Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Amazon Should Lose the $9.99 Ebook Price War

Publishers have engaged in a battle with Amazon on pricing all eBooks at $9.99…and they are winning.

I think they should win! Why? Simply because the value of a book (a creation, if you will, from intellectual capital) has never been just about the manufacturing process…It has, more importantly, been about the “content” from the writers mind and imagination.

Traditional publishing has always tried to minimize content (as evidenced by the chump-change percentages offered to writers)…But, in fact, it has always been the true gold.

Faith Merino, writing for, reports on this issue (not always with my point of view) with a key timeline history of the publishers vs Amazon fight and future probabilities:

Why are publishers fighting Amazon’s e-books?

A breakdown of traditional book publishers’ uphill battle against cheap, digitized books.

Amazon’s war with publishers heated up last week with a passive-aggressive letter to customers posted on informing them that the high prices of e-books have been set by publishers and Amazon will continue to fight them. Personally, I go back and forth on this issue. On the one hand, charging the same price (or more) for an e-book as a hardcover seems ludicrous, but at the same time, the publishing industry has long struggled to survive, as there is little if any money in books these days. So what is the real story?

Amazon’s letter to customers reads:

“Dear Customers, recently, you may have heard that a small group of UK publishers will require booksellers to adopt an ‘agency model’ for selling e-books. Under this model, publishers set the consumer price for each e-book and require any bookseller to sell at that price… We believe they will raise prices on e-books for consumers almost across the board. For a number of reasons, we think this is a damaging approach for readers, authors, booksellers and publishers alike.”

The letter ends with a simple statement about Amazon’s confidence in its customers’ buying power: “In any case, we expect UK customers to enjoy low prices on the vast majority of titles we sell, and if faced with a small group of higher-priced agency titles, they will then decide for themselves how much they are willing to pay for e-books, and vote with their purchases.”

The agency model that Amazon refers to was first proposed by Macmillan, which threatened to pull its books from Amazon if the online bookseller didn’t raise the prices of its $9.99 e-books. Amazon responded by pulling Macmillan’s books itself, but as other publishers rallied behind Macmillan (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin), Amazon has been left no other choice but to capitulate and let publishers set their own prices.

How it all started

Read more


  1. I agree that new ebook prices should not be set by retailers/booksellers. It's just not within their authority. The creator should set the original price or at least have a heavy influence.

    Comment by Seth — 10/19/2010 @ 7:44 am | Reply

  2. Interesting post. I'm torn on this issue.

    Comment by Bob — 10/19/2010 @ 7:48 am | Reply

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