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Judge Approves Settlement In eBook Price-Fixing Case 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-we-love-paying-more-than-for-dead-tree-books dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On Thursday a U.S. District Judge approved a settlement between the Department of Justice and three publishers accused to colluding to inflate ebook prices (order). 'The Justice Department had accused Apple and five publishers in April of illegally colluding on prices as part of an effort to fight internet retailer Amazon.com Inc's dominance of e-books. The publishers who agreed to settle are News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers Inc, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group. Apple; Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and Pearson Plc's Penguin Group have vowed to fight the Justice Department's lawsuit with a trial due to start on June 3 next year.' The decision came after a lengthy period of public comment. According to the AP, 'The ruling released Thursday cast aside the strident objections of Apple, other book publishers, book sellers and authors who argued the settlement will empower Internet retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. to destroy the "literary ecosystem" with rampant discounting that most competitors can't afford to match. Those worries were repeatedly raised in court filings about the settlement. More than 90 percent of the 868 public comments about the settlement opposed the agreement.'"
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Judge Approves Settlement In eBook Price-Fixing Case

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  • below cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:16AM (#41259795) Homepage Journal

    how do you sell an ebook copy at "below cost"? that implies that amazon paid authors out of their own pocket? is this right?

    (because, in the sw world.. amazon actually makes the author accept zero payment for the privilidge of amazon giving the sw away as promotion)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858)
      Heard about this on NPR this morning, according to the report, Amazon buys a license to sell ebooks from the publisher, then proceeds to undercut the publisher by a fair amount.

      Of course, the smart publisher would not sell a license to Amazon. Perhaps it's because my knowledge of the matter is admittedly incomplete, but I fail to see what leg these publishers have to stand on, considering.
      • Re:below cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beetle B. (516615) <.beetle_b. .at. .email.com.> on Friday September 07, 2012 @11:32AM (#41260637)

        Of course, the smart publisher would not sell a license to Amazon. Perhaps it's because my knowledge of the matter is admittedly incomplete, but I fail to see what leg these publishers have to stand on, considering.

        Your so-called smart publisher would not value his brains when he has to shut down as a result.

        Amazon has a huge edge on ebook sales - ask any publisher how many of their ebooks are sold on Amazon vs all other venues combined.

        People don't go for the best products on the market. Everyone I know other than myself bought a Kindle instead of better alternatives. Their argument always was: "Oh, your device may be better, but Amazon has the largest selection."

        "OK, what ebooks do you want that can only be bought at Amazon?"

        No answer. Because there aren't any. Sure Amazon really does have a larger selection, but no one I personally know wants any of the exclusively Amazon ebooks anyway.

        But would a consumer do that analysis? No. Not even when it's pointed out to them before they buy.

        Guess how many of these Kindle owners buy ebooks from anywhere other than Amazon?

        0.

        So yeah, a publisher can say, "Nah, we won't sell on Amazon" to which Jeff Bezos will throw some change their way saying "Here're some pennies for when you become homeless."

      • Heard about this on NPR this morning, according to the report, Amazon buys a license to sell ebooks from the publisher, then proceeds to undercut the publisher by a fair amount.

        Of course, the smart publisher would not sell a license to Amazon.

        Actual publishers are smart enough that, if they would make more money not selling licenses to Amazon and instead selling through other outlets while shutting out Amazon, they would.

        In the real world, what publishers did is sell to Amazon while trying to set up their o

        • There were a number of different such efforts that were hyped within the industry as the thing that would displace Amazon and restore full control of e-book retail to the publishing industry.

          The failure of all those efforts is why the big publishers were willing to join together and sign on to a deal to try to swap Amazon's practical domination of the retail e-book market for Apple domination on terms slightly more favorable to the publishers.

          I recently became a small publisher and my impression of the big publishers is that they have many of the of same problems as the music industry and haven't gotten to the point of being forced to give up on DRM yet.

