E-Book Prices Must Come Down

This post, by Richard Curtis, originally appeared on Digital Book World on 4/29/12.

If you seek cogency on digital publishing subjects you’ll always find it in Laura Hazard Owen’s postings. A good example is a recent one on the implications for consumers of the settlement agreements with the Department of Justice in its conspiracy lawsuit against five major publishers and Apple.

What does the settlement mean for customers? Here’s a summary:

1. Let the Discounting Begin.

“Readers are likely to see lower prices on e-books published by HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — at least at Amazon, which expressed its glee over the settlement. But you won’t see those lower e-book prices until at least June…I wouldn’t be surprised to see some shockingly cheap bestsellers from those publishers — think massive summer promotions where big titles by authors like James Patterson, Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks are $1.99.”

2. Amazon rivals will discount too.

“Other e-book retailers, like Barnes & Noble and Kobo, are likely to want to enter into new contracts quickly as well so that they are on a more even playing field with Amazon.”

Owen points out that Amazon competitors “may not be able to afford to discount a wide range of e-books as deeply as Amazon can.” But that has not prevented Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and even the struggling Sony from maintaining a healthy market share of the e-book retail business.

3. Bundling of e-books, and e-book/p-book combo packages


Read the rest of the post, which includes two more bullet points and a link to some further analysis on the DoJ lawsuit, on Digital Book World.