Apple may be keeping quiet publically about allegations of antitrust violations in ebook pricing, but a court filing in a class action lawsuit last week shows that Cupertino doesn't think too much of the claims. The motion to dismiss the case, filed in a New York court, gave a particularly scathing view of the argument against …
Ah you're a yank....
That explains a lot.
Go comment on stuff your own side of the pond matey. I remember libraries (in the UK) during the 1980's/early 90's having no more than three copies of any book published in the last 25 years.
When the netbook agreement got ruled illegal (the publishers didn't "give it up" as the Guardianistas would have it) then suddenly lots of new books were available.
Oh and back in your "golden era" of price fixing I don't remember small bookshops selling anything that other than all the major chains. I remember luvvies who looked down their nose at you and deserved to go bust - customer service wasn't anything they ever considered.
Small bookshops who sell niche (valuable) books are just as viable now as they were then.
All you want is to push the price of books up. Simple as that.
That's because (from a quick look at your posts) you are a dedicated Apple fanboi. I couldn't give a toss about Apple in this - I want the publishers fined as they KNOW they are breaking the law. Apple maybe caused this but going after anyone other than the publishers is dumb.
@John Naismith & +++ath0
Beer - Check
Popcorn - Check.
Comfy chair - Check
Oh sorry, don't let me stop you.
Re: @John Naismith & +++ath0
>Go comment on stuff your own side of the pond matey.
Yet here you are commenting on a US court case, where something like the net books agreement wouldn't even be illegal. I'm not a Yank btw, my English education is (not my 1st language) - see how appearances aren't everything?
Look - in the EU, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Belgium and Portugal all have Fixed Price books policies like the NBA in place even TODAY. Nothing illegal about it in those countries, so your argument that this model is breaking EU competition law is bollocks.
Do you see their residents suffering from lack of books to read, any complaints Many of those countries even do a LOT more reading than the UK! Not to mention they have better library systems.
(have you seen libraries in Germany?)
I've made my points and - with apologies to Norfolk'n'Goode, but he did mention beer - I'm not interested in discussing this more. I can see we'll just agree to disagree all night long. So enjoy your viewpoint and I'll enjoy mine.
@John Naismith: Ah, finally the light goes on.
You're just being European bigots instead of American bigots. Our pols have passed a law and it must be moral.
Price fixing is not the same as anti-competitive. You can fix to a low price, but it tends to be consumers who want that, not producers. Apple just approved an agreement that said
1. We need to make a fair margin, we think it's 30%
2. We don't care what the actual price is, so we'll sell at whatever you say MSRP is.
3. To protect ourselves and because you are setting the MSRP, you can't set the MSRP lower for anybody else than you do for us*
With that agreement in hand the publishers went to everyone else and offered them the Apple deal. Everybody else agreed the Apple deal was better than what they were getting.
Now, maybe you can argue the PUBLISHERS collaborated to create an anti-competitive environment, but Apple as first movers certainly aren't the guilty party.
* which is not to say they can't lower the MSRP, just that if they lower it for someone else, Apple gets it too. Seems fair to me.
You're ALL making the wrong assumptions
I can't believe how so many are judging this based on completely wrong information.
The 30% commission and the "you can't sell elsewhere cheaper" are just the default rules of the agreement Apple offers to developers on their >>App store<< . The Music store has other rules, as does the iBookstore.
Also, it's quite clear that the larger publishers have other deals in place and are not affected by any this.
One only need to go to Amazon's Kindle front page to see that while the book "Gillespie and I" by Jane Harris costs £4.08 for the Amazon Kindle, the very same book costs £6.99 on the iBookstore.
How would this be possible under the "you can't sell it cheaper elsewhere" rule? Obviously the rule doesn't apply.
So open your eyes and quit imagining things that don't exist.
Re: You're ALL making the wrong assumptions
Which pricing model is that book sold under?
Apple's BS obviously has anti-trust and price fixing elements, they need to LOSE the case.
publishers have right to set price for "their" books
So, if they think they can sell more and at higher profit through Apple, let them do so. I just propose to eliminate publishers altogether, and leave only authors and Amazon/Apple in the equation. This would be the most honest and most appropriate decision here...
Re: publishers have right to set price for "their" books
That's certainly possible these days, however who is going to fund book writing?
Writing a (good) book takes a long long time and is often a full time job. Who'll pay the author during the many months spent working on it? Will he/she be made to survive on their own credit cards? Sounds a very risky proposition.
That's the traditional role of publishers, who fund the book and take on the risk of the book being a complete market flop. Not to mention handle the marketing and so on.
I don't think we can, or will ever be able to do entirely without publishers.
Re: publishers have right to set price for "their" books
"The fruity firm also stipulated that publishers couldn't set one price for it and then turn around and sell the book more cheaply to Apple's rivals. On the strength of Apple's deal, publishers then went to Amazon and asked for the same contract."
That's publishers plural. Finding an idea they like more than competing with each other. It seems to me that Apple is inciting publishers to rig the market in order to harm its competitors, principally Amazon. IANAL but some might even say 'conspiring with publishers to keep prices artificially high'.
Re: publishers have right to set price for "their" books
"That's certainly possible these days, however who is going to fund book writing?"
What "funding" are you talking about? I personally know five published writers, and not a single damned one of them was given money up-front for their first novel! Almost everyone already owns a computer with a word processor on it. You don't need anything fancy: as long as the word processor can give you a word-count, you're fine.
