The Wall StreetJournal

Book Price War Escalates
The Wall Street Journal

Book publishers are worried they and retail chains could be caught in the cross fire as Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart ratchet up their price war over online book sales.

Wal-Mart triggered the online skirmish Thursday when it began selling its 10 most anticipated hardcovers for $10 apiece when pre-ordered on its Web site. Amazon matched the offer hours later and Wal-Mart then chopped its price to $9. Friday morning Amazon had matched the price.

A Walmart.com spokesman said Friday that the discount giant was prepared to make further cuts. The retailer’s Web site will continue to adjust its prices, spokesman Ravi Jariwala said in an email, « so that Walmart.com offers the lowest online prices. » Late Friday afternoon, it dropped its price a penny, to $8.99.

Walmart.com CEO Raul Vazquez said in an interview Thursday that the retailer « will go as low as we need to » to underscore Walmart.com’s intent to be a low-price leader online.

Hachette Book Group said when major retailers are allowed to sell below cost, it represents an aggressive form of price deflation that creates « all sorts of disturbances in the market. » He noted that in France it is illegal to sell a book below cost, adding, « I would welcome similar legislation here. »