Random House remains iBookstore holdout

Despite the successful launch of the iPad this weekend, Random House, the lone major publisher not signed on to offer its titles in the iBookstore, remains a holdout. The Wall Street Journal reports that Random House is unimpressed with Apple’s “agency” pricing model, which allows the publishers to set book pricing, while Apple takes 30% of the sales price. A senior Random House executive said that the company will benefit economically from sticking to its current model whereby it receives half of the hardcover price for new ebooks, regardless of the pricing set by the retailer. The same executive was also skeptical about publishers’ ability to effectively discount titles to drive sales, and said there could be possible contractual issues with authors now that the publishers are setting their own prices. Furthermore, he expressed concern over the potential for piracy, saying, “At $9.99, e-books are perceived as a bargain[.] When e-books are $15, it may affect the behavior of some. We don’t want a segment of the population growing up with stolen books.” Despite Random House’s concerns, the company and Apple are still engaged in “ongoing conversations that remain cordial,” according to Random House spokesperson Stuart Applebaum. Apple announced yesterday that iPad owners had downloaded over 250,000 ebooks from the iBookstore on launch day.

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