Will e-books in the UK be hit with the agency model already in play in the US?
Amazon.co.uk posted an open letter on its blog to Kindle customers, speaking about plans publishers have to set prices for e-books and think that it's a damaging approach for everyone involved.
The letter speaks about booksellers adopting "an agency model for selling e-books" which means that they will fix a price for each e-book and booksellers are obliged to sell at that price. Currently, booksellers set prices for e-books.
Amazon.co.uk says that it "will continue to fight against higher prices for e-books" and urges publishers to reconsider plans they might have for doing so. The letter also said: “We expect UK customers to enjoy low prices on the vast majority of titles we sell, and if faced with a small group of higher-priced agency titles, they will then decide for themselves how much they are willing to pay for e-books, and vote with their purchases.
Their reasoning for opposing this plan is based on reactions in the US when publishers such as Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster raised digital book prices. According to the blog post, when prices went up, sales moved away from agency publishers: "Since agency prices went into effect on some e-books in the US, unit sales of books priced under the agency model have slowed to nearly half the rate of growth of the rest of Kindle book sales."
Time will only tell whether the "agency model" will come into play with e-books in the UK. Till then, get all the e-books you can!