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> but it doesn't do anything to improve the ebook market itself


I don't want to have to change the world first and then read the books I want to read. For the moment I'm willing to pay, but I'm inches away from opting out.

I've even seriously considered building or purchasing a bulk book scanner and just ripping old mass market paperbacks for personal use. Or starting some sort of collective that does this.

The signal that I want to send to Amazon (and, as I understand it, to the publishing houses that desperately want to kill ebooks in general and are trying to do so by forcing Amazon to honor their price floors) is that the prices are just too high. They could dramatically increase revenue simply by lowering the prices. A premium for "early access" is fine -- if I want to buy a book the day that it is released, I'm willing to pay a "hardcover" premium. But I want the option to wait for the "trade paperback" price or the "mass market paperback" price, or the "gently used" price.

The DRM stuff I don't like but I'm not as passionate about, especially since I'm confident that Amazon will stick around a while. 84% of the reason that I accrued a personal physical book library (instead of borrowing from a library or donating or selling books after I've read them) over the years is with the memory of browsing my own parent's book collections and discovering amazing things and wanting to pass that experience on to my children. Amazon has their "family library" concept, so even though the browsing experience is currently terrible, I hope some day it will be better and all the ebooks I have acquired will afford my children the same experience as I had.

> The signal that I want to send to Amazon... is that the prices are just too high. They could dramatically increase revenue simply by lowering the prices.

They might be too high for you, on the specific books you want to read. But cutting book prices to maximize book revenues is Amazon's first and oldest game, and I have a hard time believing that they suddenly became clueless about how to play it when they entered (created, really) the ebook market.

Offhand, I can think of two explanations for the price of Amazon ebooks that seem much more likely. I'm not sure if either are true, but I wouldn't be surprised both are:

First, it could be that they have agreements with publishers, who have an interest in keeping the price of Amazon (and Nook) ebooks relatively high in order help keep non-Amazon booksellers in business. They've seen what Wal-Mart does to suppliers, and naturally would want to guard against ending up in that situation.

Second, it could be that Amazon has figured out that they really do maximize Kindle revenues when they don't discount their ebooks very cheaply. That would be the case if Kindle readers generally buy what they want when they want to read it, regardless of a few bucks' difference in the book price. (It's not beyond the pale to think that might be true of people who, almost by definition, are willing to spend $1-200 on an e-reader.) Or, alternatively, they've found that they can price discriminate more effectively through their subscription service.

I think the publishers strong-armed Amazon on this one. For a long time Hatchette would not allow Amazon to list its books unless they supported a price floor, and Amazon refused to comply. Eventually [1], Amazon crumbled, and now the prices are mandated across the board.

Your assessment (protecting non-Amazon booksellers, or Walmartization of the book market) is generous, and probably correct. My less generous assessment is that the publishers would prefer to completely kill off ebooks, lest authors notice that by employing a skilled editor they can just sell their books directly to customers for a fraction of what a book publisher charges, if they can live without the marketing spend and the addictive pull of advances on sales revenues.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/13/amazon-hachett...

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