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Amazon, in Hachette dispute, says e-books should be $9.99 or less

Amazon made a semi-public statement about its dispute with Hachette in a post in its own Kindle discussion forum late Tuesday. An Amazon representative has confirmed that the statement, signed "The Amazon Books Team," is an official post from the company.

Although the location is not surprising -- Amazon has recently been using its public message boards for official corporate communications -- it is notable, considering what the post says.

"With this update, we're providing specific information about Amazon's objectives," it begins. "A key objective is lower e-book prices."

Amazon then makes its case that e-books should cost $9.99 or less instead of $14.99-$19.99. "E-books can be and should be less expensive," the company writes.

Because the Kindle discussion forum is a place for Kindle owners -- people who gather to discuss Kindles and e-books -- they are certainly a target audience for making the case that e-books should be cheaper. They are, ostensibly, specifically e-book buyers.

Asking a consumer if what they're consuming should be cheaper is sort of a slam dunk. It's sort of like standing outside a movie theater and saying tickets to "The Avengers" should be cheaper. Or a bar and asking, "Are you going to pay $15 for a cocktail -- don't you agree that cocktails should be $10?" Everybody wants a bargain.

Of course, Amazon isn't a consumer advocate -- it's a retailer with its own agenda.

It lays out its case for why $9.99 can work. The company writes, "the lower price, total revenue increases 16%" and "at $9.99, the total pie is bigger." Their math checks out, but it's not the whole story.

Amazon's case is based on certain assumptions -- assumptions about how a price point affects e-book sales, assumptions about the costs publishers should bear, assumptions about how e-book pricing may affect sales or pricing of print books.

If Amazon gets its way, e-books will end up costing less. But that may not be, as the company states, "good for all the parties involved."

Like passing notes in class; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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