Amazon’s decision to stop selling books published by MacMillan has stirred up sentiment among authors and literary organizations against the online retailing giant. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America removed links to Amazon from their Website claiming that “many authors are being hit hard by this (Amazon’s decision).”
But the dispute over e-book pricing that spurred Amazon to remove the “buy” buttons from e books and paper books published by MacMillan (see “E-Book Smackdown”) could be over soon. In a letter to Macmillan authors and illustrators published on the company’s Website today, CEO John Sargent noted that the publishing house had been in constant discussions with Amazon and that “things have moved far enough that hopefully this is the last time that I will be writing to you on this subject.”
Sargent concluded his letter on a hopeful note: “I cannot tell you when we will resume business as usual with Amazon, and needless to say I can promise nothing on the buy buttons. You can tell by the tone of this letter though that I feel the time is getting near to hand.”
Harper Collins mogul Rupert Murdoch has already indicated that whatever pricing concessions that MacMillan is likely to wring out of Amazon will have to apply to his company’s books as well, so it does appear likely that the $9.99 e-book price will soon be a thing of the past, at least where large publishers' new offerings are concerned. While it appears that the publishers (and authors) may have won a major battle, they could still lose the war if the perception of high prices leads enough readers to feel justified in illegally obtaining the material for free, a phenomenon that is always a possibility where electronic files are concerned and which has spelled doom for the record companies (and for those who made their living selling recorded music in brick and mortar stores).