          Any competing effort that shuts out amazon from sales also cuts out access to the most popular ways for people to read ebooks unless you go DRM free. If you want to keep DRM, you can do adobe versions of things that are usable on some readers, but you don't have nearly the market as with kindle,

        • by dr.g (158917)

          Hey! I have an idea. Why don't the publishers try and sell books directly to the public at reasonable, (i.e.: much less than paper versions) prices!!

          Crazy, I know, but I'll bet they'd have more success than they've had desperately (and apparently illegally) trying to keep the ridiculously inflated price points they cherish for the digital product.

    • Re:below cost? (Score:5, Informative)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:27AM (#41259923)

      how do you sell an ebook copy at "below cost"? that implies that amazon paid authors out of their own pocket? is this right?

      (because, in the sw world.. amazon actually makes the author accept zero payment for the privilidge of amazon giving the sw away as promotion)

      The same way a grocery store can sell milk for $2/gallon when it really costs them $2.50/gallon.

      They pay the distributor the full $2.50, then eat the extra 50 cents themselves as a cost of getting more people in the door.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader [wikipedia.org]

      Amazon can make up the difference on other products that the user may purchase from Amazon when they stop in to buy a book. Other retailers (like B&N and Apple) have a less diverse product catalog so if they take a loss on eBooks it's harder to make up the difference somewhere else.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well I do understand all about loss leader and all.
        But if would be like that, then logically the publisher would just purchase mark up the books and make money out of amazon. it's not like they're physical goods anyways.

        • Their marked up version is still competing with amazon, what- are they going to buy amazon's entire supply? I think amazon might decide not to sell them any of said product, moreover you have to assume this behavior is disallowed by way of the purchasing contract amazon holds with the publisher.
      • And they typically only did it on a small part of the catalog- popular books to attract people, and then books further down the sales list would sell for a profit to make up for it.

    • "Makes" is an interesting choice of words. SW creators are offered the chance to be the app of the day, sometimes they get a portion of their regular price, sometimes they don't. But they are never "made" to do anything. If they don't want to be the app of the day, all they have to do is say 'no thanks'.

    • Re:below cost? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sanosuke001 (640243) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:29AM (#41259955)
      If Amazon is paying up-front to the author and/or publisher, why do the publishers even care? Set a price that you're happy with and let Amazon give them away. If they're allowing Amazon to give away without paying it's their own damn fault.

      Now, I understand why Apple cares because if Amazon is willing to under-cut the wholesale book prices, Apple will end up with less business (though, they could just not allow a Kindle app on iOS and their herd of "customers" would have no choice). But the publishers are big enough to not let Amazon push them around; wtf?
      • Re:below cost? (Score:5, Informative)

        by crmarvin42 (652893) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:40AM (#41260063)
        They don't want to be beholden to a single distributor. If that happens, then Amazon can start more aggressively pushing the wholesale price down. The publishers will have no other retailer to go through, and will be forced to make those concessions to keep their wares listed in the largest (and in the minds of many e-shoppers, only) book seller.

        To them, its' not about what they are getting paid today, but about what they are going to be getting paid 5, 10 or 15 years from now. They are resisting being pulled into an endless loop of lower retail prices leads to lower wholesale prices, which leads to lower retail prices and again to further reductions in wholesale prices, et infinitum. In that scenario they end up subsidizing Amazon's success in the long run in exchange for Amazon subsidizing their revenues in the short term.

        But the publishers are big enough to not let Amazon push them around

        Only if their is a relatively diverse pool of resellers to whom they can sell. The Agency model allowed them to stop Amazon's price spiral precisely because Amazon couldn't force everyone else out via agressive loss-leading. If they are forced to give up the agency model, then they will have little recourse to prevent the eventual bankruptcy of their business (from their perspective at least).

        • Still, the publishers NEVER have to lower their prices to Amazon. Amazon needs them as much as they need Amazon and if the publishers keep their wholesale prices constant, what can Amazon do to get them to lower them? It's not like someone else has the rights to sell specific books...
          • You've obviously never been involved in a negotiation in which you can't afford to walk away, but the other party can.

