Has Amazon won or lost the e-book war? Both.

Amazon’s battle with book publisher Macmillan was a valiant attempt to retain control over pricing in the rapidly changing world of e-books, but its weekend display of brinksmanship was short-lived. The online retailer yanked Macmillan books from its virtual shelves — both e-books and regular books — on Friday, triggering an online flame war with Macmillan authors and many of their supporters, but by Sunday night Amazon had capitulated and agreed to accept Macmillan’s new pricing model.

The unseen actor in this little mini-drama, of course, was Apple. With the launch of the iPad, the consumer electronics giant tilted the balance of power in the e-book market decisively away from former leader Amazon, even though Apple’s device isn’t shipping yet. The company also negotiated a new payment structure with publishers like Macmillan, which is being referred to as the “agency model.”

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