Amazon strikes two more electronic book deals: WSJ

AFP , SAN FRANCISCO

Fri, Apr 02, 2010 - Page 10

Amazon.com is letting two more major publishers raise prices of electronic books for Kindle readers in deals struck just days before Apple releases rival iPad computer tablets, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The agreements with Simon & Schuster and Harper-Collins break from Amazon’s practice of holding the price of popular new titles down to US$9.99 each, the newspaper reported.

Prices for Kindle e-books can now be set at US$12.99 or US$14.99 in deals similar to those that Apple has with publishers providing digital works for its iPad touchscreen tablet computer devices, which are scheduled to make their US debut on Saturday.

Amazon did not respond reporters’ requests for comment.

US book publishers are smiling again, after years of watching digital versions of their titles sell for below what they thought they were worth.

A host of rivals to the market-dominating Kindle electronic reader has given publishers leverage to finally be able to dictate their own terms after being at the mercy of Amazon.

Apple’s iPad tablet computer doubles as a full-color e-reader of books, newspapers and magazines. Unveiling the iPad, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced deals with five major publishers and an agreement that allows publishers to set higher prices while Apple settles for a 30-percent cut.

The so-called “agency model” is a departure from the way Amazon has been doing business with book publishers.

Since the release of the Kindle two years ago, Amazon has sold digital versions of hardcover new releases and bestsellers for US$9.99, a move primarily aimed at driving sales of the online retail giant’s e-reader, but generally opposed by publishers.

Meanwhile, a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has backed Internet stars such as Google and Amazon on Wednesday doubled a fund to support software tailored for Apple gadgets.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) said it was pumping another US$100 million into an iFund established in 2008 to invest in applications for Apple’s iPhone, the iPod Touch and now the new iPad.