Publishing Smackdown: Let the Games Begin

If you think things were starting to get crazy in publishing, the last week just turned everything upside down again. As you know, Apple introduced the long-awaited and much-hyped iPad (here’s a quick overview from PW), which looks to me like it’s going to live up to the hype. (Watch this video if you haven’t already.) Do I want one? You’d better believe it. But I’m not going to buy a first generation iPad. In fact, I’m hoping they’ll eventually introduce a smaller one that will fit into my handbag, at which point I’ll pretty much sell everything I own just to get one.

But I digress.

The big news for publishing is not just the iPad itself, but the way that Apple has been working with the Big Six publishers to create a new business model for eBooks, completely changing the economics of eBooks for both publishers and authors. I’m not going to explain it in detail because Kristin Nelson already did a great job on her blog. Bottom line, as Kristin says, this completely changes the game of eBook rights, leaving agents scrambling to keep up with it, trying to make sure we negotiate the most favorable contracts for our clients. Stay tuned as this evolves. (Get it? e-volves?) The story is just beginning.

Apple is, of course, eager to take over from Amazon as the world’s largest bookseller (they have a long way to go) but the battle for world domination is taking some strange twists. It’s all happening against the backdrop of a struggle that has been taking place for the last several months between Amazon and some of the big publishers over eBook prices. Amazon has been insisting their Kindle books be sold for $9.99, while some publishers have been fighting hard for a higher price, like $12.99 or $14.99.

Late Friday night, news broke that something strange was happening over at Amazon when a few authors started noticing that their books were no longer showing up on the Amazon site. Soon it became clear that all the missing books were from Macmillan (one of the largest publishers) and a glitch was suspected. But the truth turned out to be almost surreal. Amazon has been locked in a struggle with Macmillan over eBook prices. Apparently the folks at Amazon got weary of negotiating and decided to wield their power instead, so they removed every Macmillan book from their site. You can buy Macmillan books from resellers, but you can’t buy a new one from Amazon itself. This is supposedly a temporary measure to make a point, but as of Sunday night, Macmillan books are still not available on Amazon.

The whole thing left all of us going oh… my… gosh.

Sunday morning things got even more surreal and Big Brother-ish when (allegedly) people who had downloaded free sample chapters of Macmillan books on to their Kindles found that the chapters were no longer on their Kindles. Just…. gone.

Sunday afternoon Amazon posted an official letter to their customers, stating, “… ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.” Publisher’s Lunch asked, “Could publishers have triumphed so quickly…?” We shall see.

All of this brings up the sticky issue of DRM or digital rights management, something we can no longer afford to ignore. If you’re not aware of what DRM means for you as a reader, it’s basically this: DRM locks and protects digital files from being altered or shared, meaning your Kindle book (or Sony Reader book, or the book you buy for your iPad from the Apple store) is not readable in any other form or on any other device. What this also means is you really don’t own your digital books. You might pay your $9.99 but that eBook is not yours to do whatever you want with. Not only can’t you share it, Amazon can (apparently) take it back from you anytime they please. (Not necessarily legally – that part remains to be seen.)

These issues – eBook pricing, the wars between companies and technologies, the ongoing debate over DRM – are complicated and they’re not going to be solved anytime soon. The stories are going to continue and they’re going to be strange, because we are in new territory.

Not since the invention of the printing press has publishing been so profoundly affected by technology. Other innovations have affected many aspects of the business of publishing, but the development of the eBook and the devices on which to read it affects publishers, authors and readers. Basically: everyone. So we’re definitely in a new place.

Bottom line for you as a writer: Keep writing good books. People will continue to want to read them, regardless of the form and format of the delivery. Are you going to be able to make a living writing books? That remains to be seen. But keep writing, because people are going to keep reading.

Also: This is one more reason to try and have a good agent who has his/her eyes on everything happening in publishing and is going to be able to get you the best contract language and protect your intellectual property as much as possible in this constantly changing environment.

Do you want an iPad?
What’s your response to all these crazy happenings in publishing?
What does it make you think both as a writer and as a reader?

For further (and more in-depth) reading:

Here is Amazon’s official letter to customers posted Sunday night.

Read the last several articles on GalleyCat.

Here is an article from the NY Times.

Here is an article from Mashable.

Here is an article from Cory Doctorow.

Macmillan’s response here.

P.S. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of DRM, in case you are confused: Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term for access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to try to impose limitations on the usage of digital content and devices. It is also, sometimes, disparagingly described as Digital Restrictions Management. The term is used to describe any technology which inhibits uses (legitimate or otherwise) of digital content that were not desired or foreseen by the content provider.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  3. anon on February 3, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    >I plan to wait until second or third generation to pick up an Ipad.

    Publishing companies sound rather freaked out by ebooks. From my understanding the push to make ebooks more expensive is to preserve their hardcover prices. The idea being if you can buy it for 9.99 why pay more than twice that getting the hardcover?

    That's just silly. I don't find an ebook worth $9.99 either. I've bought three hardcover books in my life. One was a gift and the others on clearance, cheaper than paperbacks.

    E-books should be less than a paperback, especially with drm. With a physical book I can loan / share and resell the book at any time. And the bookstore doesn't steal it back whenever it chooses either. E-books seem to be hard enough to hold onto as is.

    It seems silly to "preserve" hardcover prices. They're becoming dated (though not dead). Why not embrace ebooks? They are the cheapest way to get a book out there. This isn't a first generation Dvd. Ebooks have higher profit margins than physical books, even at cheaper prices.

