Author Topic: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette  (Read 35289 times)  

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
« Reply #575 on: August 13, 2014, 07:10:29 am »
If a $35 pre-made cover is good enough for indies, why should trade publishers use anything else?

Apparently Penguin is all for this idea with that new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover.  ;)


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    Offline FictionalWriter

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #576 on: August 13, 2014, 07:30:05 am »
    But that is the problem. Too many people don't care what a publisher's costs are. How many times has something about "maybe they don't need those New York offices" been thrown around? Despite the fact that there are completely legitimate reasons a corporation would want to have an office in the biggest, most economically influential, city in the United States? In this thread, there is only One-True-Way you can "rightfully" make money: you must do it all yourself, and you must primarily use Amazon. Any other business plan is illegitimate solely by virtue of the fact that people who self-publish say so. How DARE these companies actually have overhead and employees? They should be ashamed of themselves for actually paying salaries to people.

    Really, if an indie can "get away" with using untrained beta readers instead of editors, why can't the big publishers? If a $35 pre-made cover is good enough for indies, why should trade publishers use anything else? And really, why are they wasting all that money on print books anyway. Nobody reads them. Despite the fact that print sales have rebounded over the last two years. But nobody reads print so why spend money on it?

    While I believe that Hachette has every right to set the retail price for their books and heartily agree that all books (digital, print and audio) are not created the same and therefore shouldn't necessarily be priced the same, many self-published authors like myself don't have pre-made covers or solely use beta readers to proof our work. I have an editor, proof readers and critique partners. I have my covers designed by a professional graphic designer. I have a marketing budget and promote my butt off when my book comes out.

    And I've worked in corporate America for most of my adult life. I worked in NYC for years. There is a LOT of waste there. A ton of it. The people who usually do the "work" are the ones who get paid the least. NY editors make very little. I know, I interviewed at a publishing company for a job shortly after graduating from college. I couldn't afford to take the pay cut, it was too steep. 

    My contract with a NY publisher paid me an advance of $2500/bk and 6% royalties. My first cheque (I received a year after the book was published) was $453. I got the absolute smallest piece of that pie. If not for ebooks, I wouldn't have made -- to this day -- $5000 on the first book and even less on the second, which had a print run of 13,000.

    Yes, traditional publishers have overhead costs to be considered. I understand that. They can't afford to give me a straight 70% like Apple does (keeping in my mind here, I act as publisher and author). But, IMO, they can certainly give me more than the 15% I currently get off my NY digital books.

    Thankfully, I now have the choice to go it on my own.

    And to @Lady Vine, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. I saw my rankings take a hit when KU was rolled out. I saw all the audio books I'd planned to do go up in smoke when ACX announced our flat 40% take. I not only write the book, I pay a narrator thousands of dollars to do the work, I have the cover redesigned and do the quality check, and they put it up on their site and sell it to customers, and they take 60%. Sounds fair to me. Nope, it actually sounds more like business as usual. 

    I don't see any heroes here if that's what people are looking for. Traditional publishing and Amazon are looking out for themselves. But at least I know that. The only one looking out for me is me.
    « Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 08:31:29 am by romanceauthor »

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #577 on: August 13, 2014, 09:10:52 am »
    While I believe that Hachette has every right to set the retail price for their books and heartily agree that all books (digital, print and audio) are not created the same and therefore shouldn't necessarily be priced the same, many self-published authors like myself don't have pre-made covers or solely use beta readers to proof our work. I have an editor, proof readers and critique partners. I have my covers designed by a professional graphic designer. I have a marketing budget and promote my butt off when my book comes out.

    And I've worked in corporate America for most of my adult life. I worked in NYC for years. There is a LOT of waste there. A ton of it. The people who usually do the "work" are the ones who get paid the least. NY editors make very little. I know, I interviewed at a publishing company for a job shortly after graduating from college. I couldn't afford to take the pay cut, it was too steep. 

    My contract with a NY publisher paid me an advance of $2500/bk and 6% royalties. My first cheque (I received a year after the book was published) was $453. I got the absolute smallest piece of that pie. If not for ebooks, I wouldn't have made -- to this day -- $5000 on the first book and even less on the second, which had a print run of 13,000.