            We are talking about a scenario where Amazon becomes the only game in town. A very real possibility due to Amazon's aggressive loss-leading strategy before the iBookstore forced the agency model on them. If the publishers don't agree to go through Amazon, then they sell e-books to NOBODY. However, if they do pull their e-books from Amazon's store, then Amazon still has lots of other e-
        • They are resisting being pulled into an endless loop of lower retail prices leads to lower wholesale prices, which leads to lower retail prices and again to further reductions in wholesale prices, et infinitum.

          ...you mean like every 'Stockholm Syndrome'-ed supplier to Walmart? The giant corporations more than willing to debase themselves for increasingly less profit to appease the 600-pound gorilla in US retail?

          But I'm not surprised the publishing industry isn't already aware of this, given that the only

    • Re:below cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:33AM (#41260005) Homepage Journal
      As I understand it, the books aren't actually "below cost", they're just below what the Publisher charges for their own version of the same ebooks. Amazon can't really afford to sell the books below cost because books are their primary business, especially on the Kindle. You can't make your biggest income source a loss leader for long. This sounds a lot like publishers going "mah profits!!!" because they thought they finally had a way to destroy the secondary market with ebooks and get everybody to pay retail again but then Amazon came along and wrecked their plans by selling below MSRP.
      • by bdam (1774922)
        I work for a publisher and I can attest that Amazon has indeed sold our books below what they pay us. Amazon can most certainly afford it and they only need to do so long as competitors exist. Book retailers are already struggling so it wouldn't take too long to knock out all but those that have other sources of revenue.
        • Re:below cost? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jkflying (2190798) on Friday September 07, 2012 @11:34AM (#41260669)

          Then why don't you just buy a whole bunch of your books from them? It would be like a direct cash transfer from Amazon's bank account into yours...

          • As if Amazon would allow the sale...
            • by d3ac0n (715594)

              So do it using a holding company, wire transfers from multiple small accounts and computer algorithms. You could run the damn thing from a one room office.

              As long as the money is your own and everyone gets paid properly it is perfectly legal to buy something while pretending to be someone else.

              • by jandrese (485)
                Ironically, it might be the DRM that publishers insisted on that foils this scheme. If you can prevent people from buying more than one copy of an ebook per device, then a scheme like this would only work if someone had an unlimited number of free devices.
                • by jandrese (485)
                  Also, the publisher might be forced to send some of those profits back to the original author on each sale, which would be a big problem.
    • Re:below cost? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RenderSeven (938535) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:33AM (#41260009)

      how do you sell an ebook copy at "below cost"

      The problem is they are selling it below Apple's cost. According to Apple no one should be allowed to undercut Apple, and they have lawyers to prove it.

      • Only on Slashdot does this got modded up. Keep on living in your bubble while Amazon gets away with it.
        • Im not sure it deserves to get modded to 5, it was admittedly a cheesy cheap shot. But I dont understand what you think Amazon is getting away with? They sold eBooks cheaper than regular books, and they bloody well should be cheaper. It worked out well for Amazon, worked out well for the consumers, worked out for the authors, and even for the publishers. Apple didnt like it because it undercut their business model but not being able to compete isnt a crime. What they did, effectively blackmailing publishers
    • Yes, Amazon paid some authors out of thier own pocket. It also pays publishers directly as well. They purchased a book for $20 wholesale and sell it for $9.99 as a promotion. This is selling below cost. No evidence they were losing money on all their ebook sales. Amazons strategy is low low low margins. They lose money on best sellers and make up the loss with other books. They can do this because of the huge volume of sales that is possible when you have low low low margins. Their strategy is the exact opp
      • by fast turtle (1118037) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:08PM (#41262147) Journal

        I'm an author myself and haven't look at Amazon's policies but from discussions with others who have and are using them, I'm seriously considering it simply because I can make more money in the long run through them then one of the big name publishers.

