By Dennis Abrams
The Bookseller reported last week that HarperCollins and Hatchette UK have become the first British publishers to “introduce a refined agency model” with Amazon.co.uk.
The online bookselling giant removed texts indicating that HC and Hatchette UK’s ebooks prices had been “set by publisher” after completing negotiations with the publishers resulting from the European Commission ruling that “the original agency publishers had to terminate their current agency agreements,” and reach agreement on new terms.
Simon & Schuster, Holtzbrinck, Hatchette, Apple, as well as HarperCollins, all offered back in December to terminate ongoing agency agreements and give retailers freedom to discount ebooks (subject to certain conditions) following an anti-trust investigation by the European Commission into concerns about price-fixing.
According to The Bookseller, consumers were quick to see results from the new agency model: For example, HC’s The Hobbit was selling for £3.65 on Kindle, but £4.99 as an ebook at Waterstones; Hillary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies was selling for £8.36 on Kindle, but for £9.99 from Waterstones. Hatchette’s The Causal Vacancy by J.K. Rowling was selling for £8.08 on Kindle, but for £9.99 as an ebook at Waterstones. Prior to the agreement, Amazon was selling those titles for the same price as Waterstones.
A spokesperson for HarperCollins said: “Our trading arrangements are in line with our commitments to the European Commission, published in full on their website on 13th December. At the time we said that our goal has always been to give consumers the widest choice at the fairest price while simultaneously ensuring that authors receive a just reward for their endeavors. That remains our position.”