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The news on electronic book wholesaling is a real page turner these days, and like any good mystery, there's no way to know how it's all going to turn out. As print books may meet a slow death, consider a list of recent clues to figure out this whodunnit:
- Amazon, Apple, Penguin, and several other of the biggest publishers have reached an agreement on wholesale e-book distribution and pricing.
- The Connecticut attorney general is taking a skeptical look at this deal.
- Building on its popular Book Search feature, Google is launching an "Editions" service that will let customers buy e-books directly through Google, or through a wholesale model, from independent booksellers.
- The U.S. Justice Department thinks Google's proposals raise antitrust questions.
- Amazon is selling more e-books than hardcovers. The company's Kindle e-reader sales have tripled since a recent price cut.
- Amazon further predicts that e-books will outsell paperbacks in 2011.
- Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble have all recently released apps to transform smartphones into e-readers.
- A book agent recently cut a deal with Amazon, bypassing its publishing house entirely.
- One prominent tech blogger and award winning author has gotten several publishers to release his works with no restrictions on who can read them on any platform.
- A new online-only wholesaler is moving into e-books with a successful second round of venture funding.
- Barnes & Noble has put itself up for sale, blaming e-books for its declining fortunes.
The outdated edifice of book wholesaling is crumbling. Authors and agencies are cutting deals with retailers. Retailers and publishers are colluding on price models and locking out smaller retailers. Those smaller retailers are cutting deals with a search engine in order to stay competitive. New companies are starting up, as old ones go on the auction block. And the government is looking to get involved, too. How will this bloody imbroglio be resolved? Keep flipping those pages, or pressing the "next page" button on your e-reader, to find out.
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