On Wednesday (2nd March) European Commission Inspectors made 'unannouced inspections' at a number of European publishers on the basis of "suspicion of anti-competition practices on the pricing of e-books."
Nothing is being said about it relating to agency pricing, but it isn't likely to be anything else, when the OFT in the UK has already launched an investigation into this issue and cited complaints and EU laws as the basis.
I do like the comments from appropriate spokespeople saying they have no proof and are not accusing anyone...
You can read the interesting responses from officials in this Bookseller.com article.
* * *
Mintel (a market research company) have revealed that existing e-book owners are more realistic about pricing (doesn't mean they are always happy with that pricing though) while younger readers expected to pay less- Mintel took this to be a reflection of previous experience of obtaining digital products cheaply or for free (and some of those free sources could have come courtesy of piracy).
But it did confirm that most readers expected to pay less for an e-book, 40-70% off the hardback price. (As agency pricing has been selling e-books at the same price as a hardback- sometimes even more, then there is still a long way to go before a satisfactory compromise is reached between publisher and reader).
(For anyone thinking about pricing of their e-books) those who expected to pay less-for an e-book-preferred a price of £3 to £6, while existing e-reader owners expected to pay £6 to £10.
(For an 80-90,000 word e-novel by an author with a few books to their name I'd personally have no issue with paying £6 to £8).
The research was undertaken in December 2010 and in the run-up to Christmas there is often a push on e-readers. So by December 2011 the results they found could have changed if they asked those same people again.
49% did say they they would rather have a book than an e-book- so there's no risk of the mass demise of the paperback.
But clearly these same respondents were concerned (like everyone) about their money as 1 in 10 said they expected to buy less books this year than they bought last year...
I know I'm not buying as many books as early last year- whether solid or digital. So are you buying less books than previously?