"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."
Is this really new news? There have always been the pricing differences depending on which retail chain you go to for a book. The big deal here is that it has now turned ugly. Thanks to the economy of course. With retailers attacking with "Rollback" prices, discounts and pre-order deals, you can obtain even brand new release first editions dirt cheap. Is this a bad thing? Let's look at it a little further.
Of course, the main focus of this current price war is mainly internet sale based, and no doubt all retailers involved will benefit from the publicity at such a crucial time of the year.
As noted in New York Times, the biggest 'foe' participation in this war is Amazon and Walmart. Affecting titles such as "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin, "Ford County" by John Grisham, and "Under the Dome" by Stephen King.
John Grisham's literary agent brilliantly responds to the "war" by saying, "If you can buy Stephen King's new novel or John Grisham's 'Ford County' for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumers attention away from emerging writers."
My biggest worry in all this is the great emerging but self-published authors. Generally publishers charge retailers 50% of the list price, regardless of the retailers discounts and deals. But emerging authors who self publish to get their start in the industry may be the most injured.
Although, on the other side of the coin, I cannot ignore the benefits of any price war in this economy. The economy as it is makes it difficult for us as consumers and avid readers and will most likely promote retail sales and consumer spending. Since this is a fairly new type of price war, it is hard to foretell as of yet how damaging or beneficial this will be to the industry and future authors alike.
All I can really say is, keep reading and keep writing!