Online retail giant Amazon.com has evidently settled its dispute with publisher Macmillian over the price of e-books, as Amazon had relisted the titles from the publishing house after removing them from its online store. The two companies had a disagreement over Macmillan’s request for control of pricing and the ability to offer different books at different prices. Amazon currently prices all books at $9.99. Though the terms of the agreement between Amazon and Macmillian are not yet known, it suggests other publishing houses may make the same requests on e-book pricing.
Leading the way in that movment are Macmillian, Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins. Last week, the chairman and CEO of Hachette Book Group has issued a memo outlining Hachette’s desire to control its own pricing. In the memo, CEO David Young explains that a new pricing model has been under consideration for some time. “We’re willing to accept lower return for e-book sales as we control the value of our product-books, and content in general,” Young explained in the memo. “We’re taking the long view on e-book pricing, and this new model helps protect the long-term viability of the book marketplace.”
Amazon’s successful e-reader, the Kindle, is facing a new competitor in March from Apple, in the form of the iPad, a touch-screen tablet device with Wi-Fi connectivity and a full-color screen for browsing the Internet. The lowest-priced iPad will retail for $499, compared with the $259 cost of the Kindle. Apple has also announced agreements with Macmillan, Hachette and HarperCollins Publishers, which are all adopting Apple’s “agency model” pricing structure.
Nat Sobel, president of the New York literary agency Sobel Weber Associate, told The Wall Street Journal the agreement between Amazon and Macmillan would likely serve as a model for other publishers, noting Google would soon be launching its own e-book store. “We are going to see companies in the book business that can buy and sell the entire publishing industry,” he told the paper. “Whatever these 800-pound gorillas want they may ultimately get- unless publishers are very careful on how they proceed.”
In a recent sign that Amazon is taking note of the latest competitor, the company reportedly acquired Touchco, a small startup focusing on multitouch technology, in a deal that if confirmed would allow the online retailer to draw on new technology for its line of Kindle e-readers. Specifically, Touchco’s technology allows for an unlimited amount of touch inputs to be made simultaneously on a screen.