Amazon announced yesterday that it now sells 6 e-books for every hard copy. As the popularity of e-readers continues to grow,e-books are building their are becoming more prevalent than ever, and with the increased popularity, the e-book market is continuing to transform. The growing market is prompting competition as well as disputes within the industry.
This morning Amazon pulled down books from their site from the publisher Macmillan allegedly as a result of a dispute over the pricing of e-books. The New York Times has provided some insight into this development:
I’ve talked to a person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute who says the disappearance is the result of a disagreement between Amazon.com and book publishers that has been brewing for the last year. Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Macmillan is one of the publishers signed on to offer books to Apple, as part of its new iBooks store. Its imprints include Farrar, Straus & Giroux, St. Martins Press and Henry Holt. The publisher’s books can still be bought from third parties on the Amazon site.
You can still find the Macmillan book pages, you just can’t purchase them. With this week’s iPad announcement by Apple the competition promises to heat up with e-book pricing plans being innovated as well.
One tranformation in the publishing business that the authors of Mashable predict is the potential for Apple to revolutionize book distribution like it did with music and iTunes. From Mashable.com:
Ever since we got word of the iPad’s existence, we’ve known that Amazon and Apple were on a collision course. Apple saw an opportunity to not only create a new category of device, but to get its hands into the publishing market. In the same way Apple has transformed music, the computing giant would reshape books and become the primary distributor of ebooks worldwide.
Back in September, we wrote a lengthy piece explaining why we believed Apple’s tablet would eat the Kindle’s lunch, displacing Amazon’s lordship over ebooks. We argued that its multipurpose functionality, color screen, and sexier interface and look would put it over the top. Now that we know the iPad’s starting price, ($499), our opinion hasn’t changed. While the Kindle will survive, its sales will likely never be the same.
Publishers like Macmillan apparently agree with us as well, otherwise they wouldn’t so boldly demand price changes from Amazon. Before the iPad was revealed, Amazon was the only player in the game. You played by its rules or you could take a hike. Now with a viable alternative only months away, publishers can run to Apple, where it will have more freedom over its ebook prices.
Amazon’s clearly worried, which is why it’s launching an app store and used its earnings report to remind us that the Kindle is far from dead. But if publishers decide to abandon the Kindle, then Apple will have won the war by default.