| Kindle Nation WEEKENDER|
... and Kindle Nation Daily Digest
|All things Kindle, every weekend|
March 10, 2012
The Beginning of the End for eBook Price-Fixing?
Justice Department Nears Antitrust Suit Against Apple and Five of Big Six Publishers over "Agency Model" Collusion
By Steve Windwalker
For over two years now, the citizens of Kindle Nation have had to put up with a joke that isn't funny: the so-called "agency model" ebook pricing structure through which Apple and five of the Big Six book publishers have colluded to mandate artificially high prices for ebook titles under their control. We knew it was wrong, we knew it was anti-consumer, and we knew it was illegal.
And now, finally, it was widely reported this week that the Justice Department has advised Apple and the five publishers that it intends to sue them for colluding to raise ebook prices.
It's about time.
The agency model price-fixing scheme has cost millions of Kindle owners millions of dollars over the past two years -- money that we would not have spent on ebooks if Apple and the publishers had not entered into a clear conspiracy that the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs described in detail to biographer Walter Isaacson.
Until early 2010, most publishers sold print and electronic books to retailers at a wholesale price that ranged from 40 to 60 percent of the cover or "suggested list price." Retailers were then free to set any price they wanted based on their own business strategies, and frequently set "loss leader" prices in order to lure customers. When Amazon launched the Kindle in late 2007 it sought to promote ebooks and ereaders in general, and the Kindle Store in particular, by adopting a very popular policy of setting $9.99 as a maximum price for almost all new releases and bestsellers in the Kindle Store.
Apple had not previously been involved in bookselling (other than audiobooks), and was slow initially to see Amazon's Kindle business as competition. Early in 2008 Jobs said that the "whole concept" of the Kindle was "flawed from the top because nobody reads any more." But by early 2010 when Apple was preparing to launch the first iPad, Jobs had done a dramatic about-face. As he introduced Apple's iBooks store at the iPad launch announcement he said, "Amazon's done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We're going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further."
Plagued by high prices, poor selection, and clunky search-and-browse infrastructure, the iBooks store has been a flop over the past two years and is widely seen as having something less than 15 percent of the retail ebook market despite the huge success of its hardware platform with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. But for a market-share failure, iBooks nonetheless stands alongside Kindle as the most significant, game-changing developments that have been seen in the book business in the past decade.
The significance of the Kindle, of course, is both that it has brought millions of readers into the ebook revolution with lower prices, wide selection and nearly instantaneous delivery and that it has brought radical disintermediation to the publishing business by removing barriers to publication, offering greater royalties to many authors, and raising questions about the role of traditional publishers, agents, distributors, and chain bookstores in an ebook future.
The significance of iBooks and Apple's role, on the other hand, is that Apple played a conspiratorial "white knight" role that enabled a handful of big publishers -- who were demonstrably panicked about the changes that ebooks would bring to their business -- to insist on an entirely new pricing structure that would slow the growth of ebooks and counter Amazon's market power. Lest there be any confusion about how this all happened, Jobs himself made the price-fixing scheme abundantly clear in this passage from Walter Isaacson's bestselling 2011 biography Steve Jobs:
"We told the publishers, 'We'll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway," Jobs told his biographer. "They went to Amazon and said, 'You're going to sign an agency contract or we're not going to give you the books.'"
Beginning on April Fool's Day 2010, two days before the iPad became available, thousands of agency-model publishers' ebooks that had previously been priced at $9.99 and below on Kindle were increased in price to levels ranging mostly from $11.99 to $14.99.
Amazon's position has always been that it would do everything it could to offer the lowest possible prices on Kindle books, but its only alternative to allowing agency-model conspirators to set their own retail prices was to keep books by the world's largest publishers out of the Kindle Store altogether. That would not do.
Instead, Amazon has moved aggressively to reward non-conspirator authors and publishers with higher royalties, other forms of compensation, and prominent placement on the Kindle website, and the result has been that those authors' and publishers' books have gradually increased in their overall presence in the Kindle Store as well as their placement on the various Kindle bestseller lists.
So the agency-model publishers are losing out in four ways:
Some kind of lawyers those publishers, and Apple, must have.
- their per-unit revenue is lower in many cases than the wholesale proceeds that they were previously being paid by Amazon;
- they are seen negatively by a growing share of readers as a direct result of their ebook pricing;
- their market share is declining steadily; and
- they are now facing the considerable expense associated with being corporate defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department.
Federal lawsuits usually move very, very slowly, but stay tuned. This week's reports included widespread speculation that some of the publishers are actively pursuing out-of-court settlement.
| Wow! Your Kindle Fire Just Became Twice as Valuable with Our Magical New Tools for Finding All the Content You Want, at the Prices You Want!
Click on this graphic, then check out the links in fire engine red!
