Book publishers' last-minute negotiations with Apple revealed by the WSJ: Apple is pushing for bestsellers to cost $12.99 or $14.99—and some books $9.99—with Apple taking a 30 percent cut, like iPhone apps. Publishers set the ultimate price, though.

Despite the higher price to customers, selling books through Apple could actually make less money per book for publishers than through Amazon, who sells a number of bestsellers for $10 by taking a loss (paying the publisher, say, $15). Amazon's latest scheme does look more like Apple's, where publishers want 70 percent of the revenue, but book prices are capped at $10. And it's the $10 pricepoint that's the problem for publishers, both philosophically and practically: They want people to believe books are worth more than $9.99, and they want to set the prices themselves.


On a smaller note, the WSJ says that HarperCollins is trying to wedge its way into the starting up lineup tomorrow (though don't expect to be blown away by what they show). McGraw-Hill, who was pretty gabby about the tablet earlier today, won't be showing anything. And, like we and others, notably Peter Kafka, have said, the WSJ says most publishers are in fact still in the dark about most of the tablet's details, from development to pricing to distribution.

Amazon vs. Apple. Should be a fun show to watch, though if it goes like music, we already know who's going to win. I wonder if the publishing industry should be quite so keen on that. [WSJ]


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