Amazon threatens publishers over e-book pricing

<p>Amazon.com is threatening to remove books from a number of publishers unless they agree to &quot;a detailed list of concessions&quot; over e-book sales, the <em>New York Times</em> is reporting. </p><p>The news comes less than two months after the widely reported stand-off between Amazon and Macmillan over prices, in which Amazon removed the &quot;buy&quot; buttons for thousands of the publisher&#39;s books. Eventually the retailer conceded that it could not stop Macmillan setting &quot;needlessly high&quot; e-book prices. </p><p>Citing &quot;two industry executives with direct knowledge [of] the discussions&quot;, the paper claims the online retailer is &quot;pressuring&quot; suppliers in the face of competition from Apple. </p><p>Although Amazon has agreed &quot;in principle&quot; that publishers can set the prices of e-books, it is now demanding a three-year contract that stipulates &quot;no other competitor will get lower prices or better terms&quot;. </p><p>According to the paper&#39;s sources, publishers are &quot;reluctant to sign three-year contracts because the digital book world is changing so rapidly and they want room to adjust as it takes shape&quot;.</p><p>But Apple is also requiring that publishers not permit other retailers to sell any e-books for less than the iBookstore price, meaning publishers are seeking to renegotiate their agreements with Amazon. </p><p>The NYT said five publishers &mdash; Macmillan, Simon &amp; Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin, but not Random House &mdash; had reached deals with Apple to sell their books through its iBook Store, in which they set consumer prices for each book. </p><p>Apple had &quot;effectively said that any publisher that wishes to sell its books on the iPad must offer the same terms to all booksellers,&quot; the paper said. &quot;In other words, to do business with Apple, publishers must export Apple&rsquo;s business model to all retailers. Amazon, by contrast, has not promised to adopt the agency approach for any but the largest publishers.&quot; </p><p>Evan Schnittman, vice-president for global business development at Oxford University Press, told the paper Amazon&#39;s strategy was &quot;to work very hard to limit participation in the agency model to only the big four or five firms that are already announced.</p><p>&quot;This would leave 50-60% of the content out there subject to the standard distribution terms, enabling Amazon to promote and price as it does today, and forcing Apple to have to compete with Amazon&rsquo;s strength.&rdquo;</p>