Will Publishers, Apple really push $13 to $15 ebooks?

Apple Insider writes that Apple and Book Publishers are in negotiations to provide books for the Apple iSlate with new hardcovers prived at $12.99 to $14.99.

That sounds like a rather unreasonable rumor to me.

Will Publishers use Apple iSlate to attack $9.99?

This section from the Apple Insider article is key -

 Apple would rather charge a higher premium for its content, sources told the Journal.

It said the tablet will create a major battle between Apple and Amazon over how books are priced and distributed.

It also said that while Apple would recommend prices of $12.99 and $14.99 for new bestsellers, publishers would be able to establish their own prices and “re-set the rules” with the tablet.

Wait a minute -

  1. $13 to $15 prices for ebook versions of hardcover bestsellers. 
  2. Letting Publishers set their own prices.

Those are both major threats to $9.99 and not exactly progress.

A lot of this doesn’t make sense

  1. Why would Publishers choose 70% of $12.99 (which is $9.09) or 70$ of $14.99 (which is %10.49) over 50% of list price from the Kindle Store (which is usually $14 or so).
  2. Why would readers choose $12.99 or $14.99 over $9.99?

Are Publishers counting on users paying a premium to get ebooks at the same time as hardcovers? Or do they expect a premium simply for being able to get ebooks on the new magic iSlate?

$9.99 can’t be beaten by eBook release delays or Using a Different Device

This is a pipe-dream.

People are not going to go back to another pricing paradigm – $9.99 is set and past efforts to go higher haven’t worked well.

  1. First Publishers tried to sell books at $14 or so and they didn’t see good sales so they had to go back to $9.99. 
  2. Next Publishers tried the ‘delay ebooks by 2-4 months’ strategy and users killed them with 1 star reviews and boycotts.

Publishers are pushing their luck again.

Is the Apple iSlate going to improve the reading experience and justify higher prices?

Publishers might have deluded themselves into thinking they could do things like add color author interviews and charge $3 to $5 more.

However, it’s a book.

  1. The Kindle and eInk readers are  great for reading.
  2. There’s not much that can be done to improve the book.
  3. We aren’t talking about games or movies or even illustrated textbooks – these are books that are just fine on black and white eReaders. 

The higher prices aren’t going to work – If anything, it’s a great way for Publishers to ensure the iSlate doesn’t have massive impact on eBooks and eReaders.

Besides you’re going to have Kindle for iSlate and that’ll have ebooks at $9.99.

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