Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?

Aliens? Invading aliens? What will Earth do? Well...we may have a few more resources than we first thought. Come join a friendly discussion about David Weber's newest Tor series - "Out of the Dark."
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by dvdscar   » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:39 pm

dvdscar
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:42 pm

Mycall4me wrote:What the heck do they think is going to happen WHEN (almost assuredly NOT if) all the dead tree stores go out of business? I've read that b&n is in a bad way, and it wouldn't surprise me if they just closed all their brick and mortar stores, and just support the e book business for their nooks.
I've had an e reader since the very first commercial e reader sold, the kindle. Since my primary source for new books was b&n I bought their nook when they first came out, and I've owned and updated my nook 4 or 5 times.
I am, in fact, totally spoiled by the convenience of my nook, and I have replaced ALL of my many,favorite hc's, and the thought of picking up and reading the bulky and cumbersome dead tree version of a book is almost repellant.

Obviously when that happens they will be forced to provide their product as an e book, but you would think that they'd want to get started now, and pick up all the business they're losing to e readers.I havn't bought any dead tree books AT ALL for too many years for me to count. If I couldn't get it in the e pub format for my nook, I just wouldn't buy it. Fortunately ALL of my must buy authors are available as e books, and I just don't consider a new author/story if it isn't an e book. Which is something of a shame because any of my must buy authors started out as someone new, and I would try them and their book because of the summary inside the cover, or from the back of the book. :ugeek:


If the Big 5 publishers could perceive reality and if they could think logically, they wouldn't be taking the position they've taken. They're refusing to recognize the changes that have already happened, and they insist that their current business model, which they have followed since World War II, is still valid, appropriate, and applicable in today's circumstances. The more fools they. They are emotionally wedded to the idea that hardbacks are king, and anything that reduces the sales or impact of hardback editions is evil. They are convinced that ebook sales hurt hardback sales.

They do produce ebook editions. But they seriously overprice them, and they frequently delay release of the ebook edition until two or three months after the release of the hardback edition to counter-balance the perceived effect on hardback sales. They have yet to figure out that a die-hard ebook reader is not going to buy their hardback edition even if there is no ebook edition available.

This is the same BS they've started pulling with sales of ebooks to libraries by limiting the number of ebook copies of a book a library can buy, and by again not delivering the library ebook editions until months after the hardback was released.

The flip side of the issue is that according to a number of articles I've read this year, independent bookstores seem to be making a comeback. So B&N may tank (which may actually be a good thing as it would remove their disproportionate influence on the distribution network) but there will still be a fair number of smaller book stores out there. Just not enough to save the Big 5 publishers from their own idiocy.

David
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by Louis R   » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:54 pm

Louis R
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1162
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:25 pm

Unfortunately - or fortunately, IMHO the jury is still out on that one - The 5 aren't completely wrong, at least from their seats. The real issue is who's _in_ those seats, and what they're seeing.

All the comments up thread, except for David's, are coming from readers [and David was a reader long before he defected to the supply side], and, as Jim Baen never tired of reminding us, readers are _not_ the publishers customers: the distributors and major bookstores are. We simply provide the cash to fuel the book trade, and no individual reader ever puts enough money in to be worth considering except as a statistic [to paraphrase Uncle Joe: one reader is a nuisance, a million readers is a profit], and, more importantly, the readers who hang out in fora like this or Baen's Bar are a rather small minority, self-selected to the point of being worthless as a statistical sample. So who do publishers listen to? Their customers, of course. Who are, basically, 4 or 5 in number in the US, and even fewer elsewhere, since the regional distributors and jobbers were gobbled up a couple of decades ago. And one of them, Amazon, apparently figures that they have all the bases covered and no dog in the fight; their only comment will be to the effect that "discounts aren't large enough".

Add to that the fact that hardcovers are where the bucks are, for publisher and author: margins and royalties are both a larger percentage of a much higher price. Given that, ATM, in Corporate America the bottom line is the only line, i think the incentives are obvious. A major effect of that gobbling i mentioned [which also happened in the preceding decade with publishers] seems to have been that nobody but the bean counters has a seat at the table anymore, and they pay no attention to anything but their computers. Sales drop? don't order as many copies of that author's next title. Orders drop? cut the marketing for that title. What's moving fastest? order up more of the same, with serial numbers filed off. Writer doesn't want to give you that? dump 'em! And defend those margins come what may. Which is what we're seeing.

