Apple being seen as instigator of eBook price-fixing attempts
In addition to the TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) report, which sources the NY Times article which may not be accessible to some near the end of any month, here are the recent articles on the e-book pricing wars going back a year and through 'today' for those interested in any details of the last year's results from federal, state, and UK lawsuits that have left Apple, alone, fighting the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit still.
The publishers have bailed. The trial begins June 3 in New York.
I stopped detailing the situation after all the settlements were happening, one after another, but kept a chronological list of linked news stories on how it all began and what was discovered during the several investigations, as a lot was being misrepresented throughout the PR wars. The items are all sourced.
It was especially difficult to sort out when the largest media sites were also large publishers with a bit at stake so that the reports were too often not exactly illuminating but I collected the more informative ones.
I also put together a TIMELINE, which shows more clearly what kinds of things the Department of Justice (DOJ) would have seen that had not made it into most news reports.
The New York Times article opens with the e-mail from Steve Jobs to James Murdoch of News Corporation: "Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99."
That e-mail is part of the evidence in the DOJ's stance explained by TUAW as, "Apple was the 'ringmaster' in a price-fixing conspiracy in the market for e-books, a more direct leadership role than originally portrayed in the department’s April 2012 antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five publishing companies."
Two days after that email, HarperCollins, owned by News Corporation, "signed an agreement with Apple to force all sellers of electronic books to adopt the new pricing model, the government said."
Apple does its usual in describing all this as not conspiring to fix prices on ebooks, of course, but instead 'explaining' that “We helped transform the e-book market with the introduction of the iBookstore in 2010, bringing consumers an expanded selection of e-books and delivering innovative new features ... The market has been thriving and innovating since Apple’s entry, and we look forward to going to trial to defend ourselves and move forward.”
If you can access it, read the rest of the NYT article on how Apple itself described its strong-arming of Random House during this, which is why the lawsuit did not include Random House. In fact, for about a year, Random House books were not found in Apple's iBook store due to some disagreement about the Agency Agreement.
Now, when Amazon removed buy-tags for awhile when Macmillan insisted on using the Agency Agreement (rather than the long-time traditional wholesaler bookstore agreement which guaranteed publishers a bit more, so this was about control) and when Macmillan, furthermore, also insisted on the higher pricing that they would set and which Amazon and other book stores were not allowed to lower even for Sales promos, Amazon received a shellacking from the larger publishing houses and newspapers for being a dangerous "monopolist" out to destroy the publishing industry.
Imagine if Amazon had just not allowed Random House (said to be the largest U.S. publisher of novels) into the Amazon Kindle store for a year due to a contract dispute over a pricing agreement. Apple did, though, paint itself as sort of a road-side shop (its book store) relative to big, bad Amazon.
At the time, Random House said, at a press conference, that it felt that Amazon knew a bit more about book-selling and pricing than Random House did. The following year, Random House did join in the Agency Agreement, but they were not part of the group that formed the higher-price restrictions for booksellers.
On the other hand, Amazon's lowering the price on all books would be a danger to smaller stores, and there is an understandable restriction on what it is allowed to do with the lowering of prices on its Kindle books.
In settling, the publishers agreed:
' to lift restrictions imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers. The companies are also prohibited from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions until December 2014.
The publishers must also notify the government in advance about any e-book ventures they plan with each other, and they are prohibited for five years from agreeing to any kind of so-called most-favored-nation clause with any retailer, which establishes that no other retailer is allowed to sell e-books for a lower price. '
I suppose that after five years they WOULD be allowed to agree to a clause with any retailer that "no other retailer is allowed to sell e-books for a lower price." Until then, enjoy the kind of flexible pricing we grew up with, on printed books in bookstores.
The NY Times report was from Edward Wyatt in Washington and Nick Wingfield in Seattle.
For more details on how Apple dealt with Random House when they resisted all this, see the NYT article.
Other, QUICK News, mainly links and excerpts that may be of interest
"Why Android is Winning the Tablet Wars -- Forbes, Todd Hixon, Contributor.
Includes: "The five most popular tablets on Amazon today (May 14, 2013) are four 7 inch Kindle and Samsung tablets selling for $179 – $229, and an 8.9 inch Kindle selling for $269.
Apple held on to over 70% market share in iPods throughout the life cycle. The iPod is a media consumption device, and the link to the iTunes content access/management platform was unbeatable. It’s clear that tablets will be a different story, more like PCs. They are becoming a diverse market with several strong brands (Samsung, Asus/Google, Amazon/Kindle), a large number of popular-price offerings, and multiple content access platforms."
More PRIME video news: "AMAZON CONFIRMS GRIMM, HANNIBAL, SUITS AND DEFIANCE COMING TO AMAZON PRIME." The Slanted:
'... the Amazon Instant Video that is included in Amazon Prime is one of the services major selling points.
Now with the NBC Universal deal customers can watch earlier seasons of “Grimm,” and “Suits” from USA starting today. “Hannibal” will launch later this year on the service and the hit series “Defiance,” will be made available in early 2014.
Prime Instant Video will also add past seasons of NBC’s “Smash” and “Alphas”. The deal also includes “Eureka” and “Warehouse 13″. For the parents out there, “Curious George” and “Land efore Time,” will both be made available in the Kindle FreeTime Unlimited content service. '
Added detail at CNET.
THE BIG DEAL is Back [again]: Shop Popular Books by Category
"Save up to 85% on more than 500 Kindle books through May 27. Shop for yourself or give Kindle books as gifts to anyone with any e-mail address." [Note the expiration date.]
Current Kindle Models, worldwide for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources. Top 100 free bestsellers. Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
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