iPad E-book Prices Could Be Lower Than Expected
Apple's recent unveiling of its iPad computer tablet got many book publishers excited, mainly because Apple plans to let publishers sell e-books at a higher rate than the main competitor, the Amazon Kindle Store. Now it looks like Apple may not be the kind benefactor the publishing industry thinks it is.
According to a report from the New York Times, Apple included specific provisions in talks with e-book publishers stating that it could offer discounts on e-books that reach the bestseller list, discounts that may even be as low as the previous Amazon price of $9.99 for new books. If publishers offer a discount on hardcover books, Apple also wants to cut the price on those e-books even if they don't make it onto the bestseller list.
This loophole has the potential to do great things for the Apple iPad and undermine the publishing industry's fight at the same time.
Publishers fought hard to get Amazon to raise prices to the same range of $12.99 to $14.99 that Apple will charge in the iPad bookstore. MacMillan even went so far as to pull all its books from the Kindle store until Amazon complied. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted , possibly with foreknowledge of publisher deals, that the $13-15 range would become standard.
Now it's unclear whether the pricing loophole is part of a larger plan to undercut the competition when Apple enters the e-book market with the release of the iPad in March, or if it is just a backup plan Apple wants to have in place in case the market prices change again.
Considering that many consumers have already expressed outrage at 50% price increases, the publishers may have to revert back to the $9.99 pricing plan anyway. Also, bestsellers are often discounted on retail sites, so having an option to lower e-book prices would help Apple stay competitive with its new business.