Amazon and Book Publishers Reach New Deals Ahead of iBookstore Launch

The Associated Press reports that Amazon has struck new eBook deals with book publishers Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins just days before Apple's iPad and associated iBookstore launch in the U.S. The new deals are reportedly similar to other reworked Amazon contracts such as that made with Macmillan in late January that will allow for higher sale prices and more publisher control over pricing that Amazon's earlier system. The Amazon deals are also reportedly modeled on publishers' arrangements with Apple for distribution through the iBookstore.

With Apple's pricing model, some e-books will cost up to $14.99 initially -- $5 more than Amazon charges for some popular e-books -- and Apple is insisting that publishers can't sell books at a lower price through a competitor.

Apple's iBookstore is launching with titles from major publishers such as Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan. One big publisher, Random House, has not yet struck a deal with Apple.

Apple's push toward an agency model where publishers retain control over pricing is supported by many publishers who have feared that Amazon's low pricing for certain eBook content, which has even had the company selling eBooks at a loss, threatens the long-term viability of the publishing industry.

Not all publishers are convinced, however, that Apple's plans are best for the industry, as Random House is holding out as it consults with its authors agents to consider the ramifications of such a change.