Target, others’ book pricing prompts call for investigation

An association of independent booksellers is asking the U.S. Justice Department  to investigate Target, Wal-Mart and for what it believes is illegal, predatory pricing.

A book pricing war broke out among the mega-retailers in the past week. All three are now selling new hardcover bestsellers for about $9. The American Booksellers Association estimates the retailers are losing as much as $8.50 per sale in an effort to win control of the market.

“Authors and publishers, and ultimately consumers, stand to lose a great deal if this practice continues and/or grows,” the association said in a letter Thursday. “What’s so troubling in the current situation is that none of the companies involved are engaged primarily in the sale of books. They’re using our most important products … as a loss leader to attract customers to buy other, more profitable merchandise. The entire book industry is in danger of becoming collateral damage in this war.”

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