    Yes, traditional publishers have overhead costs to be considered. I understand that. They can't afford to give me a straight 70% like Apple does (keeping in my mind here, I act as publisher and author). But, IMO, they can certainly give me more than the 15% I currently get off my NY digital books.

    Thankfully, I now have the choice to go it on my own.

    And to @Lady Vine, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. I saw my rankings take a hit when KU was rolled out. I saw all the audio books I'd planned to do go up in smoke when ACX announced our flat 40% take. I not only write the book, I pay a narrator thousands of dollars to do the work, I have the cover redesigned and do the quality check, and they put it up on their site and sell it to customers, and they take 60%. Sounds fair to me. Nope, it actually sounds more like business as usual. 

    I don't see any heroes here if that's what people are looking for. Traditional publishing and Amazon are looking out for themselves. But at least I know that. The only one looking out for me is me.

    Again, I have never once argued that publishers shouldn't give authors a bigger piece of the pie. I have argued that what percentage publishers pay authors has zero bearing on this contract dispute because Amazon is not fighting for publishers to pay higher royalties to their authors. They are pretending they are arguing that with their convoluted math, but they aren't saying "Hachette should pay authors 40% royalties." "They are saying "Hachette should sell books at the price we dictate, and we promise authors will probably make more money on volume in the long run." But unless Amazon is going to put that in writing and back it up with a guarantee, it doesn't mean squat. What Hachette pays its authors has no more bearing on this contract dispute than what Amazon pays its warehouse workers. No matter how this shakes out, it isn't going to increase the royalty percentage of authors any more than it will raise wages for warehouse employees. This dispute is strictly about AMAZON'S bottom line, not authors'.




    Edited to correct formatting. --Betsy
    « Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 09:25:45 am by Betsy the Quilter »

    Offline 75845

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #578 on: August 13, 2014, 12:50:17 pm »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this entire message board dedicated to self-publishing? And is it not the ethos of many/most self-publishers to eschew the old ways of doing things and trad pub model in general in favor of the new? I admit I could be wrong about this.

    You are wrong, consider yourself corrected. You are welcome. The board is dedicated to the Kindle and the Writers' Cafe came later. The moderators do give out periodic reminders to the indie radical fringe that the board includes hybrid and trad only authors.

    Offline FictionalWriter

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #579 on: August 13, 2014, 01:45:00 pm »
    I was not aware of that - thank you. I think it's obvious I qualify as being part of the "indie radical fringe" - shocking right?  :D

    You're quite passionate in your unwavering defense of Amazon. I was going to ask if you're employed by them. And if so, I hope they pay you well. ;)

    But on a serious note, it's rare that I've come across this kind of loyalty to a company. I hope they never let you down. 

    Offline JRTomlin

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #580 on: August 13, 2014, 01:50:31 pm »
    You're quite passionate in your unwavering defense of Amazon. I was going to ask if you're employed by them. And if so, I hope they pay you well. ;)

    But on a serious note, it's rare that I've come across this kind of loyalty to a company. I hope they never let you down. 
    I think some of us get a bit tired of being patronized and addressed as idiots because we are supporting a corporation which we consider to be doing the best job for us at the moment.
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    Offline KOwrites

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #581 on: August 13, 2014, 02:01:11 pm »
    I was not aware of that - thank you. I think it's obvious I qualify as being part of the "indie radical fringe" - shocking right?  :D

    indie
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    fringe

    What am I thinking?  :-X


    I don't know...I'm confused by you. Do you have books on Amazon or not? It's easy to hide behind a moniker, kward. You've been here with this one since May 2014, right? So you're new? Possibly. From Canada? Possibly.

    There's a wealth of knowledge on these boards with these writers and you've managed to take a swipe at quite a few of them. Nicely done. But here's the thing nobody likes a know it all, especially when he/she doesn't know it all.

    Here's the dealio, I pay Amazon a fair price to play in their game on the KDP platform, but I don't have to express gratitude to their corporate altar every flipping day. I am independent. I chose it. I like it. I run my show. No one tells me what to do for the most part. I evaluate the circumstances and act accordingly. Thus, I'm all in at KU but will be all out come mid-October. We try; we experiment; we adapt.

