Monday, February 1, 2010

Amazon and Me

Tomorrow, February 2, is the release date for the paperback version of my last novel STEAL ACROSS THE SKY. It will ship to stores and be available on-line from Barnes & Noble. Not, however, from If you go to Amazon to order it, you get a statement that this title is not available from Amazon at the moment. The reason is the Kindle.

I have a Kindle. I love it. Tomorrow is also the release date for Connie Willis's new novel BLACKOUT, and it is due to appear on my Kindle tomorrow, which I fully expect it to do. So why is Amazon selling hers and not mine, in any format?

My publisher, Tor, is owned by St. Martin's, which is part of the McMillan publishing empire. McMillan, as of last Friday, has had all its titles in all formats boycotted by Amazon. This is a price war. Kindle e-books have been selling for $9.99, which is one of the attractive reasons I wanted one (also I have no room -- none -- for more physical books). McMillan says that's not enough for them to recoup their publishing costs. Neither side is budging so far, so right now no McMillan books, in all formats, are available from Amazon.

I am not happy about this. Neither are any other authors, who have been yelling and screaming in the blogosphere. They have also made some reasonable suggestions. I like John Scalzi's:

"Do I think Macmillan (or anyone else) will be able to sell $15 e-books? They could; after all, they sell $25 hardcovers (and similar amounts for e-books, depending on the retailer). Now, some people won’t spend that much for a book, so they pick up the book later when it’s an $8 paperback. That’s fine, too. Likewise, I think it’s fine to attempt to charge $15 (or more) for an e-book for a brand-spankin’ new release to service the folks who just can’t wait, drop it to a lower price point (say, $10) later on in the run, and then drop it again to $8 or so when the paperback hits. That’s how I would do it, in any event."

This is, of course, all part of the cataclysmic transition phase that has roiled publishing for a few years now. But until it is resolved, I cannot get -- or sell -- the books I want. Down here at the bottom of the publishing food chain, upheavals and transitions cost mid-list writers income. I hope it's resolved soon.


King Rat said...

So far you are the only author who has commented on this that I've read that hasn't been derisive toward Amazon and Amazon alone.

Kendall said...

"[Macmillan] has had all its titles in all formats boycotted by Amazon"

...and later...

"thus McMillan [sic] pulled all its books, in all formats, from Amazon."

Everything I've read says it's the former (Amazon "boycotting" Macmillan, i.e., pulling the buy buttons from Macmillan books), not the latter (Macmillan pulling their books from Amazon).

Nancy Kress said...

Thank you, Kendall -- that's what I meant. I'll fix the blog entry.