas with chain bookstores, or who wish to support a specialist SF/F bookstore.

  15. Mark S.

    I’m not sure why MacMillan is the demon here.

    Because Macmillan is pushing for higher priced e-books while Amazon is pushing for lower priced e-books. You can complain about what Amazon did (and it was stupid) all you want, but as a reader I get a better deal if Amazon wins then if Macmillan wins.

  16. Ann K

    Imagine that! An author’s group supporting its authors!

    Thank you SFWA. I hope to be able to join your ranks someday.

  17. Dave Robinson

    Macmillan is pushing for dynamically priced ebooks – starting at $15 and dropping over time. It’s a strategy that may or may not work, but there’s nothing demonic about it. They’re simply trying to build their business in the best way they know how.

    The CEO even came out and posted an ad explaining exactly what they are doing and why.

    Amazon, on the other hand, simply removed the buy buttons from Macmillan books, paper as well as electronic. No one has come forward and put their name to an explanation of what they did and why. (All we have from Amazon is a post from the “Amazon Kindle team.”)

    Amazon has hurt both readers and authors by preventing people from buying books.

    Macmillan is not the demon.

  18. Pingback: More Amazon/Macmillan feud fallout, conversations, and conspiracy theories | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

  19. Teresa Jusino

    As a reader, I say kudos to you, SFWA for making sure that there are OPTIONS for readers. That’s really what this is about.

    I don’t like the Kindle, or Amazon, at the moment, because as a reader and a consumer, I like the option of shopping for certain things wherever I like. I don’t have an ereader, because I prefer regular books, but if I did buy one, I’d make sure to get one that allowed me to download books from multiple sources.

    @Mark S. – consumers NEVER win when a company builds a monopoly. Amazon is the same company that “accidentally” deleted sales rankings for all of their LGBT literature not that long ago. They are capable of pulling books whenever they deem it necessary, and if you have a Kindle, then you have no ebook alternative. I mean, Wal-Mart gives consumers a better deal, too, but they do that by setting up shop in places where the Wal-Mart is the only place to work, paying their workers a pittance while working them long hours, and passing the savings on to you. Macmillan has a right to charge what they want for ebooks. You know what will bring those prices down? Other publishers setting their prices lower. It shouldn’t be up to Amazon to decide that for them.

  20. Ken Burnside

    This internet slap-fight is about whether or not the publisher of a book can set the price for their product, or whether a retailer can set the price to lure people into dedicated e-readers.

    MacMillan wants to be able to charge $12.99 a book (half cf the hardback cover price) for new releases; this would scale down to lower prices 30 days and 60 days after launch, with another drop when the mass market paperback came in. This is something publishers do, and have done, for nearly a century; it’s a way for them to make sustainable income out of publishing, which has margins roughly akin to selling plasma at the blood donation center.

    Amazon wants to be able to set the price unilaterally; any author that signs up for the Amazon ‘publisher’ contract is lopping their genitals off.

    It is illustrative how this sort of practice has gone in the past. When publishing video games through portals was in its infancy, the portals were offering an 80% royalty on them. As the portals got established, and became the default method of publishing video games (bypassing video game publishers, as Amazon is trying to do here), those royalty rates dropped; they’re now in the 15% range.

    Amazon isn’t out to ‘push the ebook industry’. It’s out to establish a dominant market position in the DRM ebook industry before competition gets serious.

  21. Peter

    Those who are defending Amazon here need to keep something in particular in mind. Amazon turned off the ability to purchase the work-product of authors who are members of the SFWA. Regardless of what you think about the pricing disagreement (and it should be noted that Amazon’s $10 price point is selling at a loss, thus not indefinitely sustainable), imagining that an association of working writers is going to support a retailer that is *refusing to sell their work* as a bargaining technique is, frankly, silly.

    You may disagree with them about price points or who gets to set prices (and I do have to note that the internet seems filled with people who suddenly became experts in the economics of publishing over the weekend), but arguing that they should act against their own best interests by driving traffic to a retailer that won’t sell their work is, again, silly.

    Is that more clear now?

