Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What's Next with E-Book Pricing?

While Penguin, Macmillan, and Apple continue the e-book pricing fight with the Department of Justice, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have decided it’s better to pay $69 million now than risk further damage to their reputation and possibly even higher fines that could result from losing a court case.

The three agreed to give refunds in the form of account credits or checks, ranging from 25 cents for each non-bestseller sold to $1.32 for books that appeared on The New York Times bestseller list from April 1, 2010-May 21, 2012. Just don’t expect your refund any time soon.

“Consumers aren’t going to see any payouts right now,” Laura Hazard Owen, a reporter covering e-book publishing for paidContent, said to The Boston Globe. “There’s still a lot of waiting ahead.”

The Globe article goes on to predict consumers could see e-book prices drop as much as 30%. Amazon said it would lower prices when the initial settlement with the Department of Justice was announced in April and other e-tailers will likely follow suit to keep pace.

“When retailers or manufacturers conspire to set prices, consumers lose,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder of consumer resource guide ConsumerWorld.org. “So this is a good result.”

The three settling publishers also agreed to change the pricing of their e-books, but that’s where things could get a little murky, according to Billy Pidgeon, analyst at M2 Research.

“The devil is in the details,” he told the eCommerce Times. “There’s a lot of issues with the price of digital media. There are expectations that digital should be priced more cheaply as there are no manufacturers. But this really hasn’t been the case.”

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