It was just a few days ago that we announced the launch of our exciting new site for Kindle Fire owners, Kindle Fire at Kindle Nation Daily. The new subdomain attracted over 5,000 page views in the first week of its launch, but that's just the tip of the iceberg now that editor April Hamilton and developer Mark White have conspired to bring us a truly magical new array of tools for finding great Kindle Fire content at great prices including Apps, Free Apps, Audiobooks, Games and Free Games.
You can start using these tools right away by going to our Fire page and checking out the links in fire engine red just below the main black-and-white navigation bar, or, if you'd like to know more about what to expect, here's April's introductory post:
FINDING EXACTLY THE CONTENT YOU WANT FOR YOUR FIRE, WHETHER PAID OR FREE, HAS JUST GOTTEN A WHOLE LOT EASIER!
No matter how much you love your Fire, you've probably noticed that the sites you use to shop for content aren't always organized in quite the way you'd like. It's easy enough to find bestseller lists, but they're limited to a certain number of titles. It's easy enough to find lists of content filtered by genre or category, but the lists can't always be sorted in the ways you'd like. You can find the top 100 free apps or games easily enough, but what about the 101st free app and game, and beyond?
Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily's got you covered!
We've been very busy working behind the scenes to bring you categorized, sortable lists that make finding the content you want an easy, hassle-free, and maybe even enjoyable experience. Take a look at our menu ribbon up there, and you'll see it now sports three new categories of content: Apps, Audible Audiobooks and Games.
These lists reflect currently-available content from the Audible and Amazon sites, and are updated throughout the day. Each list opens with a default sort order, but each also offers you at least one other sort option.
For each item shown on all of the lists you'll find an icon, title, average review rating, date added or released and a Get It Now/Buy Now button. You can mouse over the icon to display a brief description excerpt in a popup. Click on the Get It Now/Buy Now button or 'read more' link in the brief description popup to open the item's product page on the Audible or Amazon site in a new window.
Don't worry, clicking on these buttons or links does not immediately initiate a purchase, it just opens the product page in a new window so you can read more about it and decide whether or not to make the purchase.
Mouse over this menu item to open up a whole list of Audible Audiobook genres. Click on the genre you're interested in to view a current list of available titles in that genre. When your desired list is displayed, it will be sorted by Date Added (most recent first) by default. But you can also re-sort the list by Review Rating, if that's your preferred filter.
In addition to the detail items already listed above for all our lists, audiobook lists include the author name.
Under the Apps heading, you'll find a subheading for All Apps and another subheading for Free Apps. The All Apps lists contain both paid and free apps, but the Free Apps lists contain only free apps.
Mouse over the subheading you're interested in to view a list of app categories available for that subheading. Click on the category you're interested in to view a list of apps or free apps in that category that are currently available in Amazon's App Store. When your list is displayed, it will be sorted by Release Date (most recent first) by default. But you can also re-sort the list by Bestselling or Review Rating.
The Games lists are just like the Apps lists.
Under the Games heading, you'll find a subheading for All Games and another subheading for Free Games. The All Games lists contain both paid and free games, but the Free Games lists contain only free games.
Mouse over the subheading you're interested in to view a list of game categories available for that subheading. Click on the category you're interested in to view a list of games or free games in that category that are currently available in Amazon's App Store. When your list is displayed, it will be sorted by Release Date (most recent first) by default. But you can also re-sort the list by Bestselling or Review Rating.
Make Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily your first stop when you're looking for Fire content.
You'll find it saves you a lot of time and frustration, and since our lists are being updated all around the clock, you can come back each day to look for new entries!
Still in the works: categorized, sortable lists of Amazon Instant Videos and Amazon Prime Instant Videos! Stay tuned!
|Heads Up! Just 2 Days Left to Enter This Week's Brand New KINDLE FIRE Giveaway Sweepstakes, Sponsored by Mainak Dhar, author of VIMANA
Did you win a Kindle Fire tablet this week?
If you are Lynne DeGuay of Gansevoort, NY, you did. Lynne won hers on Monday in last week's Kindle Nation Daily KINDLE FIRE Giveaway Sweepstakes, and when it arrives at her home tomorrow, she will become the 22nd citizen of Kindle Nation to win a Kindle Fire from us in the past few months.
But we'd like for you to be one of about 50 people who will win one of these Kindle Fire tablets from us in 2012, and all you have to do is follow the extremely easy steps at the end of this post to have a great chance to win.
Like each one of our weekly sweepstakes, this week's giveaway is sponsored by a talented author who has proven to be a favorite with our readers. Vimana: A Science Fiction Thriller author, Mainak Dhar is springing for the Kindle Fire that could very well end up with your name on it, so it only makes sense to pay it forward and stimulate both your karma and your imagination at the same time by chancing 99 cents (and currently FREE for Amazon Prime Members via Kindle Lending Library) to grace your Kindle with a novel that has 94 out of 157 rave reviews from discriminating readers like us.