    However, I, like a few others who have posted here, do not appreciate the subtle manipulation going on with this dispute as well as a long list of changes that the Zon has made when it comes to Indie authors (radical or fringe or just plain independent; you dig?) in the last few years. Some more obvious than others. And now, that I feel it so blatantly with this call-to-action guise of a request from Amazon in the form of an email to hatchet at Hachette, I will make changes in my marketing strategy and subsequent efforts going forward.

    It's a journey after all and those of us in it, for the long haul, will adjust.

    Go ahead.

    Take the board, kward.

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    Offline FictionalWriter

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #582 on: August 13, 2014, 02:08:58 pm »
    I think some of us get a bit tired of being patronized and addressed as idiots because we are supporting a corporation which we consider to be doing the best job for us at the moment.

    On the most part, I think this whole thread has been pretty civil. Viewpoints have been shared and they differ--sometimes quite ardently--but I'm not seeing the kind of disrespect you're talking about. And when it has gotten testy, I've seen it on both sides.


    Offline 75845

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #583 on: August 13, 2014, 02:16:39 pm »
    I think some of us get a bit tired of being patronized and addressed as idiots because we are supporting a corporation which we consider to be doing the best job for us at the moment.

    And some of us get a bit tired of people presuming that those of us who criticise Amazon's actions must not think that they are doing the best job for author publishers at the moment. I have been very critical of Amazon but today entered KDP select for the first time. I also wrote the Hachette CEO to criticise Amazon and copied it (as requested) to Readers United.

    Offline 75845

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #584 on: August 13, 2014, 03:52:31 pm »
    How about we dust ourselves off shake hands and be friendly again - cool?  8)

    On a friendly completely off topic comment. I have just realised that your new avatar is a Blue Jays pitcher. I was in what was then the Sky Dome as the Blue Jays beat the White Sox just before the run that led them to the AL title and retaining the World Series. Me and the x nipped down during the match to have a photograph taken with the World Series trophy, but unfortunately the x got the photo in the divorce  :'(

    I've had a soft spot for the Blue Jays ever since even though I'm not really into sport.

    Enough of Toronto vs Philadelphia, now back to Seattle vs New York  ;D

    Offline KOwrites

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #585 on: August 13, 2014, 05:17:44 pm »
    Well, I thought I was finished with this thread until someone posted about the Blue Jays!!!  :o

    Mercia, too bad about that photo - but pretty cool you had that opportunity - great stuff.

    Yes, I remember those games against the White Sox - the tension! :) I remember that time you describe well - my wife still lords it over me that she was in the ballpark in '93 with her Dad when Joe Carter hit the home run against Philadelphia to win the World Series. It was an exciting time to be a Blue Jays fan. :)

    Thank you for sharing your experience and glad that there are no hard feelings.

    I've got a baseball player in my latest novel and the WIP. Busy researching the minor leagues versus majors when a player gets sent down and how all that works. Why I didn't write about a football player I do not know.

    And some days, I don't recycle.

    And I don't feel bad about it. But then, again I don't have a problem using and or but at the beginning of a sentence these days because I am an Indie author and I do things my own [expletive] way. And I'm going to have to do some hard self-editing and take out the f-word which has creeped into my writing quite a bit on the almost finished WIP so you can imagine how the Hatchette Amazon contract negotiations are playing into my psyche as well.  :)

    There you go.
    « Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 04:42:31 am by Ann in Arlington »

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    Offline Gennita Low

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #586 on: August 13, 2014, 06:28:20 pm »
    I think you've done a good job, kward.

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #587 on: August 13, 2014, 08:19:48 pm »
    Braves,  Jays, etc...  dare I say... i have no dog in this fight...  But now, here's a list of everything Atlanta has done wrong...

    ...

    Nah...

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #588 on: August 14, 2014, 01:15:42 am »
    Again, I have never once argued that publishers shouldn't give authors a bigger piece of the pie. I have argued that what percentage publishers pay authors has zero bearing on this contract dispute because Amazon is not fighting for publishers to pay higher royalties to their authors. They are pretending they are arguing that with their convoluted math, but they aren't saying "Hachette should pay authors 40% royalties." "They are saying "Hachette should sell books at the price we dictate, and we promise authors will probably make more money on volume in the long run." But unless Amazon is going to put that in writing and back it up with a guarantee, it doesn't mean squat. What Hachette pays its authors has no more bearing on this contract dispute than what Amazon pays its warehouse workers. No matter how this shakes out, it isn't going to increase the royalty percentage of authors any more than it will raise wages for warehouse employees. This dispute is strictly about AMAZON'S bottom line, not authors'.

