Pricing in the ebook market has been somewhat of a point of contention for several years now. The bone of contention is the price-setting powers which both the publishers and retailers want to reside with them. In recent years, a number of antitrust lawsuits have resulted in better-priced ebooks.
The CEO of Macmillan, John Sargent, has now stated that new retailer ebook contracts will now allow the retailers to offer greater discounts on their ebooks. Such retailers who have settled as a result of the antitrust cases will be offering these discounts on all of their titles while the rest of the retailers will limit them to certain titles priced at $13.99 and above.
Macmillan lies in the latter category, having refused to settle with the Justice Department. Sargent, in an open letter on his company’s official website, stated that he doesn’t want to settle since he thinks his company hasn’t done anything wrong. He also criticized the government for having pushed for an across-the-board discount for all major publishers and cited that such moves may threaten the viability of the retail business.
However, Sargent’s view point is obviously one-sided, given the fact that before government put into effect its own measures, Amazon was at a liberty to set its own ebook prices and offer any discounts that it found suitable. Such moves by the largest e-retailer didn’t exactly push other retailers into oblivion. Moreover, there is an obvious difference between real book stores and digital repositories. The trends have increasingly shifted in favor of the latter which provide the users with the option of buying books right from their laptops rather than having to take a hike to real book store.
Sargent does state that there is a great need to support both digital and real-world retailers today but he does little to ensure that by proposing to do so, he is also trying to guard the interests of common readers.