As with music, the vast majority of published books and novels out there were written in someone's free time, not by full-time authors. Only three of the writers I know do it for a living all day, every day now. The other two continue to write in their free time while holding down a day-job.
Being able to earn a full-time living income from writing—especially fiction—is extremely rare. You need to be pretty damned good just to get noticed. Terry Pratchett and J.K. Rowling are exceptions to the rule.
So, no, publishers shouldn't be "funding" books. Not most of them anyway. Some markets are exceptions however, such as media-heavy coffee table tomes, or complex textbooks for educational markets (especially if their ebook versions include animations and videos). But for most simple books and novels that are just plain text? There isn't a reader on these forums who lacks the requisite tools to write one of those should they wish to.
Had a Kobo ereader as a gift last year and have watched the price of books going up as more publishers switch to the agency model, also the number of books that I can use the discount codes they regularly send out on are dropping.
There are some ebooks now that are selling for more than I paid for them originally (in electronic or paper format).
Add in stupid stuff like varying release dates and not being able to buy the book online for delivery on release day at a discount, but not being able to get the ebook at the same discount (though the discount didn't apply to instore sales either) and the market is truly getting screwed up.
Apple should ask for a cookie also
They might get the cookie.
The big problem is that, along with music and movies, the middlemen have got too big. Publishers hold all the power, rather than the authors. What I'd like to see would be that publishers get the rights for the dead-tree editions (maybe with no royalties) and the author gets the worldwide distribution on the ebook. Then the author gets to set the price for the ebook and the publisher still does all the promotion and marketing.
Quite why publishers decided to go to Amazon in the first place, rather than setting up their own sites for selling ebooks, I don't understand. Did they think that e-publishing didn't have a future and wasn't worth investing in? Baen has been doing it, quite successfully, for years.
No market power!
It is quite funny from Apple to claim they had no market power, and so could not have influenced the publishers. A bit like, when the iPhone came out, they clearly did not have any market power, since they were a new entrant and had never sold a phone; so they could not POSSIBLY have forced AT&T to sell the iPhone without carrier branding, and on terms vastly less advantageous than any other phone.
Yet, they clearly did. You have to admire them for that. But I do not think their "we are new entrants without market power" is going to convince anybody.
I have never been able to figure out why ebooks are often massively more expensive than their paper counterparts. I tried to buy a series of books (each around 8-10cm thick, so big heavy tomes) and they were priced at £50 each for electronic versions but only £25 for the print. I know vat comes into play but it is not that different and the pulped wood is not so drm ridden that it cannot be sold on.
The Agency Model is Good?!?
I can't see how anyone but someone who is only interested in making a profit can see how the Agency Model as it is currently implemented as being good. A lot of people seem to only focus on the first part of the model which is the publisher gets 70% of the sale. The big problem is the second part which is that they get to set the prices and other companies become their agents and cannot discount the price.
Amazon used to buy the publishers books at the price the publisher set, then sold it at a price that Amazon decided on which for some books was much lower then the RRP. What is so bad about that model? The publisher gets their pound of flesh and the consumer could buy books cheaper if they "chose to". The only possible loser like in most of the media industry would be the author, but isn't that the fault of the publisher and the Agency Model doesn't seem to do anything to protect them still.
Never mind eBooks
I don't know how they have gotten away with their anti-competitive behaviour of forcing people to use iTunes for so long.
They have had a practical monopoly on MP3 players, smart phones and tablets for years now yet they are still allowed to force their users to buy every bit of content through their store / iTunes. If that isn't making use of a monopoly in 1 industry to unfairly gain advantage in another I don't know what is.
Re: Never mind eBooks
Not strictly true.
Music: You are quite at liberty to purchase CDs and import them in to iTunes. This was its primary function (remember the "Rip, Mix, Burn" adverts?) and it's how I sync most of my music.
Video: OK, a little harder, but you can still rip DVDs to disk, or you can buy the films with a digital copy included. I use Any Video Converter to then transcode them for iPad, PS3 and iPod. Works very well. There are also streaming options from Lovefilm and Netflix for iOS.
eBooks: Calibre. Database, converter and transporter, all in one. I'm hoping he's going to add iBook support too, as well as ePub.
There are ways around iTunes. For me, it's a jukebox and the transport mechanism to load stuff on my iDevices, not a shopping portal.
Re: Never mind eBooks
To expand on KroSha's post:
Music: Or buy MP3s from any online store that sells them and import them to iTunes. I have barely bought any tracks from the iTunes Music Store, but loads from Amazon and eMusic, both of which have handy download applications which automatically sync the downloaded tracks into iTunes. Nobody's forced to even buy downloads from Apple.
eBooks: Not only the marvellous Calibre (with a range of iOS eBook readers available to read the results), but you also have the Kindle app if you want to buy from Amazon, plus the Kobo app, plus Bluefire reader (possibly others) for any ePubs using Adobe DRM and Overdrive for "borrowing" ePubs from libraries. You can avoid both Apple and Amazon if you want with no problem.
Why Apple and why Amazon?
Neither of these companies should actually be 'needed' for selling e-books in the 21stC. In fact, the only way they can survive is by some form of anti-competitive behaviour somewhere along the line.
I have no idea what Amazon takes as a cut but Apples 30% is frankly fucking ridiculous as is paypals or any credit cards cut levels of over 1% - you'd think with modern computers moving money around in e-space would actually be cheaper than cash.
The e-book 'publishers' seem to be trying to do to the authors and customers what the music industry does now - screw them for all they can while they can, while the producer and customer are too cowed to cut them out of the equation.
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