Where Personal and Professional Life Collide...

My life in 8 words: Organized chaos, by preference. Exhausting, but never boring

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Amazon's response.. and my insta-reaction
bitch, please
EtA; in light of some responses, if you a) don't have an account or b) aren't willing to sign your name to your post, it will NOT be unscreened. And the person who left a particularly nasty comment? Yes, your IP CAN be traced. No, seriously. Suri's Law stands: be polite, and sign your name, and you get to join this discussion. I'm really not asking anything more than the manners your parents should have taught you.

EtA2: this is the original post. it was nicely hidden inside a Kindle forum on Amazon.com, and 'outed' on Twitter.

Holy shit. Amazon, seriously? Sulky 5-year-old much?

This, apparently, is Amazon's response:

Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

['regardless of our viewpoint." What does this mean, exactly? "well, we think they should have listened to US!" Okay, fine, they didn't, mainly because your idea didn't make good business sense for anyone except you. Publicly sulking because your ideas were rejected is... God, if I were a shareholder, I'd slap you for such incredibly bad PR. Who wrote this, your 5 year old kid? Also, $15? Is still hella less than the average hardcover. Seriously, go check. I'll wait.]

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles.

['we tried to kick them out of the sandbox, without warning and without explanation to our customers, who were understandably pissed off at having items taken out of their pre-order queue, not to mention suddenly not having options from one of the major publishers for their expensive, Amazon-only Kindle']

We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.

[Ahem. Penalty flag on the intentional mishandling of the term "monopoly' in order to confuse readers who have heard the word tossed around this weekend. Also, "needlessly high?" The terms offered, as per Macmillan's own statement, ranged to below what Amazon wanted. So how do you call "needlessly high?" That dog, sir, will not hunt.]

Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

[Sure, companies are allowed to set their prices however they want. THAT IS THE POINT MACMILLAN WAS MAKING.]

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

[oh for.. seriously. This is a business communication? Are we sure this wasn't someone pranking Amazon? "A mission" to do what? To make all content exclusive to your company, and your terms? And we should support this...why? Me, I like a little honest competition. Keeps prices reasonable, and customer service on their toes.... ]

Thank you for being a customer.

[once, maybe. Not me, not again. I dislike being taken for an idiot]

me again: screw me-as-writer, me-as-reader is offended as hell by this letter, both for the petty, whinging tone, and for the assumption that this sort of communication is at all impressive to anyone over emo-16.

Oh hell, maybe to some people it is. But not me. Amazon, we are DONE.

and for those who want a detailed explanation of what Macmillan was offering, and Amazon was rejecting: Check fashionista_35's breakdown of the situation. Me? I say a pox on all their houses; I'm going to have a drink.
Tags: ,

BWAH! I'm laughing because I just posted the Amazon response as well and accused them of having a sullen tone and scuffing their shoes in the dirt.

The misinformation has me fuming when I should be doing my homework. The customer threads are particularly infuriating; to call Macmillan the bullying party is disingenuous at best. Before this mess I had no idea that Amazon was often selling at a loss (to be fair, I rarely buy bestselling ebooks, I usually only save about 20% off the price of a paperback, which is not much better than I can get as a B&N member in the bookstore buying a hardcopy)... which tactically is worrisome in a company as big as Amazon.

Amazon is bad for my blood pressure. I love reading on my Kindle, which I purchased before the other ereaders became available, but that doesn't, so far as I've been able to determine, preclude me from acquiring my ebooks elsewhere.

I think the funniest thing about this situation is that, if this dustup hadn't happened, I wouldn't have found out about Baen's e-ARC promotion and...

spent $15 on an ebook for the first time :P

Edited at 2010-01-31 11:23 pm (UTC)

I love reading on my Kindle, which I purchased before the other ereaders became available, but that doesn't, so far as I've been able to determine, preclude me from acquiring my ebooks elsewhere.

On the plus(?) side, I bet before the week's over, people will have cracked the Kindle to allow other retailers' books to be uploaded to it toot sweet.

Amazon, we are DONE

they lost me as a customer years ago, this just reinforces that decision. I dont like bullies.

I haven't heard a tantrum like that since I was a counselor at drama camp. You may call it expressing disagreement - I call it holding your breath until you turn blue. Oh and hey, Amazon - you must have tons of dictionaries around. Look up the word monopoly and next time use it properly.


Yeah, as a reader this letter from Amazon pisses me off too.

What a bunch of crap!

The line tossed around in the Kindle forums is that nobody has the right to tell a business how much it should sell its products for, that Macmillan doesn't have the right to tell amazon how much to charge for books.

That said--I just checked and Wolf Hall still isn't available.

I wasn't about to download it, but I did want to see it up there again, just so I'd feel better.


The irony? Is that Amazon -- and all other retailers -- can in theory charge WHATEVER THEY WANT for their products. They just have to pass along the agreed-upon percentage of the list price to the provider of that merchandise.

Seriously, people, has nobody in America EVER taken Business 101?


Edited at 2010-01-31 11:35 pm (UTC)

I tried to sever my ties to Amazon last year in response to Amazonfail (re: the deranking of LGBT titles). Amazon never apologised for the "mistake". They never even came CLOSE. I've been forced back in some areas (Audible, in particular, where I had membership before Amazon bought them), but I've done my best to give them none of my money since then.

This just reinforces the stance I took then. They are as unapologetic for their behavior now as they were then. I've lost respect, I've lost trust, I've lost any desire to be associated with them. I know perfectly well that no company is perfect and any of them could do something idiotic because of short term short sightedness.

This just redoubles my original doubts.