Baen, from what i can tell, is a very low-overhead operation, and even they can't currently cover production costs from e-book sales [printing isn't actually their biggest item, and it's a marginal cost anyway]. At a guess, that _is_ where most of their profit comes from, and they've take steps to share that with the authors by increasing royalty rates on e-books, but that's only because the paper books cover the cost of creating the files that get distributed. Until somebody cracks the problem of generating high-quality, well-written and well-designed e-books at a cost that lets you sell them with HC margins at a price the market regards as reasonable - or readers revise their evaluation of 'reasonable' - we've got a problem.

And never forget that one man's meat is another man's poison. We need a lot of well-designed, well-written books published to cover everyone's needs.


dvdscar wrote:
Mycall4me wrote:What the heck do they think is going to happen WHEN (almost assuredly NOT if) all the dead tree stores go out of business? I've read that b&n is in a bad way, and it wouldn't surprise me if they just closed all their brick and mortar stores, and just support the e book business for their nooks.
I've had an e reader since the very first commercial e reader sold, the kindle. Since my primary source for new books was b&n I bought their nook when they first came out, and I've owned and updated my nook 4 or 5 times.
I am, in fact, totally spoiled by the convenience of my nook, and I have replaced ALL of my many,favorite hc's, and the thought of picking up and reading the bulky and cumbersome dead tree version of a book is almost repellant.

Obviously when that happens they will be forced to provide their product as an e book, but you would think that they'd want to get started now, and pick up all the business they're losing to e readers.I havn't bought any dead tree books AT ALL for too many years for me to count. If I couldn't get it in the e pub format for my nook, I just wouldn't buy it. Fortunately ALL of my must buy authors are available as e books, and I just don't consider a new author/story if it isn't an e book. Which is something of a shame because any of my must buy authors started out as someone new, and I would try them and their book because of the summary inside the cover, or from the back of the book. :ugeek:


If the Big 5 publishers could perceive reality and if they could think logically, they wouldn't be taking the position they've taken. They're refusing to recognize the changes that have already happened, and they insist that their current business model, which they have followed since World War II, is still valid, appropriate, and applicable in today's circumstances. The more fools they. They are emotionally wedded to the idea that hardbacks are king, and anything that reduces the sales or impact of hardback editions is evil. They are convinced that ebook sales hurt hardback sales.

They do produce ebook editions. But they seriously overprice them, and they frequently delay release of the ebook edition until two or three months after the release of the hardback edition to counter-balance the perceived effect on hardback sales. They have yet to figure out that a die-hard ebook reader is not going to buy their hardback edition even if there is no ebook edition available.

This is the same BS they've started pulling with sales of ebooks to libraries by limiting the number of ebook copies of a book a library can buy, and by again not delivering the library ebook editions until months after the hardback was released.

The flip side of the issue is that according to a number of articles I've read this year, independent bookstores seem to be making a comeback. So B&N may tank (which may actually be a good thing as it would remove their disproportionate influence on the distribution network) but there will still be a fair number of smaller book stores out there. Just not enough to save the Big 5 publishers from their own idiocy.

David
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by Fireflair   » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:23 am

Fireflair
Captain of the List

Posts: 547
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:23 pm

One thing I've never understood, and despite repeated attempts by others to explain it to me, is why e-books cost 'almost as much' as hard copy books.

Print costs may be marginal, but they are a real cost. So is distribution. Both of which are not present in an e-book sale.

Take OBS, for example, currently going for $8.58 on Amazon in paperback format. The Kindle price from Amazon is $8.99. Where's the marginal savings that should come from the e-book? No printing or distribution costs there.

Fine, that's an old back list title. Let's look at something that came out recently, Gordian Protocol, $9.70 on the Kindle from Amazon, and $8.99 in paperback. The e-book is MORE expensive.

David Drake, John Ringo, L.E. Modesitt Jr, Mercedes Lackey, Sheryln Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Dean Koontz... I checked all of them, and they all show the same price disparity.

