Still has relevance 2 years later:
The article I have chosen to write on was in the New York Times on February 11, 2010.
The article started out by making the assertion that the days of the $9.99 e-book download are over. The days of the $12.99-$14.99 e-books are looming on the horizon. With this information as the cover, the article launched into a retrospective of information that covered all the bases of the aggrieved parties in this controversy.
The publishers are portrayed as greedy because the e-books are not as expensive to produce and there are no printing and warehousing costs that need to be accounted for when thinking in terms of e-book production. The publishers view was propounded by Mark Gompertz, digital vice president at Simon and Schuster, that the author, editor, copyeditor, typesetter/layout person, proofreader, and indexer are all parts of this puzzle that take a cut of the money that goes into making a QUALITY e-book. You can scrimp in different areas, but the quality of the content will be in question when the e-book finally hits the download trail.
The consumer viewpoint was covered by quotes from individuals who seem to be “mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore” to quote a scene from the movie Network. As the price increase is threatened, these individuals are going onto Amazon and giving books with higher prices bad reviews. The book by Douglas Preston, Impact, was skewered since his publisher held back the e-book for 4 months waiting for the hardcover print sales to wane before the e-book hit the market. Preston, on the other hand, attacked the consumer’s Wal-Mart mentality that thrives on Rock bottom pricing. His view is that this mind-set is not particularly American and that selling products for no profits helps no one in the long run.
The advent of the I-Pad was mentioned as a game-changer in this serve and volley game of e-readers, publishers and consumers. The I-Pad Agency model may be the selling process that helps to push Apple into the lead in the e-reader. Since new purchasers may be coming into the market, the Amazon price point of $9.99 may mean nothing to them. The new customers will accept the higher pricing since they know no other price structure. If enough of these new customers are drawn to the I-Pad, then this influx will offset any backlash that occurs due to the increase in the pricing for the Amazon e-book downloads.
Americans also have the right to keep their wallets in their pockets. There are many different areas of entertainment that could benefit from the spending that does not go toward Kindles, Nooks, and Sony E-Readers and their downloads. The gaming industry is as strong as ever, and game cards and systems such as the X-Box and Wii may eventually be the beneficiaries of this war over e-books. If the prices stay high, then consumers will be putting their dollars in other directions.
My analysis from reading this article is that this is just the beginning of a long-term protracted struggle between the Amazons, publishers, authors, and consumers that will have many skirmishes before an easing of tensions will ensue.
The real winner in this war of digital downloaded content may be the print book industry. Some of the individuals interviewed mentioned the fact that Libraries are stocked full of great books that can be borrowed and read for free. Nice to see that a low-tech answer may help to enhance and expand the print book industry that is continually flat year after year. Wouldn’t this be an ironic twist since e-books were supposed to replace print books roughly 10 years ago?