Amazon, Macmillan throw elbows over e-book prices

One of the Macmillan titles pulled from 

Right on the heels of Steve Jobs promising to change the way geeks read forever and ever, the first skirmish in the e-book wars hit the blogosphere this weekend when Amazon yanked the “Buy” buttons for all books published by Macmillan as a hardball negotiating tactic against the company's plan to raise prices on electronic editions. Macmillan, which publishes such science fiction and fantasy luminaries as Charles Stross, Robert Jordan, John Scalzi, and Joe Haldeman, had been pushing for the right to up the cost of their books for the Kindle from $9.99 to $14.99, a challenge to Amazon's current default dominance in setting e-book prices. After a standoff that lasted through the weekend, Amazon blinked on Sunday, announcing that despite their strong disagreement they would agree to accept Macmillan's pricing. As of Tuesday morning however, books by Macmillan authors were still only available through third-party sellers which suggests there's still some weight being thrown around.

The Bibliophile Stalker Blog has an excellent compilation of news coverage and responses by writers affected by the strong-arm tactics. It's interesting to note that along with the justifiable anger and concern about the growing power Amazon has over publishing, there still lurks in many of the public comments the nagging question of exactly how much an e-book should cost. When faced with the choice of a new DVD, fifteen iTunes downloads, any number of monthly porn site subscriptions or a DRM-locked e-copy of the latest Stephen King, how many consumers are going to go the way of this guy?

--by John Bowker

John Bowker is a writer and fiction editor for the online magazine

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