Anytime you run into anyone interested in books, be they readers, authors, book sellers, or publishers, you find people anxious to talk about what’s happening in the publishing world.
Lately that conversation has focused on the implications of the Justice Department’s recent lawsuit against Apple, and publishers Hachette Group, Harper Collins, MacMillan, Penguin, and Simon and Schuster who the government alleged engaged in the fixing of e-book prices.
Everybody seems to have an opinion. This weekend the New York Times Sunday Dialogue presented some excellent opinions on the topic Books in a Digital Age. They are worth your time.
The problem is part of the ongoing fallout from Amazon role in the e-book market. To establish a market for its Kindle eBook reader Amazon set the price for all of the eBooks it would sell at $9.99. The price was set without consulting the publishers who would not have agreed to such a low price.
Amazon tried to allay the fears of publishers by paying them the price they would have received for a printed book. In essence, Amazon made the decision to take a loss on the book to assure market dominance for its Kindle.
Then, last year, Amazon decided to change the terms for publishers. This blog reported that controversy in a post titled Amazon and Distributor Go Toe-to-Toe Over E-Books.
While the Justice Department has not raised any anti-trust questions over Amazon’s role in the marketplace because they have resulted in lower prices for consumers, one has to ask whether Amazon’s dominance in the marketplace has allowed it to engage in price fixing of its own which will ultimately have anti-competitive results.
Where the world of publishing and book selling is going seems hard to say, Onnesha Roychoudhuri in a November, 2010, Boston Review article, Books After Amazon warned, “Amazon’s handling of e-book pricing – and publishers’ response – will have perhaps the most far reaching effects on the industry,”
What do you think will ultimately happen in the world of books and publishing? Who will the winners and losers be? What should an e-book cost and who should decide? Post a comment.