That was fast: Amazon is already discounting settling publishers’ ebooks

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Just four days after a federal judge approved the Department of Justice’s settlement with HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster for allegedly colluding with Apple to fix ebook prices, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and other ebook retailers have already begun discounting HarperCollins ebooks. For now it appears that Hachette and Simon & Schuster ebooks are not being discounted yet.

“We are happy to again be lowering prices on a broad assortment of HarperCollins titles,” an Amazon spokeswoman told me.

“HarperCollins has reached agreements with our e-retailers that are consistent with the final judgment,” a HarperCollins spokeswoman told me. “Dynamic pricing and experimentation will continue to be a priority for us as we move forward.”

Jane Litte, who runs the romance blog Dear Author, first discovered the discounts that Amazon and HarperCollins have confirmed:

My advanced search for HarperCollins Kindle books turns up many more discounted titles. Eloisa James’ romance The Ugly Duchess, which is #9 on this week’s New York Times bestseller list, is $6.64 in the Kindle Store, for example, and $7.99 (its list price) on Barnes & Noble Nook. Other titles are only discounted very slightly: Pittacus Lore’s The Rise of Nine is $9.59 in the Kindle Store, for example, compared to its $9.99 ebook list price at B&N. Update: Discounted prices on HarperCollins titles are now appearing at other retailers, like Barnes & Noble and Kobo, as well.

In addition, some HarperCollins titles are already appearing in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which lets Amazon Prime members read them for free. For example, some HarperCollins books by Stephanie Bond — an author who had previously made her self-published ebook “Our Husband” available through the KOLL — are now available in the lending libraryUpdate: Though Amazon lists HarperCollins as the publisher on the Bond titles in the KOLL, the books’ copyright pages suggest that the rights actually reverted to Bond and that she’s offering them in the KOLL herself.

As I reported earlier today, the settlement gives HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster seven days to terminate their contracts with Apple, and as of this afternoon HarperCollins’s ebooks seem to still be appearing in Apple’s iBookstore under their list prices.

According to the settlement, non-Apple retailers can terminate their contracts with the settling publishers with thirty days’ notice, but I had not expected any  changes to take place nearly this fast. HarperCollins’ quick price changes suggest either that HarperCollins either began these contract negotiations with retailers before the settlement was approved or immediately afterwards. It’s also clear that neither side adhered to a thirty-day waiting period.

Digital bookstore Books on Board sent out an email this afternoon (thanks again, Jane Litte) with an announcement that “BooksOnBoard welcomes back Discounts for Harper Collins eBook titles! This week only! 24% Off all HarperCollins eBooks!”

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