Publishers and Apple drag Amazon into agency age

<p>Multiple reports from the US cover the move to an agency model for pricing e-books, following the launch of the Apple iPad. </p><p>As acknowledged last week, some Kindle e-book editions went missing from Amazon with deals between the retailer and publishers not yet signed, but Amazon assured customers that problems would be resolved by 3rd April.</p><p>According to <em>Publishers Lunch</em>, the new pricing model has not led to a wholesale increase in e-book prices: of the top 15 <em>New York Times</em> fiction bestsellers listed, under the new pricing model 9 titles are still at $9.99, with one book at $10.99, two at $11.99, and three at $12.99. Nevertheless, Amazon put a <a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/amazon/amazon_includes_disclaimer_o... target="_blank">disclaimer on those Kindle titles now operating under the new agency model: &quot;This price was set by the publisher&quot;.</a></p><p>Prior to the weekend, e-books from Penguin US were disabled on Amazon, as the two companies failed to reach agreement in time. <a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/penguin/breaking_penguin_has_not_re... target="_blank">US blog GalleyCat reproduced an email said to be sent by Penguin to authors and agents </a>explaining that the publisher had &quot;new terms of sale for e-books in the US&quot; but had not reached an agreement with the online retailer. </p><p>The note said: &quot;In recent weeks we have been in discussion with our retail partners who sell e-books, including Amazon, to discuss our new terms of sale for e-books in the US. At the moment, we have reached an agreement with many of them, but unfortunately not Amazon - of course, we hope to in the future.&quot;</p><p>The email continued: &quot;Your newly released e-book is currently not available on Amazon, but all of your e-books released prior to April 1st are still for sale on their site. We want to also assure you that all of your books are available through other e-tailers and at bricks and mortar stores everywhere - from the large chains to the clubs to the independents and on their respective websites.&quot; </p><p>The note also said all authors e-books were available on reader applications on the iPhone &quot;and soon on the iBookstore on the iPad.&quot; As of this morning (6th April), books such as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Caught-Harlan-Coben/dp/052595158X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UT... target="_blank">Harlan Coben&#39;s <em>Caught</em> still had no Kindle version available. </a></p><p>Hachette US titles were also caught up in the switch-over, with Amazon indicating on 1st April that though &quot;we came to terms late last night . . . we cannot be operationally ready to sell their ebooks on agency terms until two days from now -- April 3 -- when we will also cut over for the other publishers that are switching to agency&quot;. Amazon though promised: &quot;If we can get a two day extension from Hachette to continue selling their ebooks under the prior terms, we can have the Hachette ebooks promptly back for sale today. If not, then they will be back on April 3.&quot;</p><p>These situation follow an earlier stand-off between Macmillan US and Amazon.com as the publisher pushed to move its e-book sales to an &quot;agency model&quot; in an attempt to prevent e-book prices dropping.</p><p>According to <em>Publishers Lunch</em> the new rival iBookstore launched with 60,000 titles paid titles and 30,000 free titles, in contrast to Kindle&#39;s claimed 450,000 titles. The site noted that when Kindle launched in late 2007, it had just under 90,000 titles. </p>