Sony warns trade over e-book prices

<p>E-book prices will have to come down to meet consumer demand and grow the market, Sony has warned. The company gave the warning at a round table this week to discuss the launch of its two new reader devices.</p><p>Sony&#39;s general manager for content and services development, Richard Palk, said consumers were confused about why e-book pricing was initially set based on hardback prices before falling when the paperback was released. He added: &quot;It&#39;s fair to expect that prices of digital books will come down. The difference in price between physical books and e-books will have to change to meet consumer expectations. But we are in an evolutionary stage.&quot;</p><p>Palk was speaking at a round table held on Wednesday at the British Library in central London, which included author Sadie Jones.</p><p>Unlike the US, the United Kingdom does not have a common benchmark e-book price. Amazon prices new releases and bestselling e-books at $9.99 in the United States and Sony recently cut the price of bestselling titles to $9.99.</p><p>Retailers and publishers appear to be split over who should drive a similar pricing change in the UK. Fionnuala Duggan, group digital director at Random House, said Amazon was loss-leading in its Kindle pricing. She said: &quot;It&#39;s not an issue for us but it is for booksellers. How do they respond to a competitor loss-leading on e-books?&quot; Duggan refused to be drawn on an answer and said it was a matter for booksellers. She added: &quot;If retailers want prices to be lower then they need to give away more discount or talk to publishers.&quot;</p><p>Waterstone&#39;s commercial director Neil Jewsbury said retailers had to initially work with the r.r.p. of the hardback, which is set by publishers. He added: &quot;With e-books priced at the same r.r.p. as hardbacks we don&#39;t have fair pricing and it&#39;s something that needs to be addressed.&quot;</p><p>In research conducted by Waterstone&#39;s, the retailer found that the average price paid for an e-book was &pound;6.50. Jewsbury said that was a &quot;good price to pay&quot; for a digital title.</p>