Latest Salvo in eBook Battles: Forget About Buying a Kindle at Target
Not all that glitters is gold
When the Department of Justice announcing an investigation and subsequent suit against Apple and five other eBook publishers for price fixing, Amazon, the 1k pound gorilla of the eBook market and the biggest eBook publisher not named in the suit, immediately lowered its eBook pricing, by as much as a third in some cases. See, the way it works is, Amazon is using the market dominance of its Kindle (60% of the eReader market) to set prices lower than many publishers consider profitable, in an effort to collect even more of the market. Apple, alternatively, takes 30% of any eBook sales on iBooks, and requires any publisher they work with to never sell an eBook for less than the price they sell for iBooks. Are both attempts to create prices based on something other than immediate, per-book profitability? Yes. Are both of them at odds with each other and bad for physical book sellers? Yup.
Today, however, saw one of the weirder ways this fight is playing out, namely in the removal of all Amazon brand hardware from their stores.
According to a memo leaked to The Verge, Target will cease restocking Kindles and other Amazon products on May 13th (that’s Mother’s Day, so don’t worry about your shopping, as long as you get it done on time, I guess). Why? Well, likely it’s because at the beginning of this year, Apple announced that they’d be setting up tiny Apple store outlets in a number of Targets across the country. And presumably Target wants Apple’s cooperation badly enough that they’re willing to shove all Amazon merch out of their store to preserve that agreement.
For years, Target hasn’t had a problem selling all kinds of different brands concurrently, and not just the Kindle, iPad, and even the Nook. Apple, however, has always liked the sound of “exclusivity,” and it definitely doesn’t seem outside the norm for them to, after Amazon’s way-too-timely-to-be-coincidence price drop, demand that Target drop their arrangements with Amazon.
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