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Amazon deletes a 6th of its catalogue in book price barney

Accuses Macmillan of 'a monopoly over own titles'

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Amazon.com removed all Macmillan books and ebooks from its US site over the weekend when it didn't get its own way over price negotiations.

The titles have now been restored but were unavailable for most of the weekend after Macmillan pushed for an increase in e-book titles from $9.99 to $14.99, and Amazon objected to the move. The company is not commenting on why it took the action except for an anonymous blog post after the event which said the bookseller had capitulated to the publisher.

The post, which went up on Sunday afternoon, said: "We will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books."

Many titles were still available from third parties on Amazon which makes the decision seem even more surreal - neither Macmillan nor Amazon will comment at this time.

Macmillan's chief executive John Sargent said he told Amazon on Thursday he wanted to move to an agency model in early March. This would effectively make Amazon another retailer, with a 30 per cent commission on titles sold.

Prices would change over time but most titles would be available electronically on the same day as hardback editions for between $12.99 and $14.99. Sargent said the new deal would allow Amazon to make more from Macmillan titles than in the past.

Amazon is trying to protect its share of the supply chain in the face of upcoming competition from Apple's tablet device.

Charlie Stross has an interesting take on this from an author's viewpoint here. ®

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