More from Borders & E-book Readers Revolt

I know, you thought we’d be able to get through the day without Borders intruding.  Nope.  Not today.  There is news from Borders here in the US as well as the Australian version of Borders as well.

On the home front, Borders has announced it is leaving Ann Arbor and moving its headquarters to “cheaper” digs in the Detroit area.  Ann Arbor is where the first Borders opened.  Now, the move isn’t final.  It is part of the plan being presented to unsecured creditors today.  We’ll see what happens.  My concern is, given the real estate market in Michigan — and assuming Borders owns their current headquarters — they are setting themselves up to leave property they very well may still owe on and incur even more debt with the new headquarters.  But, as I said, we’ll see what happens.

With regard to Borders in Australia, REDGroup has announced they will be closing 16 stores.  These closures will impact more than 500 employees.

In related news, also from Australia, 25 independent booksellers have terminated “their franchising agreement with A&R because parent company RedGroup Retail, now in the hands of corporate insolvency group Ferrier Hodgson, would not allow them to redeem customers’ gift vouchers.”  Here’s a hat tip to these retailers for trying to do what’s right by their customers.  I have to admit, I’ve been expecting Borders here to suddenly decide not to honor their gift cards.  So far, they’ve proven me wrong.  I really hope they continue to do so.

Finally, if you ever doubted certain publishers are clueless when it comes to e-books and price points, check out this article.  Kindle and Nook owners have launched a campaign of sorts to down-rate Michael Connelly’s latest book, The Fifth Witness.  Not because the book is bad.  No, this all comes down to cost.  The TFW hardcover on Amazon costs $14.28 while the e-book costs $14.99.  On B&N, it costs $14.73 for hardcover and $14.99 for the e-book.

This is a perfect example of the idiocy caused by the agency model that came into being because Steve Jobs wouldn’t let the big publishers sell through the iBookstore unless they agreed to not let any other e-tailer sell their books for less.  So, the price for the e-book is set by the publisher.  There can be no variation, no sales and no promotional giveaways of the book unless instigated by the publisher.

But that’s not the case for the hard cover — or for the soft cover when it comes out.  Those prices are set by the retailer.  This is good for the consumer because it lets us shop around for the best deal.  It’s good for the publisher because, gee, it lets more people buy the book.

What the publisher doesn’t seem to understand is that they are only going to tick folks off by selling a digital copy of the book for more than a physical copy.  The response has been fast and furious.  For a book that came out 1 day ago, there are 107 reviews on Amazon.  18 are 5-star reviews.  3 are 4-star.  84 are 1-star reviews.  That gives an average of 2 stars for this best selling author.

Now, I don’t necessarily agree with giving a book a bad review for its price.  However, at some point, the publishers need to start paying attention.  At the same time, some of these reviewers need to pay attention to the product page.  Instead of blaming Amazon — and BN — for the price, they need to realize the price was set by the publisher.

So, once more we are on the merry-go-round of e-book pricing wars.  Who knows where it is going to end.



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4 responses to “More from Borders & E-book Readers Revolt

  1. Wizardbear

    I’m a reader, I just want books for a price I feel is fair. I don’t want a war, I didn’t start this … stuff. And I sure can’t stop it. Protesting like that may be wrong, unkind, and useless, but frustrated people will do whatever they think of, good idea or not. And it’s only going to get worse. First this, then that, people are getting fed up. 26 read limits? Ebooks higher than Hardbacks for pete’s sake? I don’t think the readers are the ones pushing, just the ones pushing BACK. IMO. YMMV.


  2. WB, they are pushing back. Unfortunately, the author again is the one being hurt by it. And, until we get rid of the agency model, I’m afraid we’re going to see this happening more and more.


  3. Wizardbear

    Here’s what I see, call it the worm’s eye view. Readers were going along fat, dumb and happy; giving our money to the bookstore, who kept a slice, and gave the rest to the publishers, who kept a chunk, and gave the authors a slice. And then somebody kicked over the apple cart.
    The publishers aren’t Morder, and they’re not some evil, faceless entity, either. “The” publishers are the guy who mops every night and gets a paycheck, the folks who answer the phones, the stockholders who only read the checks they get, and everybody in between. *I* see that, very well. But not every protester does. And the only ones who have the power to stop the wars are the big six. I have it even worse than the run of the mill protester, because I know those prices are … (kind words, kind words) unnecessary. Because I know Baen, and NRP as non-DRM, fair price, ebookers. So I know, *it doesn’t have to be this way*. Thank you for listening.


    • WB, well said. I don’t want to see publishers go out of business. Yes, they may be competition — not only for readers but for writers as well — but competition is a good thing, imo. That’s why the agency model to me makes no sense. I might feel a bit differently about it if I thought the authors were getting a bigger share of the pie. But they aren’t, not really. And they are the ones caught in the fall-out of bad feeling from the readers.

      Baen has spoiled a lot of us. It’s shown that a publisher can believe in its authors and its readers. It’s shown that you can put e-books out at the same time as the dead tree version and not charge anywhere near the same price. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that philosophy heavily influenced my bosses and the rest of us here at NRP.

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