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Random House will adopt agency ebook pricing model

February 28, 2011 |  3:05 pm

ThelostsymbolRandom House announced Monday that it will adopt  agency pricing for ebooks, leaving behind the traditional wholesale/retail model. Random House, the world's largest publisher, was the last of the big six publishing houses to move to the agency model for ebooks.

Apple encouraged the agency pricing model for ebooks sold through its ebook store for the iPad. Up until now, books published by Random House -- including Dan Brown's massive bestsellers -- have not been available for Apple's iPad. Instead, users have purchased them for the Kindle.

Random House is set to begin using the agency model Tuesday, March 1 -- perhaps not so coincidentally, the day before Apple's expected launch of the second-generation iPad. 

"The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms," Random House said in a statement. "We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships."

The American Booksellers Assn.gave "strong support" to the move. "Under the agency model, a publisher sets a retail price for a specific book, which establishes a level playing field for all resellers," the organization said in a statement. It represents independent booksellers nationwide, more than 200 of which are now selling Google eBooks using -- you guessed it -- the agency model.

Industry newsletter Publishers Lunch speculates that Random House may get a special nod at Apple's March 2 announcement. Does that mean the new iPad will have some new iBooks wrinkle after all?

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

 

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