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 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 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 offers the lowest online prices. » Late Friday afternoon, it dropped its price a penny, to $8.99. CEO Raul Vazquez said in an interview Thursday that the retailer « will go as low as we need to » to underscore’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. »