    Plus, let's face it, everyone is cheap in a bad economy. If something is only available in hardcover I'll wait for an ebook / paperback release (if I even remember the book when it finally is out).

    The silly thing about this entire thing is that the music industry was faced with this same "problem" and they tried to do relatively the same thing. Look at where they stand now. Even grandma knows how / where to find illegal downloads. Don't think that you can't find ebooks in those same places. If the prices are low, people are less likely to risk downloading an illegal copy free.

    The technology is here and trying to make ebooks "second class" books is going to bite them on the rear end. There is no hiding from the current changes.

  4. Kathleen Pooler on February 2, 2010 at 8:26 PM


    Thanks for your succinct update on the current ebook "dilemma" (or it seems that way to me.) I'm still clinging to my real books though I know the technology is taking over and I have to stay tuned to these trends. Thank you also for your parting bottomline.."keep writing good books" It helps me to keep it all in perspective.

  5. REG on February 2, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    >Thanks for keeping us well informed.

  6. Heather Marsten on February 2, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    >Another good reason for having real books. I am getting so tired of Big Brother policies in any company. If Macmillan wants to sell their e-books at a high price, the readers should have a choice to pay or not to pay. If enough readers refuse to buy them at the price Macmillan offers, bet you Macmillan will see the writing on the wall (or the e-reader) and reduce their price. What would infuriate me is if I paid the money for a book and then Amazon took that book off of my reader.

    Imagine the stories you can tell your grandkids – I remember when I was an agent at the time when e-books were first invented. You cannot even imagine the problems we had to face….

    What will be pulled next? Books with improper political content, books which make their readers sad, books that Amazon thinks are not worthy of print? Sounds like Farenheit 451 times are coming.

  7. The Other Francis on February 1, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    >DRM is evil. It is the minions of Satan incarnate in one swift scheme to stray the human populace from their consumer rights. Dramatic, isn't it?

    I've been a "gamer" (PC) ever since I was a young teenager, and sadly, probably before. DRM started plaguing the software world over a decade ago, then finally made its way into digital deliveries of movies and music (iTunes, anyone?). Some DRM scheme were even so invasive that it literally broke some machines.

    The truth of the matter is, it's possible to remove said DRM encryption, but it is considered illegal. Of course all DRM does is impair the honest customers, because to this date, and to my knowledge, no single piece of digital media, be it a game, software, music, movie or ebook, none of them were ever NOT cracked and pirated successfully. In the end, the pirates ended up laughing in our face, while we, the honest paying customers, struggle with spotty customer service to try and access our media… which we don't really own of course.

    As far as eBook prices are concerned, consumers are likely going to go for whatever format is available for the device they own. I do not believe the prices of available ebooks at the time of purchase will influence in any significant way the device someone will go for. The iPad is a glorified iPod touch, with many striped functions, with no clear use. And for 830$, you might as well buy a REAL pocket netbook. The Kindle is a true e-reader and is marketed as such. In my mind, we're not comparing apples with apples.

    Finally, Amazon's reaction was so unprofessional and childish, I cannot fathom how someone at the top could make such a stupid decision. The PR repercussions will likely be enormous against them, which will furthermore enhance Apple's image… bad for business.

  8. Patty on February 1, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    >My nook just came in the mail. I don't think I was ready to go out and buy an ereader yet, but – HEY! – it was a gift. It turns out I really like the weight and feel of it and I'm looking forward to reading my first ebook. I'm wary, though, of the rights issues that are up in the air. Amazon already had to pull 1984 out of people's Kindles. Now they're pulling sample pages of MacMillan's books? If I pay for a book, I feel like it's mine to mark up, crack the spine, and spill spaghetti sauce on. But with ebooks, it's sounding more like a rental until the owner decides to take it back.

  9. WordWrangler on February 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    >I do not want a kindle, nook or ipad. I know – I'm weird.

    I happen to enjoy holding a book in my hands and reading it. I even prefer printing out the stories my critique buddies send and reading them that way.

    Great post, btw. Even though I'm not interested in the newest reading devices and such, I do like to keep up with the times! (and maybe MY books will be available for those devices one day, too!)

  10. WordWrangler on February 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    >I do not want a kindle, nook or ipad. I know – I'm weird.

    I happen to enjoy holding a book in my hands and reading it. I even prefer printing out the stories my critique buddies send and reading them that way.

    Great post, btw. Even though I'm not interested in the newest reading devices and such, I do like to keep up with the times! (and maybe MY books will be available for those devices one day, too!)

  11. Roxane B. Salonen on February 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    >I'm going to focus on the "just keep writing good books" because everything else sends me into a stymied tizzy. Still, it's good to be aware! Thanks for that, as well as the solid advice to just keep keeping on with our layer of this: the writing.

  12. Shelley Ring on February 1, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    >Another great post, Rachelle. Thanks for the information.

    I downloaded the Kindle for PCs a couple weeks ago, and so far I feel little tied down by it. As a mom of two babies, I need to be able to move my reading to various rooms. Plus, I still love the feel of a traditional book. 😉 Ah, it just doesn't get better than to sit in the sunshine with a cuppa something hot and flip those pages. Highlighting, underlining, dog-earring, inhaling the scent…

    But I digress.

    The future of publishing looks uncertain for us pre-pubbed writers. Of course I'd like to make a living off my work, but let's be realistic. I'll take your advice and continue to focus on writing and telling a great story. Oh, and to not get overwhelmed with all the changes in the industry. That's better left in the hands of people with more fortitude than I.

