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E-book fire sales: the death knell for publishers?

September 29, 2011

Tags: ebooks, Amazon, publishing economics

When Amazon.com and ebook discounts get rock-bottom low, so do returns to publishers, and even more so to authors, writes Michael Jecks in his persuasive blog post, This really is the death knell for publishers (writerlytwitterings, 9-28-11).

In a market rigged against independent bookstores (which cannot command the discount Amazon.com commands), small bookstores are disappearing. Small publishers are being eaten by large publishers, who pick off their hot titles and toss the rest. And authors -- no longer commanding royalties based on price, but collecting pennies (their share of "net") -- are realizing they can't afford to publish through middlemen who squeeze their share down to nothing. If readers want low-priced e-books, authors may increasingly sell them direct.

Jecks refers readers to this story in TheBookseller.com (UK): Amazon readying October Kindle offer, in which Philip Jones reports, "Amazon.co.uk has asked publishers for discounts of 90% on titles in order to participate in an October Kindle promotion." One bookseller quoted feels publishers can't represent authors with this low a return, and another explains that this is a way to get e-book prices low enough "where the e-book becomes too hard to refuse."

Readers benefit, Amazon.com benefits, publishers suffer, and authors are forced to reconsider old models of publishing.

Thanks to Sue Russell for the link. You'll find more on self-publishing here.