Dec 19, 2014 12:17 PM
Amazon, Macmillan reach multiyear deal
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) Another major publisher has reached a multiyear deal with Amazon.com.
Amazon and Macmillan CEO John Sargent confirmed this week that they had agreed to terms for both print and electronic books. The deal will allow Macmillan to set prices for e-books, an arrangement known as the "agency model," and appears similar to agreements Amazon reached in the past two months with Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster. Authors at Macmillan range from Jonathan Franzen and Hilary Mantel to Oprah Winfrey and Bill O'Reilly.
"We are happy with this agreement, as it allows us to grow our business together with Macmillan and their authors," Amazon spokeswoman Sarah Gelman said Friday, using wording that closely follows Amazon statements following the Hachette and Simon & Schuster deals. "Importantly, the agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Macmillan to deliver lower prices for readers."
Sargent, meanwhile, announced the news in a much sharper, more skeptical tone. Among the CEOs of the top New York publishers, he has been the most openly critical of Amazon and of the anti-trust lawsuit brought by the government in 2012 against Macmillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and two other companies. The five publishers were accusing of colluding with Apple, which had recently launched its iBooks store and implemented the agency model, to rig e-book prices. The publishers all settled, and a federal judge ruled against Apple. Amazon, which had become the dominant e-seller in part through low prices, was widely seen as the beneficiary.
"In reaching agreement with Amazon, we have not addressed one of the big problems in the digital marketplace," Sargent wrote in a blog posting earlier this week. "Through great innovation and prodigious amounts of risk and hard work, Amazon holds a 64 percent market share of Macmillan's e-book business. As publishers, authors, illustrators, and agents, we need broader channels to reach our readers."
Both Macmillan and Hachette have had public feuds with Amazon over terms for e-books. In 2010, Amazon briefly removed "Buy' buttons for all Macmillan releases. For months in 2014, the retailer restricted availability and reduced discounts for numerous Hachette books.