Advertisement

Kindle vs. iPad: the Macmillan skirmish

Kindle vs. iPad: the Macmillan skirmish

Lauretta at Constellation Books in Reisterstown alerted me to the high-stakes spat between Macmillan, one of the nation's largest publishers, and Amazon. According to The New York Times, Macmillan's insistence that Amazon boost the price of e-books from its standard $9.99 to about $15 led the e-commerce giant to limit sales on those books. For example, if you looked for Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall," a Macmillan book, you'd find no Kindle version listed. (In fact, the book was only available from third-party sellers on Sunday.) UPDATE -- Amazon posted a note to customers late Sunday saying it would "ultimately" give in to Macmillan's demands. It's on the jump.

Consider this just another round -- of many -- in the battle between publishers and retailers over the future of e-book sales. As we've noted before, publishers are worried about preserving profit margins, and shudder at e-books prices under $10. They're more comfortable with the Apple iPad model, which would give publishers more control and set higher e-book prices. Amazon, meanwhile, is trying to maintain its dominance in e-commerce against challengers such as Walmart and Target. Billions of dollars are at stake, so the battle is likely to be long and bloody. And hopefully, the interests of consumers won't get lost in the fog of war.

Here's Amazon's note -- Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the "big six" publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!
Advertisement
Advertisement