Amazon has sent out an e-mail to just about everyone on the planet, and also opened a website called READERS UNITED, which they're using to declare themselves as the defender of the little guy against big meanie Hachette, and that all they want is to bring down the price of e-books.
Amazon makes some valid points.
1. E-books should be cheaper than a hardcover since they don't involve manufacturing a physical product, simply formatting an already digitized file and storing it on servers with literally billions of other books.
2. The publishing industry, especially among the Big 5, are slow to appreciate that e-books should be cheaper. The irony is that they don't need to engage in active illegal collusion on the matter, since the top echelons of the Big 5 have a long history of being resistant to change, and a reputation for moving like a herd without having to collude over anything. They treat publishing as a gentleman's club, sans strippers, and act accordingly, refusing to rock the boat.
You see Amazon wants a monopoly on the book business, plain and simple. When you want a book, they want you to go to them and only them.
Not for publishers.
Now for writers.
Not for readers.
And actually not for Amazon in the long run.
This is because monopolies follow a pattern: Growth, Power, Decay, then Collapse with some government bailouts in between. The wannabe Monopolists can't avoid this pattern, but they hope to be long retired to their billionaire mega-mansions before the monopoly they created hits the Decay stage.
Building a monopoly is also damaging in the short run. To crush their competition Amazon is using their status as a major bulk retailer to slash their prices to levels no one else can match.
The problem is that Amazon can't match these prices either, and are racking up massive losses that they can't keep up doing forever. They need someone else to start losing money too, and they hope the publishers will go along with them.
Only Hachette isn't playing ball.
Now this is where I'm going to butt my know-it-all nose in.
The problem with e-book pricing is that they are not natural prices.
You see pricing is all about balance.
It's about finding that balance between what allows the manufacturers and retailers to profit, and the price the consumers are willing to pay.
Manufacturers like publishers, and retailers like Amazon, all have expenses. Publishers have to pay writers, editors, printers, technical staff, etc… and Amazon has to maintain offices, warehouses, and a massive tech-support staff. All those have to be included in the calculations when determining a price.
Then they have to include to average numbers of units they move, and how much consumers are willing to pay for what they're offering.
Go too high, and consumers will move on, charge too low, and you can't make payroll.
Amazon wants to go too low, but wants the publishers to suck up those losses so they can still make payroll. The publishers, like any business, do not like losses, and use any sort of setback in business as an excuse to shit on the non-celebrity authors in their roster.
What both sides need to do is to step the fuck back and let a natural price form and use discounts for special offers and sales. That's what happened to the paperbacks that Amazon likes to cite, and they became a vital part of the business.
If they do let nature take its course they might find that everyone can be happy from the deal, publishers, writers, retailers, and readers.
So take a stand when buying e-books from Amazon and only buy all three of these e-books:
JOE AVERAGE - 2 Four-Star reviews for its mix of superhero action, satire, and even political intrigue.
MINDER - A complex thriller about a killer hired to stop other killers from committing a killing.
STUDIO NOTES FOR LITERARY CLASSICS - A cute little e-book that answers the question "What if the great works of literature had to deal with the meddling that goes into modern movies."
You can't blame me for a little shameless self-promotion.
I like money but never have enough of it.