The iPad, the Kindle, and the future of books : The New Yorker

“By the end of last year, Amazon accounted for an estimated eighty per cent of all electronic book sales, and $9.99 seemed established as the price of an e-book. Publishers were panicked,” Auletta writes. After a confrontation with Amazon, five of the “big six” publishers have agreed to sell their e-books through Apple’s iBooks store, where they will be allowed to set prices, to a certain extent. One Apple insider told Auletta, “Ultimately, Apple is in the device—not the content—business. Steve Jobs wants to make sure content people are his partner. Steve is in the I win/you win school. Jeff Bezos is in the I win/you lose school.” Auletta’s sources suggest that Amazon was making a bid to ramp up its publishing game. “What Amazon really wanted to do was make the price of e-books so low that people would no longer buy hardcover books. Then the next shoe to drop would be to cut publishers out and go right to authors,” a close associate of Jeff Bezos told Auletta. “For the time being,” Auletta writes, “Apple’s interest in the book market has given publishers a reprieve. A close associate of Bezos said, ‘Amazon was thinking of direct publishing—until the Apple thing happened.’ ” Publishers are also encouraged to know that Google will be opening Google Editions, an online e-books store, this summer. Dan Clancy, who will direct Google Editions, told Auletta that their store’s e-books will be accessible to users of any device, and that Google Editions will let publishers set prices. “Having already digitized twelve million books,” Auletta writes, “Google will have a far greater selection of books than Amazon or Apple. It will also make e-books available for bookstores to sell, giving ‘the vast majority’ of revenues to the store, Clancy said.”♦

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