Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/30/2010

Amazon Removes All Macmillan E-Books

Filed under: Amazon,Apple,ebook pricing,iPad,Macmillan,publishing — gator1965 @ 7:12 pm

More drama and intrigue in the publishing world!

The pricing wars have begun since the iPad was unveiled by Apple last Wednesday. Macmillan scheduled a meeting with Amazon to discuss eBook pricing and Amazon’s response was to remove all their books! A bad move, in my opinion, since Amazon sells it’s Kindle based on it’s large selection of eBooks and Macmillan is one of the largest publishers in the U.S. You just know other publishers will be wanting to negotiate with Amazon!

Anyway, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Wall Street Journal had this to say:

Amazon.com Inc. has removed all e-book titles published by Macmillan from Amazon and its Kindle e-reader site in a battle over pricing, according to a statement issued by Macmillan late Saturday.

The move follows this week’s launch of Apple Inc.’s new iPad device, which is expected to shake up the publishing industry by competing directly with Amazon’s Kindle reader and by enabling publishers to set their own retail prices on their books.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent said he visited Amazon on Thursday in Seattle to discuss “new terms of sales for e-books” and that by the time he returned to New York, he’d been informed that Macmillan’s e-books would only be for sale on Amazon.com “through third parties,” according to the statement, which appeared as an advertisement on publishing industry Web site PublishersMarketplace.com.

An Amazon spokesman didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment regarding Mr. Sargent’s statement.

People familiar with Amazon’s action said the move by the online retailer signals its unhappiness with the prospect that e-book prices may be rising in coming months. Amazon has made discounted e-book prices a cornerstone of its digital strategy.

Macmillan, a unit of Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, and one of the largest publishers in the U.S., boasts such top sellers as “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay and “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel.

Neither was available for purchase on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader on Saturday. Instead, customers saw this message: “Tell the publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle.”

How long Amazon will continue not to sell Macmillan titles – and whether the move will spread to other publishers who also want Amazon to charge more for e-books – remains unclear. The move could be only temporary. Amazon has marketed its Kindle e-reader by trumpeting its wide selection of books.

Macmillan was one of five major publishers which announced they would begin selling their e-books on Apple’s new iBooks store, a key feature of the iPad. Publishers have agreed to a new pricing model with Apple, under which they will set their own e-book prices, with Apple taking 30% of the revenue. They are expected to price many e-book titles at $12.99 and $14.99, with fewer carrying the $9.99 price that Amazon currently charges on most best-sellers.

It is expected that publishers will now seek to do business with Amazon and other e-book retailers on the same terms as with Apple. By setting their own prices, publishers would be able to eliminate discounting on Amazon and elsewhere that they believe threatens the long-term business model of publishing.

Macmillan e-books were still available for sale on Saturday at the e-bookstore at Barnes & Noble.com, a unit of Barnes & Noble Inc. Kobo, Inc., a Toronto-based e-book retailer, also said that it is continuing to sell Macmillan’s e-book titles. Added Bob LiVolsi, the founder and CEO of independent e-book retailer BooksOnBoard.com, based in Austin: “As a matter of policy we won’t do anything to shut down a publisher because of pricing.”

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