Business

HarperCollins signs deal with Amazon over online book sales

HarperCollins, one of the world’s biggest publishers, has signed a deal with Amazon over online print and e-book sales, averting a public dispute over pricing and profit from online sales.

Deal over e-books, print books averts ugly dispute in which Amazon has upper hand

A worker gathers books for delivery from the warehouse floor at Amazon's distribution centre in Phoenix, Arizona. Amazon has signed a deal with four of five big publishers. (Ralph D. Freso/Reuters)

HarperCollins, one of the world's biggest publishers, has signed a deal with Amazon over online print and e-book sales, averting a public dispute over pricing and profit from online sales.

Amazon, which strives to keep book prices low, has had a troubled relationship with the big publishers, even as it grabs a larger share of the market for books.

But in the past year, Amazon has struck accords with four of the so-called "big five" book publishers: Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and now HarperCollins. Penguin Random House has not said if has struck a deal with Amazon.

One of the contentious questions for publishers has been pricing of e-books. Amazon had wanted a set price for e-books, like Apple gets for songs, but the publishers have fought to retain control of prices.

All the agreements allow the publishers to set their own e-book prices, but give them financial encouragement to price cheaply. The deals also cover marketing of books on Amazon's site, and other aspects of distribution.

HarperCollins issued a statement Monday saying it had "reached an agreement with Amazon and our books will continue to be available on the Amazon print and digital platforms."

According to Business Insider, Amazon was threatening a public dispute over HarperCollins books, in which it might have resorted to removing HarperCollins books from its website or delaying shipment of its books.

That was the treatment it gave to Hachette in a long-running dispute that ended last November with the publisher striking a deal with Amazon.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent admitted in a blog that Amazon controls as much as 64 per cent market share of its e-book sales, saying that dominance was a problem the publishers would have to solve.

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