    Edited to correct formatting. --Betsy


    I agree Julie. It won't increase royalty by percentage, but if volume sales go up (and we know they will because lower prices are our bread and butter) authors will gain in actual cash money. Again that isn't Amazon's end game I know, and it certainly isn't something Hachette care about, but I think their authors probably do.

    I doubt much will change in the short term. Hachette and others will make a small change, Amazon will make a small change, and big pub will continue with its train wreck to the natural conclusion of any business that doesn't change with the times.

    Offline Jan Strnad

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #589 on: August 14, 2014, 08:02:52 am »
    When we talk about Amazon using its royalty structure to encourage lower ebook prices, we should remember that they also use their royalty structure to encourage higher ebook prices.

    While I can see a lower royalty being perhaps justified for lower cost books, there isn't any reason to lower it for books priced above $9.99 other than Amazon's desire to throw its weight around. When they were wanting people to buy Kindles, it made some sense, but more and more people are reading on tablets that they bought for reasons other than reading.

    There is less and less and less need everyday to sell ebooks on the issue of price. There's convenience and instant delivery and price, not price alone, as reasons to buy ebooks.

    Plants take more nurturing when they're first sprouting. They need more protection from predators and the elements, they need the best conditions possible in order to thrive. Once they're established, they don't need so much care. They develop their own defenses and are better able to withstand less-than-optimal conditions.

    Ebooks aren't delicate seedlings anymore. They're established, they're strong, and they can compete with print books without having to be significantly cheaper.

    We don't need Amazon muscling trad-published ebook prices downward to nurture ebooks anymore. In fact, if trad publishers received the higher royalty, it would be even harder for them to justify the low rates paid to authors.

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    Offline Vaalingrade

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #590 on: August 14, 2014, 12:56:29 pm »
    There's little chance this is about 'nurturing' anything. It's far more likely to be about the 'All eBooks Under $10' banner.

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    Offline CraigInOregon

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #591 on: August 14, 2014, 01:48:27 pm »
    When we talk about Amazon using its royalty structure to encourage lower ebook prices, we should remember that they also use their royalty structure to encourage higher ebook prices.

    While I can see a lower royalty being perhaps justified for lower cost books, there isn't any reason to lower it for books priced above $9.99 other than Amazon's desire to throw its weight around. When they were wanting people to buy Kindles, it made some sense, but more and more people are reading on tablets that they bought for reasons other than reading.

    There is less and less and less need everyday to sell ebooks on the issue of price. There's convenience and instant delivery and price, not price alone, as reasons to buy ebooks.

    ...

    We don't need Amazon muscling trad-published ebook prices downward to nurture ebooks anymore. In fact, if trad publishers received the higher royalty, it would be even harder for them to justify the low rates paid to authors.

    Sure... and rich people who believe in higher taxes because they can afford it, willingly pay more to the IRS each year, rather than suggesting higher mearginal rates for all Americans who make less than they do.

    Oh wait... that doesn't happen, either.

    Sorry, Jan, but your logic is flawed.

    Paying a 70% royalty above $9.99 would encourage, not discourage, higher eBook prices.

    Wow, the efficacy of incentives is well-established historically.

    Even millionaire athletes love to have their contracts loaded with bonuses for "performance incentives," which is the same core idea.

    « Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 10:07:08 pm by Betsy the Quilter »
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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #592 on: August 14, 2014, 05:20:40 pm »
    Sure... and rich people who believe in higher taxes because they can afford it, willingly pay more to the IRS each year, rather than suggesting higher marginal rates for all Americans who make less than they do.

    Um, I believe Jan might have been referring to the fact that we are only paid 35% on books under $2.99, thus discouraging lower prices and forcing authors to raise prices to at least $2.99 to earn the 70% royalty.





    edited quote. --Betsy
    « Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 10:05:44 pm by Betsy the Quilter »

    Offline CraigInOregon

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #593 on: August 14, 2014, 08:11:31 pm »
    Um, I believe Jan might have been referring to the fact that we are only paid 35% on books under $2.99, thus discouraging lower prices and forcing authors to raise prices to at least $2.99 to earn the 70% royalty.

