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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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October 2016
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IPG Titles Return to the Kindle After 3 Months

It has been an interesting few months of discussion, debate, argument, and drama, but The Independent Publishers Group has finally arrived at terms with Amazon that will allow their titles to return to the Kindle Store.  This comes as welcome news to the many authors and publishers who rely on the IPG and is likely even more welcome to the many readers who have been unable to enjoy this content thanks to the ongoing conflict.

The terms that have been reached are as yet undisclosed.  The only way we know anything of this is thanks to a mass email informing IPG publishers that as of May 25th their titles are back on the digital shelves.  Anything that isn’t made it back into circulation should be restored “in the next day or two”.  It will be interesting to see what exactly comes out about this new agreement since IPG CEO Curt Matthews has been blogging at length throughout this about the many evils of editor/publisher disintermediation.

I don’t agree with many of Matthews’s arguments.  I think he is very persuasively trying to hold onto the past by ignoring a lot of important aspects of the eBook transition we have going on right now.  Whether or not you buy into his points, though, clearly he has no interest in giving up any ground to Amazon.  To hear him talk, Amazon is deliberately trying to destroy all publishing and the independent authors their self-publishing program enables are universally talentless amateurs.   Taken not terribly out of context, his opinion is pretty well conveyed by this passage from the IPG Blog:

“One of the most important functions of publishers, distributors, and booksellers (book agents and reviewers too) has always been to assure a certain level of quality, not necessarily as high a level as we might want, but at least a baseline far higher than the abysmal standard—in fact the non-existent standard—set by the new electronic vanity presses.”

Details are mostly unimportant to both customers and publishers at this point, however.  What matters is the fact that the books are available for the Kindle again.  In order to take some of the edge off of the months that publishers have had to endure with no Amazon sales, IPG has chosen to forgo their fee on everything sold from June 1st through August 31st of this year.  100% of all revenue will go directly to the publishers.

The best that can be said about this whole situation is that it draws attention to the problems that exist in the power balance between distributers and publishers, as well in the mechanisms of the publishing industry.  Publishers have a purpose and provide a great deal of value.  Perhaps not as much as they want people to believe, but it is obviously going to be in their best interest to make that case.

Amazon is doing an amazing job of maintaining their place as the primary distributer of digital reading material and, despite the fact that they are doing most of that by simply creating in the Kindle the best platform there is right now, they are using that position in ways that don’t necessarily serve customers.  It needed to come out, and hopefully things will be better as a result.

Amazon Kindle Loses Access to 5,000 Titles in IPG Dispute

In response to some arm twisting by Amazon, the Independent Publishers Group has decided to take a stand and pull all of their titles from the Kindle Store.  While the Kindle is a great device and the Kindle platform is possibly the best on the market for the consumer right now, this is a move that both makes sense and needed to happen.  The only question now is whether or not either side will be willing to explore the options presented by the situation rather than simply holding their ground and waiting to see who blinks first.

Basically, the problem is over pricing.  The Big 6 Publishers have enough clout to force Amazon to accept the Agency Model price scheme with all of their titles.  I’ve gone into why this is not a good thing plenty of times before and will do so again in the future, so it isn’t really worth indulging in today.  Smaller publishers, including the IPG, sell their content to Amazon wholesale.  This means smaller profits on each individual sale and it allows Amazon to exercise more control over the prices offered to readers.  This is also not necessarily a good thing, as in this case when Amazon is using their position as the main supplier of eBooks in the world to force their suppliers to offer more favorable terms than they can afford.

So we have Amazon wanting to lower prices on Kindle Editions and the IPG wanting to maintain their profits at a level roughly similar to what is made off of print books (based on statements taken from the IPG’s main site).  What we really need is not for one side to win over the other so much as a more adaptive model to emerge.  It makes sense for new releases of Kindle books to be priced similarly to their printed counterparts.  There should always be a premium on new media like that, although the savings inherent in using the eBook format should still be reflected in the price for readers.  When it comes to older titles, though, something else needs to be done.  Unlike physical reprinting, there is no ongoing cost of production.  Aside from the author royalties, they are pretty much pure profit for publishers and distributors.  Perhaps a tiered system would make more sense?

Regardless of any proposals for revamping the system, this is probably going to end messily somehow.  While the loss of a mere 5,000 eBooks won’t make a huge dent in the Kindle’s selection, the press surrounding the drama taking place won’t help Amazon any.  They are as likely to be persuaded to offer somewhat better terms just for the PR boost as to ignore the problem entirely.  On the other hand, the IPG is going to be hurting fairly quickly from the lack of Amazon as a channel.  They can’t last forever.  Where this goes will be based on the support they receive and the pressure that can be brought to bear on Amazon.  If you get the chance, lend your support in some way.  They’re going to need it, and Amazon is going to need an overhaul of some sort sooner or later to keep quality content coming in for their Kindle customers.