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Consumers and Publishers Beware…ABA & the DOJ v. Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart?

As if these three sellers don’t offer enough threat of mark-downs and discounts, now there’s suspicion of a Price War?

The American Booksellers Association issued a request for investigation to the Department of Justice yesterday, concerning the predatory price slashing that Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Target have been battling over. Here are the essentials:

“[I]n the consumer and trade press this past week, Amazon.com, WalMart.com, and Target.com have engaged in a price war in the pre-sale of new hardcover bestsellers, including books from John Grisham, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Sarah Palin, and James Patterson. These books typically retail for between $25 and $35. As of writing of this letter, all three competitors are selling these and other titles for between $8.98 and $9.00.” (for the full letter, click here).

As noted in the letter, books are a special kind of product. Their prices are printed right on the book by the publisher. Not to mention book units are already sold at a discount to the retailer.  This means retailers only have a limit to how much they can earn.

Why are these three retailing moguls doing this? From the looks of it, they’re fighting to claim as much market share as possible. Why worry about this? Because not only are smaller, less capable booksellers’ businesses threatened, but publishers need the diversity to remain in some control over how much of a discount they need to sell their products at.

This is definitely a story to keep an eye on.


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