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Friday, December 3, 2010

And the Award for Most Dramatic Publishing Event Goes To...

OK, I admit it. I've fallen behind on my publishing industry reading. So although I, like most publishing folk, had a ringside seat at the showdown between the "Big Six" publishers and Amazon over e-book pricing (including the high drama of Amazon's removal of the buy buttons for Macmillan books), I missed the memo that went around explaining, in uber-simple terms, how it all played out in the end, what the "agency model" means as regards book pricing, and why that is such a BIG DEAL for authors, publishers, and retailers.

In case, you, too, missed the memo, here are two excellent posts from longtime publishing pro and observer on the digital publishing scene Mike Shatzkin. One posits the Big Six/Amazon showdown as "the most dramatic publishing event of 2010." There you'll find an explanation of the agency model compared to the wholesale model of pricing, why it matters, and the challenges it has presented (and likely will present). The other (which you can link to from that post or from here) gives you the royalty math comparing print, wholesale, and agency models.

I'm sure I won't be able to debate this over lattes anytime soon, but I found these to be excellent summations. I'm hoping they'll ground me for future showdowns--of which I'm sure there will be quite a few.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Toni Sciarra Poynter


  1. Toni, thanks for this post. When I hear the words "ebook pricing" I suffer brain freeze. But it's an important topic, not only because the ebook side of the business is becoming such an important part of publishing, but because it is an arena where the rights of the author-entrepreneur collide directly with demands and expectations of traditional publishers.

  2. Thanks, David - and I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets brain freeze over this! But it's been nagging at me that I don't really have a grip on it, particularly as it affects authors' rights and sets precedents for publishers' relationships with retailers. So when I found these articles I was so happy to have a couple of good resources on file for re-reading and study.