Maybe e-book prices won’t be rising so much after all.
Since Apple announced plans to sell digital books on its forthcoming iPad, it has been cast as something of a savior of the publishing industry for allowing ebook prices to go above the $9.99 that Amazon charges for e-books on its Kindle device, a price that publishers say is too low to sustain their business.
But as more details come to light of the actual negotiations between Apple and publishers, it appears that Apple left room to sell some of the most popular books at a discount.
When Steve Jobs showed off the iPad last month, he announced agreements with five of the six largest publishers to offer their content through a new iBooks application. Those publishers — the Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, the Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster — agreed to terms under which they would set e-book prices and Apple would serve as an agent to sell the books to consumers. Apple would take 30 percent of each sale, leaving 70 percent for publishers to split with authors.
Publishers indicated that e-book editions of most newly released adult general fiction and nonfiction would sell in a range from $12.99 to $14.99, under a complicated formula that pegs e-book prices to the list prices of comparable print editions. Publishers liked Apple’s deal because it resulted in a marked increase above Amazon’s $9.99 price for most new releases.