        The key element is what I as a new (unknown) author would be offered for a new book (about $0.02 per copy sold - maybe 5k books advanced). Sure sounds like lots of money but that's a meager $10,000 advance and may be the only funds I ever see for a book where as with amazon, I can price things where I feel confident the market will at least buy some and get the bulk of the money (75-85 percent) from each sale, meaning if I sell 1k copies in a year, I've made almost as much as the advance fee from the big name publisher and the income may continue coming in should the book continue selling unlike the big name, who may only print 1k copies and never promote or even sell them simply to tie me up in a contract. (I know one hell of a run on sentence). In other words, does Amazon make sense for me as a new/unknwon author and the answer is "Damn good possibility".

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:33AM (#41260001)

    I, for one, hope this results in lower eBook prices.

    I have a Kindle (and Nook tablet) that are underutilized because I refuse to pay more for an eBook than I do to have a paper book delivered to my house. About the only eBooks I read are from Smashwords [smashwords.com] or Baen [baen.com]. Almost every book I've bought from Amazon has been a used paper book because they are typically about half the price of an eBook.

    After 2 years with the Kindle, I've bought exactly 3 Amazon eBooks - all purchased before traveling since I didn't want to carry around heavy paper books. I've never gotten around to reselling my used books (which would net me another dollar or two of savings), so my local thrift shop has been getting them.

    • by geek (5680)

      What are you willing to pay? I personally buy books from Amazon all the time for Kindle, even though I have a Nexus 7 now. Amazon offers the best prices out of everyone I've checked. I won't pay more than 9.99$ for a book and thusfar haven't needed too as all the books I want are that price or lower. Not true of Google Play however where I'd prefer to be buying books. Many of the same books on Google Play are 3-5$ more than Amazon.

      I think on average I spend about 4-6$ on a book and I do that about once or t

      • Snow Crash [amazon.com] - $10 from Amazon in paperback or kindle format, less than that from other sellers, and less than 1/5th that used. That's just one I know to be ridiculous from memory. How is it the same price to pulp a tree, print it, package it, and ship it to my house as it is to copy a digital file and send it over the internet (not even over wireless networks since most of the new Kindle's are WiFi only)?

        • by geek (5680)

          I'm not going to justify the higher price per se but just toss out some examples. I'm not too sure of situations in which technology ever made anything cheaper. In this case you get to download that copy over and over again for life (or at least as long as Amazon is alive). You get to store it in the cloud or on a small device instead of storing it on massive shelves through out a room of your house. You also get updates to that title if corrections are made in the future.

          Did HD make TV cheaper? It didn't f

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Did HD make TV cheaper? It didn't for me.

            Did HDTV make it any cheaper to create or distribute content? If anything, it made it more espensive since studios had to upgrade their equipment.

            Did increaed fuel efficiancy in cars make the car or the gasoline cheaper? Nope.

            I'm not sure this is a good analogy. I think it would be more like switching to an electric car where I can cut out the gas station entirely and refuel over the power lines that already run to my house, which eliminates the need for expensive gas stations and refueling infrastructure. The electric car is more expensive than a conventionally powered car (just like

        • How is it the same price to pulp a tree, print it, package it, and ship it to my house as it is to copy a digital file and send it over the internet

          It isn't, but that's not up to Amazon.

          The publishers are charging more, to make more profit. Just like any business would like to do.

          That doesn't mean it makes good business sense though. I think ~$1 less would be a good price point, cheaper for customers and more profit for publishers.

        • $10 from Amazon in paperback or kindle format, less than that from other sellers, and less than 1/5th that used. That's just one I know to be ridiculous from memory. How is it the same price to pulp a tree, print it, package it, and ship it to my house as it is to copy a digital file and send it over the internet (not even over wireless networks since most of the new Kindle's are WiFi only)?

          I'm getting tired of this argument.

          You're living in a fantasy world where the price of commodities is always dictated by production costs.