Only in the case of a new release hardback versus e-book do I see the e-book as typically cheaper. Mercedes Lackey's The Case of the Spellbound Child comes out in December and is $18.90 hardback, and $13.99 on the kindle.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by Louis R   » Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:06 pm

Louis R
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1162
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:25 pm

There's something seriously wrong with your Amazon results, or at least with how you're reading them, WRT the Baen titles: as far as i can tell, there's no Second Edition of OBS, and it's in the Free Library. The cost of the e-book is $0.00 at Baen, and Amazon should be automatically matching that - the whole point of the second editions was to make it possible for people to continue to pay for Free Library titles if they chose to do so despite Amazon's matching policy. [and no, that's not propaganda, it happened at the instigation of people coming to Baen's Bar and saying "but I _want_ to pay something for this book!" Believe me, you had to be there.] Gordian Protocol isn't even out in paperback, and unless it's been remaindered [something I've never seen from Baen, AAMOF] I seriously doubt that Amazon is selling a hardcover at 67% off. When it does come out in MMPB, the e-book price will automatically drop to $6.99, and you can be confident that Amazon will follow suit.

Also, I don't know where you come by the idea that there's no distribution cost for e-books. Despite the delusions of programmers, the internet does not run on magic smoke. Every node, server and communication link costs somebody to operate, and they expect to make it back with interest. Lots of it, when it comes to commercial operations. Even if you buy directly from Baen, the outfit actually running the site gets a cut, if less than Amazon would take. How much less, I don't know: for obvious reasons, Toni's never shared the specifics of either deal. I can make a couple of educated guesses, however. For paper books, the standard split of the cover price is 40% to the publisher, 20% to distributor and 40% to retailer. Amazon has taken advantage of their position as both retailer and distributor to make those juicy discounts on better-selling titles - as well, from what I hear, as putting the screws to small presses. Their discount on e-books could be as much as 50%, but I would think ~40% more likely; my best guess for what Baen pays on direct sales is 25-30%. You can ignore anything you may have heard about Kindle DTP - this is a commercial deal and different rules apply. In fact, one of the few things we do know about it is that Baen had to compromise seriously on their pricing policies to get in to the Kindle store in the first place. Presumably, Amazon didn't think they were going to make a big enough chunk of change otherwise. So distribution is still a significant factor in pricing. Come to think of it, you're wrong to assume that there's no 'printing' cost for e-books, as well. The final published version of the book exists as a typesetting file, and converting out of that format into any of the standard readers is still a black art. Automating it leads to some pretty spectacular disasters and even with manual input it can still go wildly wrong. And the differences in devices and formats mean that it has to be done separately for every target if you intend to get optimum results - it's quite common for illustrations, layout and text formatting to be essential elements of the published text, and they can not be removed or misapplied without wrecking everything. Again, doing that properly costs money, although fortunately it's a one-off cost unlike actual printing.

So, what is a fair price for an e-book? Well, that depends: if you have to cover all the production costs out of e-book sales, with no or a very limited print run, it's probably up around $15. Where there is a hardcover run, as at Baen, Toni admits that $9.99 is really a bit too much, which is why she jacked up the author's take by 50¢ per copy sold.

Fireflair wrote:One thing I've never understood, and despite repeated attempts by others to explain it to me, is why e-books cost 'almost as much' as hard copy books.

Print costs may be marginal, but they are a real cost. So is distribution. Both of which are not present in an e-book sale.

Take OBS, for example, currently going for $8.58 on Amazon in paperback format. The Kindle price from Amazon is $8.99. Where's the marginal savings that should come from the e-book? No printing or distribution costs there.

Fine, that's an old back list title. Let's look at something that came out recently, Gordian Protocol, $9.70 on the Kindle from Amazon, and $8.99 in paperback. The e-book is MORE expensive.

David Drake, John Ringo, L.E. Modesitt Jr, Mercedes Lackey, Sheryln Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Dean Koontz... I checked all of them, and they all show the same price disparity.

Only in the case of a new release hardback versus e-book do I see the e-book as typically cheaper. Mercedes Lackey's The Case of the Spellbound Child comes out in December and is $18.90 hardback, and $13.99 on the kindle.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by phillies   » Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:54 pm

phillies
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1951
Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:43 am
Location: Worcester, MA

Fireflair wrote:One thing I've never understood, and despite repeated attempts by others to explain it to me, is why e-books cost 'almost as much' as hard copy books.

