Thursday, April 12, 2012

Agency Wake Up Call

Yesterday was a sad day and somewhat a watershed for publishing. The judgement of the US Department of Justice was inevitable and seen by many as the only conclusion they would have reached. Three publishers settled to an agreement which on the face of it looks to be a bit of a muddle of a compromise, which itself is probably going nowhere fast and has compliance officers and reporting strings attached. Two publishers Macmillan and Penguin decided to fight on and John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan , issued an open letter to staff and authors which spoke of his moral stance, but omitted any mention of the thorny issue of the ‘most favoured nation’ clause. Apple has the money to stand its ground and some would suggest can only operate on a simple pricing structure such as offered by agency commission.

Yesterday was not what is being declared be many as a victory for Amazon, but was a victory for consumers. Amazon will now have all the ‘good and mighty’ on their backs and will probably be openly pillared by many within for bringing down their ‘white knight’ agency model. The reality is that if Amazon had not played the discount card someone else would have.

What we all must be wary of is the price and offer to consumers and avoiding any knee jerk reaction which will further raise consumer challenges over price. Consumers will in the main always side with price and service over maintaining any legacy industry infrastructure. The library lending issue of ebooks hasn’t gone away and consumer groups can do the maths and may conclude that resistance to change is greater than finding solutions to enable it. We also still have an industry that is front list orientated and often in denial over used books, bargain books and often back list. The strength of the offer is in depth and range and not just the latest and celebrity tie ins.

We all often side where are interests best served but we must remember that the only two that ultimately matter are the author who creates in the initial value and the consumer who values the end result and pays for it.
The filing is now available here:

The filing is now available here:

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