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Amazon vs Book Publishers (Do Writers Win or Lose?) Updated 1-24-16

Published initially 11/14/2014; updated 9-4-19.
A lot has changed in book publishing in the last ten years (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 7-23-19) "At the beginning of this decade, Amazon Publishing had ideas about signing up big authors. But they were stymied then by the pretty stubborn refusal of the rest of the supply chain to stock books published by their biggest retail competitor.
"But that was when Amazon sales were about 20-25 percent of the market. Now they’re probably over half, and well above that for many books. Whether they will successfully sell Koontz beyond Amazon remains to be seen, but their no-middleperson structure enables them to pay far more of each retail dollar in royalties, so half the sales or more can generate more income to the author than a publisher without its own retailing capability can deliver selling a larger number of units. If this is a sign of things to come, and it is hard to see why it wouldn’t be, some profound changes might be just around the corner."
The Week’s Big Story: Amazon Publishing on Wooing Dean Koontz (Porter Anderson, Publishing Perspectives, 7-26-19)
Amazon To Open Hundreds Of Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores (Pavithra Mohan, Fast Company, 2-2-16) Amazon, the online retailer that killed off so many independent bookshops, is getting ready to launch its own brick-and-mortar book chain. According to the Wall Street Journal, the CEO of a major mall operator, General Growth Properties, revealed on Tuesday that Amazon intends to launch hundreds of bookstores.
Why Amazon's Rumored "Bookstores" Probably Won't Be What You Think (Rich Bellis, Fast Company, 2-3-16) If Amazon does expand its physical retail footprint, don’t expect it to focus exclusively or even primarily on books. It may see physical locations as (among other things) more akin to Apple Stores, where it can showcase the hardware it sells online.
Meet the Guy Behind Amazon’s Secret Retail Store Plans (Jason Del Rey, re/code, 2-3-16) The man behind the Kindle is leading Amazon’s project to create the retail stores of the future. And bookstores are just the beginning. These are two of the new details Re/code has uncovered about Amazon’s plans for expansion into physical retail.
Amazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores, Mall CEO Says (Greg Bensinger, WSJ, 2-2-16) mazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores, Mall CEO Says

In the following pieces about a dispute among them, Amazon and book publishers take turns being the bad guy. Authors, read these often excellent arguments for and against book publishers, Amazon, and others engaged in this battle for market power and tell us what you think!  Read More 

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Authors' options in the changing book publishing game

In January 2015, SPJ and ASJA hosted an event focused on New Options for Authors in the Changing Book Publishing Game. Nell Minow and Tom Allen spoke at the beautiful Fund for American Studies in Dupont Circle. Here, by request, is the handout, helpful links from my Writers and Editors website.  Read More 
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How to price ebooks

Published 8-14-13, updated 10-13-13
This is a roundup of various pieces on how to price ebooks: Do you price high and count on fewer but more profitable sales, or do you price low to get volume? Do you charge libraries more? Do you offer freebies? Do customers expect low ebook prices? It's a wild world out there in ebook land, and the right price for an ebooks may depend on the size and type of audience  Read More 

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EBook basics for authors (part 1: formatting)

Updated March 13, 2013. Original post appeared May 12, 2011.

Mobi and ePub are the two basic eBook formats
It's not enough to know which book you want to read; now you need to know which devices will read which books, with which features. At a tutorial on eBook basics organized by the Washington (DC) Biography Group, we learned that the main standard formats for eBooks are ePub (for most e-readers) and Mobi (the proprietary format read by Amazon’s Kindle) Read More 
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Publishers' core functions in an eBook world

Mike Shatzkin writes this week of changing models in book publishing, in which publishers will "offload everything except the functions that are absolutely core to publishing: editorial selection and development, rights management, and marketing." Authors, pay attention! He is writing about publishers, but  Read More 
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What's up with publishers not selling ebooks to libraries?

"As most people know who are following the tribulations of libraries trying to stock ebooks, four of the Big Six publishers are not making any ebooks available to libraries at all (except titles already sold in the past)," writes Mike Shatzkin this week. "Random House continues to supply all their titles to libraries as ebooks with only the 'one loan at a time per copy purchased' limitation, but they have just raised the prices  Read More 
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New iBook software's greedy grab for exclusive rights

Thanks to Robin Rowlands (The road to serfdom: Use Apple software ) for alerting us to the fact (widely discussed among techies) that deep within the license agreement for the excellent new iBook software is a clause stating that if you use the free software to create an ebook that you plan to sell (not give away) you are bound exclusively to Apple. Read Robin's  Read More 
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E-book fire sales: the death knell for publishers?

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 Read More 
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The frontier world of self-published e-books



"In the winter of 2010, the cheerfully effervescent romance novelist Nyree Belleville suffered the same fate as many a scribe — she was dropped by her publisher," writes Neely Tucker in Novel rejected? There’s an e-book gold rush! (Washington Post, 5-6-11). The most any of her 12 spicy romances, penned under the name Bella Andre, had earned was $21,000." Read More 
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eBooks basics for authors (part 3, trends and questions)


Among the trends David Rothman predicted in his talk to the Washington Biography Group was a subscription series for eBooks that would work something like NetFlix. Those who will benefit most from such a development, says David, will be "small presses and more obscure writers, who will enjoy more exposure for their works — the same as indie film makers do on Netflix. Readers will be more inclined to try what they’re already paying for."

Other trends Read More 
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