Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

09/10/2012

DOJ’s E-Book Price-Fixing Case = Publishing Intrigue to the Max


 

Blind Justice

Intrigue, indeed — But, is the whole case based upon misconceived intentions, misunderstanding and misplaced justice?

And, just WHO is to blame for letting this price-fixing debacle spawn into a full-blown clusterfuck?

This insight is provided by Jonathan Berr in InvestorPlace.com :

Publishers Have Themselves to Blame for Amazon’s Triumph

The recent ebook price-fixing settlement clearly proves it

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos has won the e-book price wars and will leave his competitors in the dust. The publishers that are complaining now have no one but themselves to blame.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved a settlement between three U.S. publishers — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins —and the Department of Justice over allegations that they were in cahoots with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to fix the prices of e-books. Apple and two other publishers, Penguin Group USA and Macmillan, have refused to settle. Their case will go to trial next summer. Officials in the publishing industry, who urged Cote to throw the case against them out of court, were appalled by the ruling.

“To say the least, we are colossally disappointed that the judge failed to understand how consumers will be negatively impacted by a decision that does not take into account the realities of the book business in 2012,” said Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, in a statement posted on the group’s website.

Indeed, the publishing industry argues that it — not Amazon — is the aggrieved party given the Seattle-based company’s dominant position in the e-book market by selling electronic books below cost. Though their fears were understandable, their solution to it was illegal. It’s not even a close call.

Both Apple and the publishers didn’t want to compete with Amazon’s $9.99 price point for e-books. In 2010, they agreed to switch to a new “agency” model whereby publishers would sell titles directly to the public as opposed to the “wholesale” model, in which electronic books were sold to retailers. Agreements between Apple and the publishers were in place ahead of the 2010 launch of the iPad.

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08/29/2012

Bookworld to Compete with Amazon


More intrigue in the publishing kingdom!
 
The company says its new Bookworld.com.au site is aiming to compete with Amazon on price and delivery, offering free shipping with two-to-three day delivery to any capital city on Australian books. Bookworld has about 100,000 e-book customers and a total of 750,000 customers on its database.” — Global publisher Pearson
 
Pearson publishing bought failing Boarders (after Boader’s owner REDGroup’s collapse last year), turned it into ‘Bookworld’, and is taking the first step in providing what they feel will be real competition for Amazon.
 
Many who have visited the Bookworld site feel they still have some hurdles to clear.
 
I believe Bookworld is a good first step in bringing much needed, real competition to the digital book industry — and Bookworld should improve with time. 

Chris Zappone, reporting for Business Day in The Sydney Morning Herald, has this to say: 

Global publisher Pearson has internet giant Amazon in its sights with the launch of an Australian-based online bookseller.

The publisher has rebranded the Borders.com.au site which Pearson bought for less than $5 million after owner REDGroup’s collapse last year. The company says its new Bookworld.com.au site is aiming to compete with Amazon on price and delivery, offering free shipping with two-to-three day delivery to any capital city on Australian books. Bookworld has about 100,000 e-book customers and a total of 750,000 customers on its database.

“You’ve got to have a price that will get you to market and clearly Amazon are the benchmark,” said Bookworld chief James Webber.

“We compete with Amazon very effectively that includes no shipping costs.”

Mr Webber said that 50 per cent of Bookworld’s stock was sourced in Australia.

REDgroup was unable to compete with global retailers like Amazon and Book Depository because of higher book prices in Australia.

Under current pricing offers, the cost of Christopher Hitchens’ book Morality is $23.95 from Amazon with delivery taking up to a month. Bookworld offers the same book at $19.99 to its club card holders with three-day delivery.

Bookworld said it has sold more e-books than physical books in the past month in another sign of how quickly the book industry was changing.

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06/07/2012

DOJ’s Proposed Settlement RE publishers’ Alledged Price Fixing — Right or Wrong?


What about this DOJ settlement, anyway?

The legal department of Barnes and Noble, in a complaint filed with the DOJ today, says the proposed settlement with some of the big six publishers “represents an unprecedented effort” to become “a regulator of a nascent technology that it little understands” — and “the national economy, our nation’s culture, and the future of copyrighted expression” are at stake.

B&N’s legal beagles further state “in essence, the proposed settlement substitutes one alleged cartel for a new cartel on the industry, albeit one run by the [DOJ].”  

, reporting for PaidContent (the economics of digital content), discusses the B&N’s complaint with its accompanying charts and figures: 

B&N: DOJ e-book suit endangers consumers, bookstores and copyrighted expression

In a complaint sent to the Department of Justice this morning, Barnes & Noble says that the DOJ’s proposed settlementwith HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster for allegedly colluding to fix e-book prices “represents an unprecedented effort” to become “a regulator of a nascent technology that it little understands” — and “the national economy, our nation’s culture, and the future of copyrighted expression” are at stake. In fact, B&N argues, e-book and hardcover prices have fallen under agency pricing.”

“You’re going to end up having choice control from a server farm in Washington state,” Barnes & Noble’s general counsel Gene DeFelice told me, referring to Amazon.

