The Department of Justice is getting a bit a flack from book publishers and writers in their Antitrust lawsuit against Apple and the five largest book publishers. In the most recent development, the DOJ has ignored comments submitted to them that defended Apple’s agency model, and are pressing on with the lawsuit in “the public’s interest”.
The DOJ had allowed the public to weigh in on the case and express how they feel about the recent settlement with three of five book publishers. What happened, well people attacked the Department of Justice. In a move of transparency, DOJ has put all the individual comments online for everyone to read and download. After scanning through a couple of the comments, many of them seemed to attacked Amazon’s “monopoly” over E-Books. Many of the comments came from employees of book companies and owners of books stores. Here are some examples:
“Any restrictions placed upon this program will result in the resumption of the predatory, anti-competitive pricing policies that Amazon has resorted to in the past in their attempt to monopolize the book market.”
“One of the primary supports for writers and booksellers alike has been the agency model, without which “price wars” would have made is infinitely more difficult for writers to earn a living and independent bookstores to stay in business. It has provided much-needed stability in the shifting sands of what is at the best of times a marginal business.”
“Deep discounting of books, and then E-Books, was a key component in Amazon’s strategy for growth. In the short term it might seem that consumers benefit from such discounting, but if the end result is an America with only one dominant bookseller, consumers are poorer in important ways. It’s astonishing to me that DOJ would risk the health of an industry as important to the cultural and intellectual life of our nation as bookselling and publishing so that one retailer could pursue a strategy that is almost certain to result in monopolization of the e-book market.”
A large collection of the comments all stated the standard bullet points that Apple has made popular. A commonly mentioned point is that Amazon owned 90% of the e-book and that the value of the books were being devalued by the company. The Department of Justice, after receiving over 850 comments, is pressing forward with the lawsuit stating that these comments came from those who are benefiting from the agency model and this is not to the public’s benefit.
The DOJ stated, “Many critics of the settlements view the consequences of the conspiracy — higher prices — as serving their own self-interests, and they prefer that unfettered competition be replaced by industry collusion that places the welfare of certain firms over that of the public”. Seeing that most of the comments came from writers and book store owners, so there might be some truth to that statement.
A big argument in the DOJ’s favor is that there are more big players who are entering the E-Book game. Both Google and Microsoft are entering the E-Book market and Microsoft has pledged to invest into the Barns & Noble Nook platform. When you think about it, it does make a bit of since to not have one company, in this case Apple, set the prices for Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
What do you think, is the Department of Justice really looking after the public interest in this case or is the Agency model really a benefit for all book publishers?
Via »All Things D