  13. T. Anne on February 1, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    >I really don't care whether a bookstore discontinues a book publisher from it's store. But, when they come into my home and pluck the books off my shelf, I've got a problem. I'm guessing though, the only books Amazon removed from the devices were chapter samples and not entire books that were purchased. They really do have a problem if they think even that is OK. They should have let the customers keep the sample and let them know there was a problem at the point of purchase.

  14. Jen on February 1, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    >I will never own, as long as there is a used bookstore somewhere in sight, an electronic reader. I despise them. Truly. I am scared of them too, the banning potential, the censoring potential. As shown on your post. There is something sacred to me about a real book in hand. The ability to make notes, to underline, to dog ear, to smell, to touch, to bend. A book can look loved, an e-reader just looks like another cold box of technology…

  15. Anonymous on February 1, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    >Technology really has become one with our daily lives, and I think it is safe to say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

    I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside… I just hope that as memory gets less expensive, the possibility of transferring our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about almost every day.

    (Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4 SDHC[/url] DS TF3)

  16. Andrew on February 1, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    >No iPad, no Kindle, no Nook. I don't need no stinkin' technology.

    As a reader, I prefer books that smell like books, feel like books, and (to my Aussie Cattle Dog) taste like books.

    As a writer, I'll take your advice Rachelle. I'll just keep writing. If it's good people will read it whatever the format. If not, they won't.

  17. Ashley on February 1, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    >I'm an avid reader. I love to be able to get offline and just read, with a book in my hand. But at the same time, having the ability to have a book on a Kindle, iPad, etc, is handy and convenient. I'm not sure what I think. I think I'm a paper-in-hand girl at heart, but I love technology too… and there will always be a need for new books to read.

  18. Carol J. Garvin on February 1, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    >I'm a long-time Mac user and am looking forward to getting my hands on an iPad, but just for a demo. I can't see myself buying one because I don't need what it offers. As a "do everything" device, it doesn't, and it's too expensive to use as only an eReader.

    The possible impermanence of an eBook's ownership concerns me. I don't compare what Amazon has done to a blog post being withdrawn by its owner because there is no expectation of possession by its readers; nobody pays to read a blog. But I want to be able to write notes in my books for future reference, transport books between home and cottage, lend them to friends and pass them down to my children, none of which the current eBook situation guarantees. If, at the whim of the seller, a glitch in the device's OS or the death of a battery I suddenly don't have access to my favourite book, I'd have to question the value of the electronic device over the real thing.

  19. Teri Dawn Smith on February 1, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    >My kids pooled their money at Christmas and gave me a Kindle. I love it in many ways even though I'm a lover of a real book.

    Then my daughter made this comment rather sadly after I opened my present. "Now you can't share your books with me."

    So until we can share our Kindle books, I'll be buying the ones I think my daughter will also read in paper and ink format and save the Kindle for other reads.

  20. Teri Dawn Smith on February 1, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    >My kids pooled their money at Christmas and gave me a Kindle. I love it in many ways even though I'm a lover of a real book.

    Then my daughter made this comment rather sadly after I opened my present. "Now you can't share your books with me."

    So until we can share our Kindle books, I'll be buying the ones I think my daughter will also read in paper and ink format and save the Kindle for other reads.

  21. Nic on February 1, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    >You said at the top of the article that you want an iPad to fit in your handbag – they do sell them you know, they are called iPod touch.

    I'm a big fan of Apple, i have a 13inch MacBook, an iPhone and a Time Capsule(a hard drive with wireless) but i was really disappointed with the iPad.

    I was expecting to go "I want one, i HAVE to have one" but its just an iPod touch. Whilst i can see some useful capabilities of the bigger screen, it hasn't really diverged itself enough from a laptop or a iPhone/iPod touch enough for me to consider wanting one. It also has no other capabilities – it doesn't have a camera for video conferencing or vlogging on the go, it has no usb/firewire or hdmi/mini-dv out for connecting to a tv like you can connect iPod to speakers.

    I also don't like DRM for the same reason that you stated in your blog. i don't feel like its truly mine. I can't share it with friends, transfer it to a different computer or anything so have always preferred real CDs, DVDs etc.

  22. Mira on February 1, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    >Lol – I love your title, Rachelle. I also want to thank you for this post. It's extremely informative. You cleared up DRM for me, too – I've been wondering about this for awhile.

    I sort of feel like, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride. You're right – the games are just starting.

    As for book discounting – well, if it comes with a high royalty rate, fine with me. Books become more accessible, and I make more money. Win-win.

    Also, books on digital format should be less expensive – they cost much less to produce.

    But we'll see what happens. Should be interesting. 🙂

  23. ninidee on February 1, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    >Up until this post I was not sure what was going on. Thank you for clarifying. You wrapped everything up so neatly and now I see.

    The ideas of e-readers are neat and go with the times. However, I initially loved the digital camera until I realized how much I missed having actual photos to hold. I think I feel the same way about this. I love getting a new book. I love book shelves, book covers, pages and every thing else that goes with owning an actual book.
    When something is stored away sometimes it is easier to forget. To me, a shelf full of books reminds me how much I have read.

  24. Rebecca Knight on February 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    >I was following this over the weekend, and Amazon's behavior is … alarming. I'm hoping the other "big 5" publishers take the same stand, and that Amazon's pricing monopoly is broken up.

