… but not in a good way.
The Associated Press reports that books published by Macmillan have been removed from Amazon.com’s physical book catalog, as well as the e-tailer’s digital book inventory. The root of the reversal is a dispute over e-book prices.
Amazon charges $9.99 for new best-sellers in e-book format for its Kindle device, whereas new best-selling hardcover novels usually fetch $24 or more.
Macmillan wants a business model that will price e-books at $12.99 to $14.99 upon release. But Amazon is eager to keep e-book prices down as its competition in this market explodes, with many tech companies planning devices that include features the Kindle doesn’t have, like touch screens and color. Just last week Apple announced the launch of its iPad and a new online store for e-books that will mimic its iTunes music store.
Earlier this month Amazon announced a plan to expand royalties for self-publishers on the Kindle platform, while at the same time keeping prices down for consumers.
Amazon became the target of a lawsuit in July when a high school student sued the e-tailer for deleting an e-book he bought for the Kindle device. At issue were digital copies of George Orwell’s classics 1984 and Animal Farm, which turned out to be unofficial editions that the company did not have the right to distribute and therefore yanked back, right out of users’ Kindle units. The heavyhanded way in which it was done sparked a flood of comparisons to Orwell’s dystopian 1984 future.
Amazon now says the rights issue has been resolved and has offered free books or $30 to customers who lost their copies of the works.
Four American universities — including ASU — just settled lawsuits with blind advocacy groups over their use of Kindles in the classroom. Blind students felt the Kindle DX’s lack of a nonvisual user interface put them at a competitive disadvantage with their sighted classmates. While the device has a mode that reads text aloud to users, its menus have no such audio capability. In December Amazon announced features to addresss the complaints will be included in a new model set for release this summer.
In October, Amazon announced it will release a free software application for Windows PCs that will read the same e-books as its $259 Kindle device.