There has been a lot of chatter on blogs and social media about the price of e-books. In particular, charging the same price for an e-book as the hardback print book. Sometimes, the digital costs more than print books and the publishers themselves set those prices.
You remember the hoopla this past year between Random House and Amazon over the lower prices Amazon was charging for e-books and Random House insisting on higher prices (among other things).
I knew Apple (with the ipad) was willing to price e-books at the higher price from big publishers (and their “agency-model business”). What I didn’t know was Apple was paid a 30% of revenue for cooperating with the higher e-book pricing.
What I found interesting was the European Commission (Press release statement) launched an investigation to look into whether Apple and the big 5 publishers were in cahoots with anti-competitive practices.
“The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition…The Commission has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU).”
Apparently, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading had been also investigating the matter, prior to the Commission’s investigation, “whether arrangements for the sale of e-books may breach competition rules.”
Conspiracy to fix prices is a pretty telling accusation. The target of this alleged conspiracy: Amazon. In the UK, Amazon dominates the book market selling 70% of the e-books bought there.
Not that Amazon is sitting on its hands over this. They’re fighting it claiming the readers are the ones to suffer with such publisher ‘deals’ by paying higher prices for e-books.
And this is a point stressed by Amelia Torres, spokeswoman for European Commission,
“This is an important issue for consumers, for people like me and you who love to read books, including on an electronic platform.”
The other side argues that such publisher deals is a good thing because it keeps Amazon from crushing the e-book industry.
Whether you’re a publisher, author, bookseller, or reader, e-book pricing is a touchy subject these days
Publishers are facing an uncertain time in the digital world – but increasing the prices of their ebooks is a retrograde step.” You can read his thoughts on this.
Personally, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t buy e-books priced over $10 and I rarely buy print books over $10. I’ve been visiting used bookstores more. As one blogger pointed out, why pay over $10 for e-book when I can buy the same book in print from the used section on Amazon. She makes a good point.
What are your thoughts?