  22. Meg

    I’m sorry to see that people are missing the point here – it’s not about who is right between Amazon and Macmillian, it’s about supporting the AUTHORS, who are stuck in the middle of this mess through no fault of their own. Amazon could just as easily have pulled only the e-books, but instead they pulled the print books as well, hurting the authors much more than it hurts the publisher. That’s the bit that really gets me, and I’m glad to see SFWA responding.

  23. Thomas M. Wagner

    Because Macmillan is pushing for higher priced e-books while Amazon is pushing for lower priced e-books.

    And this justifies Amazon’s unilateral decision to delist ALL editions, including print editions, of Macmillan titles, thus denying sales to Macmillan authors completely while the two corporate parties work to iron out their disputes…how?

  24. Alida

    The thing is, if Amazon had let Macmillan raise its prices, MacMillan would soon find out of their price hikes were a bad idea. The consumer would let them know through sales (or lack of) — as it should be. With Amazon taking this action against all books from Macmillan, Amazon makes themselves into the bad guys with only themselves to blame. Bad PR move, at the very least, and hard on the authors most of all. You don’t beat up the employee to make a point to the boss.

    Changing the links to Amazon is a good move. It’s not an attempt to hurt Amazon. It’s an effort to get these books sold at locations that are actually selling them.

  25. Andrew Hackard

    Bruce: Or you go to Amazon and discover you can’t buy Macmillan ebooks at all, which is what this action is about. There may be legitimate cause to be upset with Macmillan in this dispute, but Amazon’s actions directly and immediately hurt the writers (and artists, and voice talent, and everyone else who gets royalties on these sales). That is what SFWA is responding to here and now.

  26. Paul Wirtz

    Fist I think SFWA is correct to place links to where you CAN get the Book and not give a lnk to where the book was available but is not because of power struggles.

    But MacMillin in effect did pull all new (<7 mo old) ebook titles. If Amazon wants to charge 9.99 for ebook the title is withheld for 7 months.

    Now this did not make it alright for Amazon either.

    I went to the MacMillin site to buy an ebook to support an author. But I did not find the ebook at 14.99 or 15.99, I did not find at 26.99 full hardback price but at 29.99 Sorry no sale.

    Now I did buy a $15.00 ebook today. Went to Baen and bought the ARC copy David Weber’s latest Harrington book. I’m willing to pay extra for extra. This book will not be released until July except for the eARC version. Oh no DRM either.

  27. Gray Woodland

    Speaking as a consumer, I don’t want Macmillan’s digital offering – it’s worth less to me than the dead tree version at present – and I can helpfully add to their clue by buying the dead tree edition instead. Except that Amazon as the default internet middleman appear to have broken faith with me by peremptorily screwing with my ability to do that thing. Were I on the author side of the lines, as some day I have some thought to be… oh, look, a similar argument seems to apply! As oft noted above, this is completely independent of whose business model might be thought best in itself.

    SFWA: good call, proportionate tactic. If you get grief for redirecting book-links to, like you say, stores where we can actually buy them – well, I guess it raineth upon the just and the unjust. But it’s still pretty well the most moderate reasonable response.

  28. Twilight2000

    Amazon has set itself up to look like they’re fighting for the little guy – the reader. What they’re really doing is trying to cement the Kindle as the untouchable reader by selling books at a loss. For now.

    What Macmillan did was say “We want the right to price our eBooks as we see fit and let the readers vote with their dollars.”

    Amazon’s “mature” response was to remove links to ALL products from Macmillan, both eBook and print.

    This does not help the reader.
    This does not help the author.
    This, in fact, hurts both. You can’t buy, the author can’t sell.

    Frankly, that everyone isn’t irritated by this childish maneuver surprises the heck out of me.

    Amazon *could* have highlighted the books from other publishers that were at the lower price, they could have highlighted the print only editions, they could have made a lot of choices. The choice they made was to disallow a huge number of authors any chance to have their book sold at all.

    Remind me again who I should be mad at? It’s clear that Amazon wants to be in control. Fine, it’s their site, they can be in control all they want. And I can shop somewhere that doesn’t throw a tantrum when things don’t go *just* their way. That’s my right.