    Everyone I've talked to about this has no problem paying $12-$15 for a new ebook. Devaluing books, however, is a problem in the long run.

    Thanks for your post on this! 🙂

  25. Sugar Apple on February 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    >Count me among the readers who still want real books. I've no desire for an iPad or a Kindle or any other reader.

    And, if buying books for the iPad works anything like iTunes, what you buy from Apple's store won't be able to be transferred to any other devices you own. I can't move a movie I've ordered and paid for from my computer to the telly. Hence, I no longer buy movies or TV shows from iTunes.

    Finally, I live on a small island with one tiny bookstore. Book swaps are very popular here and I'm not buying anything in a format that I can't pass along to a friend when I've finished with it.

  26. Dara on February 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    >No, I do not want an iPad. Heck, I don't own anything Apple–I have a Creative mp3 player and just a normal phone 😛 The iPad essentially looks like a fancy netbook and I already have one of those. Also, there's no eInk on it and the only reason I ever considered an eReader was because of that factor and the lack of eyestrain.

    After all of this though, I'm pretty sure what desire I had for any sort of eReader has been cooled–at least until there's a fairly standard format that plays nicely with all the other eReaders 😛

  27. Chantal on February 1, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    >-Do you want an iPad?

    Nah, and I'm a huge Mac fan too (I have a MacBook!). I actually can't afford to buy all the Mac stuff I want, though, and the iPad is no exception. I also see it as a glorified iTouch. I think I'll wait for awhile to be convinced that I want one.

    -What's your response to all these crazy happenings in publishing?

    I need to read more about it all!

    -What does it make you think both as a writer and as a reader?

    That I need to research it all before jumping into the publishing business. Oh, and as a reader I find all these ebooks and everything sad. 🙁 I like real books! (Though I think I wouldn't mind a Kindle…)

  28. Anita Mae Draper on February 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    >Do I want an iPad? No. At least not yet. Maybe after all the glitches have been worked out and the suggestions worked in.

    I have an iTouch and a Sony eReader. They fulfill my needs adequately at this time.

    I love ebooks for their convenience but I don't buy them because really – as you say – you don't own it. You're paying a high rental price. I've always prefered a mortgage to a rental fee. At least I have something tangible after 10 yrs of payments.

    As a writer, my goals haven't changed: write the book and get it published. Let my agent worry about the rights and rewards.

  29. Timothy Fish on February 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    >Personally, I see little difference between having the capability to remove files from a Kindle and a blog owner being able to go back and remove a previous post[1]. You may complain because your links to that post are no longer valid, but the blog owner is not obligated to provide that information to you. has taken heat for removing a book from reader's accounts, but they did the right thing. It's a shame when a company takes heat for doing the right thing. As an author, if someone has taken my intellectual property and is selling it through without my permission, I would want to pull the plug and if possible, remove that content from reader's devices. I would want them to do it as soon as they discover the problem and I don't want to have to get a court order to force them to do it, but if I read's current policy correctly, that is exactly what would have to happen. And it is all because people have gotten their bloomers in a knot over removing illegal content from their devices.

  30. Karen on February 1, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    >Not really interested in the iPad–and I love all things Apple–but what's the point? I'd rather read on my Kindle, type on my MacBook and I already listen to tunes and watch stuff on my iPod Touch.

    As far as the price for DRM-protected ebooks, I totally agree. I'm just not willing to pay "too much" for something I don't own and can't take with me should I decide to move to another reader in the future. So, I will be much more intentional and cautious about what books I do buy. I have no intention of going back to DTB, so I think the book industry will be getting a lot less money from this reader who reads about a book a week, sometimes more. I guess time will tell, but publishers need to remember that book buying is a luxury for most people and when you only have so much discretionary income books may not be the #1 choice if prices go up.

  31. Dominique on February 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    >I'm not really interested in an iPad. I don't have an e-reader yet and don't think I'll Need one for a number of years. (Is it just me, though, or is Apple trying to take over the world?)

    I must say, though, the thought that Amazon could sneak into my e-reader and alter my files really, really, really creeps me out.

  32. Anonymous on February 1, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    >Scary that Amazon weilds so much power–and shows us how vulnerable e-readers can be. Glad that doesn't happen with actual books! Can you imagine the Amazon book police coming and raiding our bookshelves? Big brother at work!

  33. Rebecca J. Clark on February 1, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    >I'm in the market for an ereader, but it won't be the iPad. Too big, too expensive.

    Actual books will always be my preference–I'm just running out of room on my bookshelves.

  34. Timothy Fish on February 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    >I happened to read another blog in which the person was complaining about the one app at a time problem with the iPad and I couldn't help but be reminded of the scenes for Star Trek Next Generation in which someone would be sitting at a desk with stacks of "pads" in front of them. I've often wondered why people so advanced would need more than one pad, but now I know. They really can only display one thing at a time.

  35. Amy on February 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    >I don't think the publishers care so much what the retailers charge as much as they care that Amazon will be throwing their weight around and using it against them in negotiations. There's lots of other discounters, but somehow, it's always Amazon that is "bullying" or "getting bullied", depending on your POV.

    Do I want an iPad?? Oh, so badly!!! I don't need much – just something portable to allow me to plug in while out – check email, read blogs and news. I thought my laptop purchase last year would give me mobility, but it's a chore for me to pack it up and go. I carry 4 magazines in my purse to keep me busy when waiting, so the iPad will fit perfectly. I don't have an iPhone – always thought the screen was too small to use it for anything other than phone calls.

