Friday, November 30th, 2012
After taking her children to several bookstore readings, my friend Jenny Milchman (at left), had a vision. She started Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and her idea went viral. This Saturday, Dec. 1, 400 bookstores nationwide are participating. Click here to find one close to you–or just go to yours anyway.
Basically, Jenny loves bookstores, and she wants them to thrive. I do, too. I recently read that bookstore sales were down 8 percent, and eBooks are to blame. I don’t want to trash Kindle because if I did, I’d be a hypocrite. But I do make the effort to buy every other book from my local bookstore. I love the weight of a real book and the feel of the paper. And there’s also that nice tree-sy smell. I love the community that these stores foster–from author readings to book clubs to just browsing with family and friends.
I’ll head to Watchung Booksellers tomorrow with my kids. We’ll buy more Ivy and Bean books (my 7-year-olds are obsessed). The owner recommended Ivy and Bean to me, as she recommends so many titles tailored to my tastes. I love the bookstore, and I adore booksellers. I need them to stick around. I shop there often.
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Like me, you probably got the email this weekend from Amazon with the subject “Kindle Book Credit.” I opened it hoping Jeff Bezos was going to give me money. After all, pigs fly.
Here’s exactly what the email stated. I read it three times to decipher the meaning. See the email for yourself and then read my take below.
To figure out what was really going on–web articles were equally confusing–I asked my studious lawyer friend to break it down. Apparently, the five major publishing houses and Apple were upset when Amazon started selling e-books much cheaper than they sold the hardback counterparts. Read: Amazon grabbed the lion’s share of buyers and, therefore, profit. Here’s an example: The list price for the hardback version of Gone Girl is $25 while the Kindle version is only $12.99. (Meanwhile, Amazon sells the hardback at $13.94 which crushes local bookstore prices–this is a separate but related issue.) In an effort to combat Amazon’s dominance and to stay afloat, the publishing houses and Apple “colluded” to raise the price of e-books. They created ‘agency model’ pricing, meaning that the publishers set the price of e-books, not Amazon, and gave Amazon a percentage of each sale (30 in this case). In a traditional wholesale market, the supplier (book publishers) sells the product to the retailer (Amazon), and the retailer can name whatever price it sees fit.
The Department of Justice said, “Hold up,”* to the agency model and sued the publishers and Apple. The DoJ’s legal stance was this: “Price fixing is illegal, yo.” Long story short, three publishers don’t want to fight this battle anymore. Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins said, “We’re out. Take our money and leave us alone.” They put $69 million into a fund to pay back buyers for their fixed prices. This is the money that Amazon (and Barnes and Noble) will supposedly give back to us after a hearing in February. This is obviously a blow to the agency model’s cause. But Apple and the two other publishers aren’t giving up. They’re headed to court in coming months.
So, if you bought an e-book published by Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins on the internet between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you are entitled to a refund. Amazon stated in its email that the credits will arrive automatically, and consumers don’t need to do anything. (Pigs may grow wings.)
I’m so psyched! I’m going to receive anywhere from 30 cents to $1.32 for every book I bought that falls under the terms of the settlement. I purchased 43 books on Kindle in that time frame. I have no idea how many were published by Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, but best case scenario, I’ll get 43 x $1.32 = $56.76. Worst case, I’ll get nothing. I have no idea how or who is determining the refund policies.
So, yes, Amazon meant it when they wrote, “We have good news.” They are on their way setting whatever prices they want. This means e-books will probably become cheaper for consumers. Meanwhile, the American Booksellers Association–i.e. the local bookstores–are not happy. As e-book sales grow, their bound books will be more difficult to sell.
Did I make this clearer, or did I just confuse you more? I tried. It’s a hot-button topic for bookish people, and far saucier than 50 Shades of Grey.
I’m on the fence and see valid points on both sides of the issue. But no matter how we feel about it, we need to do one thing. If we like our local bookstores, we have to show them some love. And we must do it often, or they might be empty this time next year.
*quotes may not be exact
Categories: Best Sellers, Classic Books, Fiction, Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Popular Books | Tags: agency model, Amazon email, Amazon settlement, Apple, e-books, Hachette, HarperCollins, Kindle, price fixing, Simon & Schuster
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
Just a few minutes ago, Amazon’s brainiac Jeff Bezos announced that the Kindle Fire is sold out. Gone. Finished. They’ve stopped making them.
My husband has the Kindle Fire, and I think it’s heavy and slow. (He ignores me. He hoards his to play poker and read John Grisham novels.) Also, the applications for Fire are clunky compared to Apple’s offerings. Much like the iPad–and you really can’t compare the two–the Fire is impossible to read in sunlight because of its blinding glassy glare. I prefer the basic old Kindle–the one that’s gray and features a keyboard designed for Smurfs. That small, lightweight gadget is still available on Amazon for only $79. I love mine. It’s not the end of the world if I accidentally leave it on an airplane or drop it into my kid’s sand castle. And I can read it outdoors.
Back to the big news: Amazon is hosting a mystery press event this time next week. (I’m sure my invitation just got lost in the mail.) They’re expected to present a spankin’ new e-reader to sell. In the next couple of hours, I await The New York Time’s gadget guru David Pogue’s speculations on Bezo’s upcoming toy. (Someone on Twitter tweeted that Amazon should make a badass robot warrior. Brilliant idea!) Just yesterday, Pogue wrote a great article about the Amazon Prime streaming service. I bet Amazon’s new toy will attempt to seamlessly incorporate their e-reader and Prime media player.
Are you into e-readers? After trying them all over the last two years, I appreciate their slickness, their coolness. I love the highlight feature where I tag my favorite passages and read them over and over again.
But e-reader’s main competition may be a plain old paper book. Those are super-cool, too.