Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Agency pricing is putting publishers in the box seat

BooksOnBoard sent out the following note. I found it interesting how quickly things can change in the online environment: with the tap of a few keys a big chunk of the catalogue comes down and on the other hand how complex the software systems are to manage the change.

There's no change to the audio catalogue. No agency pricing change, or already sold on the agency pricing system? And I'm not sure why: "choose the MP3 versions where available to avoid Digital Rights Management issues"?

Dear BooksOnBoard Customer:

You may have noticed a change in our store the last few days. While ALL of our UK store titlesMailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from "www.booksonboard.com" claiming to be (www.booksonboard.co.uk) are still available and most of our US eBooks are still available, some are temporarily unavailable in the US store MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from "www.booksonboard.com" claiming to be (www.booksonboard.com). We still have more than 70% of our US eBook catalog available for you. We also still have all of the audio books we carried previously from ALL of the publishers available in both stores.

As you can see by this newsletter, there are some very good books and some really great deals available, including New York Times bestsellers from Danielle Steel, Stephenie Meyer, and Elizabeth Berg - all with great discounts AND significant Rewards Dollars. Additionally, we have great prices for the audio book versions of most of these eBook titles. (We recommend you choose the MP3 versions where available to avoid Digital Rights Management issues.).

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We expect to have almost all of the missing titles back by the middle of the month (we do recommend backing up your files to avoid rare issues like this). This issue is due to the sudden switch to a fixed price system (aka agency pricing) by 5 of the 7 largest publishers last Thursday. Over one thousand other publishing imprints are NOT going to this system, including our 3 most popular publishers. Their titles are all still available on our site at good discounts and with Rewards Dollars.

In this agency pricing system, retailers act as agents for the 5 agency publishers . The publishers assign a Required Ebook Price (REP) that every retailer must charge to customers. BooksOnBoard’s systems were ready for this change on April 1, but the publishers and our wholesalers – dealing with a more complex set of circumstances - have not yet been able to change their systems to accommodate the tricky changes required to get ebooks from these publishers to you under the new system. These changes involve unique sales tax requirements by each publisher depending on where the publishers have offices, changes in territories for titles that have yet to be fully disclosed to us, and a tracking system so that the 5 publishers can be certain we are not discounting their titles. The publishers, unfortunately, underestimated the task and gave the wholesalers only two weeks notice of the change.

In the meanwhile, we still offer 250,000 titles for sale, including everything from Random House, Harlequin, McGraw Hill, Kensington, Samhain, and over a thousand more publishing imprints. These represent your most popular publishers and most of the eBooks our customers want are still on the site. These titles also continue to enjoy discounts and Rewards dollars when you buy.

Thank you for all support of our shop in the past. We look forward to serving you in the future.

Sincere regards,

Bob LiVolsi
CEO & Founder

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