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Friday, 20 April 2012

Amazon and Apple - who are the bad guys?

"Our goal is to force Amazon to return to acceptable sales prices."

 I'm not sure if I understand the complexities of the current situation regarding eBook pricing but the ramifications are truly frightening and analysts seem to be warning of a future where Amazon are the only player in the eBook market and that traditional publishers will cease to exist. It seems that Apple have decided to fight the US Justice Department in their eBook price fixing case and although most experts are predicting that Apple can't win they are determined to fight their side.

While Apple has responded to the US Department of Justice's antitrust charges filed against it and book publishers accused of ebook price-fixing, claiming the iBookstore fosters competition, and broke Amazon's monopolistic grip on publishing, a former Federal Trade Commission policy director has said that Apple should have settled.David Balto claimed the DOJ's evidence against Apple, which includes records of emails and phone calls that allegedly show executives, including Apple's late-CEO Steve Jobs, conspiring to increase the price of ebooks, is the kind that prosecutors "fantasize about."According to an Information Week report, Balto said the evidence in the DOJ's case against Apple is so strong that Apple, Penguin and MacMillan would be foolish not to settle. IBN LIVE

On the surface it does seem that Apple deserve a ruling against them, but consider the fact that Amazon's tactics of setting prices low does not serve the publisher nor the writer. I must admit to hypocrisy here because I am a huge fan of Amazon's service - the Kindle is the best eReader on the market and it is so easy to but eBooks from Amazon, but I certainly don't want to see the day when the only place to buy books is from Amazon.

"You set the price, and we get our 30 percent, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway."

Anyone can read any Kindle book on any iPad, but you can’t read iBooks on a Kindle, at least not without complicated fiddling and loss of features.
In fact all eBook formats are supported on the iPad, most with free apps.
That’s why Apple’s clause that publishers can’t undercut iBook prices elsewhere is necessary.
Consider: If a book is $9.99 from Amazon and $12.99 on iBooks and you have an iPad, you’ll buy the Amazon version and read it on your iPad because it’s cheaper.
If a book is $12.99 on Amazon and $9.99 on iBooks and you have a Kindle, you’ll also buy the Amazon version because Amazon doesn’t support the iBooks version.
The only way for Apple or any other tablet platform to sell eBooks given Amazon’s price dumping is for the publishers to set the price and sell at the same price on all platforms.
Obama’s DOJ is trying to eliminate the agency model in publishing, the last hope of the publishing industry from an Amazon take-over.Anti-trust action by the Department of Justice is supposed to protect consumers. Protecting the monopoly player’s ability to sell at a loss until all competitors have been eliminated is not protecting consumers.
Worst of all, this isn’t just about a product. It’s about democracy, freedom of thought and censorship.
For the government of a democracy to side with a book monopoly to help them burn publishing to the ground is something no citizen should stand for. Cult of Mac

The Department of Justice's case can be read HERE

If everything in the report is true then Apple are truly fighting a losing battle, but how will it all affect us - The book Buyer?

Ahh well, only time will tell.


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