The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

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Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

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Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


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    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
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  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
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  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
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  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
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Amazon Is Losing Money on Each $9.99 Ebook

Kindle-pencil Publishers Weekly confirms something I've long suspected:

Currently, publishers make as much money on Kindle editions as print editions, since Amazon, the largest e-book retailer, pays the same discount for e-book editions as it does for print—off the same list price, whether bound book or e-book. (An Amazon spokesperson would not comment on the discount issue, but a number of publishers confirmed that Amazon pays the standard discount—which is, with some fluctuation among houses, about 50% off list price—for Kindle editions.)

Amazon, which sets the price for everything it sells, is, as many people interviewed point out, losing money on a majority of Kindle editions. Although the price point for Kindle editions varies, the dominant one for hardcover bestsellers is $9.99, a price one publisher called “a killer.” (The e-tailer is pricing some of its Kindle bestsellers even more aggressively, with titles like Stephenie Meyer's New Moon, currently #4 on the Kindle bestseller list, at $6.04.) At $9.99 Amazon is selling its Kindle editions at, generally, a 60% discount; Amazon sells its print bestsellers at, on average, a 45% discount. The reigning price point in the Sony e-book store, with variations, is $11.99.

This is obviously a move to build up market share for the Kindle, something I suppose Amazon is in a position to do since it is one of the few book retailers to actually be in the black at this time. This also means that $9.99 ebooks are untenable over the long run, unless publishers choose to give Amazon a steeper discount in the future.

As Publishers Weekly notes, if this tactic works then eventually Amazon won't have to rely on publishers to give the discounts it wants–it will be in a dominant enough position to demand whatever pricing it prefers. So, in other words: hope that competitors manage to capture a sizable portion of the market.

For more info, readers should see my interview with Ted Striphas, where we touch on Amazon's already dominant market position and what that might mean.

Incidentally, I finally saw my first real-life Kindle on public transit earlier this week. I also saw five people with non-electronic books, myself included.

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. eBook Prices: Can They Fall Further? Continuing the ebook pricing conversation, Rich Mintz (from Obama’s online campaign) has this to say: As a heavy consumer of books (and a former independent...
  2. Amazon Can “Wipe Out” Publishers Binky Urban, the agent responsible for a few people you might have heard of (Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Bret Easton Ellis, etc) is profiled at...
  3. eBook Market Expanding The New York Times reports that Amazon’s Kindle is currently out of stock, letting some of the other players in the field move in. The...
  4. Amazon Boycott of Ebooks Over $10 As I've been reading Ted Striphas's The Late Age of Print, I've been seeing books and ebooks in very new ways. That is, I'm beginning...
  5. Publishers Making Dumb ebook Mistakes In this post, Chad mocks ebook distributor ScrollMotion and publishers Hachette and Random House for their mania about ebook piracy and their eagerness to price...

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4 comments to Amazon Is Losing Money on Each $9.99 Ebook

  • blueberrybacon

    You saw 5 people carrying one book each, but the Kindle person was carrying a library. I have 22 title and 6 periodical. each of my newspaper subscriptions have about 16 issues to them.
    So, you wanna to try to carry the paper version of that on the subway?

  • I’m still waiting for someone to explain why an average reader wants to carry a library around with them.

  • Several years ago, I was on the subway with a copy of a mostly-read New Yorker, rifling through the dregs with the intent of disposing of the publication en route, when the train got stuck, as sometimes happens. I sat for four hours, reading and rereading and pretending to further re-read some bullshit poem, doing whatever it took to avoid eye contact or invasive ads. Ever since, I’m known to carry around at least a full day’s worth of reading material whenever I go further than around the block. And I know, this translates to A Book and A Magazine (or Two), but these days I do keep a backup dozen books on my iphone, just in case.
    Of course, when you inquire about “an average reader,” you probably intentionally left out “who also happens to be a crazy woman.” But maybe not?

  • eBooks wont probably change the quantity or the quality of “average reader” personal library. However, it is a huge step for the writers. They can now bypass publishers and get a decent return on their work. Scribd gives 80% return. And our ebook online shop (sunbookr.com) 90%.
    Thousands of writers make their living on lulu.com. Things that could not be possible by the classical canal.

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