New, lower prices on my ebooks

Regular blogging will now resume.  I hope you found other ways to entertain yourself in the past week.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that my ebooks are on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble — and probably at other places as well.  My new publisher’s marketing scheme appears to be to set a list price of $4.99 on Amazon, and then discount from that, so the books look like they are on sale.  Which, I guess, they are.  So buy them while the prices are low.

Senator remains free. It’s been interesting to see how it has fared on the “bestseller” list of free Kindle books.  It peaked somewhere in the 100s on the overall list; now it’s down in the 800s.  For a while it was #1 in the political genre; it has now faded to #6.  It was also in the top ten for a while in the suspense genre; it is now at #24.  As the Underpants Gnomes say: Profit!!

Replica is now available for $0.99.  That’s a pretty good deal!  But has not yet broken into the top 100,000 for Kindle.  Shoot.

Pontiff and Summit are both available for $2.99.  Oddly, Pontiff is much higher on the paid Kindle bestseller list than either Replica or Summit.  I’m guessing that, at the sales level we’re talking about, a few copies can make a pretty big difference in a book’s ranking.

The ebook release of Dover Beach is going to be delayed so we can publish its sequel, whose title may or may not be Locksley Hall, at the same time.  But it shouldn’t be very long.

My goal is to get the ebooks for Forbidden Sanctuary and Marlborough Street out the door by the end of the year.

Then we’ll have a party.

Barnes & Noble would prefer not to compete with Amazon on ebook pricing

This is dog-bites-man news, I suppose, but Barnes & Noble is opposed to the idea of having to compete with Amazon on the price of ebooks.  They have made their case in a court filing in the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Apple and several publishers.

“We think that the Department of Justice got this wrong,” Gene DeFelice, the company’s general counsel, said in an interview. “The settlement destroys independently negotiated commercial relationships. It harms authors, innocent publishers and bookstores, including small-business owners. And it also punishes consumers who stand to benefit from increased competition and lower prices brought about by the agency model.”

Here’s some background on the DOJ suit.

The crux of the disagreement, it seems, is whether the “commercial relationships” were “independently negotiated.”  The DOJ contends that there was collusion, because none of the publishers could afford make a deal with Apple that guaranteed higher ebook prices (via the agency model) if its competitors weren’t going to follow suit (and, probably, Apple wouldn’t have made that deal).

Note that it’s not just the agency model that’s at issue, but the “most favored nation” status granted Apple, in which publishers agree that they must use the agency model with all other ebook distributors if they use it with Apple.  This is what prevents Amazon from undercutting Apple’s prices.

In any case, Barnes & Noble (who isn’t a party to the suit, just a very interested bystander), claims that prices will go up as a result:

Barnes & Noble replied to us with a statement from general counsel Gene DeFelice, who says “The settlement is likely to lead to predatory pricing and increase monopoly by Amazon.” The settlement will also decrease competition, leading to “less choice and increased prices in medium and long term,” DeFelice said.

This is the scenario that I just don’t get.  Right now I buy ebooks on Amazon and read them on the Kindle app on my iPad.  If Amazon starts raising prices, I’ll just go buy my ebooks at the Apple store and read them on the Apple reader for the iPad.  Further, if ebook prices do go up, that would make the prices of hardcover and softcover books attractive once again, which should please Barnes & Noble (assuming they’re still around at that point).  Where does the monopoly pricing power kick in?

Of course, authors are worried, because their royalties may go down.  Bricks-and-mortar bookstores are worried, because their sales may go down.  The world is changing, for everyone.  The question is what can the various parties do–legally–to protect their interests in the new world.