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Apple Fires Back At DoJ Over eBook Price Fixing 311

An anonymous reader writes "CNN takes a look at Apple's response to the Department of Justice's investigation into eBook price fixing. The filing 'cuts the government's case to shreds' while at the same time not bothering to defend the five publishers also under investigation. Apple said, 'The Government starts from the false premise (PDF) that an eBooks "market" was characterized by "robust price competition" prior to Apple's entry. This ignores a simple and incontrovertible fact: before 2010, there was no real competition, there was only Amazon. At the time Apple entered the market, Amazon sold nearly nine out of every ten eBooks, and its power over price and product selection was nearly absolute.'"
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Apple Fires Back At DoJ Over eBook Price Fixing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:25PM (#40129511)

    Project Gutenberg is great, and I'm sure many would say there are plenty of great 100yo books to keep you busy for a lifetime. But some of us like to read newer stuff too, and just sometimes, an ebook is nicer to deal with than a real book.

    Personal preference and all that.

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:49PM (#40129635) Homepage

    Book publishers can't afford to get nailed to the wall. A few more pushes and we lose the industry. They are shrinking rapidly and having a tough time staying afloat. They need either:

    a) Very high margins on books selling 2k-50k copies
    b) Lots of inexpensive books selling 100k copies

    instead the market is moving towards a few books selling millions and many books selling hundreds of copies.

  • by ticker47 ( 954580 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:49PM (#40129643)
    Yes, because you know that those books available on Project Gutenberg were never sold, no one tried to buy one and it was only when they were available online for free that people tried to read them.
  • Re:A lot of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by k4hg ( 443029 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:54PM (#40129671) Homepage

    The books were cheap because Amazon was selling them at a loss to prevent the entry of competition. Amazon has a long-term strategy to work on razor-thin margins driving out all competition. In the last quarter they made about 1% of gross- they made a penny out of every dollar people spent. No small or medium business in their right mind would enter a market like that. So overall Amazon does not turn a lot of profit, but their stock is valuable (much more than their profit would justify) because investors expect that once they have completed driving all their competitors out of business they will raise their margin (meaning the prices you pay go up). So you are going to pay more, a little bit now because of the agency model and most favored nation status thanks to Apple, or a lot more later when no one but Amazon has physical or electronic books to sell you.

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:56PM (#40129691) Homepage

    And remember, Apple exerts almost zero (the exception being the so-called "most favored nation" clause) control over book prices.

    Though the result is that consumers got screwed because of it, this is my understanding of it as well.

    What I remember is that Amazon basically had the publishers by the balls, dictating somewhat more reasonable prices for ebooks. When Apple came to the market, they specifically worked with the publishers saying "hey, we'll let YOU set the price, so long as you always offer us the best one". The end result is that prices skyrocketed overnight, and today are still far higher than they once were.

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @03:01PM (#40129715)

    >>>not being allowed to sell books cheaper through other sources..... Apple is trying to force retail outlets like Target from carrying the Kindle. Seems pretty anti competitive to me.
    I other words they are guilty of price-fixing what other stores may sell the ebooks for, PLUS anticompetitive behaviors such as blocking amazon from target. Guilty guilty guilty. I'd like to see Apple gets slapped by the DOJ, even if it's just "Don't do that again," and a 5 year cease-and-desist order like they did with Mcirosucks.

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @03:04PM (#40129737) Homepage

    There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

    R.A. Heinlein

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @03:07PM (#40129757)

    I create copyrighted material all day long, yet for some reason it is normal and expected for me to only get paid while I am creating and a corporation to get all of the ongoing profits.

    Perhaps writers and artists would be happier if we changed their "advances" into "wages" or "contract fees".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @03:24PM (#40129855)

    Heaven forbid that artists and authors do a single piece of work and then get paid for it (and some corporation get paid for it) 70+ years *after they are dead*. That is completely f*cked up.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @04:03PM (#40130073) Homepage

    from a publisher? yes.

    from a writer? no.

    most authors wold KILL to get $2.00 per book sold. everything else goes to the publisher that is whoring the writers

  • by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @04:18PM (#40130149)

    If only there were some sort of mechanism, some sort of economic framework for commercial activity between willing parties, that could be used to sort out the question of who deserves how much money.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @04:52PM (#40130313) Homepage

    The writer does 90% of the work, yet the publisher gets most of the profit.

    Sounds like you have never written and had published a book before.

  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @04:54PM (#40130327)

    Just because you may not like an author's books doesn't mean they are horrible. Even if they are horrible some may actually enjoy reading horrible books. Books are worth whatever people are willing to pay for them.

  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @04:55PM (#40130337)

    The problem isn't with artists and authors, it's with the middle men who take the majority of the profits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @06:30PM (#40130825)

    Different authors have had different experiences with this. We know this because they've said so.

    Why is it so hard for people to understand that their world view doesn't always represent the life experiences of everyone else?

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday May 27, 2012 @06:31PM (#40130827) Homepage

    Why is that bad?

    I mean, other than the fact that you personally are paying more, higher prices are not actually in and of themselves a bad thing.

    The prices were artificially depressed before. YOU were paying less, but that also means someone on the other end was necessarily earning less. That might seem great to you, but I'm sure the writer wasn't super hyped about it. Neither was the publisher.

    You don't have a RIGHT to low prices, though you have a right to only pay what you think is fair. If the prices are too high, stop buying. If everyone thinks the prices are too high, they'll stop buying too. If these 'new' higher prices are what the market will bear, then THAT'S the price that we should have been paying all along.

    Don't be fooled into thinking your personal desire to pay as little as possible is actually the fair or correct price to pay. It's just one of a nearly infinite number of options.

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sgtrock ( 191182 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @08:07PM (#40131231)

    And yet, Baen Publishing has proven for more than a decade that they can sell MORE ebooks and MORE dead tree books if they keep ebook prices cheap and don't use DRM. Smashwords is letting authors set their own prices and seeing the average price for an e-book drop to around $3.00 the last time I checked. O'Reilly has been selling a librar subscription model for e-books online through their Safari Books Online outlet for at least as long as Baen has been working their model. Lulu has moved into editorial services for e-books as well as print on demand.

    The fact is that the Big Six still haven't figured out how to sell ebooks successfully while the smaller, more nimble players are eating their lunch. Here's a couple of clues, fellas. Drop DRM and drop your prices. You'll make MORE money. :-)

  • Re:A lot of words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donny77 ( 891484 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @08:24PM (#40131307)
    But MFN is not exclusive. You can sign a MFN clause with Apple and Amazon. Then Barnes and Noble can negotiate a lower retail price just fine. At this point the publisher has to go back to Apple and Amazon and give them the Barnes and Nobel price going forward. This doesn't guarantee Apple the lowest price, it guarantee's Apple doesn't get screwed by having to sell the same product at a higher price.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.