    AND now I can try out e-reading. I love paper books, so I've been hesitant to commit to an e-reader. The iPad allows me to try it out, and if I don't like it, it's still usable to me. If I love it and want a dedicated e-reader, my understanding is color screens & video capability are on the way, perhaps even as early as the next set of e-readers. I'm not looking for video in my books, but I'm guessing the page refreshing speed will be vastly improved.

    Oh – Cheryl – I think that your ereader needs to just support the format of your ebook. ePUB is the most widely used ebook format. The Kindle DOES NOT support ePUB, but everything else I know of does. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. But unless you can store the files on your computer, I'm not sure how you'd move them from one device to another.

  36. Just A Girl on February 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    >YES I want an iPad, even though the name makes me giggle. But, alas, I have a Kindle, which I believe is still overpriced. However, if the cost of books go up, then the price of the unit will have to go down, right? And that is the core of the game: competitive pricing.

    As for "Big brother", I can shut my wireless off, making my amazon files untouchable, (until I turn it back on again). My concern would be if Amazon could take my stored documents off my computer.(Which I started doing after the whole Orsen Wells problem.) You see, I can archive books on my kindle as well as store them as files on my laptop.

    Ebooks do not scare me, even as a writer. They are a fact of life in today's technological world. We need to adapt, adjust and overcome. And as long as we stay knowledgeable, it won't be so bad. Publishers have ALREADY begun to ditch the slush pile according to many sources, making the agent even MORE valuable. And ebooks will likely do the same thing.

  37. Elena on February 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    >I'm just not into the whole e-reader thing. I hate reading on the computer screen. I'd much rather snuggle up in my arm chair with a book that can be shared and passed on.

    I like looking at my bookcase and sliding my hands across the backs, taking a book off the shelf and opening it to reveal the author's autograph. I like the smell of books, even old, stale ones. I like the way the pages curl and yellow over the years, the worn pages revealing my "favorite" ones.

    I like seeing books I've read wind up on my son and daughter's bookshelves, knowing the tradition continues.

    E-books? Too cold for me…

  38. Timothy Fish on February 1, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    >Someone at church yesterday described the iPad as a big iPhone. I think Apple has an uphill battle. Well produced videos aside, I think most people will either see the iPad as something like an iPhone that is too big or something like a laptop that isn't powerful enough.

    I love how the video says that the keyboard is almost as big as a laptop keyboard even as it was clear that the person using it on the video was struggling a little. I've got big hands, I don't think "almost" is going to cut it.

    As for books, I wouldn't rule out just yet. If the iPad become too competitive with the Kindle, I suspect it wouldn't be too hard for them to allow people to purchase books from them and read them on the iPad. It is, after all, just a web browser.

  39. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on February 1, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    >Good morning, Rachelle;

    What happened to our ordinary days? Upheaval seems to be the name of the game.

    iPad? No, thank you. I love the color touch screen and some of the bells and whistles. But the virtual keyboard? It's an ergonomic nightmare. Laid flat to type, it will encourage back pain. Tilting it up at an angle to solve that problem could cause wrist pain. And where's the handle? I have small hands and drop things often. Getting a good grip on an iPad would be impossible for me.

    My response? I'm an interested spectator with no control over any of it. In my opinion, this is similar to clothing manufacturers putting a "suggested retail price" on a suit that Macy then puts on sale. The manufacturer loses control of the price of the garment when they sell it to Macy. Do they get angry when Macy puts the garment on the 75% off rack? Does it matter? Macy bought the suit. If Amazon buys the book file, then they have a right to sell it at whatever price they desire.

    Q4McMillion: How angry do you get with buyers and sellers of remainder books when they don't sell for the full cover price? How are you protecting authors and agents then?

    This is a highly complex business world. It's all about power and money and protecting your turf no matter where you sit at the table. I try to keep that in mind when I see all the high drama.

    Thanks for the conversation, Rachelle.

    Be blessed,


  40. Erica Vetsch on February 1, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    >I haven't jumped into the digital reader world yet. I prefer to let the dust settle on new technology so the VHS/Beta-HD/Blu-Ray issues are hammered out. I don't want to be left holding a Sony Reader if the world runs on Kindle, etc.

    I'm so thankful I don't have to navigate these waters alone. 🙂

  41. Cheryl Barker on February 1, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    >I may be showing my ignorance here, but I have a question about the digital rights issue. Does this mean that if you buy an e-book for your Kindle, you can't use it on any other reading device (or iPad) you decide to switch or upgrade to? If that's the case, I'm not sure I'd ever want to buy an e-book.

  42. tracey solomon on February 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    >also: I admit that I tend to "try" author's on my kindle- and if I love the book, I buy the print, and sometimes audio as well. I doubt I am the only multi- format buyer, out there.

    thus- E-readers have actually increased my spending on good books. 😉

  43. Tracey solomon on February 1, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    >As a reader:
    Kindle/vs IPad..

    I've never yet had Itunes/apple remove a title that I have purchased from them form one of my devices.

    I have now seen Amazon do this more than once. (Sample macmillan chapters and the debacle over orwell)

    On first viewing I wasn't impressed with the IPad.

    But with Amazon's repeated abuse of power, it is losing my loyalty and more importantly, my trust.

    As a writer, I am equally excited by the multi-media potential of the Ipad for merging story and verbal story telling/visuals and concerned for the quality of future publication.

