Macmillan, a company that insisted in December 2012 that even they did nothing wrong but were still “complying” with the DOJ settlement, ended Agency pricing today.
Publisher’s Lunch reported this morning that some ebooks published by Macmillan were now showing up in the major ebookstores at a discount:
Agency Lite has formally come to Macmillan titles now, after a longer-than-expected delay. Discounts on ebooks beyond what was previously allowed by the publisher can be seen on some of the company’s bestselling titles, such as Silver Linings Playbook (agency price, $9.99; discounted price $7.99); the Shred diet (agency price, $11.99; discounted price $9.99); and Killing Kennedy (agency price, $12.99; selling price $9.99).
The ebooks are still being listed as being sold by Macmillan, though they no longer indicate that the price was set by the publisher. This change in the pricing comes about 2 months after John Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan, announced that the publisher would settle with the DOJ.
Macmillan was the last holdout of the 5 publishers that conspired with Apple to control ebook prices. All 5 publishers have agreed to the settlement, with 3 (S&S, Hachette, and HarperCollins) settling as soon as they could and Penguin following suit 8 months later in December 2012.
There are still two major publishers that are still using the agency pricing model (Random House and Penguin). The latter has settled with the DOJ but has not yet released their price controls. The former will be giving up agency pricing as the Random Penguin Solutions merger moves forward.
In addition to Random Penguin Solutions, the indie ebook distributor Smashwords also controls ebook prices. I expect they will probably manage to make sure their authors keep control of ebook prices indefinitely. Smashwords is a separate case from the major publishers due to the fact that Smashwords doesn’t actually control the prices of the ebooks they distribute; their authors do. That results in a dispersal
much smaller concentration of power which is more responsive to market pressure.