Originally published: March 11, 2012
Last updated: March 11, 2012 - 3:17pm
[Commentary] A couple of years ago, with Amazon steadily pushing down the prices of e-books, the fortunes of the big book publishers were sinking fast. Then Apple came along and helped enable publishers to set their own prices for their e-books across platforms. That model, known as agency pricing, has helped keep big publishers afloat in a time of major transition. But it’s also sparked controversy and legal battles, including threats this week of a lawsuit by the Department of Justice against Apple and its publishing partners. So who should be able to set e-book prices—the major publishing houses or retailers like Amazon?
- Ingram writes: To me, the debate boils down to whether agency pricing is a justifiable and/or sensible approach by publishers to what is happening in their industry. In a nutshell, I would argue that while it might be understandable—in the sense that the Big Six are afraid of Amazon’s growing power in the book business, and want to protect their book margins as much as possible—it is neither justifiable nor (in the long term at least) sensible or advisable.
- Owen counters: I think agency pricing actually is in the interest of any reader who supports a vibrant book-buying marketplace that is not dominated by one company—i.e., Amazon.
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