BY NICO VREELAND
[UPDATE: Amazon gave in, and will sell Macmillan books via the “agency model” Macmillan laid out. Which means Macmillan ebooks will cost $13-$15, even at Amazon. I’m putting the over/under on the date of Amazon’s next major Kindle screw-up at March 15.]
So Amazon has barred all Macmillan books (print and digital) from its U.S. website after the publisher insolently disagreed with Amazon’s stringent pricing policies. Macmillan asked for either a different pricing structure or “windowing,” i.e. delayed ebook releases (Macmillan CEO John Sargent claims Amazon will make more money, and Macmillan will make less under the new structure, which confuses me). Amazon responded with the Macmillan ban.
You can still find Macmillan books at the Sony Reader Store, however, and you can find many selling for the $9.99 price point that started all this. I’m assuming either higher Macmillan prices or windowing is coming to Sony, but at least you can buy the books.
For the record, I think the entire hardcover pricing system is greedy and predatory; it’s essentially publishers milking their biggest fans’ excitement to make a few extra bucks. I think Macmillan’s making a big mistake in trying to preserve hardcover pricing, and refusing to fully embrace ebooks.
However, this Amazon move is thuggery of the first order, and it doesn’t feel like the stalemate will be resolved very quickly [UPDATE: Or maybe it will, what do I know] (or that it will be the last of its kind). The Macmillan ban combined with Amazon’s continued refusal to allow library ebooks on the Kindle makes one thing clear: Kindle is simply not the best ereader for book readers. If you read mostly books, get a Sony Reader or an Astak Pocket Pro. If you read mostly newspapers or magazines, get an iPad. [UPDATE: Amazon’s cave-in brings the Kindle back to the realm of relevancy for book readers. But it still comes with too many questionable corporate decisions for my taste.]
I’m just not sure who the Kindle is for.