[i]How many of us publishing eBooks today have the opportunity to become extremely successful because we're here now?[/i]
None, in all likelihood. I suspect that Amazon will ditch the independent publishers before too many years have passed. I am starting to re-think my previous disdain for Mobipocket. That too is owned by Amazon, and is far more likely to survive.
That is interesting - why do you think amazon will ditch the independent publishers before "too many years"? The IP hysteria? A large part of that seems to be Amazon's failure to communicate (mixed with the fact such failures relate to people's real or imagined income).
Do you think it will be because of wasted bandwidth for very low selling items (as most kindle books are)? Combined costs of bandwidth and administration for low selling titles? So much of this seems automated - having established it, outside bandwidth, costs seem negligible going forward. Further, how important is the selection size in selling the kindle device? If there were only 250,000 titles available for kindle, would people keep buying new ones? Not that I know how big a fraction of total kindle titles the non-independent titles represent. But, right now, based on sales rankings and such, I'd put it as a much smaller # (for fiction at least).
As a venue for distribution, I would have to disagree with "none, in all likelihood" (ignoring "extremely" as it is unquantified). Granted success would never be solely dependent on the opportunity kindle provides for independent/self publishers - I think if MJ Rose, for example, were just starting out today, she might well have released Lip Service on Kindle (but also on other distribution venues). (For the reference, check mjrose.com). And the self-release of Lip Service was but a stepping stone to snaring a traditional contract. Still, no mean measure of success may still be had exploiting Kindle and similar channels. As with the rest of publishing, it's still something of a lottery!
Sorry, didn't think to quantify "extremely," though, of course, one person's extremely is no doubt another person's piss poor. I've read about current authors who are making $100K-$150K a year on Kindle. Yes, they're at the top, but if I could pull in even a third of that after getting a number of titles online, I'd be more than pleased. Many of my friends in traditional publishing, and we're talking working writers, don't make that much a year.
Bottom line, I believe Kindle is an excellent venue indie publishers/writers can currently use to get noticed, a la M.J. Rose and the serial email novels of the late 90s, as mentioned above. Especially when you combine it with other eBook venues.
I think of it as being similar to the microstock photography market. That business model started up several years ago with a few sites offering tens of thousand photos. Each year more and more photographers opted in, adding their photos to the sites to make extra money. Today the top sites each have 6+ million photos and counting. Is everyone on those sites making a living? No. However, there are some top producers who started out at the bottom like everyone else, who are now making [i]serious[/i] money.
[i]why do you think amazon will ditch the independent publishers before "too many years"?[/i]
Because of the appalling nature of much that is published through the DTP. I am thinking particularly of a title called [i]The Pussyeater[/i] whose publisher was having problems a month or so ago.
Just as Amazon needed us and the free public-domain titles in order to get an illusion of mass (so that first adopters would buy the Kindle, and mainstream publishers would pile on), it may well choose to throw us under the bus so as to raise the tone of the place. Sure, there's plenty of dreck on the Amazon (paper) bookstore, but the labor and expense of publishing a physical book must discourage a huge number of wannabes.
(Perhaps we should be grateful for all the bugs in the DTP?)
Dan, I have to disagree with you here - not about the quality issue (which I do agree with you!), but that Amazon cares enough about it to do anything. If you look at Amazon as a whole, they sell plenty of completely outrageous garbage, along with a lot of excellent stuff.
I think they're more concerned about copyright issues than anything else, spurred on by the idiots who "publish" books for which they don't have the rights, or try to link their bootleg Kindle versions to legitimate print versions.
Of course, they may wake up and smell the coffee one morning and say, "Hey! Why'd we buy Mobipocket? Let's just use that to port stuff into the Kindle Store instead of this DTP thing..."
There is something more going on here. I reduced the list price on my book so that it would still be selling for 9.99, but now it says that the Digital List Price is 9.99 and the Kindle Price is $19.95 (the old list price). This looks like a system bug, not a thought-out plan. Hopefully they will fix it soon.
According to the customer agreement, that I signed upon starting to publish with Amazon's Kindle, Amazon has the wright to sell your title for any price they see fit, as well as offer or remove discounts at their discretion. I have close to 90 titles published through DTP; of these, 2/3 of them have lost their discounts. The most popular books have all kept their discounts.
My theory is that Amazon is tired of paying extra commissions on the 20% discount for titles that don't sell as well. This is their right according to the customer agreement.
