Saturday, August 9, 2014

Amazon's Fight to Lower E-book Prices

Amazon has a website, Readers United , in which it goes public with its efforts to oppose publishers who are working hard to keep the prices of e-books higher than necessary.

On that website, Amazon is appealing to its e-book customers to write to the CEO of Hachette, one of those book publishers, in support of Amazon in its dispute with them. An e-mail address to use in sending this message of support is provided towards the end of the Readers United post:  CEO Michael Pietsch:

Dierk Haasis posted this link to Readers United on his Facebook timeline, which I recently shared to my own. And then I wrote the following e-mail message to Mr. Pietsch:

Dear Sir,

I am an Amazon customer who greatly enjoys the e-books I buy to read on my Kindle device and, using my Desktop Kindle application, on my computer monitor. I buy these e-books on-line, both from Amazon and from Delphi Classics. A retired public schoolteacher, I greatly appreciate lower prices when they're offered to me, occasionally at Amazon, and often at Delphi. I do realize that most of the reasonably priced offerings are for works now in the public domain; but copyrighted works could be offered more reasonably than they are now and still give authors, publishers, and distributors alikean adequate return for their invested resources, time, and talent.

Like other Amazon customers/readers, I have noted your illegal collusion with your competitors to raise e-book prices. I was alerted to it by Amazon via a fellow reader's post on Facebook. For the sake of all of us, please stop working so hard to overcharge for e-books.

Lowering e-book prices will help -- not hurt -- the reading community, the same way that the less expensive paperbacks did when they first came on the market.

So please stop using authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon's offers to take them out of the middle.

After all, you must be aware that authors are not united on this issue. For instance, when the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they headlined their post: "Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors" (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled "Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages," garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are many, many articles and posts, by both authors and readers, which support Amazon in its effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading economy. Author David Gaughran's recent interview is another piece worth reading. (Here I'm paraphrasing Amazon's post, A Message from the Amazon Books Team, on its website, which is also worth reading. )

Please reply to me and tell me that you are going to accept one of Amazon's offers to take authors out of the middle. And then get in touch with Amazon and do just that.

After all, e-books represent only about 1% of the revenues of Hachette, and your parent company Lagardere, and you could easily afford to do this. Please consider us, the e-book readers, who are the ultimate source of that tiny percentage of your revenues. Please also realize that the lower the prices of e-books are, the more we, the readers, can afford to buy, and consequently the more we will buy. To the ultimate benefit of their authors, and to the benefit of Hachette and its parent company, and to the benefit of readers like me.

Sincerely yours,
Mary R. Bull

I wish that whoever reads this Reckon post would take a little time also to support Amazon. Together, we might actually succeed in convincing Mr. Pietsch of the benefits to us all, including Hachette and its parent company, that would result from lowering all e-book prices across the board.

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