  29. moz

    I’m just confused that you’re not even acknowleging the option of buying ebooks. Surely I’m not the only person who primarily buys fiction as DRM-free ebooks from fictionwise or similar outlets. Despite the inane geographic restrictions from some morons it’s still easier to deal with ebooks than deadwood, regardless of whether Amazon is in the mood to sell deadwood or not.

    I’m all for experimentation, and inclined to side with MacMillan simply because they’ve demonstrated more engagement with the outside world. Amazon coming out of the arhgument and kicking the dog is just stupid bullying. Especially as authors can do what, exactly? Buy their rights back and change publishers?

  30. Michael B

    Something that seems to have skipped the attention of most of the Pro-Amazon side of the debate is that Amazon only talks about the high end pricing, not the low end – $4.99 ( or there about, maybe $5.99, still less than most paperbacks these days). MacMillan basically asked that newly published books be priced comparably if they are in ebook format.

    If Amazon had decided to delist only ebooks from MacMillan, that would have been reasonable, as ebooks were the pricing issue. Delisting all MacMillan publications is massive overkill and was a heavy handed bargaining tactic.

    So far the Pro-Amazon response has just left me scratching my head, I can’t believe an adult would say something about MacMillan having a monopoly on their own titles.

  31. MarkHB

    Makes sense to me. The whole goal of going bookshopping is to be able to buy books.

    Those criticising this seem to have missed the point that no edition, electronic, printed or audio, is available from Amazon.

    Whilst Amazon may still be permitting third parties to sell second-hand copies over their framework, authors don’t get any money from second-hand book sales.

    It doesn’t matter if an ebook is $9.99 or $14.99 if nobody’s writing the things because they’re not getting paid.

  32. G

    But buying the physical copy of the book does not tell Macmillan anything but what they feel they know: e-books are a fad and not worth pricing for. They have shown consistently that their discussion of a dynamic pricing model is a lie: in every area where they have control they have priced their e-books above physical books. If they manage to sell a few books at these prices, (which they will, due to market skewing by early adopters who would rather have no book than no e-book and to whom price is no option- like my brother) they will use those few sales to justify their actions.
    So I’ll wait to PB, and if they make me mad enough (by continuing not to lower e-prices dynamically), I’ll buy the PBs used, so that the Publisher doesn’t get any love. I may not discover new writers this way (because I don’t buy new writers at $29) but I hope my old writers get the smarts to push for a better distribution channel. For Tor writers, that would probably be Baen.
    I buy indie presses and novels with graphics at higher prices because of what I consider to be higher costs and the value of the artifact: I won’t do so for an e-book. And since I don’t steal, I won’t steal the book on line. But since I am a book/reading addict, what will happen is that my reading habits will change and I will explore authors and genres that make themselves available to me at prices that I consider fair.None of what I have said, btw, means that I think SFWA’s action was wrong in the context of its author and their current contracts. You are a union and what a union does is stand up for its members. Go SFWA, your last actions show that you are really waking up!

  33. Rob

    Personally I switched completely over to eBooks and I read now much more than before. It’s more comfortable to buy the books online and take advantage of the reader device as long battery life and comfortable reading.
    On the other side I don’t really like to pay double of the paperback edition for an ebook and every publisher jumping on the Apple wagon with its ridiculous price tag especially as the iPad is not such a fine reading device as my Sony Reader with his eInk display.
    I like to buy randomly new books for under 10$ at the Sony Store, but stop if the price is over this limit.

    It’s ok for sfwa to redo all links so they show actually to sites where you can buy book (don’t forget the Sony Reader Store ;-)), but be carefully to greed for more money as the publishers are suggesting now. You still earn more money selling two books for 9.99$ than one for 15$.

  34. James D. Macdonald

    Mark S #6 said: Since many authors get a percentage of the net, that means that the authors will receive less money.

    Actually, authors get a percentage of the cover price. Macmillan’s position isn’t going to put less money in my pocket.

