ENTRIES TAGGED "DoJ"

How the DOJ ruling could affect ebook prices

One unintended consequence might be increased consumer frustration

The proposed final judgment in the ebook case says that settling defendants may enter into contracts with ebook retailers that prevent the retailer from selling a settling defendant’s ebooks at a cumulative loss over the course of one year. What does that mean for the future of ebook prices?

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Barnes and Noble, what’s the game plan?

Amazon's launch, Judge Cote's decision and an uninspired B&N add up a one-horse race

Do you suppose that trademark grin on the side of every Amazon box will get a little bigger now, maybe even showing some teeth?

The countdown has begun. Two noteworthy things happened yesterday. First, Amazon introduced a slew of new Kindle devices. Nothing revolutionary but some nice new features nonetheless. Second, and more importantly, Judge Cote approved the ebook settlement. I tend to think Amazon is probably more psyched about the latter than the former. After all, this means they can use their deep pockets to sell ebooks at a loss (OK, make one dollar of profit for each imprint) and drive the competition out of business.

It’s a victory for consumers, or so we’re being told. So what’s B&N, the #2 player, going to do now? Can they really match Amazon on pricing for very long? I don’t see how. And what’s the “why-to-buy” for a Nook anyway? I bought my Nook with GlowLight because I wanted to support the underdog. I’m in the minority though and I’m pretty sure yesterday’s developments will make it even harder for B&N to win over more new ebook/device customers.

Since there’s not a lot of innovation happening with these devices and platforms I figure B&N only has one option left. It’s the step some of us thought Amazon would take yesterday but they didn’t: Take a page out of the cell phone business and offer a low-end device for free that comes with a longer-term revenue commitment.

Remember this old line?: “Nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM.” There’s a similar belief that’s rapidly growing in the consumer space: “Nobody ever regrets buying Amazon/Kindle.” After all, you can get plugged into the $79/year Prime membership program and buy just about anything effortlessly, you get access to all those free ebooks, video, etc. Why wouldn’t someone buy a Kindle device?

The bigger question B&N has to answer is: “Why would someone want to buy a Nook over a Kindle?” If B&N doesn’t act quickly and with a really agressive campaign it’s clear their ebook market share will decline.

What do you think? Is the door rapidly closing on B&N’s opportunity to be a leader in the ebook space?

P.S. — Maybe the ideas I suggested in this earlier post aren’t so crazy after all.

Comments: 5 |

TOC Trifecta: This week’s trio of must-read articles (Sept. 6, 2012)

Membership, Building a direct relationship with customers, and a Dumbed-down DOJ brief

  1. Membership has its privileges — This piece was aimed at the newspaper industry but it’s very much applicable to the book publishing world as well.
  2. Community vs. commodity — Another article aimed at a different industry (television) but the one-to-one relationship it describes is equally important for books; think “direct sales”, people!
  3. Let me draw you a picture — Here’s how a 55-page DOJ brief gets boiled down to 5 pages…in comic strip format.
Each of these articles were featured in this week’s TOC newsletter. They’re the best of the best. We spend (way too) many hours reading every publishing article, blog post, and tweet so that you don’t have to. If you find our filtering of the content fire hose useful be sure to sign up here for your own subscription to our weekly newsletter.
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Resistances to DOJ Argue the Public Doesn’t Want the Settlement

Is the settlement really in the best (long term) interest of consumers?

Yesterday was the deadline for filing statements in opposition to the proposed settlement in the price fixing case between the Department of Justice and three publishers:  Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.  The focus of the resistances by the publishers Macmillan and Penguin were that the DOJ had failed to provide economic analysis in support of the settlement.  Macmillan argued that the DOJ should be required to prove that the settlement won’t send the ebook market back into the control of Amazon. Penguin asserted that the underlying allegation of the DOJ – that prices have increased under Agency pricing – has not been proved by the DOJ and that the DOJ should be required to provide economic analysis of its allegations.

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Publishing News: Self-publishing to be the option of first resort?

Mark Coker talks publishing disruption, the DOJ gets snippy, Robin Sloan programs a book review, and NFC gets a dispenser.

Here are a few stories that caught my attention this week in the publishing space.

Self-publishing disruption

Suw Charman-Anderson at Forbes began running an interview series with Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker this week. The first in the series addressed the disruption of self-publishing in the traditional publishing world. Coker says the traditional publishing model is going to be turned upsidedown, that “self-publishing is going from the option of last resort to the option of first resort.” He notes that self-publishing often has had an associated stigma while traditional publishing has not, but says “over next few years we’re going to see that reverse.”

Coker also argues the disruption to traditional publishing isn’t only going to come from outside the traditional ecosystem:

“We’re also going to see a mass defection of some of the best traditionally published authors. This has already started to happen among primarily mid-list authors, who do reasonably well and then their books go out of print. A lot of those authors are republishing their back catalogues as self-published ebooks, and they are earning more money, enjoying more creative freedom, and having more fun than they did working under the thumb of traditional publishers.”

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Amazon as friend and foe

Amazon as friend and foe

Clint Greenleaf on the challenges of working with and competing against Amazon.

In this TOC podcast, Greenleaf Book Group founder and CEO Clint Greenleaf shares a unique perspective on working with and competing against Amazon. He also addresses the DOJ lawsuit and offers thoughts on the future of ereaders.

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Publishing News: HTML5 may be winning the war against apps

Publishing News: HTML5 may be winning the war against apps

Publisher moves lean toward HTML5, MIT students present news reporting solutions, and Penguin and Macmillan respond to the DOJ.

Some are sticking with apps, but many publishers are choosing HTML5-based solutions; students at MIT have solutions for news; and Penguin and Macmillan tell the DOJ they weren't involved in price fixing.

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Publishing News: Kindle Fire and "your ad here"

Publishing News: Kindle Fire and "your ad here"

Amazon pitches Kindle Fire home screen ads, Apple says DOJ complaint is "fundamentally flawed," and Craig Mod muses on covers.

Amazon is reportedly peddling new ad space on its Kindle Fire home screen, Apple responds to the DOJ, and Craig Mod says its time to hack digital book covers.

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Publishing News: No dismissal for Apple, Macmillan and Penguin

Publishing News: No dismissal for Apple, Macmillan and Penguin

A request to dismiss is denied, an attempt to end Internet piracy, and a look at reading behaviors.

Updates on the DOJ and antitrust lawsuits against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin; Russian startup Pirate Pay targets BitTorrent file sharing; and Steve Rubel muses on digital media, social sharing and news consumption.

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Publishing News: Dropping DRM may be too little, too late

Publishing News: Dropping DRM may be too little, too late

Removing DRM may not save publishing, first sale doctrine goes to the Supreme Court, and Apple wants its day in court.

It may be too late for the removal of DRM to make a difference for publishers, a textbook case heads to the Supreme Court, and Apple heads to court to seek validation.

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