Warms against impending 'agency' price fixing scheme

Amazon goes to bat against rising e-book prices

Amazon has posted an open letter to owners of the firm’s Kindle e-book reader, notifying them of plans British publishers have to raise the price of e-books.

The ‘UK Kindle Team’ said that a number of publishers were moving to an ‘agency’ business model for selling e-books which meant that publishers would set the consumer price rather than the book seller. A move which Amazon said ran counter to the traditional wholesale model that had “been in place for decades.”

“We believe they will raise prices on e-books for consumers almost across the board. For a number of reasons, we think this is a damaging approach for readers, authors, booksellers and publishers alike,” they said.

The retailer said that publishers had ‘forced’ this model on US booksellers, calling out Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, which had raised book prices. Not only for new books but for so-called “backlist” books published more than a year ago.

“Based on our experience as a bookseller setting consumer prices for many years, we know that these increases have not only frustrated readers, but have caused booksellers, publishers and authors alike to lose sales.”

Amazon said that when so-called “agency-priced” appeared, sales had immediatelyh shifted towards other products with unit sales of agency priced books growing at half the rate of the growth of the rest of Kindle book sales.

“In the UK, we will continue to fight against higher prices for e-books, and have been urging publishers considering agency not to needlessly impose price increases on consumers.”

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