Macmillan ebook prices “needlessly high” but we will “capitulate” says Amazon

Feb 1, 2010
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Macmillan ebook prices “needlessly high” but we will “capitulate” says Amazon

Round three in the Amazon/Macmillan ebook price war, and the online retailer are now seemingly attempting to play the consumer-fairness card.  Having pulled Macmillan's catalog late last week after the publisher demanded a new "agency" pricing scheme for electronic content, and seen Macmillan threaten "extensive and deep windowing of titles" if they didn't agree, a new Amazon statement now confirms Amazon's eventual intent "to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles".  Still, Amazon describes $14.99 bestsellers as "needlessly high", and suggests other publishers may not choose to follow suit.

In fact, Amazon seems to be hinting that Macmillan do not have the industry-wide support they potentially believe they do.  "We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route" Amazon's statement suggests, before highlighting the "opportunity" for independent presses and self-published authors to offer more competitively priced ebooks.

Overall, Kindle is described as both "a business" and "a mission" for Amazon, and it looks like the retailer will - if forced to accept new, higher pricing - not shy from apportioning blame to publishers in the face of any media or reader backlash.  What remains to be seen is which other publishers climb on board with Macmillan; after all, Apple announced five ebook partners at the iPad launch, not just one.

[via Everything iPad]

Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the "big six" publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.


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