The launch of the Apple iPad – and the iBooks ereading app – has kicked off an ebook war between Apple and Amazon, and it’s hapless readers who are caught in the middle. According to an NYT report quoting an industry insider, Amazon have “temporarily” yanked Macmillan books – both physical and electronic – from their US store after the publisher demanded the retailer raise prices from $9.99 to $15, the same price Apple announced it would sell ebooks for.
Macmillan was one of the five publishers named by Apple as initial content partners for their new iBooks store, which will distribute digital reading content in the same manner that iTunes does with music and video. According to the insider, Amazon “is expressing its strong disagreement” with the catalog change, which affects both Macmillan titles and those of its various divisions and imprints.
There’s also been some confusion in recent reporting over Apple’s pricing intentions for iBooks, after Steve Jobs was briefly interviewed by Walt Mossberg following the iPad keynote. While the Apple CEO has been widely quoted as suggesting that iBooks would sell titles for $9.99, in actual fact he suggested prices “will be the same” before going on to claim that publishers were unhappy with Amazon and considering withholding ebooks from the Kindle store. That certainly leaves room for Amazon prices to rise, though from everything the company has said it seems unlikely they’d agree to that without a serious change in policy.
Meanwhile readers are caught in-between, with those who have bought a Kindle unable to transfer their Amazon-bought ebooks from the platform thanks to the DRM in place, and those considering iBooks on the iPad likely to be subject to the same problems. As for those people who want to buy a physical copy of a Macmillan title, there’s currently no indication as to when Amazon will recontinue selling them, though of course there’s Amazon Marketplace to satisfy that niche for now.
Apple iPad hands-on: