Friday, March 9, 2012

Guest Blogger, Gloria Loman: Government Drama. Again.

It's been a while, Booklanders! But when I heard about the DOJ's lawsuits against five major publishers and Apple yesterday, I just couldn't keep my trap shut any longer.

GalleyCat sums up the sitch:
According to a bombshell report in the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice could sue Apple and five major publishers for breaking antitrust laws with agency model pricing for eBooks.

A number of civil lawsuits have also been filed against Apple, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA), Macmillan and HarperCollins for allegedly colluding to fix eBook prices in 2010. Some of these publishers have already spoken with the DOJ in hopes of striking a settlement before the case ever reached court.

Here’s more from the article: “William Lynch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, gave a deposition to the Justice Department in which he testified that abandoning the agency pricing model would effectively result in a single player gaining even more market share than it has today, according to people familiar with the testimony. A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble declined to comment.”

If you want to explore some of the legal issues behind the potential suit, consumer rights firm Hagens Berman filed the first agency model lawsuit in 2011–alleging that the agency model for eBook pricing is “in violation of a variety of federal and state antitrust laws, the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act.”

In court filings, the firm speculated that damages “could total tens of millions of dollars.”

Read the original post HERE

Now, let me just say...what the??

Ridiculous, if you ask me (not that anyone ever actually does. I offer my two cents pro bono!). If the book biz as a whole agrees that changes need to be made to agency models or pricing models of any kind, then maybe there's a good reason for it. Maybe the reason such big players are on the same side of this e-book issue is because it's what's best for the industry.

I know, I know, there's more at play here than e-book prices. It comes down to whose selling the e-books and a possible monopoly situation (or at least that's this critic's understanding). And I can see how some people might think publishers and Apple are in "cahoots" but really, let's think about it for a second people. Apple doesn't hold all the e-book cards in the business. Have you heard of a little company called Amazon? Seriously. A new pricing structure industry-wide will change things for all players, not just one.

I see it the way the pubs do, in this case, when they "told investigators that the shift to agency pricing enhanced competition in the industry by allowing more electronic booksellers to thrive" (WSJ).

That's the important piece here, people. Books. Selling more books so the industry can thrive as one.

Just let people read their damn books in peace. The pros will figure out what's best for this changing market. Let's cut the government drama.

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