UPDATE: Random House confirmed this morning that it will make its full catalog of 17,000 e-books available on Apple’s iBookstore.
Publisher Random House has announced that it is joining its competitors by adopting the “agency model” for its e-book sales. The new system will allow it to set retail prices of e-books, and give booksellers a cut. That stands in contrast to a system under which the publishing house sells wholesale, which allows the book retailer to set its own price, which might be heavily discounted. (Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), for example, is believed to have sold many e-books at a loss to pump up Kindle sales).
Many are speculating that it’s no coincidence that this announcement comes right before a major Apple gadget-unveiling; the company is expected to show off the iPad 2 tomorrow. Using the “agency model” is a requirement of being part of Apple’s iBookstore, and making the switch-which all of the other major U.S. publishers have already done-will allow Random House to join up as well.
The company says the change has no effect on sales of physical books. Its full press release is available here [PDF].
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