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Apple Is Happy to Sell You the Hachette Books Amazon Won't Stock

Apple holds a well-timed sale on J.K. Rowling's new book and other titles Amazon won't stock.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Amazon doesn’t want to sell books from Hachette Book Group.

More for us, says Apple, which is taking advantage of the fight between the world’s biggest bookstore and one of the world’s biggest publishers. Its iTunes store is promoting a sale on digital versions of popular Hachette titles, including upcoming books from James Patterson and J.K. Rowling.

Apple won’t come out and say that, exactly. But if you head to the iTunes book page, you’ll see Apple is highlighting a “Popular Pre-Orders: $9.99 or Less” section:

And if you click on the “see all” button, you’ll note that every one of the 26 titles Apple is pushing is scheduled to be published by Hachette, including “The Silkworm,” the new book from “Harry Potter” author Rowling, written under her Robert Galbraith pseudonym.

Meanwhile, Amazon won’t allow customers to preorder digital versions of any of those titles, and generally isn’t selling paper-and-ink versions, either.

Beyond the fact that Apple’s happy to take advantage of a (much bigger) rival’s fight, what’s particularly interesting about the promotion is that one of the chief disputes between Hachette and Amazon is over pricing of digital books — Amazon wants to push prices down; Hachette does not.

An Apple PR rep confirmed the promotion, but wouldn’t discuss the pricing or any other details. So we have to assume that either Hachette is lowering wholesale prices on its own titles to help Apple tweak Amazon, or Apple is lowering the retail price on its own, and losing margin in order to tweak Amazon.

Also of note: Apple just settled its e-book pricing lawsuit with attorneys representing consumers and state attorney generals, who wanted $840 million in damages. Amazon had been the primary beneficiary of that lawsuit.

I’ve asked Amazon for comment.

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