  35. torgeaux

    Good for you. Take care of your constituency, authors. Screw those darn readers, who cares about them. Wait, what? Oh, authors can’t exist without readers? Readers want reasonable prices for ebooks? Macmillan wants to charge exorbitant rates for those books? Amazon is trying to keep those books cheaper? Wow, seems like readers would be on Amazon’s side. Readers and writers have similar interests you say? Wow, maybe authors should be on the side of the huge corporate entity that is acting to INCREASE sales instead of supporting old world publishing that is only in the interest of the publisher? Maybe?

  36. Neal Asher

    It bears repeating that Macmillan want a dynamic pricing structure 15 down to 5; high price when they’re hot, low price when they’re not. Amazon want to sell books at $10 so as to corner the market with their Kindle, and monopolies aren’t good for anyone. And does anyone think that Amazon will continue selling their books at a loss if they were to corner the market? Grow up. This smells of panic on Amazon’s part. Incidentally this row only concerns amazon.com at the moment, though it might spread.

  37. Erin U

    One thing that is aggravating about Amazon and the re-reporting of what’s going on is that they are not accurately reporting MacMillan’s sliding scale of $5.99-14.99.

    Moreover, if Amazon is able to dictate the sale price to publishers (for their own product) in the eBook arena, what’s to stop them from doing the same for print books?

    In addition, why should Amazon be getting the lion’s share of the profit when it’s the author who did all of the work and the publisher who took a chance on that author? If the author can’t sell enough eBooks and print copies (which they’d have to sell more of under Amazon’s rules), will he/she realistically get another book deal?

    I don’t know, but it seems like Amazon is not thinking strategically enough about the future since their new business model and way of doing business is likely to price emerging and midlist authors out of the market.

    Maybe I’m too much of an idealist, but I’m thinking that Amazon should be considering the bottom lines for the publisher and the author, not just itself.

    Besides…. I have a Kindle and I’m absolutely willing to pay $15.99 for a new release from an author that I love. I’m also willing to spend $9.99 or less for that same new release. So, as far as I can tell, Amazon is looking to take money out of MacMillan’s and the author’s pocket to ensure that the Kindle keeps the market edge on eBooks. In my mind, that’s a shady way of doing business.

  38. Shiloh Walker

    I’m not a MacMillan author so the only way this affects me is in my buying choices-but, by removing ALL MacMillan titles from Amazon, leaving only third party vendors, Amazon limited my buying choices from their site. The same for any other reader who has been browsing for books.

    That is NOT looking out for their whole customer base. They can argue they are using it as leverage for their Kindle consumers, but despite how well the Kindle is selling, their print books are still outselling the ebooks. They are placing ONE group over another and that is NOT looking out for their whole customer base. That isn’t customer service.

    What Amazon did had nothing to do with customer service-I feel it was an attempt to get MacMillan bend to what Amazon wanted.

    MacMillan’s action with the ebooks-I don’t necessarily agree that higher ebook pricing is a good route, although many people do not seem to understand, ebook or print, there ARE still costs. But MacMillan’s actions will affect hose who buy ebooks-is that fair to them? Of course not-however, the digital market is still fairly new and there are going to be stumbles along the way.

    If MacMillan is making a stumble now, they will learn from it, improve and carry on. But again, MacMillan’s decision affected ONLY those who choose to read in ebook.

    Amazon’s decision? It affected any reader who decided to go looking for a book published by a MacMillan author. They are perfectly within their rights to do so, it’s a free market, as many people have said. But I can’t possibly see how it was done with the customer in mind.

    I’m hoping MacMillan AND Amazon will work this out soon, in a way that benefits everybody. The consumers and the authors are getting screwed sideways here.

  39. Jeff MacMillan

    I thought about the whole e-book business, and I feel I must boycott e-books entirely, as long as they are crippled by DRM.

    No publisher can take away my right to share and give away a physical book, but digital books are somehow “protected” from sharing either with DRM or DMCA laws passed by the best legislators that money can buy. It’s a giant step backward for everyone except the publishers.

    The internet is begging for parasitic publishers to be disintermediated TODAY, not even tomorrow. A pox on the publishers, on “Take my book, please” Amazon and all the highwaymen.

    Authors, do you “get” the internet? It’s about time.