    If writers can't make a living writing, I'm concerned the craft will suffer.

    I also think it's possible that truly passionate and gifted writers who would have been overlooked due to a niche market, will now be able to have a voice in publication. This could be more possible due to reduced cost and more publication options.

    In my opinion, publishing is on a precipice, whether it will become a summit mounted or a plunge into chaos, is yet to be determined.

  44. Ginger Merante on February 1, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    >I don't think I will ever make the change over to ebooks until every single book in print disappears from the earth. There is nothing like the feel of a book in my hands, or the smell and the beauty of a well done cover.

    Also, I was shocked to read that despite the fact that you can pay for an ebook, the powers that can be take it away from you at any time. Since there is no word on a refund for your purchase, it make it no different than stealing. I see the words "Class Action" in those publishers future.

  45. Me and My Muneca on February 1, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    >I think your point on writing good books is right on track and that remians my main focus. Todays technology will be old news tomorrow. Writers need to be aware of what is transpiring and these blogs are a great way to keep up to date.

    I would not own and e-reader until there is a solid text-to-speech format perfected, then I'm in.

  46. CKHB on February 1, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    >Macmillan has a "monopoly" on their books? And I guess Apple has a "monopoly" on the iPad? THOSE EVIL MOTHERLESS CORPORATIONS!

    Just like Amazon having a "monopoly" on the Kindle. Oh, wait…


  47. Kristen Torres-Toro on February 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    >Wow. I can't wait to read up on this! This is mind boggling.

    Right now I feel that an ipad is too expensive and the battery life is ridiculous. It wouldn't last on an overseas flight and then it would just be another thing to steal. A few years from now, with an extended battery life, more tricks, and a better price, I'd definitely consider it if I had the money!

  48. Marybeth Poppins on February 1, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    >Let's be honest here. I usually want just about everything that has an "i" in front of it!

  49. Courtney Walsh on February 1, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    >Well, I hate it. I am a paper girl, through and through and I hate change. I know, I sound like someone in the 80's who didn't want to give up her LPs, but seriously, not everything has to go digital.

    I know I've seen too many movies, but I feel like if everything in our lives is switched over to some form of digital media those are just more and ways for "big brother" (or whoever) to hack in and invade privacy.

    Besides. I want to smell my books. And love the font. And marvel at how it falls open at the halfway mark. I spend enough time in front of the computer…I truly believe it's impossible to "curl up with a good computer."

    But then, I'm kinda crabby today so take that with a grain of salt.

    (Did I even answer the question you asked?)

  50. Matilda McCloud on February 1, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    >I don't want an iPad. I'm happy with my SONY e-reader–as a supplement to reading printed books–not a substitute. It's simple and easy to use and doesn't overwhelm me with fancy stuff. I couldn't afford an iPad anyway, even if the price goes down.

    All this publishing stuff is scary because it's changing so fast. I walked into my beloved local bookstore over the weekend where I spend A LOT of time and was confronted with going-out-of-business signs. Now that really makes me sad.

  51. Krista Phillips on February 1, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    >I haven't joined the age of digital readers yet… I like paper, although I know I'll eventually succumb (but I'll still like my paper…)

    My response? I think as an unpublished author, it's good to keep an ear open, but not dwell on it. My job is to keep writing and get better at it… it's the whole concept of change what you can, accept and adapt to what you can't.
    Obviously, a publishers/agents response should be much different than mine.

    A reader? As long as you keep printing books for me to buy, I don't really care.

    A writer? I think it's too early to really tell…

  52. Sharon A. Lavy on February 1, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    >So far I am still happy with my Kindle. Of course I still read paper books when I can and save the Kindle for when I travel.

    But don't we live in an exciting world? Constant culture shock.

  53. Annie on February 1, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    >Thanks for doing these posts, it allows me to pass on info to my writer's group so our expectations are more…realistic. 🙂

    The iPad (giggle!): Frankly, I live in a family full of geeks (okay fine, I am a geek too), and the general consensus is that the iPad is a redundant, weak, poorly named let-down. There was so much more it could have been to actually be awesome (like, you know, a computer instead of a glorified iTouch), and a lot of us techies are not impressed enough to splurge $500 we don't have on a 1st gen piece of shiny technology that's so redundant.

    As far as publishing goes, I can understand all the upheaval. From a laywoman's perspective, it seems books are headed the way of music, where for x amount of money, a relatively unknown like me can get an album published on itunes and start making direct profits. 20 years ago, there's no way you could have succeeded in any degree without an agent-and frankly if you really want to hit it big, you still need one. Still, when you look at what iTunes has done to an already saturated industry, it's interesting. Frustrating on the one hand because you'll never hear some potentially great artists, and amazing on the other because there are some people producing accessible music who might never have made the radio cut.
    So I'm watching what's happening and wondering if in time similar things won't start happening with books. Which will mean, I think, that the circle of authors who can make a living off of writing will shrink even further.

    But, I'll think about that tomorrow. 😉

  54. Kelly Combs on February 1, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    >Apple people are so self absorbed…it's all i, i, i. *grin*

    Watching the Grammy's last night one of the folks made a big plug for BUYING your music downloads, and asked how you would like it to not receive payment for your lifes work. Same issue coming for authors. And how many movies are pirated, or copied illigally and passed on?

    I'm not planning on buying an ipad anytime soon, but no doubt when my 5th grader enters high school, she'll have it or the next big thing. I remember having to dial a rotary phone attached to the wall, and my kids won't even have to use pencil or paper.

