Sunday, January 31, 2010

Macmillan/Amazon Row

I think this concerns only, since my books are still available through You can find more about it over on John Scalzi's Whatever.

To: All Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community
From: John Sargent

This past Thursday I met with Amazon in Seattle. I gave them our proposal for new terms of sale for e books under the agency model which will become effective in early March. In addition, I told them they could stay with their old terms of sale, but that this would involve extensive and deep windowing of titles. By the time I arrived back in New York late yesterday afternoon they informed me that they were taking all our books off the Kindle site, and off Amazon. The books will continue to be available on through third parties.

I regret that we have reached this impasse. Amazon has been a valuable customer for a long time, and it is my great hope that they will continue to be in the very near future. They have been a great innovator in our industry, and I suspect they will continue to be for decades to come.

It is those decades that concern me now, as I am sure they concern you. In the ink-on-paper world we sell books to retailers far and wide on a business model that provides a level playing field, and allows all retailers the possibility of selling books profitably. Looking to the future and to a growing digital business, we need to establish the same sort of business model, one that encourages new devices and new stores. One that encourages healthy competition. One that is stable and rational. It also needs to insure that intellectual property can be widely available digitally at a price that is both fair to the consumer and allows those who create it and publish it to be fairly compensated.

Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.

The agency model would allow Amazon to make more money selling our books, not less. We would make less money in our dealings with Amazon under the new model. Our disagreement is not about short-term profitability but rather about the long-term viability and stability of the digital book market.

Amazon and Macmillan both want a healthy and vibrant future for books. We clearly do not agree on how to get there. Meanwhile, the action they chose to take last night clearly defines the importance they attribute to their view. We hold our view equally strongly. I hope you agree with us.

You are a vast and wonderful crew. It is impossible to reach you all in the very limited timeframe we are working under, so I have sent this message in unorthodox form. I hope it reaches you all, and quickly. Monday morning I will fully brief all of our editors, and they will be able to answer your questions. I hope to speak to many of you over the coming days.

Thanks for all the support you have shown in the last few hours; it is much appreciated.

All best,

We're going to see more of this sort of stuff as companies try to corner the Ebook market, but the amusing thing is that there won't be any cornering, or at least not for long, since this is not a fight between the producers of Betamax and VHS. That aside, again, US book buyers, you can get my books through The Book Depository. They ship for free and are offering some big discounts on there. I just bought New Moon & Eclipse for a total of £6.90.


Hugh said...


has your facebook account been hacked?

I have just received about 30 updates from you in the last five minutes, for such scintillating groups as
ERA Costa Rica Real Estate,
Jim Palmer - The Newsletter Guru and I Want To Try Some A├žai Juice

And lots, lots more.

Hope you get it fixed soon - if not, send Cormac after the bastards.



Hugh said...



Ignore that previous post, I've been a dick - my son knew I liked your books, and linked my facebook account to someone with a very similar (but spelt Neil) to yours, and I am getting spam from him.

My apologies - just off downstairs to beat the adolescent......



Anonymous said...

Huh, well I don't trust the Kindle anyway. Hopefully things will go better with Barnes and Noble

The Book Depository IS fantastic

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

.......people who read Asher....beat their young.

you sure it's not because of your liberal use of cigarettes and the f word that amazon is getting pissy? fukem.

Unknown said...

I had the same problem in the music industry i made the music and the people selling it made all the money, my tracks sold on Beatport for £1.50 and i received 18p :( Vinyl is now making a comeback as its harder to pirate, anything digital is soon on every torrent site and no one is making any money. I will never give up my paper books as i enjoy falling asleep and waking up with the book on my face something a kindle or any other format would not allow. :)

Anonymous said...

You also can't break a book by rolling over on it. I'll bet you can waterproof the hell out of an e-reader though.

Anonymous said...

For me it's going to be paper for a good while yet. You can't display a digital collection.

Brian said...

Just found this. they are very actively following the e-book progress on