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Macmillan Ebooks Return to Amazon

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Amazon said it would probably have to cave, and cave it has: ebooks from publisher Macmillan and its imprints are once again available from Amazon’s Kindle Store, and following a new agency pricing system that has Amazon charging from $12.99to $14.99 for selected titles, breaking Amazon’s informal cap of $9.99 as a top price for ebooks. Now that Amazon has capitulated to Macmillan, it’s widely expected to let other publishers follow suit—HarperCollins and Hachette are already indicating they plan to adopt a similar agency model with higher ebook prices.

The higher prices primarily apply to best-sellers offered via Amazon’s Kindle Store; many other titles and catalog selections will still be available at lower fees.

During the dispute with Macmillan, Amazon stopped selling ebooks from Macmillan and its imprints, trying to enforce the informal $9.99-per-title price cap that Amazon had set for best-selling titles for its Kindle ereaders. However, publishers have increasingly chaffed at that cap, saying it is too low and threatens the general value of books. It’s also worth nothing that Macmillan’s dispute with Amazon began just days after Apple announced plans for an iBooks Store to operate in conjunction with its forthcoming iPad; books from Apple’s store will range up to $14.99.

Overall, the new agency model being adopted for ebooks by publishers will probably mean a short-term slump in ebook revenues as customers resist the increased prices; however, in the long run publishers believe the system will benefit both authors and copyright holders.