First I want to give a shout out to Book Lover Inc whom I read through RSS Feed. They have this wonderful feature called weekly book news that always manages to give me information I have missed during the week.
This week they pointed out this article: Barnes & Noble claims price-fixing settlement will raise e-book prices. Now we all know that I have gotten ranty about this very thing in the past: I am a consumer in the world of books and e-book pricing model what is too high . Needless to say this article just pissed me off!
Let me start by saying that I think the following are bad PR and Marketing ideas:
- Threatening your consumer with higher prices
- Giving the illusion that the higher prices are in our best interest either because it will give us more selection (aka more authors from publishers) or keep us from losing something forever (aka there will never be any more books EVER if we don’t pay higher prices). I said illusion because no one has actually said either of these things but all their double talk mumbo jumbo (thank you The Saint) is supposed to lead you to believe that.
- Act like because you have 2 areas in the business that it makes your business more valuable. (More on this in a minute)
Let me also cite two more articles that were brilliantly done so that even a layman like me could understand what was going on in the publishing/doj/… world: What is this Price Fixing Lawsuit About Anyway and DOJ Lawsuit Update: Where Windowing becomes Important (Thank you Jane from Dear Author for these wonderful articles)
It is because that I read the Windowing article that the Barnes and Noble article really pissed me off today. I really hadn’t associated them with this whole mess and frankly thought it was a great opportunity for them to tie their rewards card to their Nook. That would give them such an awesome little niche that Amazon would be hard to replicate especially since it would be specifically aimed at Book Buyers. I was kind of excited and might have even thought about getting a Nook as I am not opposed to having more than one digital reading device.
I am over that now! Go read those two articles then come back here so I can tell you what specifically pissed me off about the article I read today.
Aren’t they very interesting?
Are you a little mad yet?
Here are the two statements that really crawled under my skin:
Barnes & Noble said it is disproportionately harmed by below-cost pricing because it both distributes e-books and runs brick-and-mortar stores that have much higher costs than digital businesses. Low e-book prices make it hard for physical stores to compete by establishing “artificial price points that are below costs,” the company said.
So basically Barnes and Noble is saying that because its business costs more to run than a digital business that the government should limit what the digital business can and cannot do. Really? Here is the thing: I used to work for a major computer retailer that went out of business a few years ago. The powers that be would (and did) blame the fact that the business went under because of digital business that could undercut our prices. The reality is that we refused to change our business model to reflect the times so we lost out. (I say we because I was with the company for 10 years). If you don’t adapt then you don’t survive. The funny thing is that those very digital businesses that bought our company did open brick/mortar stores. In fact, they opened several right where our old stores were located. They are not only surviving but thriving because they keep evolving
If you are expecting the same business model that you have been using for the last 10/15/20 years to continue working in the future then you are either naive or convinced that you have a service that cannot be matched by another business model. I am here to tell you that there is not a single business model that I can think of that should think that second thing is the truth. Once you do something there is someone out there thinking of a way to do it better, faster, and cheaper. Why do you think companies like Apple and Microsoft survive, thrive, and continue to grow? It isn’t because they started out HUGE–it is because they continually adapt to the market place and their consumer. I think we all know that for publishers and Barnes and Noble the smarter strategy would be to adapt to the new business model (and it is a business) but they seem to be taking a head in the sand approach. I am not sure that is good for their long-term viability in the market place.
“By requiring that distributors set e-book prices and limiting the ability of publishers to do so, the proposed settlement consolidates pricing in a highly concentrated sector of the industry—instead of the unconcentrated, competitive sector of publishers,” Barnes & Noble said. “Unable to compete with below-cost pricing, e-book distributors will drop from the e-book space.”
What strikes me as funny about this statement is that they are essentially trying to take eBooks themselves out of the competition. I say that because you can bet your Aunt Fanny’s Sunday Bonnet that they don’t want to take away the coupons/perks/sales that they can do on paperbacks too. I mean lets just level the whole playing field while we are at it and have the publishers just set one price across the board for every title. That you can’t change/coupon/or sale for lower value. Wait? Is that a big no? I mean how am I to compete if I can’t offer an incentive to get you into my store? Exactly! You should be able to offer me incentives to get into your store. I am a consumer, you want me there. Just like you should be able to offer me incentives to choose your device over another. Whether that is by pricing, perks, or advanced technology. I know, I know–it just isn’t fair though! Those darn digital businesses only have to think of it from one angle. Think of it this way, you have two opportunities to pull me into your business but if you can’t leverage that don’t blame someone else.
Seriously this whole thing just gets my feathers ruffled and has had me spending less money on the companies involved. I am sure they would love to blame Amazon for that too but it has more to do with their stances.
In the end, I am a consumer and where I choose to spend my money counts far more than any of these rants :)
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