I have been selling for about 18 months & have sold over 9,000 books in toto. I hope this information helps
DTP did fix my problem. I just lost the discount. So, DTP is paying attention to the little guys. I'm not really bothered by the loss of the discount since my new price is lower than the old discounted price anyway. I'm not out to break sales records--I just want to share my books.
I would say though that I read a lot of books, and a lot of what mainstream publishers publish is mediocre at best. I consider my own books to be just as good (or bad) as the mediocre stuff the big guys put out. Face it: most books are mediocre, and I've seen plenty of typos and errors in traditionally published books. They aren't that much better than indie books and usually far less edgy or original.
I think indie publishing is a revolution in progress in publishing. I'm sure Amazon wants to be right there when it spreads like wildfire. As long as our books sell, I'm sure Amazon will support them.
The logic doesn't work out. The book I've been playing with is my [i]least[/i] popular one. I had it listed for $1.24 and it sold for 99 cents. Then Amazon a week or so ago abolished the discount, so the asking price was $1.24. Now the discount has reappeared. It hasn't sold any copies in July.
So it's not a matter of popularity.
I decided to experiment with another title, whose list and asking price were both $3.59. I reduced the asking price to $3.49. That change has been reflected on the Amazon page, but the asking price is still $3.59--i.e., higher than list.
Doesn't make any sense whatever.
So the discount has been applied to 1 title of 11, with another title showing an asking price higher than the "Digital List Price."
As for Amazon's not wanting to pay royalties on the higher price--if so, Jeff Bezos must have decided that discounting titles doesn't help to sell them, which is ridiculous. Of course it does! And since the the incremental cost of a download is vanishingly small, that logic implies that Jeff doesn't want to make money. The cost is all in the storefront. If he sells a book of mine for 99 cents and pays me 35 percent of $1.24, Jeff has still made nearly 55 cents. He is still making more than I am on the transaction.
Ya i have also seen this.. There really doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why a book is getting a discount.. My top book is in top 500 for the kindle store and doesn't have a discount.. Whereas one of my other books that is ranked much lower does have the discount.. Has anyone actually talked to anyone from DTP regarding this?? I sent an email on Saturday but haven't heard back from them yet.
There are many costs beyond the storefront. Not to be picky, because I like you cub06h, as you respond to a lot of threads here...that helps a bunch. As I said, not to be picky but there is the cost of the phone support, email support, for the customers, as well as the whispernet for the lifetime of the product. The iphone app support & hardware product development also come at a considerable cost.
This aside, my titles discount appear to be based on popularity; but if you, cub06h, tell us that it is different for you. I am willing to listen.
I urge all users on this thread to study the different characteristics of all of your titles & compare them, perhaps if we publish our data here we may find an answer that is better than my first try.
I normally don't browse through the top 100 Kindle titles, but I've been looking for some new books to read and was finally forced to churn through those (I get in moods where it's hard to find anything that appeals!). It was interesting how many of the titles in the top 100 were discounted to $0.00, some of them from hefty prices (above $9.99 in some cases). As far as I could tell, the ones that I saw were from major publishers, not indies. I don't know if that was normal or not, but thought I'd point that out anyway as an interesting data point...
[i]there is the cost of the phone support, email support, for the customers, as well as the whispernet for the lifetime of the product. The iphone app support & hardware product development also come at a considerable cost.[/i]
Those are basically fixed costs, and there is a vanishingly small incremental cost to selling my individual title. If Jeff makes fifty cents off my e-book, that goes straight to the bottom line. (You'll notice that he's transferred DTP Admin to packing books in the Seattle warehouse, only letting him out one or two days in the month!) This is not true of paper editions, which cost say $10 to print and bind, and say $3 to mail. (Sprint, for instance, leases its unused capacity for a negotiated sum. I doubt its based on bandwidth, and even if it were, the cost for one e-book has got to be less than a penny.)
Mike, I've seen several instances of a mainstream publisher putting a book up there free. It seems to be a technique (and a good one, given the point that it costs virtually nothing to 'sell' one copy of an e-book) used to launch a series and perhaps an author, especially those targeted at adolescent girls, based on the runaway success of the Twilight series. Probably the publishers slip Jeff some compensation out of their advertising budget. (Publishers paying stores to sell their books--it had to come to this!)
Okay, latest chapter in the pricing wars:
1) The monograph priced at $1.24 and discounted yesterday to 99 cents is this morning back at $1.24. So I have no discounted titles whatever.
2) The monograph priced at $3.49 and selling for $3.59--i.e., more than list price--has now gotten its sales price in harmony with the list price. That's a small blessing! So I've reduced it this morning to $3.39 to see if it will keep going down.