A leaked peek at bestsellers on Apple's iBooks reveals that the $US9.99 ebook is very much alive, suggesting Apple does have the power to cut prices on bestsellers, and books that publishers sell for less than the average $US26 hardcover price.
Matching what the NYT originally reported, that "Apple wants the flexibility to offer lower prices for the hottest books, those on one of the New York Times best-seller lists", AppAdvice says that all of the current top 10 NYT bestsellers are priced at $US9.99 in iBooks - in fact 27 of the top 32 are $US9.99. The highest priced of the remaining five, Poor Little Bitch Girl by Jackie Collins, is $US12.99.
What's interesting is that Poor Little Bitch Girl is $US8.83 on Kindle, which suggests that Apple's ability to cut prices isn't directly tied to what competitors are charging. In other words, their deal - at least with MacMillan, who owns the St. Martin's Press imprint that put this particular book out - isn't that if Amazon sells a book for $US9.99, it has to be sold on iBooks for the same amount. Which strikes me as more interesting still, because MacMillan's had the most public spat with Amazon, which wiped their entire catalogue off of the site after MacMillan became the first publisher to agitate for change in Amazon's pricing model, so that it was more like Apple's.