Here's The Scoop on Vimana: A Science Fiction Thriller:
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here's the set-up:
'Gods' fought a terrible war in our skies 15,000 years ago. They have returned to finish it.
Ancient texts refer to 'Gods' flying in craft called vimanas and waging war with what sound like nuclear weapons. These accounts are today classified as myth or legend.
What if they turned out to be real?
Vimana is an edge-of your seat sci-fi technothriller about a young college student who stumbles upon an ancient war between good and evil. A war that we thought was merely a part of our ancient myths and legends, but unknown to us, is still being waged everyday in our skies. As the forces of darkness conspire to unleash worldwide devastation to coincide with the End Times prophecies in 2012, he discovers his hidden destiny is to join the forces of light in bringing this war to a conclusion. At stake will be the continued existence of the human race.
Star Wars meets Transformers in this exciting new thriller that will keep all science fiction fans satisfied.
And here, just in case you forgot are the details on how to
Enter Our KINDLE FIRE Giveaway Sweepstakes:
- There's no purchase required, but we do need you to go to our Kindle Nation Facebook page and "Like" us if you have not done so already.
- You'll need to do this on a computer rather than a smartphone, and you should give the page a few seconds to load, because for some reason it takes a little longer.
- Then just follow the prompts to enter the sweepstakes, and you're done!
- Limit of one entry per weekly sweepstakes, but feel free to enter every single week!
Good luck! And happy reading!
|From the Kindle Nation Mailbag |
Please! Allow Readers to Archive Samples!
Thanks to reader Margaret S. for this eminently sensible suggestion:
Dear Mr. Windwalker,
Could you use your influence with Amazon to encourage them to archive samples downloaded onto Kindles the way they do everything else?
I often download samples if I'm not sure I want to make a purchase, or sometimes because I know I do eventually want to, can't afford it now, and don't want to forget about it. (My wishlist is so long that titles tend to get lost.)
My son not too long ago dropped my uninsured Kindle, broke it, and I had to replace it. I was lucky to get a refurbished one for a good price, but I lost all of my "samples." It's also inconvenient to not be able to "delete" a sample after reading it, because then record of the read (and title, of course!) is lost, making it less likely that the actual purchase will ever be made.
Thanks for your wonderful work. I love your emails and all of your insight.
A technologically phobic, paper loving, Kindle owner/reader, Margaret S.
I'm with you, Margaret! Although I doubt I have much more influence with Amazon than you do, but maybe between us we can get their corporate ear. In addition to making it much more convenient for readers, your suggestion would almost definitely lead to more Kindle sales, since we know for a fact that many Kindle owners use "samples" as a way of ma naging their To Be Read/To Be Purchased lists.
Kindle Nation Daily Digest
March 10, 2012
| Kindle User Tip |
A New Way to Set "Furthest Page Read" on Kindle
Now you can clear and reset your "furthest page read" across all your Kindle devices directly from your Manage Your Kindle page
on the Amazon website. Just find a book among your list of Kindle books there and hover over the Actions button, over on the right, to select "Reset furthest page read..." from the pulldown menu there.
Here's Amazon's documentation on the new feature:
Reset furthest page read
The furthest page read feature keeps track of how far you've read in your Kindle title across all devices registered to the same account. This allows you to seamlessly switch reading from one device to another and pick up where you left off in your content. You can reset your furthest page (or location) read on your Kindle title using the "Reset furthest page read" option in Manage Your Kindle. This can be helpful if you've skipped ahead in your content or are re-reading it and now are having trouble keeping all of your devices in sync to an earlier point.
To reset your furthest page read in Manage Your Kindle, click the Actions button next to the title and choose "Reset furthest page read" from the dropdown menu. The next time you open that title on a device, the page where it opens will become the new furthest page read that syncs across all your devices and apps.
|Apple and Textbook Publishers Look to Kids -- and Your Tax Dollars -- for Big, Shiny Textbook Profits|
If Apple is pinning its hopes on the iPad to allow it corner the lucrative K-12 public school textbook market, there may be plenty of budget-conscious educators saying "Not so fast!"
That's the take-away from an in-depth piece by Sharon Noguchi
, under the headline "Will Apple Create the All-iPad Classroom" in Thursday's San Jose Mercury News:
"While iPads and other mobile devices ultimately may send textbooks the way of the slate, whether Apple's textbook service will become what iTunes is to music is another question. What puts educators off is not just the $499 sticker price -- $475 if purchased in batches of 10 -- for the basic iPad (add $35 for a case).
"It's also the requirement that schools buy the textbook software as vouchers for individual students, who will download the electronic textbooks onto their own iTunes accounts.
"Every year, the school district will have to buy more $14.99 textbooks that it will never own."
The infographic above, which appears with the Noguchi article, projects that an all-iPad classroom would be over three times as expensive over six years as the current cost of a classroom with traditional textbooks.
|Thanks for making the Kindle Nation Weekender part of your weekend -- it's an honor to be included.|
Kindle Nation Daily