HC and Hachette UK refine agency model

HarperCollins and Hachette UK are the first UK publishers to introduce a refined agency model with Amazon.co.uk.

The online giant removed the text indicating that HC and Hachette UK's e-book prices were "set by publisher” today after concluding negotiations with the publishers following the European Commission ruling that the original agency publishers had to terminate their current agency agreements, and come up with new terms.

Publishers Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Holtzbrinck, Apple and HarperCollins offered to terminate ongoing agency agreements and give retailers freedom to discount e-books, subject to certain conditions during a two-year period, last December, following an antitrust investigation by the European Commission into concerns about price-fixing.

The prices of HarperCollins and Hachette e-books have already dropped slightly on Amazon today (3rd April). HC's The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was selling for £3.65 on Kindle, but £4.99 as an e-book at Waterstones; Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire was selling for £3.67 on Kindle but £3.99 as an e-book at Waterstones; and Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies was selling for £8.36 in Kindle but for £9.99 as an e-book from Waterstones. Before the changes, Amazon was selling those titles for the same price Waterstones currently is.

For Hachette, The Host by Stephenie Meyer was selling for £4.93 on Kindle, but £4.99 on Waterstones and J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy was selling for £8.08 on Kindle but for £9.99 as an e-book at Waterstones.

Titles by Simon & Schuster have not yet been altered on Amazon.co.uk and titles still say they have been set by the publisher.

A spokesperson for HarperCollins said: “Our trading arrangements are in line with our commitments to the European Commission, published in full on their website on 13th December. At the time we said that our goal has always been to give consumers the widest choice at the fairest price while simultaneously ensuring that authors receive a just reward for their endeavour. That remains our position.”