Two things everyone keeps forgetting about Macmillan

I'm going to take the minority position and side with Amazon in the recent fracas with Macmillan over book prices. Yes, I know Amazon lost; that doesn't mean their position was invalid. I'll grant that they shot themselves in the foot; delisting all Macmillan books at midnight on a Friday was a blunder that made about as much sense as getting into a land war in Asia. But I have 2 reasons to support Amazon: I like price competition, and the publisher who issued the ultimatum was Macmillan, not anyone else.

With the new system, Macmillan sets the price, and everyone sells at that price. There will be no competition among vendors (aside from customer service). Gone are the discounts. The sale prices will vanish as well. BTW, the most interesting thing about that price is that Macmillan didn't choose it as what they think the market will bear; the price was set higher than the $9.99 preferred by Amazon so it props up the price of the hardback. Basic market research would have found the $9.99 boycott, and common sense would suggest that these people won't buy at the price Macmillan set.

My other issue is that the publisher who instigated this fight was Macmillan. When it comes to ebooks, Macmillan is a complete failure. All of the Macmillan imprints have failed to consistently produce ebooks not just this year, but every year for the last 10. Take Tor, for example. Only about 15% of Tor's titles are released as ebooks each year. From what I can tell, Tor uses a Ouija board to select which titles to release, then randomly picks a single format for that title. It's not unusual for only one title of a book to be available as an ebook. On the rare occasion that 2 titles in a series are both out as ebooks, they will not be offered in the same format.

Mark my words: this will not end well for the consumer.

About Nate Hoffelder (11209 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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