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Beyond the Graves

Amazon vs. Macmillian = Goliath meets Goliath

Is it a good thing that Amazon backed down in its pricing war with Macmillian this weekend? I think—or feel is probably more accurate—that it costs less to produce an ebook than a print book. There's the payroll for editors and proofers to be met, and despite rumors to the contrary some print editors still have jobs. And there are sales and promotions people, which rumor has it are employed to sell books to retailers or at least get them into the stores. But ebooks take up a little less warehouse space and don't need trucks and gas to get to readers' hands.

As a writer, I think prices should be higher all around. As a reader, I think they need to come down.

As an unemployed editor, I think I won't buy any books till I get a job again.

But what I think Amazon is missing—or maybe knows all too well—is that there are an awful lot of consumers out there who want a multiuse platform, not just an ebook reader. The iPhone, for instance, and of course the iPad.

I like my iPhone. Love it. I was reading Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King" on it just last night. I'd downloaded it using the Kindle app. I wanted more. So I went to get me some Mark Twain and Jules Verne, but was blocked because I don't own a Kindle.

That's an interesting marketing ploy, not selling an ebook unless it's carried on a particular device.

Hello, Amazon. I don't want to buy a Kindle, I don't have to buy a Kindle, I'm not going to buy a Kindle. You've got a lot of competition roaring over the horizon at you. I'm perfectly happy to buy books from them.

I'm also happy to help authors maintain something like a living wage. Up those prices! Which might even steer some traffic toward authors who haven't been getting paid so much.

I'd like that.

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