Could Apple Actually KILL eBooks?

Once again we can’t turn on a news reader on the internet without be reminded of the Great Steve (not me–Jobs) and how he always has the “right sense” for business.  In addition to his design sense, and ability to time the introduction of products perfectly, many often credit him with “saving” the music industry by making music affordable at just 99 cents per song.

But could he have lost his touch? Could Steve Jobs and Apple not only missed it this time, but could they be responsible for bringing down a whole nascent industry with them?

On the heels of the introduction of the Apple iPad (and their announcement that books would cost between $13 and $15) we saw an emboldened Macmillan publishing house pressing their case against Amazon.  For a brief moment Amazon seemed to be fighting the good fight for consumers, and went so far as to ban direct sales of Macmillan books.

Macmillan was simply “acting out” what Steve Jobs told to Walt Mossberg when he said that the prices would end up being the same (between Apple and Amazon), because the publishers are not happy (with Amazon) and are going to pull their books from there.  It appears that Steve Jobs is doing the work of the Publishers, pushing the price points up, rather than down.  Rather than being a champion of the individual, does this make Steve Jobs simply a big business “hack?”

The bottom line here really is that Amazon knew 2 years ago what Steve Jobs should know now. Verso Direct has conducted a book buyers behavioral study/survey, in which they discover that the magic price-point for digital books seems to be right at $9.99.  According to the article “Amazon Flanks…” when Verso presented their study and broke down their findings, they reported that 3 out of 5 people will consider buying an ebook at or below $9.99.  Raise the price, and that drops to 1 out of 5.

The article then goes on to identify the real “winners” as pirates.

Is it possible that, in his rush to kill Amazon, Steve Jobs may have instead spell the death of eBooks?1

  1.  There are many other thoughts here, including the differences between music and books.  I will discuss these over the next few weeks.