  40. Steve Simmons

    @plutosdad et al: Macmillan is no saint, but they’re not the one who, in the middle of negotiations, unilaterally pulled the authors books from their virtual shelves. They’re not the ones who are hurting the authors – and as you might notice, this is the SFWA site. Authors. Who should authors support here? The company that would like to get them more money, or the company that directly and actively hurt them while in a dispute with one of their suppliers?

  41. Wilson

    You still earn more money selling two books for 9.99$ than one for 15$.

    Not if it costs you $11 to produce each one.

  42. Pingback: Imitating other writers « Fictionmagoria

  43. S G in NJ

    I understand the viewpoint that Amazon is hurting the authors by removing the link to be able to purchase the books being published by Macmillan and I do support your right to remove links to Amazon due to the financial wound they have caused. That being said, as an avid reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, I would make a heartfelt plea that you now turn around and look for a new publisher once your contract is up unless Macmillan is going to also increase the royalty amount paid to you from their new pricing requirements.
    Personally, I will keep buying from Amazon, as I always have, and look forward to reading new novels by all the authors that will be moving to a personal publishing model that allows them to completely bypass greedy companies like Macmillan, Harper Collins, and company by embracing an electronic format.

  44. anonymouse

    Authors: “Oh no! You’re taking away my livelihood! Won’t someone think of my income!”

    Publishers: “Oh no! You may at some time in the future reduce the wholesale costs! Won’t someone think of my income!”

    Authors and Publishers: “Hey, readers! Pay more! Won’t someone think of our income?”

    Readers: “Would all of you please stop all this selfing posturing? You’re just making yourselves look bad.”

  45. Mark S.

    Macmillan has a right to charge what they want for ebooks. You know what will bring those prices down? Other publishers setting their prices lower. It shouldn’t be up to Amazon to decide that for them.

    Why should Macmillan get to decide what Amazon’s selling price is? I have no problem with Macmillan saying that we will sell our e-books to Amazon for $15. But why should they be able to block Amazon putting the books in sale for $9.99?

  46. Mark S.

    It bears repeating that Macmillan want a dynamic pricing structure 15 down to 5; high price when they’re hot, low price when they’re not. Amazon want to sell books at $10 so as to corner the market with their Kindle, and monopolies aren’t good for anyone.

    That’s funny. I can find plenty of E-books on Amazon priced below $9.99.

    - Anathem is $7.99.

    - Saturn’s Children is $6.39

    - The Prefect is $6.39

    These are books that are only a couple years old. Most of the newer books are $9.99 priced, but there are a large number of books priced lower.

  47. Kenny

    MacMillan is the bad guy here. Attempting to throw it’s weight around and raise the prices on Ebooks. This is BAD for sales. Ebooks should be cheaper and they will sell more and faster.

  48. Rick York

    Ugh.
    I completely understand where all the SFWA writers are coming from. Your position is almost certainly correct. I think MacMillan and other publishers will sell fewer eBooks at $15 than at $10. But, that’s their right. Amazon has it all wrong. It’s nice to say you’re on the consumer’s side but, in the end, any company should be able to price their products as they wish. It doesn’t mean we have to buy them at that price. But, hey, the system still works.
    Here’s my problem and, I imagine it’s shared with many others: I’m a book junkie on a fixed income (I’m a geezer). I make extensive use of my public library but, there are books I want to own. Without Amazon, I couldn’t get my fix. Powell’s is great – I live in Portland. But, Powell’s discounts maybe a dozen books a time. It rarely discounts genre books. Barnes and Noble’s catalog sucks. Either that or their search algorithm stinks. If an author is not well known, it’s impossible to find her on B&N.
    I want independents to thrive but, like Powell’s, they don’t discount. I try to by a book every couple of months at my local bookstore.
    Amazon is pulling a Toyota. An organization that was pretty well like and respected has managed to shoot itself in both feet. Remember the “1984″ fiasco?
    I have some eBooks on my iPhone. I will buy an ereader when they get down around $100. Much more is too rich for me.
    Unfortunately, those of you SF/F writers who are either not selling on Amazon or not providing links are the ones who will suffer. Not Amazon or the publishers. I don’t want to see that. I really love and admire all of you, good, bad or indifferent. I’m doing what I can to help you make money.
    Let these monsters fight it out and sell your books where you can.

  49. Al Sjogren

    Before you decide who is the bully here. This is something the CEO of MacMillan said:
    “I don’t have to get in my car, go to the library, look at the book, check it out,” said John Sargent, chief executive of Macmillan, which publishes authors like Janet Evanovich, Augusten Burroughs and Jeffrey Eugenides. “Instead, I’m sitting in the comfort of my living room and can say, ‘Oh, that looks interesting’ and download it.”

    As digital collections grow, Mr. Sargent said he feared a world in which “pretty soon you’re not paying for anything.” Partly because of such concerns, Macmillan does not allow its e-books to be offered in public libraries.

    Yes, Mr. Sargent is preventing you and your Public Library from the following benefits:
    - eBooks are never lost
    - eBooks are never damaged or marked
    - eBooks are never late
    - no money or time is spent to transport eBooks between branches, check-out, check-in, or inventory
    - with declining budgets and limited hours the eBook library is still open
    - no money is spent traveling to or from the library for eBooks
    - many eBooks can be large type without needing a special edition
    - eBooks can augment limited shelf space
    - less popular eBooks do not need to be removed from the library system because of space limitations

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  51. /shakeshead

    No one to blame but Macmillan.

    If things keep up like this I am going to have to start boycotting more than just John Sargent’s actions. Keep shooting yourselves in the foot book industry.

  52. anonymouse

    @Mark S. Yes, but check the publisher’s list price for that ebook. it’s not that low. That’s the retailer discounting the title.

    That goes away in an industry model.

    Oh, and SFWA? Yeah…about this whole “Macmillan’s the good guy” stance of yours: Just no, ok? No.

    I’m not going to reward Macmillan’s behavior buy purchasing Macmillan imprints new from ANYWHERE! Used? you bet. Read from a library? Sure. But new? No, because it puts money into Macmillan’s pockets.

    If that hurts the authors too, well then, they’re collateral damage in all of this.

    But I believe your original point was that they’re already collateral damage. Oh, well.

  53. Peter

    It is funny to me to see folks telling authors what is in their best interests. There are, of course, exceptions, but my general rule of thumb is to assume that someone who does what they do for a living has a pretty good idea of what is in their own best interest when I don’t, in fact, do that thing for a living.

    It is especially funny when the inevitable “you don’t understand the Internet” types show up to lecture people whom I know are reading this and have been online since the 80s. I can promise you these professional authors who have been using Usenet, etc. since then understand the Internet and the economic implications of e-books to a substantially more nuanced degree than the “publishers are dinosaurs” set.

  54. Dave

    Peter – sometimes people are to close to the issue or feel like they don’t have choices. Sometimes all it takes is an education of alternate possibilities and a willingness to consider the perspectives of others.

    Authors like J.A. Konrath have takent he time to consider alternatives and, surprisingly are embracing and experimenting with new business models.

    I’m concerned that authors, retailers, and publishers, and yes, even readers, have a fairly centric view of the situation…all need MORE INFORMATION and more understanding of the other group’s financial perspectives. Too bad such info is so hard to come by and when actually shared, is most often presented in misleading ways that do not allow for comparisons.

  55. Josh Haney

    Kudos to Amazon for standing up for the consumer and pushing the adoption of e-books. Shame on Macmillan and their naked cash grab. If John Sargent had his way he’d probably roll the publishing business back to the 19th century rather than joining the rest of us in the 21st!

  56. Mr Consumer

    Do what you feel is best but I refuse to pay the same price for ebooks as for a hard copy book. I also purchased more books (as ebooks) when the price was below the $10.00 mark then I ever would have purchased as hgher priced hard copies (regardless I never bought the hard back edition – only the paperback).

