Blogger Confession: Ranting about EBooks and the Market again..

Posted June 8, 2012 by Felicia S in Blogger Confession / 33 Comments


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 🙂


Felicia S
Follow Me

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

33 responses to “Blogger Confession: Ranting about EBooks and the Market again..

  1. Jennifer

    Since the day the Agency Model took effect, I’ve frothed at the ****ing mouth about it. It really makes me angry, in lots of F-bombs kinda way. Is B&N shooting themselves in the foot? They get control back! They get to play with the competition again! Awww, does B&N not like that big, bad Amazon is can sell they Kindle at a loss and attract those customers with cheap – and free – ebooks?! THEN ****ING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Change your damn model, build a better e-reader, make my getting a B&N membership worthwhile! I am so sick of going into their stores and being asked to sign up for a paid membership, while they dangle the proverbial carrot of discounted books in front of me. Then I tell the cashier that I buy mostly ebooks and always get an “oh.” And the subject gets dropped. B&N has absolutely no incentive, now, to get their ereader over the kindle, now that libraries offer .mobi files along with epubs. Unless you want to buy from smashwords, I guess. W/e.
    I’ve gone off on a tangent. I own a Nook. And an ipad, where I do most of my reading between the Kindle app, my iBooks app (from downloaded epub ARCs – I would never buy an ebook from Apple, even as an Apple Fangirl), and the Nook app. The fact that I had to pay sometimes as much as $17.99 for a new release ebook (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) is outrageous when it isn’t a tangible good. I get that books are a form of art, but let’s get real here, no one would pay a mil for a reproduction of a Picasso. That’s probably a poor analogy, but you get my point. eBooks are not physical, they are digital reproductions, are not technically permanent and should be treated as such.
    Anyway, I keep going all ranty. Colluding to price fix is illegal and no buts about it, that’s what these guys did. For B&N to say that the Agency Model was GOOD THING…well, that’s some crazy town, “we’re desperate to save our stores and we need the money” talk right there. Could they be more transparent?
    And you know what else? This crap ruined the Buy button feature in the iPad apps for Kindle and B&N. I WANT THAT BACK DAMMIT!!!!

    Higher ebook prices are only in the best interest of the publisher, distributor and author. Consumers benefit nil. God I hate those people.

    • YEAH! Someone else is as Spitting Mad as me! I just don’t get it and never will. I especially don’t get Barnes and Noble’s POV on this but then again what do I know, I am just the consumer they are hoping will spend money in the store. I think the biggest problem is that eBooks are still only 30% of the market (or something like that) so they are still living in denial that they will go away. However we have a whole generation coming up that has been plugged in since they were born. Most of them had cell phones of their own before they were 8 and tablets are staples in their lives. I see the eBook number continually growing. I actually think the winners will be the smaller publishing houses because they are adapting with the times. It will be interesting to see how many authors (known) end up jumping in a few years to houses that get it. In the end, I think that is what it will take for publishers to really get it. It will be awhile though because the “big” authors are still drinking the kool-aid. Though I have to wonder how much better their sales would be if the publishers adapted–especially since the publishers get the same amount off each book sold no matter what the price is that is set by the retailer. While I agree there needs to be a happy medium: aka not every book can be sold for a loss and not every book is sold at manufacture price–I think there has got to be a place in the middle that reflects the difference in value between an ebook and paperback.

      Oh I totally agree with the art comparison. I would pay a lot for an original numbered piece from my favorite artist (or a numbered/signed first edition from my favorite author) but for replicas and digitals I won’t pay anywhere near the same amount (books are getting that way too).

      I love your rant 🙂

  2. I’m in agreement. It’s an outdated model and they will be plowed under if they don’t realize that the times will go on with or without them. I also agree that the manufacturing of physical books does not equal the distribution of ebooks. Come on! Your consumers aren’t that dumb! I mean we READ! LOL

    • LOL I know that is that the part that gets me the most–in general their consumers are some of the smartest consumers of the bunch!