          It may be true for expensive physical products, but when the price is low (as $10 is compared to a $500 tablet), the price is dominated by other factors.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Because the price of something has little to do with the cost to make it. Other than providing a floor on the price in the long term for producers who want to stay in business and aren't loss leading something else.

          For an interchangeable commodity with no barriers to market entry, sure the price will approach the cost of production (plus profit required to make whatever capital investment/risks worthwhile). But book are not such a product.

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday September 07, 2012 @11:17AM (#41260439)

        What are you willing to pay? I personally buy books from Amazon all the time for Kindle, even though I have a Nexus 7 now. Amazon offers the best prices out of everyone I've checked.

        Ideally, I'd pay around $6 or so, which is what I typically pay for a used book to be delivered to my door. (and I usually pay $4 - $6 on Smashwords or Baen)

        Here's an example of pricing that makes no sense (assuming free Amazon Prime shipping)

                The Amateur - $16.99 hardcover, $9.99 eBook, $6.99 paperback, $6.88 used

        Even moving off the bestseller list and going to an older book doesn't help

              Fahrenheit 451 - $13.78 hardcover, $9.99 eBook, $7.19 paperback, $6.88 used

        Why is the paperback priced lower than the Kindle? I paid $100 for an eReader and publishers want me to pay more for the privilege of reducing their distribution costs?

        It does go the other way sometimes too -- usually (but not always), the eBook is cheaper than the hardcover, but more often than not, the eBook seems to be priced more than the paperback, and is almost always more than a used book.

        • by Githaron (2462596)
          Since we cannot currently sell and buy "used" ebooks, publishers really need to set the ebook price to what used paper books are selling for.
        • It does go the other way sometimes too -- usually (but not always), the eBook is cheaper than the hardcover, but more often than not, the eBook seems to be priced more than the paperback, and is almost always more than a used book.

          You'll find it mostly with small publishers. Unless you can do enormous print runs and have a big distribution network, it's expensive to deal with print. Small publishers are likely to do their print distribution via print-on-demand (the big ones do, too, now, but they keep it secret), and the cost of reproduction and distribution is a significant factor. You can make more profit on a $4.99 ebook than on a $14.99 paperback unless the page count is really low. That's why you see a lot of POD stuff in 6x9

        • by pnutjam (523990)
          What about a used ebook...
          oh...yeah...
        • by kdawgud (915237)

          Lowest cost option is to just buy the paperback (used or new), read it, and sell it back on amazon a month later.

    • Any price is too high if the ebook has DRM. I would happily pay for non-DRM ebooks, though, up to something around half the price of the paperback.
  • by DanTheStone (1212500) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:33AM (#41260003)
    Yeah, lots of the comments were opposed. The judge looked through them, and saw that all the reasons people/groups/corporations were opposed weren't illegal or anticompetitive. So, no reason to reject the settlement.
  • by medelliadegray (705137) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:35AM (#41260015)

    I am getting pretty annoyed how so many companies are being settled with for legal issues, at cost of a mere pittance to these companies.

    I want to see the ban hammer come down and come down hard on these guys. If i break the law with something as simple as a parking ticket, that is a substantial cost to me. if I were to break the law in something major it screws me for life. Why is this not being applied to corporations?

    Price fixing? confiscate ALL past profits gained from of the fixing, and fine future profits as an exponential multiplier of the fixing revenue. not to mention jail time for the crooks who okay the fixing. make companies leave yellow piddle marks when people even suggest they could be price fixing, colluding, bribery.

    • watching the 2 conventions (repub and democ), it was so very clear that the repubs are wholly onboard the 'corporations are people!' bandwagon and the dems are not. they even said so in non-mincing words.

      now, do they believe that? I doubt it. but it was refreshing to at least HEAR them say that corps have gotton out of control in the modern world and need to be reeled back quite a bit.

      my hope is that the dems mean what they said. the reality is that they are owned by 'just different' corps and so busine

      • Then quit voting republican or democrat. Vote 3rd party until the 3rd party actually has a chance at winning.
  • They need to make it easier to download their ebooks, in more formats, without DRM (which Amazon has)so third party applications can organize the downloads better. In other words, provide more value than Amazon currently offers.