Print costs may be marginal, but they are a real cost. So is distribution. Both of which are not present in an e-book sale.

Take OBS, for example, currently going for $8.58 on Amazon in paperback format. The Kindle price from Amazon is $8.99. Where's the marginal savings that should come from the e-book? No printing or distribution costs there.

Fine, that's an old back list title. Let's look at something that came out recently, Gordian Protocol, $9.70 on the Kindle from Amazon, and $8.99 in paperback. The e-book is MORE expensive.

David Drake, John Ringo, L.E. Modesitt Jr, Mercedes Lackey, Sheryln Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Dean Koontz... I checked all of them, and they all show the same price disparity.

Only in the case of a new release hardback versus e-book do I see the e-book as typically cheaper. Mercedes Lackey's The Case of the Spellbound Child comes out in December and is $18.90 hardback, and $13.99 on the kindle.


I can assure you that for my novels (as seen on Smashwords and Amazon) the ebook ($3.99) is much cheaper than the paperback (>$10). (OK for Airy Castles All Ablaze the paperback is out, the ebook is only out tomorrow, so the ebook is not yet available). And perhaps someday our illustrious host will open yet another series of novels and will try independent publishing for it. Or perhaps not.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by Fireflair   » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:09 am

Fireflair
Captain of the List

Posts: 547
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:23 pm

Louis R I just did a search of Amazon and it shows a paperback release of Gordian Protocol slated for release on April 28th, which is where the prices came from. Most every title (by whichever author) I did a quick snapshot of the mass market paperback on I found that the MMPB was more expensive than the Kindle version.

I'm fully aware of the Baen free library, and I have used it exhaustively in the past. And I still get stuff directly from Baen. That doesn't stop Amazon from selling kindle versions of things in the free library, I assure you! I also recall when Baen got their titles added to the Kindle library a number of public mentions were made about the compromises that went on. At one point I believe there was even talk that Baen might be leveraged into closing the free library if they wanted to be involved with Kindle.

But back to the point, I wasn't referring to typeset or editing costs, or publishing costs. I was referring strictly to the printing and distribution of the hard copy product. Those do not exist for an e-book. Trying to pass off the cost of a digital link on a website as distribution is not even a penny on the cost of the product.

I already pay a company to maintain my own website for a business I run and the cost for the website runs me $60 a month for the entire site, which includes links to paid downloadable content, sales of tickets and gift certificates as well as scheduling appointments. All in one package the cost added to any paid downloads or gift certificates on my site is very minimal. Certainly the level of sales on my average month easily covers the cost of the website and all products sold.

Now, as to Amazon, I know they were involved in a very large lawsuit with the other publishers about dumping in the e-book market and price fixing. Something that from my uneducated view of matters they were quite guilty of. The result from the courts was that Amazon was declared innocent. And the result in real life is that they very much cornered the market on e-books and pricing.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by dvdscar   » Fri Nov 15, 2019 3:49 pm

dvdscar
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:42 pm

As I recall Toni Weisskopf's description of how Amazon's pricing of Baen Books was supposed to work after she negotiated the contract with them, it was more or less as follows.

1) If the cheapest available paper edition of a Baen book available from Baen is a hardback (usually at $24 to $26), Amazon is supposed to charge $9.99 for the parallel ebook edition.

2) If the cheapest available paper edition of a Baen book is a trade format paperback (the large size - usually at $16.00), Amazon is supposed to charge $8.99 for the parallel ebook edition.

3) If the cheapest available paper edition of a Baen book is a mass market paperback (the smallest size edition - usually at ), Amazon is supposed to charge 6.99 for the parallel ebook edition.

(Note that audiobooks are not involved in that price structure.)

Assuming those contract prices still stand, those should represent the highest ebook prices Amazon itself should be presenting for Baen books. They do, of course, offer lower prices fairly frequently on selected books.

Now the timing of when the issue of a cheaper paper edition from Baen is produced may result in a few days of confused ebook prices.

Also, keep in mind that Amazon allows a lot of third party vendors to market through their platform, and their prices are not controlled by either Baen or Amazon.

If you have documented evidence that the ebook prices charged by AMAZON ITSELF are out of whack with the above schedule, someone may need to send a note to Toni Weisskopf.