  3. Pricing on ebooks is one thing that makes me ranty. I canNOT work my head around how a book that doesn’t exist physically can possibly cost more than something that took paper and ink and time to print and ship to me.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that business that don’t adapt won’t be here in the future. Ebooks are here. Suck it up and find a way to work with them or get out of the business.

    • There is nothing they could say that would convince me that the manufacturing prices are the same from paperbacks and ebooks. I agree that some of the costs are shared but when you get to the actual manufacturing there are some major differences.


  4. Ebooks (publishers) are so frustrating! Ebooks are so much easier for me than a physical book; however, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to give in anymore. I’ve turned to the used book market. I’ll still buy the books that I really want new, but other than that, I’ve given up on chain book sellers and the publishers who don’t care about their consumers.

    • The frustrate me (evidently LOL) so much! I don’t have room for more physical books and at this point I am just not buying as many period. That is sad to me but true!

  5. I am a Kindle girl and support Amazon. B&N is struggling big time because they don’t get it. I was furious when the books starting getting hiked in some cases to be higher than the physical copy which is a gross ripoff. How can an ebook possilby cost more…it shouldn’t. If B&N thinks ebooks will go away they are sorely mistaken. Look at all the self pubbed and indie authors getting their books out for dirt cheap. If they want to succeed they need to evolve. I am to the point where I just don’t buy phyisical books anymore. Ebooks are cheaper, easier to store and so much more convenient. Thanks for sharing, Felicia!

    • I truly believe that is what the big publishers and barnes and noble want is for ebooks to simply fade into the background. It won’t happen but I think that is what they want.

  6. Thanks for the educating on what is going on. Beautiful points on CHANGE WITH THE TIMES or get out of the way.

  7. I’m so out of the loop on things like this! Thanks for the links Felicia, I’m definitely going to go read those articles. I’m already of the mind that in many cases ebook prices are too high, so I find it disappointing that this article feels they’re not quite high enough. *runs to follow links*

  8. Lovely post and great points. I think the inability to reflect on one’s business strategy is the beginning of the end of all companies. I get a little riled up when anyone tries to raise prices in this economy.

    • I totally agree! The market, economy, education, ect has all been changing rapidly in 10 years. To think you can be stagnant is just not doing you or your customers any favors!

    • It is amazing how they (B&N) used to be the big bad trying to take out independent bookstores and now they are trying to play the victim to Amazon. I didn’t even mention that up there but it plays into my overall thinking about them.

      • You’re absolutely right! I remember those days as the independents were struggling to stay open. Sadly most I knew had closed. Karma is coming back on B&N in full force. I personally do not feel a bit sorry for them. For me they were always waaay to expensive even back then.

        • I don’t think they like Karma at all but alas until they take responsibility for their own company and ability/inability to pull in customers they are always going to be playing catchup in today’s market.

    • THANKS! I will probably have one or two more in my system this summer as I think it will be one of those “they will continue to say stupid things” fights 🙂

  9. I’m with you, I have always had a problem with e-book pricing (from the major publishers). I see no reason why the e-book is often priced HIGHER than the hardback or paperback, it’s ridiculous. Maybe this will inspire more people to try more indie books and authors 🙂 Alright, I’m off to read the articles you linked up.. Book Savvy Babe

    • Yes! I should have put Major Publishers up there because the smaller ones seem to have it down to a science. They price their ebooks lower and stay competitive that way. I know I have tried more indie books this year than ever before. I haven’t been disappointed.

  10. Cool post. If ebook stores are going to raise prices, they need to increase the quality. I don’t like paying money for a badly copyedited book – typos introduced by the econversion, poor formatting, lack of maps, etc.
    I buy very few ebooks a year because of this problem. If the store is going to provide a cheap, low quality product to me, I am not going to pay top dollar. Or rather, I will do it once and then not buy from that store again.

    • Thanks! I agree with most of your points (though I think the quality–typos type of issues–are more in the editing and can appear in paperbacks too). I think they need to realize that eBooks are a different beast all together.