    Reread his post, which I quoted. His point is exactly the opposite of what you think.

    He specifically said that he understands a lower royalty to encourage a minimum price, but that he sees no reason to reduce the royalty to discourage high prices on eBooks.


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    « Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 10:07:35 pm by Betsy the Quilter »
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    Offline Betsy the Quilter

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #594 on: August 14, 2014, 10:08:49 pm »
    Throwing a yellow flag here...Let's lighten up.on the personal comments.

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    Offline Lilpenguin1972

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #595 on: August 14, 2014, 11:37:46 pm »
    I searched the Kindle Store at Amazon.com using the phrase "Hachette Book Group" and sorted results on price from high to low.

    After accounting for the few audiobooks included in results, I count 204 e-books priced at $14.99 and another 393 above that price.

    So, we are clear. You found about 600 ebooks? Let's say Hachette publishes 1000 books each year (very conservative number). This doesn't include books that are still in print. So, out of about 100000 books (still conservative), you found 600. BTW, many of those expensive ebooks were box sets.

    Obviously, it's an epidemic.
    « Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 11:45:11 pm by Lilpenguin1972 »

    Offline Jan Strnad

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #596 on: August 15, 2014, 11:36:32 am »
    Reread his post, which I quoted. His point is exactly the opposite of what you think.

    He specifically said that he understands a lower royalty to encourage a minimum price, but that he sees no reason to reduce the royalty to discourage high prices on eBooks.

    For clarity's sake:

    Yes, I was referring to the lower royalty for books priced from $0.99 - $2.98 as an incentive to charge more, at least $2.99 to get the 70% rate.

    I understand why they might want to do this, since it's going to cost Amazon the same to store the file and process the sale as it costs to deal with a higher-priced book. They need a higher percentage of the list price in order to make what they think is a fair return. (Theoretically. I have no idea how Amazon really thinks.)

    A 70% royalty for books priced more than $9.99 would definitely encourage higher prices... I think Craig has that right. There's no intrinsic reason for Amazon to pay the publisher less other than to discourage publishers from charging more than $9.99.

    My point, though, is that ebooks have been established as a viable format choice for reasons outside of cost. Plus, there are plenty of low-cost choices including a lot of backlist from trad publishers at or below Amazon's anointed $9.99 price. If trad publishers want to charge a premium for new releases from bestselling authors, I don't think it will have a significant impact on the number of people adopting ebooks.


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    Offline CraigInOregon

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #597 on: August 15, 2014, 12:39:35 pm »
    For clarity's sake:

    Yes, I was referring to the lower royalty for books priced from $0.99 - $2.98 as an incentive to charge more, at least $2.99 to get the 70% rate.

    I understand why they might want to do this, since it's going to cost Amazon the same to store the file and process the sale as it costs to deal with a higher-priced book. They need a higher percentage of the list price in order to make what they think is a fair return. (Theoretically. I have no idea how Amazon really thinks.)

    A 70% royalty for books priced more than $9.99 would definitely encourage higher prices... I think Craig has that right. There's no intrinsic reason for Amazon to pay the publisher less other than to discourage publishers from charging more than $9.99.

    My point, though, is that ebooks have been established as a viable format choice for reasons outside of cost. Plus, there are plenty of low-cost choices including a lot of backlist from trad publishers at or below Amazon's anointed $9.99 price. If trad publishers want to charge a premium for new releases from bestselling authors, I don't think it will have a significant impact on the number of people adopting ebooks.

    Exactly. I understood your point and simply disagree. Which two people of good conscience can do... See things differently.

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    Offline Jan Strnad

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    Re: I just got a letter from Amazon about Hachette
    « Reply #598 on: August 15, 2014, 02:29:50 pm »
    Exactly. I understood your point and simply disagree. Which two people of good conscience can do... See things differently.

    Yes, they can. No problem on my end!

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    Offline 75845

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    I just got a letter from Hachette about Amazon
    « Reply #599 on: August 16, 2014, 12:19:56 am »
    I couldn't resist posting this to play around with the original post title. I received an email from Hachette because I wrote to the CEO saying that I would not be demanding that they lower their prices. They helpfully appended the email that I would have received if I had asked them to lower their prices.

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