Macmillan moved to institute a different pricing model—one that reflected, as Sargent wrote in his blog, a belief that "the first release of an e-book is worth more and people will pay more for it." In general, Macmillan insisted that Amazon was an agent for its titles and the publisher had the right to withhold the release of e-book editions unless Amazon agreed to sell them at a price the publisher deemed fair. Under this plan, the e-book price of a new release generally would start at about $15—with the expectation that the price would fall to about $10 as demand waned.
Amazon responded immediately by stealthily removing "buy" capability from its listings of all Macmillan titles. Furor among authors and customers followed. (Bemusement, too. Macmillan, highlighting what was often perceived as Amazon's pettiness, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to boost an important title likely to suffer from an Amazon "blackout" at the moment of its publicity push. The ad, for The Checklist Manifesto by surgeon Atul Gawande, '87, drolly noted, "Available at booksellers everywhere except Amazon.")
Within days, Amazon backed down. The result was the ascension of an "agency" pricing model friendlier to publishers and one that kept the playing field somewhat more level for booksellers. It was an audience of about 500 national booksellers, at a February meeting in San Jose, who rose to applaud Macmillan.
For full text, go here: http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2010/novdec/show/publishing.html
I'm glad I'm with MacMillan. I'm also glad that the publishing industry is being proactive about the e-book phenom. (I think they learned something about it from the music industry.)