Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Price Wars by the Book
October 30, 2009, 2:20 PM
Filed under: Books in General, From the Editor, General Business | Tags: , , ,

I ran across two separate articles today discussing the “price wars” over best-selling books. Major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Target are in fierce competition to snap up the considerably fewer dollars that shoppers will spend on books in the upcoming holiday season. Here’s one article from The Washington Times discussing the fight by the American Booksellers Association to get the federal government to investigate the deep price cuts that the major retailers are undertaking.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal offers an article that explains the tightly regulated publishing market in Europe. It’s an interesting read when you consider that prices for nearly all new releases are set in advance and discounts are verboten (I couldn’t resist, since Germany is heavily featured in the article).

One point brought up in the Journal article that I wanted to bring to your attention is the lawsuit that occurred in French courts against the French branch of Amazon.com. The suit in question concerned the famous “free shipping” offered by the online retailer on purchases of a certain amount or more. This lawsuit was also referenced in one of the key business books of 2009, FREE: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. I’ll have a little more to say about Anderson and this book in the coming weeks, but the fact that both he and the Journal discuss the French Amazon case gives indication about the ongoing fight over pricing in today’s economy.

The entire price war debate reminds us once more of the desperation occurring in retail. I suppose if I can take anything positive away from the situation, it’s that there is still a great demand for books of all genre.

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