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SURVEY: Has Agency Pricing Damaged the Book Business?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

british poundsToday’s feature article, “The After Math of Agency,” considers reaction to the all-but-dead phenomenon of agency pricing. Several publishers comment, anonymously, that it was a “careless” experiment, one that has potential to leave Amazon in an even more dominant position that it was before Apple came on the scene with its iPad.

“I think we are now in a very dangerous situation, thanks to the carelessness of the major publishers,” says one publisher. “The central worries are price and the long-term ability of Amazon to squeeze everyone. The consumer gets a short term win in lower prices, but possibly at the long-term detriment to the whole eco-system of reading.”

Some blame Amazon, for undercutting wholesale prices, some blame Apple, for leading publishers down a (legally) dangerous path.

One of the clear victims of the agency pricing has been publishers’ reputations, with many readers being led to believe that publishers are merely greedy in wanting to charge more for books than Amazon and other ebooksellers might want to charge.

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About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.