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      That is the reason why I buy O'Reilly books straight from O'Reilly [oreilly.com]. If you buy several books at a time from them, they are reasonably priced, ebooks are DRM-free in all the major formats, you have access to the ebooks for life with the option of syncing with Dropbox, and if you buy paper books from them, ebooks can be bought for $5.00 more.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:49AM (#41260115)

    Do you realize that the agency model was designed to allow for publishers to set the prices thereby removing the power from the distributor/seller and to disrupt Amazon's monopoly?

    Amazon could, at first, offer lower prices to the consumer until they wiped out the competition but once they were supreme, they could jack up the prices or try to gouge the publishers/authors for lower wholesale prices with threats to not carry their books in the future.

    You seriously should not be happy with a monopoly of the justice department enforcing a return to a monopoly. The market should be allowed to decide. If a book does not sell well, the market forces should cause the publisher to lower the sale price until it does sell.

    Amazon, in the digital space, and Wal-mart in the brick and mortar space, were actively using predatory pricing to squeeze out all of the other competition. That situation is not good for the consumer in the long run.

    • by geek (5680) on Friday September 07, 2012 @10:55AM (#41260165) Homepage

      Do you realize that the agency model was designed to allow for publishers to set the prices thereby removing the power from the distributor/seller and to disrupt Amazon's monopoly?

      So instead of Amazon having a monopoly the publishers get one. Your logic fails. Having a monopoly isn't illegal either. Abusing that monopoly is. Amazon never attempted to stop others from selling anything.

      • by bdam (1774922) on Friday September 07, 2012 @11:13AM (#41260393)
        Monopoly ... mono ... kind of indicates the singular so I don't see how multiple publishers can have a singular monopoly. Certainly, the big 5 can be dickish but there are hundreds if not thousands of smaller publishers out there; I work for one. I would consider dumping product as an abuse of a monopoly and Amazon had done just that with our books in the past and there's no reason they won't do so in the future to further cement their monopoly in online physical book sales and e-books via the Kindle.
        • I concur. With the digital distribution of written works, so long as you have a decent selection of distributors (particularly ones that accept self-publication) then the barrier to entry to the market is almost nil. A cartel on the publishing side means that major publishers can try charging $100 for Harry Potter if they'd like, but that's really all they can do since they can't compel other publishers/authors to stick to their high prices.

          On the other hand a cartel or monopoly on the distribution side cre

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Monopoly ... mono ... kind of indicates the singular so I don't see how multiple publishers can have a singular monopoly.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligopoly [wikipedia.org]
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartel [wikipedia.org]

          The main difference is that Cartels involve purposeful collusion, while Oligopolies usually end up with the same behavior without active collusion.

          I would consider dumping product as an abuse of a monopoly and Amazon had done just that with our books in the past and there's no reason they won't do so in the future to further cement their monopoly in online physical book sales and e-books via the Kindle.

          Which is probably why Amazon thinks the settlement is such a great deal:
          Speaking at an event in California to unveil new Kindle Fire tablet computers, Amazon executive Jay Marine said the settlement was "great for customers."
          (by customers he means Amazon can start again in 2 years and doe

      • So instead of Amazon having a monopoly the publishers [i.e., more than one] get one. Your logic fails.

        Speaking of logic fails...

        • by geek (5680)

          So instead of Amazon having a monopoly the publishers [i.e., more than one] get one. Your logic fails.

          Speaking of logic fails...

          No, not if they are acting in collusion. Then they are essentially operating as a single entity to fix prices. My logic is quite reasonable.

          • by bdam (1774922)
            I believe the term your looking for is oligopoly. You have the choice of a monopoly of the retailer or a oligopoly of the big 5 publishers. I would argue the oligopoly is preferable to the monopoly due to barrier of entry. There are hundreds if not thousands of smaller publishers that might not rival the oligopoly in terms of size but we can remain profitable and every once and a while hit it big with a best seller. Amazon is already entrenched as a practical monopoly and I just don't see how any sort o
        • by jkflying (2190798)

          It is a monopoly if they are colluding on prices.

