Random House holding out on iPad e-book distribution

Random House, the world’s largest publisher by sales volume, is still holding out on including its titles in the iPad’s iBookstore. At issue, apparently, are fears that Apple’s business model will spark a price war among publishers, ultimately hurting profits.

According to the Financial Times (registration and/or paywall warning), Random House CEO Markus Dohle claims that the company is still negotiating with Apple and that a deal could be reached before the iPad goes on sale on April 3.

However, he also warned that iBookstore sales will cause significant shifts in the company’s revenue streams, and that its stakeholders would need to be consulted before a decision can be reached on whether Random House titles will be made available on the iPad.

Interestingly, Random House’s main competitors don’t seem to have had much of a problem with Apple’s business model, which turns traditional publishing distribution on its head by allowing publishers to set prices for their books, with Apple keeping 30 percent of sales as a commission. Hachette Book Group, Penguin, HarperCollins, and Macmillian were all confirmed as iBookstore partners during Apple’s iPad launch event in January.

This makes Dohle’s claims sound more like posturing in an attempt to clinch a better deal for his company than genuine concern for its authors and their agents over an arrangement that, if anything, gives them more control over how and for how much their products are sold.

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