Random House Finally Comes to iBooks

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Apple’s iBookstore originally launched with many major publishers on board, including HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster, but Random House was a longtime holdout. Then, on Tuesday, Random House switched to the agency model for e-book pricing, and today began populating the iBookstore with its titles.

The agency model allows the publisher to set prices, paying the retailer a commission (30 percent in this case) on each title sold. In the traditional publishing house model that Random House still maintains with brick and mortar retail stores, retailers set the prices, sometimes selling titles at a loss in order to attract customers to their own brand or other more profitable products.

Random House reaching an agreement with Apple right before the launch of the Mac-maker’s next-generation iPad device likely isn’t a coincidence. We can probably even expect to see the deal mentioned at the event, since it does represent a major victory for the iBookstore’s catalog. You can check back a little later today to see if Random House does get a mention during our live blog of the Apple announcement.

There’s also the possibility that Random House saw the futility of holding out against Apple when, in just a few short months, it might be the only major purveyor of e-books on the iOS platform. Apple has revised its app guidelines to ensure that if e-book sellers are offering content for use in an iOS app, it must also be sold through the App Store and without a link to an outside store. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, all of which currently offer e-book apps connected to their own, separate e-book stores might not find those terms agreeable, and come June 1, the iBookstore might be the last iOS outlet standing. A deal with Apple gives Random House a guaranteed continued presence on iOS devices, even if the other stores pull out.

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