DramaI’ve reached the end of my rope here.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, there is a labyrinthine mess about ebook pricing going on involving publishers, Amazon, and Apple.

First of all, rest assured that I’m not going to weigh in with a long-winded diatribe on the subject because (a) that’s not my style and (b) I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Let me also make clear that I’m not – nor do I pretend to be – a publishing insider.  I am a consumer.  And, as a consumer, I want to know that a book I want to buy is available at the place I choose to buy it at a fair price.

Not asking a lot, is it?

Well, apparently the pinheads in charge don’t see it that way.  In yet another episode of dick-waving – much like the dick-waving that took place when Macmillan pulled all ebooks from Amazon a month or so ago – publishers have withdrawn many ebooks from Amazon and other  retailers.

Including a book that I pre-ordered for Kindle:  Changeless by Gail Carriger.

And that royally hacks me off.

What kind of business practice is it to pull items off your virtual shelves on what seems to be a whim?

It’s unprofessional.  It’s chaotic.  And it tells me that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

Here’s what I understand about the core issue. To date ebooks have been sold under a classic retail model in which publishers sell to retailers who then sell to readers at a price set by the retailer. In the agency model, publishers set the price and retailers make a commission. Amazon is engaged in forging agreements with various publishers — some are still holdouts and I don’t know why the hell that’s happening.  The bottom line for readers is that higher prices than we’ve seen in the past will probably be the result.

But I think the undeniable truth is that publishers don’t have a clue how to deal directly with consumers because they basically never have.  And, let’s face it, they are not off to a good start.

I make my living in the advertising business and I once worked on an account of a large bank that was aggressively building and opening new branches.  Despite the fact that it takes a year or so to build a bank, every single time a new branch was ready to open – every single freakin’ time – the bank was surprised.  Oh!  How did that happen?  My goodness!  We must have a rush campaign prepared overnight at great inconvenience to the poor advertising agency drones!

Much like that perpetually surprised bank, how publishers could be so unprepared to deal with ebook pricing that they are scrambling to find a solution is beyond me.  Seriously beyond me.  Especially since the scrambling is totally visible to ebook early adopters who are already involved and dedicated readers and…well, your freakin’ best customers. And you never, ever show your dirty underwear to your customers.

Here’s my bottom line:  I’m willing to pay a fair price for an ebook.  Just make up your minds already what that’s going to be.

And one last thought:  Can we just stop already with the childish shelf-pulling tantrums?  Publishing is a business and, gee, can’t we just get on with it acting like it?

Thank you.

– Sandy AAR