David

Fireflair wrote:(snipped)

Now, as to Amazon, I know they were involved in a very large lawsuit with the other publishers about dumping in the e-book market and price fixing. Something that from my uneducated view of matters they were quite guilty of. The result from the courts was that Amazon was declared innocent. And the result in real life is that they very much cornered the market on e-books and pricing.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by Mycall4me   » Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:48 pm

Mycall4me
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:07 pm

I guess my view on e books is somewhat different to some (a lot? IDK) of the reading public. Because I no longer have an apartment with room for the book cases that housed my really large collection of HB's and PB's, I have gone "totally paperless" My old library (sigh) is totally gone now, and although I've replaced all of the books that are available in e format, there were (and are) quite a few old favorites, and out of print titles, that just don't justify converting them to an e book, and thus are no longer available to me (or anyone, really)

In addition, (now that I'm growing older) my eyesight is no longer what it used to be, and the (very) small collection of PB's that I still own, have gotten much harder for me to read. In some cases (due to the font size) I can't read them at all. This makes having an e reader that has a variety of different fonts, and a choice for font size much more attractive. In some e formats the font size isn't the same for every e book, and having the means to adjust the font size, is a convenience that I rely on. Even if (or when) my eyes get worse, my e reader's fonts can be re-sized to a stupidly large size (making a single sentence to require more than one line) so I don't really worry about never being able to read anymore due to my eyes. It will just mean "turning" my pages more often, as fewer and fewer sentences will be able to fit on a "page"

And finally, even though I have loved reading all my life, and was accustomed to holding, and reading, and enjoying "real" books, the many conveniences, such as font size, and how much easier my e reader is to hold, and "turn" the pages, and having a dictionary function for the occasional word that I don't know the meaning of, has just made me spoiled, and less inclined to want a "dead tree" version of my next new book. And so, if a book isn't available as an e book, I just do without. Fortunately the types of books that I enjoy have always been available as an e book, so I don't really have to worry about not being able to find and buy my next new anticipated title.

If, and when any publisher has my book as an e book, the cost has NEVER been a concern for me, it's just that simple. That was why I had no problem buying e books as replacements for my old HB's and PB's, I (quite naturally) had to have them for those occasions when I feel the need to read and enjoy them again.

And it really didn't take all that long for me to be able to pay for and replace my old library. What was harder for me was remembering which authors and what their book titles were that I needed to replace. I had to go through B & N's catalog author by author, and choose which titles I wanted (needed) to have.

So,for myself the e reader is in any future that I see for publishers to produce new books and make them available to the masses. Or at least for those such as myself that have ALL their reading material solely as e books.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by drothgery   » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:55 pm

drothgery
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1983
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:07 pm
Location: San Diego, CA, USA

Fireflair wrote:But back to the point, I wasn't referring to typeset or editing costs, or publishing costs. I was referring strictly to the printing and distribution of the hard copy product. Those do not exist for an e-book.

Yeah, but printing, distribution, and retail costs just aren't big parts of the cost of a book (also, those costs are pretty close to the same for hardcovers and paperbacks). They're not zero, but they're not 25-50% of the cost of a book either, and if they're not, then e-books can't be significantly cheaper than print books unless you want to pay authors, editors, and everyone else doing things that have to be done for both digital and print editions a lot less.
Top
Re: E-arcs, and publishing new books, how does it work?
Post by dvdscar   » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:47 pm

dvdscar
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:42 pm

drothgery wrote:
Fireflair wrote:But back to the point, I wasn't referring to typeset or editing costs, or publishing costs. I was referring strictly to the printing and distribution of the hard copy product. Those do not exist for an e-book.

Yeah, but printing, distribution, and retail costs just aren't big parts of the cost of a book (also, those costs are pretty close to the same for hardcovers and paperbacks). They're not zero, but they're not 25-50% of the cost of a book either, and if they're not, then e-books can't be significantly cheaper than print books unless you want to pay authors, editors, and everyone else doing things that have to be done for both digital and print editions a lot less.


I just wrote a long post that the preview function ate.

Short TLDR version: what you're not seeing is that the distributor gets about 50% of the gross revenue of a book sale but he has low overhead costs and gives a sliver to the retailer. The publisher eats everything else. The distributor makes the lion's share of the profit.

David
Top

Return to Out of the Dark