    I’m all for everyone making a fair profit but it comes down to disposible income and precieved value of a bunch of data bits (not necessarily the physical/mental effort of a writer to create the story – which I do respect). At least with a paper back there is a preceived value as there is physical substance. I’d gladly pay $6-$7 for a paper back on occasion but I’d buy ebooks at $3.00 more often due to ease and perceived lower cost.
    I’m not in the publishing industry and clearly can’t see the perspective of the systems bloat and ineffectiveness in production vs the digital world. Nor can I honestly say I understand the underling profit structure to the individual artist in either the Amazon system or the representing publishers. I am in the digital world and can clearly understand the lower cost, efficiencies and effectiveness of distribution of data.
    But, as I stated, this is clearly perceived value to the customer (myself) not what the artist necessarily wants and definitely not what a publisher wants. Lets see you are marketing to me. I don’t “buy” it.

  57. Peter

    Dave -sometimes people are to close to the issue or feel like they don’t have choices. Sometimes all it takes is an education of alternate possibilities and a willingness to consider the perspectives of others.

    Oh, I absolutely agree. And in fact, there are authors whom I believe are simply insane in the way they approach the issue (and no, I’m not naming names). Experimentation is absolutely what I think is vital when an industry change of this size is approaching. (Notice how a little company called Napster indirectly led to the new paths to success people like Amanda Palmer are exploring? Certainly, it is easy to take that comparison way too far, though.)

    That said, hearing people suggest that the nexus of functions we call “publishing”, including editing, printing, promotion, distribution, art generation, rights management and other legal services, venture capital, etc. etc. can simply be, as a class, disintermediated away tells me that those people don’t have a sufficient handle on what publishers actually do to provide useful input.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that publishing won’t change and must remain as-is for ever amen. Far from it. What I am suggesting is that folks who think authors can “just” switch to selling e-books directly through Amazon or from their personal websites and split the take the “dinosaur old-media” currently “skims” with the reader simply lacks both a realistic suggestion and sufficient clue to realize why that is so. I’m not suggesting that you, specifically, think this, but I have seen that sentiment expressed in almost those exact words more than once since this kerfluffle started fluffling.

    Now, I happen to see Macmillan, Amazon and Apple all as part of this experimentation. And I don’t think anyone has, bluntly, anything even approaching a clue as to what the “right” price for a given e-book is. Price discovery, after all, is a fundamental aspect of markets, and this one is very new. I do have some ideas on the topic, the major one being that price discrimination on axes other than time are becoming possible. But that’s not the point of this discussion.

    The point I was trying to make, originally at least, was that expecting a writer’s organization to continue driving traffic to a retailer that was actively harming its members is absurd, and that it is possible to understand that even if you happen to passionately believe that Macmillan is trying to price things too high.

    (And, for disclosure’s sake, I am a published author, but just barely, and producing fiction isn’t my day job.)

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  59. Dave

    I recognize the publisher actually encompasses many sub-professoinals – but those are people that an author can hire for themselves, and some do.

  60. Thomas M. Wagner

    I recognize the publisher actually encompasses many sub-professoinals – but those are people that an author can hire for themselves, and some do.

    Ah yes. Read this for a take on that little theory.

  61. /shakeshead

    [quote]Ah yes. Read this for a take on that little theory.[/quote]

    LOL thats from John Scalzi, based on his own words from his blog I wouldn’t being using him involving any kind of theories. The guy is so full of hot air its a joke.

  62. Peter

    LOL thats from John Scalzi, based on his own words from his blog I wouldn’t being using him involving any kind of theories. The guy is so full of hot air its a joke.

    Um, once again, remember that you are dismissing a domain expert on the topic of writing books for a living as being full of hot air. Maybe he’s wrong and you’re right, but blithely dismissing someone who demonstrably knows what he’s talking about with nothing more than an insult is not the way to go ’round winning arguments and influencing people.

    I really don’t think anyone who has tried to run a project involving a large number of specialists with real financial risk involved would ever make the argument that a writer can easily replace the managerial and other organizational functions involved. “Just hire someone!” isn’t, you know “just”. Even putting aside the rest of it, professional managers exist for a reason, and authors, almost, but not quite as a rule, are not managers, and even if they are, that’s still two full-time jobs.

