Sometimes I get so focused on the Department of Justice suit against Apple and 5 of the Big-6 publishers that I forget a class action suit is still pending against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin. (It used to be against Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins as well, but those publishers chose to settle.)
The latest news is twofold: 17 more states joined the class action suit and some documents have been released for public perusal, among them an email from the late Steve Jobs. He wrote:
As I see it, [Conspiring Publisher] has the following choices:Yesterday we learned that Apple et al lost their appeal to throw out the class action lawsuit.
1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.
2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too.
3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started, there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do you?- As 17 more states join class action against book publishers and Apple, new details revealed
Passive Guy, an attorney practicing contract law, has this to say:
The basic charge against Apple and five of the six largest publishers is price-fixing. This charge is the antitrust equivalent of first-degree murder – the worst and most despicable act prohibited by this 120-year-old statute, The Sherman Antitrust Act. Its principal author, Senator John Sherman, said the purpose of the law is ”To protect the consumers by preventing arrangements designed, or which tend, to advance the cost of goods to the consumer.”I would have never thought, two years ago, that Apple and two of the largest publishers in the US would be facing a suit by the DoJ and as class action lawsuit.
Based upon the allegations of the Department of Justice complaint, Apple and these big publishers intended to push up the price of ebooks sold through all retail channels and were successful in doing so, increasing the cost of these goods to book buyers.
Antitrust law contains a lot of gray areas, but collusive price-fixing isn’t one of them.
- by Passive Guy, A marketplace defined by collusion is neither a fair nor a free market
If Apple et al lose both lawsuits, what will be the result? I'm guessing, but it seems likely bestsellers will come down in price and (hopefully!) we will no longer see ebooks priced more expensively than hardcovers.
In the long term I suppose the question is: Will one or more of the Big-6 survive? But, whatever happens to the publishers, there's no question in my mind that Apple will do just fine. (Thank goodness! I want my iPhone 5. ;)
What do you think? If Apple et al lose, what will happen to publishing?