"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Price fixing" of e-books?

Today, the DOJ filed a civil antitrust suit against Apple and five big publishers, alleging that they illegally conspired to raise the price of e-books in response to Amazon's so-called monopoly.

Like many other readers, I've noticed how e-book prices from big publishers have risen to the point where they're the same as (or even higher than) the corresponding dead-tree version. This makes little sense when you think about the production and distribution costs of a print vs. electronic edition. Yes, other costs (marketing, for example) apply to e-books as they do to any book; however, they are a relatively small slice of the pie.

I absolutely agree that e-book prices should be lower than print, and that the retailer (in this case, Amazon) should be free to decide what that final price should be. Pending actual evidence, it appears that the publishers did try to change the game in their favor.

And yet, I find it hard to support this suit. My distaste for excessive government meddling in the private sector notwithstanding, I think the big publishers find themselves in the same position as the music industry was years ago, when the iTunes Music Store opened. They reacted in a very short-sighted fashion, but I believe they have the right to do so.

My response has been to read and purchase more e-books from indie publishers. I hope that other readers are doing the same and, in the end, we can let the market decide.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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