Monday, January 30, 2012

My Writing Week: Issue 5, Year 5.

Hi all,

I thought it was about time that I checked what was happening with the price of ebooks on Amazon. While there, I discovered the Kindle Lending Library which could be a total game changer in the publishing industry. Earlier in the week I read a blog post by an anonymous traditional publisher that said most of his colleagues are in denial about the effect Amazon with have on their businesses

Ebooks Getting Cheaper.

I just checked the top 100 bestselling ebooks on Amazon. 34 were 99c, seven were $1.99, 32 were $2.99, four were $3.99, 5 were $4.99 and four were $8.99. No other price had more than two ebooks. There were only six priced above $8.

In August, the last time I checked, 41 of the top selling ebooks were 99c and only four were $2.99. Four were also $1.99, and 22 were more than $8. So the overall downward trend in prices continues.

The increase in the number of bestsellers at $2.99 from four to 32 is interesting. Amazon, the last I heard, only gives authors 35% of the list price when the price is less than $2.99. If it is $2.99 or more the author gets 70%.

I assume many authors who independently publish would have come across Joe Konrath, perhaps after discovering links to him on mega-selling Amanda Hocking’s blog. He is adamant that $2.99 is the best price for an ebook.  

Amazon’s Lending Library.

For US citizens, Amazon has created the Kindle Lending Library. The library allows a reader to borrow one ebook a month and return it whenever. The book needs to be returned before they can borrow another.

To get access to the library a customer must first join Kindle Prime for a cost of $79 a year. Besides the lending library, Prime gives you cheaper deals on books and free streamed movies. Members borrowed 295,000 books in December. Membership is free for the first month. How many pay the $79 after that? Perhaps many let their membership lapse. It does see a bit costly considering what you get.

So what’s in it for the author? The author or publisher must make their books exclusive to the Kindle store for at least 90 days. They are then paid out of a monthly “fund” which seems to be arbitrarily set by Amazon. For December it was $500,000. This fund is then divided by the number of books borrowed, so for December each author received $1.70 per borrow of their books.

The top ten library authors earned over $70,000 in December. But as more authors sign up the amount in the fund will need to be spread among more borrowed books from more authors. So will participating authors continue to get $1.70? I don’t think so.

Amazon Set to Kill off Traditional Publishers.

A publisher in a blog post on Pandodaily thinks Amazon is well on the way to killing off traditional publishers.  He says his colleagues are in denial as they don’t want to have to get rid of 40% of their print book staff to try to compete with Amazon.

According to the anonymous publisher, 95% of readers will soon read digitally. Amazon has been paying huge amounts to buy up the rights to books they think will sell to these readers. The traditional publishers just can’t compete.

So there you have it. Not only will Amazon totally dominate ebook selling, but is seems it will soon dominate publishing while perhaps changing the whole industry into one were books are lent and not bought.


Anonymous said...

So it's bad news for publishers, but not necessarily for writers. I agree with Joe Konrath, it just doesn't make sense to price a book at 99 cents and then give most of that nearly-dollar to Amazon. Extrapolating wildly, you might say that Amazon agrees - otherwise, why would they give publishers and writers such a clear incentive to price their books at $2.99 and above?

Anthony J. Langford said...

I just don't believe that 95% of all books purchased will be ebooks.

It seems to me that Amazon has a total disdain for authors.. they simply won't be able to support themselves on their work, if this trend becomes a fully fledged reality. (They can't in Australia anyway).

They will have to do it in their spare time, as they will work full time.. and promptly burn themselves out. The work will suffer.

Soon, the only writers will be housewives, and spoilt rich brats.. happy to work for nothing, and have the time to do it.

Ok, so i'm being facetious, but this is a shitty time to be an author.. and I just can't see it getting any better for writers. I hope its all hype and that people continue to support traditional book stores. Independent publishing may be the future.