Penguin, Amazon resolve e-book pricing for Kindle

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Penguin books said on Wednesday it reached a deal with to again sell its new titles for Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader in another step in book publishers’ ongoing efforts to find profitable pricing models for e-books.

A man holds the new Kindle DX electronic reader at a news conference where the device was introduced in New York May 6, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Penguin, one of the “top six” book publishers, had been embroiled in negotiations with Amazon over e-book pricing for its new titles. Since April 1, about 150 of Penguin’s new books have unavailable for the Kindle.

In 2007 with the launch of Kindle, Amazon negotiated a standard $9.99 for bestsellers, but since Apple’s iPad was released in January the online retailer has agreed to more flexible deals with publishers that has meant higher prices for consumers.

After Penguin, owned by Pearson, stopped providing its new titles, Amazon in return dropped the prices of some of those same physical hardback titles to US$9.99 for delivery to homes.

“We have reached an agreement with Amazon and we are pleased that a full selection of our books will be available on the Kindle,” David Shanks, chief executive of Penguin Group, said in a statement.

A Penguin spokeswoman would not comment on the specific terms of the deal. A spokesperson for Amazon was not immediately available.

Throughout the book industry, publishers have been engaged with electronic publishers like Amazon on different pricing for physical books versus e-books read on devices like the Kindle.

Amazon has wanted to charge less for e-books to encourage readers to switch to electronic readers, but publishers have wanted higher pricing they see as essential to survive.

Book publishers were happier when they worked out a deal for Apple’s iPad based on a so-called agency model. It meant e-books sold through Apple’s iBookstore would have more flexible pricing, with bestsellers tagged at $12.99, $14.99 and more.

In January Amazon briefly removed Macmillan’s titles from its site after the publisher said it would begin setting higher consumer prices for the e-books than Amazon’s standard $9.99.

Other publishers followed with similar demands and Apple has taken advantage of the opportunity.

Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Steve Orlofsky