4 Comments on Publisher pulls e-book from Amazon in wake of automatic markdown from Starbucks giveaway

  1. Rob in Ohio // May 2, 2012 at 10:16 am //

    Byliner had conversations with Amazon prior to the promotion and were told this could happen. Byliner chose to go forward, hoping “it wouldn’t happen.” This is in the KDP ToS publishers agree to when they sign up. How is Amazon punishing anyone here?

  2. It hasn’t happened to me, yet, but I know a couple other KDP authors who have had their books discounted by Amazon (to $0.99 or to free) even when they didn’t have any current promotions going on – apparently Amazon interprets the KDP ToS to mean that, if you’ve ever discounted your book (or promotionally given it away for free) on a competitor’s site, Amazon is free to discount your book down to that price any time they want, from then on.

    Months later, without warning or recourse, for any eBook which has ever been free on any site, Amazon can just start giving it away and paying the author/publisher zero royalties, for as long as they like. “Most favored nation”, indeed.

  3. I’d hate to have to check every day for to make sure robbery like this isn’t going on. There are already services that track sales on Amazon. Sounds like there might be a place for a service that monitors for these author-cheating price cuts and informs the author, who can then yank the title. Some minor promotion, perhaps to support a local charity, shouldn’t deprive an author of all royalties from a major outlet such as Amazon.

    This sort of behavior is why I not only support agency pricing, I support an author’s right to different agency-dictated prices for different outlets. I’d love to have one price for ePub versions and another, perhaps $2 higher, for those who insist on their proprietary formats. That’d compensate for the hassle of creating an ebook in those formats.

    Ebook publishing is suffering from the same ills as cellular phone billing. In cellular, the major providers have a tacit agreement that certain types of hideous overcharging (i.e IMs) aren’t to dealt with competitively–I kind of unspoken ‘if we all do this, we can all get rich’ scheme. The only exception, and it’s still only a partial one, is T-Mobile. That’s why AT&T was willing to pay such an outlandish price for it. They wanted to get rid of the industry only spoiler of significant size.

    I’d hoped Apple would prove to be a T-Mobile-like spoiler in the ebook market, but that’s not happened. Apple wants to play many of the same nasty, control-freak games as Amazon. Now I’m waiting to see what develops from this agreement between B&N and Microsoft.

    If the Microsoft/B&N model would evolve into a simple ‘you give us the price, we sell it for that’ model without unauthorized royalty slashing and demands for exclusivity, I’d be delighted. I’d also be delighted if this Microsoft/B&N combination would offer a 80/20 split at any price level and with the only requirement being that the ebook is sold DRM-free. Until DRM is eliminated, ebooks aren’t being sold, they’re just being rented for the life of some particular encoding scheme.

    At its core. the problem is simple. We live in an unhealthy market dominated by a few retailers, particularly Amazon, who want to control every aspect of ebook publishing. And that’s why I’m ticked off at a few clueless (or worse) federal lawyers who want to go after everyone but the main culprit, Amazon.

  4. DensityDuck // May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm //

    Solution: Don’t give away “free ebooks”. Give a $2 credit that can be spent in the “Starbucks ebook store”, which only has one item.

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