Amazon.com has unveiled a program that will give authors and publishers a larger share of revenue from each Kindle e-book they sell beginning on June 30, 2010. The 70-percent royalty option offers 70 percent of list price, net of electronic delivery costs. It will be in addition to Amazon's existing DTP standard royalty option, and will not replace it.
I have two thoughts on this. First is that Amazon is already running scared from Apple's tablet computer that's going to be announced next week. (Here is a nice roundup of all the rumors about secret publisher meetings with Apple that are taking place right now.) With this move, Amazon is trying to nail down the $9.99 price point as an industry standard for e-books, and they're trying to match Apple's discount, which is rumored to be seventy percent.
The second thought I have is that if you own an independent bookstore, you need to be getting ready for this now. Publishers are getting a better deal from e-reader platforms than bookstores have ever offered them, and if you think they're not going to start promoting e-readers as the way to read books, you're crazy.
Remember in the early 00s, when customers started saying "I can get this cheaper on Amazon" and your only response was a helpless shrug? It's about to get one hundred times worse. You have to consider other business models immediately. If you don't sell used books, you need to start; it's an easy way to be competitive. You need to consider partnering with other businesses, the way Third Place Books did in Ravenna. People always need places to hang out, meet, and gather, and in the latter half of the twentieth century, stores and commercial zones became those places. That is what you need to capitalize on, because you simply cannot compete with these e-readers that are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous with your customer base. Simply being a bookstore isn't enough; you have to be useful, too. If you haven't started preparing for this shift, now is the time.