Peter Kafka

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Amazon Pushes Royalty Rates Up–And Prices Down–For Do-It-Yourself E-Book Publishers

low priceAmazon is doubling the royalty rate it pays small e-book authors and publishers–if they promise to keep the prices of their digital texts below the price of physical books.

Starting this summer, the e-commerce giant will offer a 70 percent royalty rate for books published on its self-serve Digital Text Platform, up from the 35 percent of the list price it currently offers. The offer comes with a series of strings attached, but all are aimed at the same goal: Selling titles at the lowest possible price.

This won’t be relevant for most of the mass-market titles, whose publishers negotiate individually with Amazon (AMZN). But it will be relevant for Kindle owners, who tend to be price-sensitive types who flock to low-cost and no-cost titles.

Amazon has two goals here. The company wants to push e-book prices down, which should help it sell more e-books and more Kindles. And it wants to keep business away from a growing list of rivals, which include Sony (SNE), Barnes & Noble (BKS), and, very soon, Apple (AAPL), which will be supporting e-books on its new tablet device.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus