Wednesday, 10 November 2010

E-books and the Agency Model- Part 2...

Since my blog on this item in October more publishers have moved to selling their e-books on the agency model.

Hatchette has been joined by big publishers Penguin and HarperColins. No doubt more will be looking at their options.

Amazon -with a big share of the e-book sales market- apparently saw a high response from customers on their (Amazon co.uk) Kindle forum to the imposition of a set price. Some even threatened to boycott any e-book from these publishers.

Only the sales figures will tell if it had an effect.

Meanwhile Waterstones have signed a deal with HarperColins to sell its e-books on agency terms and consequently removed giving loyalty card points on any HC e-book purchase...

Today, on the Bookseller website they highlighted the comments of agent Annette Green on the view from here blog- you can read the whole piece there by clicking the link at the bottom of this Bookseller article.
She remarks that it is a "stupendously ill-judged attempt to revive the ghost of the Net Book Agreement" and fears it will only encourage piracy.

We all know what happened with the music industry and I know I don't want to see that happen again with the publishing industry...

The Fry Chronicles (Stephen Fry's new book) was used as an example of the price discrepancy created. Today the Kindle version is selling for £12.99, while the Hardcover copy is £9.50, even the Audio CD is only selling for £12.11.
(Waterstones doesn't have this e-book available at the moment- no idea if that is through choice or that particular e-book format not yet being available.)

If the publishers think the customer will happily pay (before discount) hardcover prices for e-book downloads someone should throw a bucket of cold water over them to wake them up to reality.

There are small companies who have started to produce their own e-books for sale on the web and via the big suppliers. They aren't going to go the agency route as it wouldn't help their emerging businesses.

Readers who wouldn't think of downloading a pirated copy of an e-book may stop buying or will seek out new authors (hopefully) from other (non agency) suppliers.

Other readers may just decide to get their literary fix from pirated copies. If that happens everyone loses out  and as the music industry has found, it's hard to get the genie back in the bottle once it's out...


So what do you think? Have you any views on the agency model and what it could mean to the future of e-books? You're welcome to comment using the box below.

2 comments:

Helen Baggott said...

This new technology still has a long way to go.

I'm not ready to embrace it yet - in any form.

CarolB said...

The eventual outcome of this current situation will possibly make the decision for a lot of undecideds.