Declining eBook Sales Due to Lack of Interest or Higher Prices?

Citing the Wall Street Journal (which is behind a paywall), Jillian D’Onfro of Business Insider Australia points out that the declining eBook sales reported by big publishers are probably due to their high prices following their battle with Amazon, rather than a lack of interest on the part of eBook consumers, who expect lower prices. I have to agree with her—I think a lot longer before buying an eBook priced above seven dollars than I do before buying a $2.99 book, and that’s despite my being in the industry! I’d buy ten $2.99 eBooks without thinking twice about it, but a single $12.99 book gives me pause.

Amazon Fights to Keep Secrets in eBook Trial

In regard to the Apple price-fixing trial, Amazon is seeking to have sensitive information—including “potentially embarrassing” data related to profitability, pricing, and contract terms—redacted from evidence. This is rather interesting, as Amazon has never disclosed this information to the public before, so we are all kept in the dark regarding its actual profitability and market share. I’m split on whether I think they should be able to keep the information private—I really want to know, but they’re a private company, and as a business owner, I don’t think it’s really anyone’s business but their own.

Read more about it at


eBooks Raise Issues for Libraries

This article by the Kearney, Nebraska, Public Library directory explains why libraries may not be able to offer the latest eBooks, and why their selections may be limited.

The highlights:

  • Random House marks up eBooks 300% for libraries.
  • Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette (three of the publishers involved in the dispute with Amazon) won’t sell to libraries at all.
  • HarperCollins only allows 26 checkouts per book before requiring the library to purchase another—as if the book had worn out.* The library consortium voted to boycott them.
  • Penguin is being childish over their dispute with Amazon and won’t allow any new books to be sold through Overdrive, the company that handles eBooks for many public libraries. Penguin has a separate deal with Queens Public Library.

* I’ve read several studies, both formal and informal, which indicate that the average library book lasts significantly longer than 26 checkouts. Two librarians created an amusing YouTube video showing the condition of several HarperCollins books checked out from 25 to more than 100 times.


eBook Anti-Trust Settlement is Approved (with 3 publishers)

U.S. federal courts have approved a settlement Hachette Books Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins, that booksellers may set their own pricing and that publishers may not sign contracts with retailers during the next two years which restrict pricing decisions. They also may not enter into contracts (for five years) which give specific sellers a guaranteed lower price than others.

Two more publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, refused to settle and have a court date in June. I wonder how much extra profit they and Apple will make during that time.


Apple Denies Colluding with Publishers in Price-Fixing Case

This is an article detailing Apple’s continued and laughable denials that they colluded with publishers to fix prices on eBooks, forcing buyers to choose between overpaying for an eBook, buying a sometimes-cheaper physical book, or simply not buying the book at all. Pricing an eBook too high is likely to result in a loss of income to a greater number of authors, as readers must limit their purchases to their budgets, which may be significantly lower than the time they have available to read lower-priced books. Personally, I’d buy ten eBooks priced at $5 before I spent $18 on one.


Macmillan and Penguin Cite Kindle Dominance in “Collusion” Responses

This article discusses Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin’s ongoing fight against the US Department of Justice’s accusations of collusion in price-fixing. Three other publishing companies (Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins) have settled, which is rather telling. It is interesting to note, that despite claiming they did not conspire to fix prices, their arguments sound an awful lot like they are trying to justify their scheming, rather than deny it.