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Tuesday News: HarperCollins abandons agency pricing; California federal court rules BNs’...

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Thanks to our sharp eyed commenter, Rosie, we led the scoop on HarperCollins’ abandonment of agency pricing yesterday. From there, Laura Hazard Owens, worked her contacts and got a confirmation from Amazon that it was indeed going crazy with the discounting of HarperCollins books.  Followed close on the heels of this was a Books on Board email that said “BooksOnBoard welcomes back Discounts for Harper Collins eBook titles! This week only! 24% Off all HarperCollins eBooks!”  All Romance eBooks confirmed for me that HarperCollins books could now count toward buy club purchases and future promotional programs. (This also means that HC books can be part of Smart Bitches’ Sizzling Book Club).

Despite some industry experts’ suggestions that the industry would remain in stasis until well into the holiday buying season, it’s likely the settling publishers are anxious to put these lawsuits behind them and ensure no interruption in book selling during one of the most important times of retailing during the year.

Most of the discounts appear to be in the 10-20% range, but all appear to have some kind of discount.  How do you know?  Look at the lines underneath the price.  If it says “price set by publisher”, it’s still agency pricing.  As you can see by the HarperCollins published book, however, it says only “Sold by HarperCollins.”

HarperCollins discounts

My take from all this? Dear Author has some of the best commenters on the internet.

The court held: “We disagree with the proposition that a reasonably prudent offeree in plaintiffs’ position would necessarily have known or learned of the existence of the . . . license agreement prior to acting, so that plaintiffs may be held to have assented to that agreement with constructive notice of its terms.” (Id. at 30.) The court concluded that “plaintiffs’ bare act of downloading the software did not unambiguously manifest assent to the arbitration provision contained in the license terms.” (Id. at 20.) The same is true here. Defendant did not position any notice even of the existence of its “Terms of Use” in a location where website users would necessarily see it, and certainly did not give notice that those Terms of Use applied, except within the Terms of Use.

This could have far reaching effects including determining whether a product is a sale (it does say “buy” not “rent”) versus lease.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 09:30:35

    When do we all get fitted with our state mandated GPS bracelets?

    Which will all have an identifier prefix of 666.

    (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

  2. Laurie
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 10:28:33

    Does anyone know if or when HC agency pricing will end in Canada?

  3. Lynnd
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 11:07:31

    @Laurie: I’m wondering the same thing I sent a message to Kobo today asking that question We’ll see if they respond. From what I’ve seen so far, nothing has changed at Kobo or Amazon and I didn’t get the e-mail from Books on Board regarding Harper Collins books.

  4. GrowlyCub
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 11:09:11

    Pub lunch had a tweet this morning that looked like HC might be raising prices. I don’ t have a login with them so I couldn’t read the article; can somebody check on that?

  5. Susan
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 19:52:59

    Rebates to customers???

    Re: tracking via license plates. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how well they work (and I haven’t personally tried them), but there are reflective sprays and covers that are supposed to make it harder for cameras to get a clear shot of the plates. But, since we’ll all have our implants, it won’t matter about the plates soon.

  6. Jane Litte
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 20:05:51

    @GrowlyCub – Publishers Lunch reports that HC is raising their list price for books. If you recall, they had been discounting mass markets, for example, from $7.99 to $6.99 or $5.99 for front list titles. But the list prices for many books have appeared to go up. Amazon has been discounting them and so has nearly every other retailer except for Kobo. Today I checked and it appears Kobo hasn’t implemented any changes. It may be that a contract isn’t in place or that Kobo’s system hasn’t made the change.

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