*Monopoly?* This is why I get creative writing students who think I'm being overly fussy when I tell them they need to use words that actually mean the thing they want to communicate. Kinda reminds me of the time I refused to give an interview to a newspaper that hadn't paid me for an article I'd written for them the year before. They accused me of trying to "censor the press." I should have told them that I have a monopoly over me.

Words mean things? That's crazy talk!

Hardback sales

Perhaps you should look at the NYT Best Sellers on Amazon. Only 1 of the hardbacks is selling for more than $15 dollars.

Best to get facts before shooting of insta-comments

And again, we have someone cowardly enough to leave a comment without signing their name. Seriously, people, you expect me to treat you as reputable counterarguments, pecially when you use the extremely limited NYT as your sole consideration for all of hardcover publishing...?

For the record, within reach, I have a handful hardcover books, all published in the past few years. $24.95. $24.95. $24.05 (oo look, a NYT bestseller!) $24.95. $23. $27 (okay, that was nonfiction)

Hey, my book! $26! (ow..)

Anyone have access to the most recent Times list, to check this person's specific claim?

Edited at 2010-01-31 11:53 pm (UTC)

Don't all publishers and writers sort of have a monopoly on their material? That's why we have copyright law.

I'm keeping an eye on ebook pricing data. So far, I'm seeing some indications that people want ebooks to be much, much cheaper than paper books -- and that people who are selling very cheap ebooks are selling a lot more copies than pricier ebooks.

I'll be curious to see, of those who are selling ebooks cheaply and not as loss-leaders, who is still in business at those prices next year. If they are, good for them!

So far, none of the numbers have been conclusive, and the industry's still too young to say one way or the other what works the best.

You probably heard my screaming when I saw this poor excuse for an official communication.

"mission": O rly? I'm just...arrgh.

The sad part is that so many readers/consumers have NO IDEA this is happening. My parents (who are Amazon and Kindle consumers) had not a clue. The comments to the post just made my blood boil.

Be right back, I'm laughing FOREVER.

oh my god it reads like my thirteen year old tantrums.

That really was what took me aback. Had they come out with something that made and defended their case.. all right, fine, I disagree but okay you tried a plan and it failed and we move on.




They may well have lost me as a customer, too. And I was a very very good customer, too....

Damnedness. I would hate to stop buying books from them. They are my local bookstore, for all intents and purposes. But but but ...

I only very rarely, if ever buy e-books, since I prefer the dead-tree version, but the way all print books were yanked as well really annoyed me. Remembering the earlier "glitch" over the GLBT books, I've been following this thing and though I don't think either side is perfect, Amazon really does come off as a 5-year-old bully.

I think the authors and the readers are the who will suffer from this kind of petty behaviour and it has finally made me decide never to buy another book from Amazon.com.

Thank you for all your posts on this issue!

I don't understand the insistance on Amazon's part that they will only sell ebooks for $9.99. Go take a look at the prices they charge for the Kindle versions of computer how-to books.

Or is this just a fight over the price of fiction? Then they ought to say so.

You go, girl. Do you have a direct link to Amazon's response? And yeah, their behavior this whole time has been like a neighborhood bully who's completely baffled when someone stands up to him and decides to take his toys and go home.

(Deleted comment)
So where did this response show up? I want to link to it.

I particularly loved the bit about ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate. Yeah, used "monopoly" wrong, but also admitting right up front that the whole thing was nothing more than a temper tantrum on their part. Who suffered? The customers. Who cares?

Barnes & Noble, probably.

linking within the original post.

Did you get this via e-mail? If so, I apparently don't rate as a customer, since I haven't received one yet. (Which is news to me, since I've bought from them on an occasional basis since before the dot-com crash.)

I've perused the site, and if there's an easy link to the "response", I've not found it yet.

Link now added to the original post.

"big six” publishers,"

This term brings to mind the Hollywood studio system.
And it's ultimate downfall.

Amazon- new word for you- oligopoly

Amazon- new word for you- oligopoly

You originally learned that word in the hopes you could use it in Scrabble, didn't you?

(I admit it: I did. *grin*)

MacMillan needs to get out there and into broad based mass media with ads promoting their side of the story.


You don't want Amazon controlling the argument with the "we're for the consumer!" rhetoric.

I'm eagerly awaiting the next Tor newsletter, myself, for much the same reasons.

As I've remarked elsewhere, this whole thing reminds me that Amazon did something funky with their auctions back in 1999-2000--but eBay won that little showdown.

The folksy touch at the end of the response caused much the same reaction in me as it did you. 'Scuse me, but referring to a business product as a mission? Yeah, riiiight.

Good thing you don't actually have to purchase your ebooks from Amazon. I keep telling people this but they don't seem to get it. I'm not saying Amazon isn't being a bitch, but if you've already spent the money on a Kindle there are ways to get around them, thank god.

Kindle Response

Sorry folks, I still love my Kindle!!! I will wait til the price comes down rather than pay for an over priced ebook. I appreciate the $9.99 and lower prices. Eventually the prices always come down and I will take advantage of them when they do. What is so awful is that we have become a society of "if it costs more it must be better". News flash that's why our economy is in the state that it is. Over pricing. I do have empathy for the authors as they end up being taken advantage of by the corporate publishing industry.
Thank-you for allowing me to respond. I truly hope you all have a blessed day and debate.
Megan O.

Re: Kindle Response

you know what else is awful? Besides the lack of financial literacy in this country, I mean. The disconnect in the public's mind between what they want to pay and what things actually cost to produce. But hey - as long as you get the price you want, who cares, right?

Re: Kindle Response (Anonymous) Expand

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