          • It is a monopoly if they are colluding on prices.

            No;
            That word doesn't mean what you think it means. [wikipedia.org]

            • by jkflying (2190798)

              From the very link you provide, under "Historical monopolies":

              Robin Gollan argues in The Coalminers of New South Wales that anti-competitive practices developed in the coal industry of Australia's Newcastle as a result of the business cycle. The monopoly was generated by formal meetings of the local management of coal companies agreeing to fix a minimum price for sale at dock. This collusion was known as "The Vend". The Vend ended and was reformed repeatedly during the late 19th century, ending by recession in the business cycle. "The Vend" was able to maintain its monopoly due to trade union assistance, and material advantages (primarily coal geography).

              So, let me repeat: it is a monopoly if they are colluding on prices.
              The reason being that they are now acting as one entity and are not competing with each other.

    • So your preferred solution is one where you can choose between multiple retailers but those retailers don't actually bother to compete with each other on price or content. That's not much better than an Amazon monopoly. By the way, the DOJ complaint details why your claims of predatory pricing by Amazon are largely unfounded

    • An e-book monopoly? What on earth are you talking about? I'm sure Apple, the most valuable company in history, has more than enough cash to match whatever price Amazon feels like charging. And don't forget B&N, whose Nook is selling pretty well, if not as well as the Kindle.

      In addition, a Kindle will easily read books from other online stores; about 2/3rds of the books on my Kindle didn't come from Amazon, and few of those books are available in electronic format through Amazon.

      In addition, it's sill

    • Third, even if Amazon was engaged in predatory pricing,this is no excuse for unlawful price-fixing. Congress “has notpermitted the age-old cry of ruinous competition and competitiveevils to be a defense to price-fixing conspiracies.” Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. at 221. The familiar mantra regarding“two wrongs” would seem to offer guidance in these

      The judge can't approve price fixing just because another company is dumping. If Amazon is dumping the publishers should sue Amazon. Or file a complaint with the Department of Justice. Amazon is innocent untill proven guilty of Dumping. They Judge can't take the law into his own hands and punish Amazon without a trial.

  • But news corp is owned by Murdoch! And murdoch is a major proponent of 'free markets'.

    Boy, those free market libertarian fantasies always seem to fail. Even the champions of these ideologies exemplify the failures of deregulation.

    Collusion. ~a market situation that arises when the people naively trust business so much that they have no rules, and the business is still prioritizing capital gain as usual.

  • Since publishers switched to the agency model, whenever I found an ebook priced higher than the print price, I added it to a "stupid publisher" wishlist. Some have dropped off when prices changed or I decided to buy them anyway, but last I checked, buying ebook version of all 342 of them, it would be about $1400 more.

    Some of the prices were clearly higher because the publisher was too lazy to lower the ebook from hardback pricing when the paperback came out.

    Most, though, were 9.99 and, more recently, 12.99,

  • by apcullen (2504324) on Friday September 07, 2012 @11:09AM (#41260315)
    This will certainly wreck Apple's 30% profit margin ecosystem. The whole publishing ecosystem I'm less certain about.
  • by notdotcom.com (1021409) on Friday September 07, 2012 @11:45AM (#41260787)

    I have owned a kindle for about a year and a half. I own over 110 ebooks (most are tech, but also some fiction, classics, etc).

    I have *never* seen a printed book cost less than the kindle ebook of the same title. I essentially always buy the ebook over the dead tree version, and aside from instant access, the reason that I do so is because the kindle version is frequently 30% (or more) less cost than the physical version (before thinking about shipping costs). Where are all of these books that are more expensive for kindle than for the paper versions? (Hint: they don't seem to be O'reily, Cisco Press, Apress, SAMS, Sybex, or Microsoft Press.)

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