Booksellers call for probe of online book-price wars

October 22, 2009 By Maria Halkias

The American Booksellers Association on Thursday asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate online book-price wars underway by Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and Target.

In a letter from the 109-year-old trade organization representing independent booksellers, the ABA's board told antitrust officials that the discounted pre-sales of hardback bestsellers for $9, "constitute illegal predatory pricing that is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers."

That cost is below what retailers pay to publishers, and by making books loss leaders, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and Target "are devaluing the very concept of the book," the ABA said in the letter. "Authors and publishers, and ultimately consumers, stand to lose a great deal if this practice continues and/or grows" because it will force more independent bookstores to close and will stifle the sale of "brilliant first" novels for $25.

The ABA said the new price wars were precipitated by Amazon.com's below-cost pricing of $9.99 for digital editions of new hardcover that are released simultaneously with the much higher-priced print editions. "We believe the loss-leader pricing of digital content also bears scrutiny," the letter said.

The letter also noted that while some may say lower prices will encourage more reading, "the reality is quite the opposite," the ABA said. In the letter, the group quoted author John Grisham's agent, David Gernert: "If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over. If you can buy Stephen King's new novel or John Grisham's 'Ford County' for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best-sellers take the consumer's attention away from emerging writers."

The ABA board asked to be allowed to discuss the issues further with DOJ staffers in Washington.
___

(c) 2009, The Dallas Morning News.
Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at www.dallasnews.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Wal-Mart and Amazon.com trade price cuts on books

Related Stories

Google to sell new e-books online

June 1, 2009

Google plans to begin selling electronic versions of new books online this year, posing a potential challenge to market leader Amazon.

Google to launch platform for selling books online

October 15, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. is launching a new online service that will let readers buy electronic versions of books and read them on such gadgets as cell phones, laptops and possibly e-book devices.

The latest craze: Free e-books offerings

August 7, 2009

(AP) -- James Patterson's latest best seller, "The Angel Experiment," is a little different from his usual hits. The novel isn't new; it came out four years ago. Its sales aren't happening at bookstores, but mostly on the ...

Privacy concerns over Google book project

July 24, 2009

Google's ambitious book scanning project, already facing anti-trust scrutiny and awaiting court approval, is also raising concerns among privacy advocates and civil liberties groups.

Recommended for you

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

January 14, 2018

Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

frajo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2009
I don't care for Stephen King or John Grisham. But I wonder why after nearly 40 years the MTW "bible" (Misner/Thorne/Wheeler - Gravitation) still sells for 121 US$. On Amazon.
I got my (new) MTW 30 years ago in Europe, for the equivalent of 50 US$.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.