    “Just hire a manager, too?” OK, so now every author is a mini-publisher. Wait – I have an idea, if one of those mini-publishers served that role for multiple authors, they could reduce the costs and increase the efficiency for all of the authors. I wonder what we might call a company that provided services like that to authors?

    Let me think… I’ve got it on the tip of my tongue…

  63. Thomas M. Wagner

    LOL thats from John Scalzi, based on his own words from his blog I wouldn’t being using him involving any kind of theories. The guy is so full of hot air its a joke.

    Well gee, I guess I just have to bow to your peerless expertise in the publishing business, which clearly exceeds that of people who have actually made a living in the field for decades.

    Let me guess, you’re like one of those creationists who laughs at all those stupid evolutionary biologists with their stupid doctorates and peer reviewed research and shit. Duuhh, they’re so full of hot air it’s a joke. LOL!

  64. Thomas M. Wagner

    Maybe he’s wrong and you’re right, but blithely dismissing someone who demonstrably knows what he’s talking about with nothing more than an insult is not the way to go ’round winning arguments and influencing people.

    Absolutely. For one thing, Scalzi, unlike /shakeshead, can use proper English, and punctuate.

  65. Joe

    I don’t think the Book Publishers get it, same as the Music Industry. You raise your prices and you know what you get? Lost sales, and/or Pirating. Sorry, but I won’t buy a ebook at $15, anything over $10 is to much. Remember this is Digital. The costs are pretty much the same for 1 digital copy as a Million digital copy’s. There’s also no Selling your ebook copy to someone else which I know the Publishers really like.

    Fact is, if you want to sell a ebook copy at high prices or Delay it in ebook format, that’s fine by me. I won’t buy it in ebook format, let alone Paper format. By the time the price drops for the ebook format, I just no longer care and have moved on to something else. I have so much content to read, and a hell of a lot of books for FREE, that all the Publisher has accomplished is to loose a sale from myself and many others. I’m on Amazon’s side of this issue.

    I am a big Sci-Fi fan. I also do most of my shopping on Amazon. You want to turn your backs on Amazon, your just as bad, if not worse. Oh, and the last time I’ve stepped foot in either a Barnes and Noble or Borders has been YEARS!!! Because of Amazon and the Kindle, I’m buying and reading books far more then ever before.

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  68. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

    Please keep the conversation to the issues and not to personalities.

    Thank you.
    Mary Robinette Kowal
    Secretary

  69. Pingback: Amazon vs. Macmillan: Authors lose, physical books win » Dissociated Press

  70. Lance Leverich

    I see this as a “cutting off your nose to spite your face” tactic. Do you actually know how the business model of Amazon works? Do you realize that if the publisher tells the retailer what they are, and are not, authorized to sell? To blame this on Amazon is completely wrong. Macmillan told Amazon that they would only be allowed to sell books based upon a set requirements that Amazon disagreed with. At that point, Amazon did not have a choice. Macmillan had basically de-authorized Amazon’s sale of their books. Amazon had no choice but to remove the links.

  71. Mr Consumer

    It’s not art its a product being sold to consumers! Locking in a higher price does nothing to make the product more desirable or drive more people to hard print. Putting a premimum on digital content because it’s digital is also not “a deal” in the minds of consumers. Hey I get it…why expand to more potential customers and work towards marketing a product people want…might as well continue the status quoe then ask for a bail out when the time comes! Like any business change or cease to exist!

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  76. Jane

    I’m amused by figment’s comment (#7), congratulating this initiative, loudly supporting “the innocent authors,” and smugly announcing that he buys used books.

    If this was meant as satire, kudos!

    (To spell it out for the ignorant: 1. Amazon was continuing used book sales. 2. More importantly, do look up just how much authors make on used book sales.)

  77. jjames

    I will never buy from BN or Borders. And I have no clue who those other sites are, so kudos.

    Less people buyin your books.

  78. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

    I’m curious why you won’t buy from BN or Borders?

    And really, I don’t see how you could have bought our books during the week that they weren’t offered at Amazon unless we sent you to another store. Amazon didn’t sell them so we had a whole slew of broken links. Why does this seem so hard to grasp?

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