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Remember when Amazon set the pace for ebook pricing?
Remember when they set prices designed to build a market from scratch – and did just that – built a market from scratch?
If you don’t recall a time before Agency Pricing, a time when Amazon fully ruled the ebook roost, dust off your history books. That time is coming back, in very short order, and it’s going to completely redefine the publishing and ebook landscapes (again).
Once the DoJ case is officially adjudicated (with all signs pointing to the Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster deal being the final structure of the settlement) we’re going to see an unprecedented 30-70 days where the ebook market and competitive landscape will be complete re-written – literally in real-time.
Despite all of the upheaval that’s coming, what I’ll be watching most closely is discoverability – specifically the ability for authors to build audiences in light of massive price competition from retailers and publishers.
With prices crashing through the floor, upstart authors losing their ability to compete / differentiate / build an audience based on price and publishers frantically racing to develop direct to consumer (reader) relationships in a bid to re-establish themselves as the foundation of the ebook market, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for readers to keep finding new quality works.
When best sellers are priced at (or nearly at) the same level as unknowns, the decision to venture off the beaten path will become more difficult. This is the same concept as purchasing Kleenex vs. the store brand tissue. If the price is close enough (<10% variance), you’re buying Kleenex. It’s only when the price variance exceeds 25% that consumers begin to react negatively to a brand and seek information about alternative products.