Thanks A Lot, Justice Administration

Thank you so much for protecting us from Apple’s attempts to monopolize the e-book industry. Sure, they set e-book prices and colluded with publishers to do so. And, maybe from the short term view of the consumer and U. S. government, that is a very bad thing. As if monopolies are non existent except for Apple. Next time my Comcast cable bill is raised, can I look to the government for some anti-monopoly legislation allowing competitive cable companies to vie for my business?  Before coming down on Apple and publishers that played ball with them, perhaps looking at the reasons for their collusion, besides obvious profits, would have been appropriate–like–if amazon is allowed to continue to cut prices of e-books down to practically nothing temporarily at a loss to them, what happens to all the independent bookstores, chain bookstores, and even other online bookstores when they can’t compete, because they DO have to make a profit in the short and long term? And if the cost of the e-book is as low as amazon would make it, how will publishers and authors be sustained? You know, authors, most of whom get paid very little for their efforts? If a book that normally would cost 28 bucks is reduced to say–5–how does a publisher pay not only the author, but editors etc. Sure–e-books cut out all that unnecessary middle man stuff, like paper, printing, but readers probably still like a little proofreading, editing, to be able to make sense of the written work downloaded in front of them.

And before all the snarky individuals out there start calling me a luddite, and that I can’t move ‘with the times’, this isn’t about fighting the onslaught of e-books. It’s fighting an entity that wants to rule the publishing universe–and that entity ain’t Apple. Sure, Apple wants as much dough as possible. But Apple isn’t a business bent on eliminating all other forms of book-selling. It’s not enough for amazon to own the market share of selling books, they are running a scorched earth policy–leave no book-selling outlet standing. Remember when amazon didn’t charge for shipping? How much hype and excitement went into promoting that marvel? And then as amazon gained foothold after crevice, whoops, guess what, we have to charge for shipping after all–unless you buy a specific amount, then, OK, we will grant you the curtesy you had been given without requirements before. Does anyone, including the lawyers and brains in the administration believe that amazon will keep the prices low after they annihilate all other comers? Really? I have a fantastic first edition of the bible here in my garage I can sell you.

Mr. Bezos must be dancing in his red devil suit right now. I’m really really hoping this move by the government isn’t in some way politically motivated–like–Bezos gave money to someone’s campaign, or Apple sent cash to the opposite side, or any combination thereof. Because that would really really –be business as usual, right?

I don’t know all the deeper facts–the news reports I’ve read naturally don’t give too many details–but I do wonder how and when an investigation started. Was a consumer outraged at the 2 buck more a book Apple wants people to pay? With all the world turmoil and unemployment woes, this particular topic is brought up?  e-book commerce is scrutinized out of all the consumer fraud occurring around the country from hugh corporations to little contractors disappearing with homeowners dough? Oh my, oh my, could a certain other corporation have pushed for an investigation?

I don’t know the answer, and probably never will. This is a done deal. Several publishers have already settled out of court–for what amounts of money, not stated. They are bound by this settlement to allow any price to be charged for e-books by any bookseller. Wunderbar! I know that the average person who just wants to read the latest John Grisham, whom by the way was mourning the loss of bookstores while telling readers to buy his book ‘any way they can, just buy it’, don’t care a whit about the future of indies, or for that matter, publishing. Few understand how authors are paid, how little they make per sale for real books, let alone e-books. And why should they? Their pocketbooks are bare, there aren’t enough jobs kept in the US to sustain a decent economy. And if amazon wins their battle, there will be even less. Less real bookstores with real booksellers. Less publishers with real editors, etc., etc. Perhaps amazon will pick up the unemployed and have a temp agency to hire  them to work in their sweat shops for months on end without the end result of permanent employment, as they have been known to do recently. Heck, if the workers are really lucky, an ambulance will be right by the closed door when they pass out from the heat. Capitalism at it’s best and brightest. I know Teddy Roosevelt would be so proud at this administration’s monopoly busting!

From the AP:

Sargent said the filing of the lawsuit came after discussions with the Department of Justice that lasted months.

“But the terms the DOJ demanded were too onerous. After careful consideration, we came to the conclusion that the terms could have allowed Amazon to recover the monopoly position it had been building before our switch to the agency model,” he said. “We also felt the settlement the DOJ wanted to impose would have a very negative and long term impact on those who sell books for a living, from the largest chain stores to the smallest independents.”

At the heart of the e-book pricing debate is the industry’s ongoing concerns about Amazon. Publishers see the “agency model” as their best, short-term hope against preventing the online retailer from dominating the e-book market and driving down the price of books to a level unsustainable for publishers and booksellers.

Since launching the Kindle in 2007, Amazon has made a point of offering best-sellers for $9.99. The discount is so deep from list prices of $20 and more that it’s widely believed Amazon is selling the e-books at a loss as a way of attracting more customers and forcing competitors to lower their prices. Amazon also has been demanding higher discounts from publishers and stopped offering e-books from the Independent Publishers Group, a Chicago-based distributor, after they couldn’t agree to terms.

When Apple launched its tablet computer two years ago, publishers saw two ways to balance Amazon’s power: Enough readers would prefer Apple’s shiny tablet over the Kindle to cut into Amazon’s sales and the agency model would stabilize prices.

Apple’s iBookstore has yet to become a major force, but publishers believes the new price model has reduced Amazon’s market share from around 90 percent to around 60 percent, with Barnes & Noble’s Nook in second at 25 percent. The iBookstore is believed to have 10 to 15 percent.”

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6 thoughts on “Thanks A Lot, Justice Administration”

  1. Apple, is only…nothing can compare with it…it is a highly good article…i get a like for it…follow writing articles as it…

  2. Amazon is an example of how one man’s view of how things should be done is recklessly being made the only way to buy a book or music. It is a job crushing, small business crushing monopoly just like Walmart. Apple is not blameless either, their products just happen to be really good which makes people forget their monopoly tendencies. In the end our choices are being taken away because of corporate greed and someone’s belief, BEZOS, that they are more able to decide the best way to recieve media.

    • Absolutely, Apple is not blameless. But in the overall picture, they are minor offenders, compared to Amazon. The only thing this law suit accomplishes, is bestowing more power to a growing monopoly. When will the government investigate Amazon’s practices of refusing to carry books unless they have certain terms from the publisher. Isn’t that called blackmail? Thanks for posting~

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