E-Book Price War: Apple vs. Amazon

Apple didn’t want to play the price game with Amazon when it entered into the e-book business two-and-a-half years ago. Now that both companies have the power to discount HarperCollins e-books, Apple is more than willing to play the game, according to PaidContent.

For instance, Judgement Call by J.A. Jance has a list price of $14.99 and Apple is now discounting it to $9.99. It isn’t the only book Apple discounted.

Two can play at that game. Until mid-afternoon yesterday, Amazon had discounted the book to $10.94. Several hours after Apple made the price change, Amazon moved to match and now the book is selling at both retailers for $9.99. Touché.

Essential reading on the new HarperCollins pricing from Publishers Lunch. Exclusive on Digital Book World: Barnes & Noble has started discounting HarperCollins e-books despite having no new contract in place.


Emergency Appeal (Pub Lunch)
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Smartphones New Frontier for Book Publishers? (DBW)
According to a new study from Pew, nearly half of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, making it the most common mobile reading device people own in the U.S. Publishers should take note and think about how to design, produce, market and sell e-books for smartphones.

Do You Read E-Books on Your Phone? (DBW)
We asked our readers if they read e-books on their smartphones. You’ll be shocked to see how many do – and why.

Power to the Publishers (WashPo)
As more readers use devices to consume content and the devices themselves become better, does power shift to the publishers who provide the content that could be the differentiating factor for device-manufacturers?

Buzzfeed for Books? (DBW-exclusive)
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Related: Learn About the Future of E-Book Marketing

Writers Want to Learn More about E-Publishing (DBW)
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JANA Dumps B&N (ValueWalk)
Investment firm JANA Partners made a splash in the publishing world when it upped its stake of Barnes & Noble stock to 11.7%. A week later, Microsoft made its $605 million investment in B&N and the stock price skyrocketed. JANA and others profited in the subsequent weeks, selling off stock. Now that B&N shares are sagging, JANA has reportedly off-loaded the remainder of its stake.

Kindle Fire HD Good, iPad Better (WSJ)
The king of technology reviews has weighed in on the new Kindle Fire and the news is good but not great for Amazon: It’s better than it was, but not as good as an iPad – or even a Google Nexus 7.

Revolutionary E-Book (L.A. Times)
Feminist Russian performance collective Pussy Riot were arrested in February after performing a political punk-rock show held in a church. On Sept. 21, The Feminist Press will publish an e-book with contributions from the collective’s supporters.

What David Maraniss Likes to Read (Bibliostar.tv)
Walk through a bookstore with Washington Post associate editor and author of Barack Obama: The Story (Simon & Schuster) David Maraniss. Learn about the books that have inspired him to be a writer. More on new start-up Bibliostar.tv.

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One thought on “E-Book Price War: Apple vs. Amazon

  1. Al Norman


    We aren’t seeing a true discount war. In reality, all that is happening is Apple’s current contract is still in force, and it allows Apple to discount at no risk of loss–since it takes a 30% cut no matter the price.

    Apple can discount to price match because of the most-favored nation clause. What made Laura, the author of the PC article, think that Apple is now discounting unilaterally is based on the book Amazon priced at 10.94, then Apple dropped to 9.99.

    However, this is easy to explain. Apple has a business model of everything ending in .99. It does not deviate from this model, and it surely contracted that all price matches, whereby the competitor price did not end in .99, would allow Apple to drop to the next .99 price, else the MFN clause was useless (Apple would be at a higher price if it took the 10.94 book to 10.99, so it was able to drop to 9.99 under its contract).

    There is no real price war–yet. And since the seven day period has yet to pass–before Apple must tear up its old contract–I find it hard to believe they’d do such a thing when their current contract allows them to them take no risk of losses. This truly is a situation where “nothing to see here” is correct.

    If Apple doesn’t file for an emergency stay, or the Kohn request for injunction is denied, this topic should be reexamined next week.



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