  55. Betsy on February 1, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    >Rachelle: Thank you so much for putting this all together. I'm sending my clients your way, er, to get a grasp on this digital war.

  56. Rowenna on February 1, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    >I promise not to follow this up with a diatribe about the black helicopters. But it flat-out terrifies me that we could move to a media format in which we don't have the right to retain the media. Amazon yanking books over a financial dispute only paves the way for books to be pulled for other reasons. Sorry to go all Farenheit 451, but this truly does concern me. Remember when Amazon filed all LGBT material as "adult content" and really mucked that up? Way too much power in the hands of just a few in the world of e-books right now.

    It also begins to make more sense why Amazon insists on only charging $9.99. As a consumer, if I'm only paying for access (for an apparently undertermined time–but in the future will e-book access through Amazon expire after a year? six months?) rather than a tangible product or a my own digital file, you better believe I don't want to pay more than ten bucks. In fact, even that sounds like a rip-off if my rights to the book "expire" before I have a chance to finish it!

    I'm sticking with the library and my local bookstore for now. (Plus, they have cats at my local bookstore. Amazon and Apple cannot offer free entertainment in the form of bookstore cats.)

  57. Catherine West on February 1, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    >I am curious to see the exact size of it. It looks about as big as the Macbook I'm working on at the moment. I've been really happy with my ipod touch and love the fact that I can stick in my purse and whip it out for reading the books I've downloaded (I should probably check to see that they're still there), checking email whatever – of course I have to be someplace where I can get a wireless signal so it's not like a Blackberry, but I don't want anything bigger. I'm not convinced of the greatness of the iPad yet.

  58. Shelby on February 1, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    >A few things:

    One, Shop Barnes and Noble. The books are on their website.

    Two, buy real books with covers and spines and pages you can touch. It's yours to do whatever. The publisher or seller is not going to come to your house and retrieve the book back for their own purposes because of a contract dispute. It really is your book.

    No I don't want an Ipad. No I don't want digital books.

    No I'm not deterred from writing. No I'm not scared. No I don't appreciate Amazon tactics. No I don't appreciate a lot of things.. however …

    I know what I like. Reading a good story and striving to write a better story.

    With a spine and a cover and real pages to touch and stack on my bedside table .. and it won't be affected by lack of batteries or digitization of a contract dispute.

    Real books. They always work.

  59. Jason on February 1, 2010 at 8:12 AM

    >Actually I just checked and even the iPad's OS is based on the iPhone's. I would have thought they'd at least have made a special stripped down version of OSX…

  60. Jason on February 1, 2010 at 8:06 AM

    >In fact, I'm hoping they'll eventually introduce a smaller one that will fit into my handbag…

    They already have one…it's called an iPhone. 🙂

    I own a Mac and an iPhone and so obviously I'm not averse to Apple products, but I think this release is going to prove to be more hype than substance. I believe that any advances made in this release will eventually be merged into the iPhone anyway. I've studied the iPad a little and I just don't see what it offers that my 3G doesn't.

  61. Deborah Vogts on February 1, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    >Hi Rachelle, Thanks for the informative post. As many others have stated, I'm glad I have a "great" agent who is so on top of the publishing business. 😉

    That said, although I checked out the IPad info, it's not something I'll be spending money on. I have a Sony e-reader (received as a gift) and have even loaded a few "classic" books on it for free, but have yet to open it up for reading.

    At least with a old-fashioned book I can give it away or pass it on to a friend if I want to. It's a great way to share a new author or good writing to others. 😉

  62. Jon Paul on February 1, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    >As a recently reformed, non-practicing musician (Writing is better. Trust me!) I watched as the music industry rode the DRM rollercoaster a few years ago. Apple and others tried to make DRM stick. Now, most music you buy off I-Tunes and alot of other Mp3 sites is DRM-free. DRM didn't work. People want to own what they buy, not just rent it.

    So in the next year, I expect we'll see a similar stampede toward DRM by the e-book reader companies, followed by an equally precipitous stampede away from DRM when they figure out the market won't support it.

    Meanwhile, I'll be reading my under-$5 used paperbacks and shiny new hardcovers from the ole Brink and Mortar, happy as a clam.

  63. Amy Sue Nathan on February 1, 2010 at 7:31 AM

    >The iPad has too many bells and whistles for someone looking for an eReader. I have a laptop and an iPhone, so I feel like an iPad (at $500) would be an expensive redundancy — at least right now, fo me.

  64. Elena Rey on February 1, 2010 at 7:28 AM

    >Another article on e-reading/Amazon in the FT.

  65. Katie Ganshert on February 1, 2010 at 5:55 AM

    >How do I feel? I feel….thankful you're my agent. Yikes!

    I would like an iPad, or just a Kindle at this point. I still like my books, though.

  66. Aleksandr Voinov on February 1, 2010 at 5:40 AM

    >Do I want an iPad?

    Possibly. The thing is, it doesn't fit into my life at the moment. No way I'd take that thing outside on my commute (I don't fancy getting mugged for displaying an outrageously expensive gadget with a very high resale value), and at home, I have my desktop computer, which has specs beyond the iPad.

    I own an e-reader (which I use on the commute) and an iPhone, and I don't see how the iPad would make a huge contribution to my life. Before I got the e-reader, I was happy to read short novels on my iPhone.

