Amazon losing its grip on book publishers

A third publisher calls for a new pricing model -- one that removes any advantage Amazon had.

By Kim Peterson Feb 5, 2010 1:50PM
Credit: (© Peter Zschunke/AP)A third major publisher has stood up to Amazon (AMZN), sinking another nail into the coffin of the $9.99 e-book.

Hachette Group is joining in the push to allow publishers to set their own prices for e-books and give sellers a 30% commission. Amazon previously took a 50% commission and chose its own e-book price -- usually in the $9.99 range.

What changed? Apple (AAPL) got into the game with its plans to sell e-books on its upcoming iPad device. Apple proposed the 30% deal to publishers, and said it would allow publishers to set their own prices.

And poof -- Amazon's hold on publishers as the dominant e-book seller began to unravel. The whole thing erupted last weekend when Amazon pulled Macmillan titles from its site (they're still missing) to protest Macmillan's new pricing plans.

But then Amazon backed down, saying it would agree to Macmillan's terms even though it didn't like them. It wasn't long before HarperCollins jumped into the fray. And now with Hachette on board, it looks like we've got a bona fide publisher uprising.

What's the end result here? Consumers will have to pay more, obviously. Publishers are getting what they want. Amazon is the clear loser, as Apple single-handedly leveled the playing field in preparation for its iBook Store debut.

Related reading:

Amazon backs down in e-book fight


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