Saturday, 8 January 2011

I've changed my mind

The more I look into it the more I'm inclined to think that the Kindle pricing issue affecting publishers like Penguin, a.k.a. "agency pricing", is the publishers' fault and just plain stupidity on their part.  The idea is that amazon is just an agent in selling the books, not the actual bookseller, and does not therefore get to set the price.  This is Penguin and the others deciding that they know more about selling books than amazon does.  I can see the agency argument, but they need to set a fixed price for amazon and then let amazon get on with doing what it does best, getting people to give them money.  Especially given that if you sell 100 units for a tenner, but sales go up to 200 when you charge eight quid, in ebook terms you're getting six hundred quid extra for doing nothing at all, whereas for physical books you'd have to take off the costs of producing the extra hundred copies.

(There's VAT, which is another thing that needs sorting, but it's proportional not absolute so it doesn't affect my argument.)

So, although it pains me because I don't have the space, from now on anything that costs more in kindle than in paperback I will buy secondhand.  Get a grip, publishers, why can't you see that ebooks are a good thing for you?

I first heard about Diarmid MacCulloch's History of Christianity because I sat next to its editor or copy editor, I forget which, on the train down to Devon and we got talking.  She told me that Penguin won't take on that sort of book any more unless it has a TV series attached.

I feel such an urge to get hold of a copy, scan it, OCR it, and turn it into a .mobi for my own use.  It wouldn't take me longer than a long afternoon, and I wouldn't even need to chop it up if I dug out the improvised rig I had for digitising copies of my out-of-print academic books.  I probably won't because I like to think of myself as essentially law-abiding, but if mild-mannered me is so provoked by this there must be others who are more enraged.  Don't annoy your fans, Penguin, you need us.  It's like Bieber threatening to cut his hair.

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