Amazon concedes higher bestseller prices with HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster

The iPad hadn't even been officially announced last December, and the publishing houses were already using it as a stick with which to beat Amazon back into ebook negotiations.  Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon has conceded to the so-called agency pricing model with publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.  That will see the cost of most bestsellers rise to between $12.99 and $14.99.

Amazon had previously insisted to its publisher partners that bestseller ebooks should be priced at a standard $9.99, despite the fact that it was actually Amazon taking up the pricing slack (since they were acting as both wholesaler and retailer).  Publishers, however, felt that such a cost was too low, and could in fact reduce the perceived value not only of ebooks but of traditional hardbacks, which still often retail for in excess of $20.

HarperCollins had threatened back in December 2009 to severely delay ebook publication unless Amazon conceded, following Simon & Schuster's lead; more recently, owner Rupert Murdoch suggested that Amazon had agreed to come back to the table.  The new pricing structure puts the Kindle retailer on the same footing as Apple's deals for their iBooks app.