It seems Amazon has brokered their multiyear deal with HarperCollins just in time for the release of the anticipated bestseller, Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee (of To Kill A Mockingbird fame).
As the Inquistr has reported previously, Amazon has been at loggerheads with the giants of the publishing world over the prices set for, in particular, their eBooks sold via Amazon.com and its subsidiaries. Dealings came to a head last year when Amazon sent out emails to customers asking for their support in relation to Hachette’s eBook pricing on Amazon, going so far as citing it was “illegal collusion.” Authors such as Stephen King and John Grisham also voiced their opinions on the price war, and things got ugly before a deal was finally settled.
Now, as a result of that fiasco, Amazon have allowed the publishing giants they have brokered deals with (Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and now HarperCollins) to set their own eBook prices, but add a disclaimer to eBooks sold via Amazon under those publishers: “This price was set by the publisher.” This allows Amazon to make a cut from some of the biggest publishers in the market without looking like the mean guy to the average Amazon eBook purchaser.
So, has this price war really affected the average reader who likes to purchase their eBooks via Amazon Kindle? According to Amazon, it should. Amazon refers to eBooks as “highly price elastic.” This basically means that the lower an item is priced at, the higher sales will be. A quick look around Amazon.com shows that many independent, small press, and self-published authors have taken this to heart and kept their eBook well under Amazon’s magical threshold of $9.99. The major publishers have been bucking this arrangement since the beginning of the eBook trend, and continue to price their product within the same price range as a paperback. From a readers perspective, this means they are paying premium for a product which is digitally created. Many readers, as a result of this, have given independent authors and smaller publishing houses on Amazon a go. After all, the $11.66 HarperCollins is asking for Go Set A Watchman will garner almost two books set at $5.99, three books and change set at $2.99, and eleven eBooks that fall into the ever popular $0.99 category on Amazon. For voracious readers, the Amazon Kindle has been the best thing to ever happen to them.
But, even with Amazon wanting the big publishers to lower their eBook prices, digital books from these publishers still sell at the higher price. At $11.66 for Go Set A Watchman, pre-orders alone have placed it (scheduled for release on July 14, 2015) into 87th place in the “literary” category on Amazon.com. Although the hardcover edition is doing considerably better, already ranking No. 2 in the “classics” category and No. 11 in each of the “United States” and “literary” categories.
While Amazon has prevented the all out war that played out between itself and Hachette last year, it still has one of the “top 5” publishers to tackle: Penguin Random House. While there has been no comment from this publisher in relation to its official status with Amazon, it is safe to consider a similar deal will be set with them also in the future.
Does the new multiyear deal between Amazon and HarperCollins affect you? Do you select your eBooks based on price or publisher? Let us know by commenting below!