As Steve Jobs still stood on stage unveiling the iPad on January 27th, Amazon executives frantically began calling a slew of publishers looking to glean as much information as possible about the type of content deals they struck with Apple.
According to a recent report in the New York Times, Amazon recently began trying to peddle new contracts with publishers that would ensure that e-book titles available for the Kindle would be lower or as low as similar titles on other reading devices. Amazon clearly has concerns about being undercut in the marketplace, and the impending Apple iPad apparently has Amazon scrambling to keep their ducks in a row.
But as luck would have it, Amazon’s troubles with publishers in the wake of Apple’s iPad announcement have had more to do with higher prices than lower prices. Over the past few weeks, book publishers have fought with Amazon to raise the ceiling on e-book titles available for the Kindle. Best-selling books and new releases on the Kindle have historically sold for $9.99, but after Apple allowed publishers to price their content anywhere between $12.99 and $14.99, Amazon was forced to follow suit.
But Amazon didn’t go down without a fight, and it was only after Macmillan (one of the largest publishing houses in the US) removed all of its print and digital content from Amazon in protest that Amazon was finally forced to acquiesce to publisher demands for greater pricing flexibility.
The Times also reports that some newspaper and magazine publishers are considering signing Amazon’s new contract because they’re fearful of losing the subscribers they already have. At the same time, they don’t want to miss the boat on the iPad given that its color multitouch screen and ability to display rich media content such as video and advanced graphics could be a boon to their subscriber base, and ultimately, their bottom line.