By Alex Mutter
According to Jeffrey Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal, a pending legal decision could shortly clear the way for vastly discounted e-books, well below even the $9.99 mark.
The ruling, to be handed down by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote sometime this fall, possibly even this month, is expected to approve the settlement of a civil antitrust lawsuit between Hachette (who agreed to pay $31,711,425 in fees back to consumers) HarperCollins ($19,575,246) and Simon & Schuster ($17,752,480) and the Justice Department that was worked out last spring.
E-book users could see slashed prices just a few weeks after the approval, reports Trachtenberg, although opponents of the decision, who are many, are likely to appeal. This could delay the roll out of discounts for a number of months.
Although the discounts would constitute a problem for Apple, the “most immediate impact would be felt by Barnes & Noble, which has invested heavily in building its Nook e-book and e-reader business.” Depending on how far e-book prices drop, Trachtenberg explains, B&N may have to sell major releases at a loss, and cheap e-book prices across the board would most likely hurt sales of conventional books, and by extension B&N’s retail chain.
The decision is good news for Amazon, as its cheaper-than-average e-books were a significant draw for the Kindle when it was first released.
Source: Publishing: Cheaper E-Books Ahead, Wall Street Journal