While Amazon has yet to fully reinstate Macmillan titles on its website, another potential threat looms on the horizon for the online retailer. Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp. “ the huge media conglomerate that owns HarperCollins “ said about e-readers during a conference call yesterday that devices and platforms are proliferating, but this clever technology is merely an empty vessel without any great content. Further taking the side of the publishers in the Amazon vs. Macmillan battle, Murdoch had this to say (via All Things Digital):
We don’t like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99. They don’t pay us that. They pay us the full wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge. We think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hardcover books. We are not against [inaudible] books. On the contrary, we like them very much indeed. It is low cost to us and so on. But we want some room to maneuver in it.
Murdoch also said that Apple has already agreed to a variety of higher prices for e-books, and that Amazon is ready to renegotiate pricing with News Corp. Will the clout of a publisher like HarperCollins force Amazon to allow higher prices? Will customers be willing to cough up more than $9.99 for an e-book, despite online protests? Or will the higher prices deter readers from investing in the high-priced Kindle at all?
One thing’s for sure: the publishing industry is being brought together by a common enemy, as demonstrated today at the America Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute. Galleycat reports that when Macmillan’s stand against Amazon was mentioned at the event, the company received an enthusiastic standing ovation.