    So, very shiny, very beautiful, I'm thrilled with the idea/concept, but I don't need it and I don't have that kind of money burnign a hole in my pocket.

    Big move, though, for the e-publishing industry, so no doubt this gadget will have a major impact.

  67. Book Maven on February 1, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    >I DID want an iPad (which is what it turned out disappointingly to be called) but not now.

    I am a dedicated Mac user and have been for 20 years but the iPad
    • cannot multitask
    • has no USB port
    • has no camera
    • will not allow UK users access to the iBook store

    So I will wait for 2nd or 3rd generation.

  68. Laura McMeeking on February 1, 2010 at 5:22 AM

    >Another thoughtful post, Rachelle!

    Do you want an iPad?
    Not in the slightest. While I do have a Kindle and like the concept of the e-reader, the backlight on the iPad makes it completely not worth it for me. I'll admit, I'm not the biggest of Apple, in general. But, I also think they can do better than what they have with the iPad. For me, it's not functional. A laptop with a detachable, touch-screen monitor (like the Lenovo U1), I'd definitely go for.

    What's your response to all these crazy happenings in publishing?
    I think it's nice to shake things up once in a while. It keeps people and companies from getting too comfortable with the status quo. However, I tend to agree that ebooks are just another version of a book (i.e., akin to hardbacks vs mass market paperbacks) and that people will pay for for an ebook when it first comes out if they really want it. So, I was in complete disagreement with Amazon on their decision.

    That being said, I think it's important to note that while they might have pulled sample chapters (that people didn't pay for), they did not remove paid for material. I checked my digital library. Does that mean I like that they can come in and remove things from my Kindle? No. And I do take issue from them removing the sample chapters. But, they didn't break any laws.

    As both a writer and reader, I realize publishing is a business. Competitive pricing is good for the bookseller if it allows them to sell more books, which could be more lucrative for publishers and writers. However, there haven't been HUGE ebook sales so far, so I can see pubslishers' reluctance to have price ceilings incorporated into ebook pricing schemes. When it all plays out, it will be what the market will bear. At least, I hope so. 😀

  69. Short Thoughts on February 1, 2010 at 5:22 AM

    >The iPad is getting close to being a device I have been wanting for a long time. I am not planning on getting the first generation though.

    I have not read in depth into the Amazon and ebook issue. It will be interesting to see what Amazon does with the Kindle considering the entry price of the iPad. I never did buy a Kindle, though I wanted one, because the price is too high for a one-trick device.

  70. Adam Heine on February 1, 2010 at 3:30 AM

    >My favorite part is Amazon's spin that Macmillan "has a monopoly on their own titles." Of course they do. They're the publisher.

    That's like saying General Mills has a monopoly on Wheaties, or George Lucas has a monopoly on Star Wars, or I have a monopoly on my children, or…

  71. Skeptic on February 1, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    >I will have an iPad in March (WiFi, not 3G because AT&T already bleeds me for enough every month without adding more to the pot), pending of course FCC approval.

    I flat out think Amazon is being unreasonable. It was very passive-aggressive for them to dance along encouraging people to rise up against Macmillan. The flip side of response could've been to educate the public regarding the actual cost of publishing a book – that it is far more than pages and binding.

    As a writer, it makes me nervous to think that people who are not part of the publishing industry feel compelled to devalue books because of format. As a reader, I am at the threshold of looking elsewhere for books (not Amazon) because of the antics over the past year and the blatant lack of customer service when there ARE problems. I've owned my Kindle 2 for just about a year now. For the past month, it has been nothing but glitches and bugs and has made the e-book experience unpleasant. I have a Kindle app on my iPhone. Tiny, and hard to read that way, but give me Apple tech and customer service any day of the week and twice on Sunday. They are simply phenomenal. No, I am not worried about investing in a first gen iPad. My first gen iPhone works great – as does my first gen iPod nano.

  72. Ronda Laveen on February 1, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    >Wow! The times, they are a changin'.

  73. Kim Kasch on February 1, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    >I SO want an Ipad but not for $500.00! For that price it had better be coming to my house to do my dishes, cook my dinner and do the laundry.

    A lot going on, but price is still a big obstacle and I want to own the things I buy – one of the reasons I won't lease a car.

  74. Aimee LS on February 1, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    >I feel…overwhelmed. So important to have a REALLY good agent who understands these things in detail. I can get my head around it, but that just means I know there must be so many details I'm NOT aware of.

    Very scary. And a little exciting!

  75. Dee Yoder on February 1, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    >Wow. Cutting edge technology takes on a new meaning.

  76. Faceless on February 1, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    >I don't fly much, so I can't see the appeal in owning any kind of e-reader. I'm the kind of person who loves to hold something tangible in my hand (real pages you can actually turn!), and I rarely go through one book in a single trip, which is the only time I find it would be reasonable to have an e-reader. I do own an iPod, but I still use CDs in my car because the sound is better, and I find it much harder to find the CD I want spinning a stupid touch-dial. I don't see myself buying an e-reader anytime in the near future, but this whole story looks pretty scary from the P.O.V. of a fiction writer looking to break into the business.

  77. Marla Taviano on February 1, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    >I'll be back tomorrow (I should be in bed right now!) to check out some of those links. This is just craziness.

    My hubby is a huge Mac guy (@godsmac on twitter) and has lots to say about the iPad and the future of publishing.

    As a writer, I'm glad to have him and all his knowledge on my side. And, of course, my brilliant agent as well. 😉