“In essence, the proposed settlement substitutes one alleged cartel for a new cartel on the industry, albeit one run by the [DOJ],” B&N says. The bookstore chain’s complaint joins others sent to the DOJ during the settlement commenting period, which ends on June 25.

The proposed settlement, B&N says in a brief filed by its in-house counsel and law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, “warrants an exacting review because of its potential impact on the national economy and culture, including the future of copyrighted expression and bookselling in general, not only electronic books.” And “many millions of Americans, as well as all levels of the distribution chain for books (from authors to publishers to distributors, and especially brick-and-mortar stores), stand to be affected by this case’s resolution.”

B&N argues that the proposed settlement is a government action “analogous to a cartel imposing a detailed business model on publishers.” It would transform the DOJ “into a regulator” and would “injure innocent third parties, including Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, authors, and non-defendant publishers; hurt competition in an emerging industry; and ultimately harm consumers.”

The punishment doesn’t fit the crime

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08/17/2011

Amazon Publishing – Print is Thriving – And Other Insider Information


Awesome Amazon ???

Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.”

Amazon is adding more writers and renowned authors to its own company’s publishing imprints to produce new books directly for the reading consumer and bypass other established ‘publishers’ entirely. 

Gaining control of the online digital book retail business just seemed to whet Amazon’s appetite to gobble up more control in the bigger publishing business (in disruption due to the new tech transition) … including print, which is doing just fine right now, thank you very much. 

These interesting details provided by Anthony John Agnello , consumer and technology writer for InvestorPlace:

Amazon Publishing Continues to Boom With New Exclusives

Traditional publishers being pushed out of the picture

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) frightens book publishers. Not because electronic books are going to replace print by September. Far from it. Print is thriving, and while e-book sales have grown 1,300% in the past three years, they still represent only a fraction of overall revenue in the publishing industry. Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.

A Tuesday report in The New York Times said Amazon has made its latest promising acquisition in an ever-growing stable of authors producing original books for the company. Timothy Ferriss, the self-help author behind the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, will release his new book The 4-Hour Chef exclusively through Amazon Publishing imprint.

4-Hour Workweek has spent 84 weeks on the Times‘ Advice bestseller list. That book was published by Crown, an imprint under the Bertelsmann-owned Random House. Ferris never entertained a counteroffer from his previous publisher after talking with Amazon because they would not have been able to match what Amazon was offering as “a technology company embracing new technology.”

This is just the latest major publishing effort from Amazon since editor Laurence Kirshbaum came on as head of Amazon Publishing in May. Imprint Montlake Romance, an all-romance branch of Amazon Publishing, opened for business in May. Connie Brockway’s The Other Guy’s Bride will be the imprint’s first book out this fall. Brockway’s previous books were distributed under the Dell Publishing mass-market imprint, another house under the Random House banner.

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Related post: Is Amazon a Danger Lurking in the Publishing Industry?

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02/18/2010

Apple’s Prices for E-Books May Be Lower Than Expected


More intrigue and drama coming from inside the meetings between Apple and publishers re eBook pricing. Motoko Rich, New York Times, reports:

Maybe e-book prices won’t be rising so much after all.

Since Apple announced plans to sell digital books on its forthcoming iPad, it has been cast as something of a savior of the publishing industry for allowing e-book prices to go above the $9.99 that Amazon charges for e-books on its Kindle device, a price that publishers say is too low to sustain their business.

But as more details come to light of the actual negotiations between Apple and publishers, it appears that Apple left room to sell some of the most popular books at a discount.

When Steven P. Jobs showed off the iPad last month, he announced agreements with five of the six largest publishers to offer their content through a new iBooks application. Those publishers — the Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, the Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster — agreed to terms under which they would set e-book prices and Apple would serve as an agent to sell the books to consumers. Apple would take 30 percent of each sale, leaving 70 percent for publishers to split with authors.

Publishers indicated that e-book editions of most newly released adult general fiction and nonfiction would sell in a range from $12.99 to $14.99, under a complicated formula that pegs e-book prices to the list prices of comparable print editions. Publishers liked Apple’s deal because it resulted in a marked increase above Amazon’s $9.99 price for most new releases.

But according to at least three people with knowledge of the discussions, who spoke anonymously because of the confidentiality of the talks, Apple inserted provisions requiring publishers to discount e-book prices on best sellers — so that $12.99-to-$14.99 range was merely a ceiling; prices for some titles could be lower, even as low as Amazon’s $9.99. Essentially, Apple wants the flexibility to offer lower prices for the hottest books, those on one of the New York Times best-seller lists, which are heavily discounted in bookstores and on rival retail sites. So, for example, a book that started at $14.99 would drop to $12.99 or less once it hit the best-seller lists.

Moreover, for books where publishers offer comparable hardcover editions at a price below the typical $26, Apple wanted e-book prices to reflect the cheaper hardcover prices. These books might be priced much lower than $12.99, even if they did not hit the best-seller list.

Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, declined comment.

While e-books still represent a relatively small proportion of total book sales, they are the fastest-growing part of the industry. How they are sold and priced has become a matter of fierce debate within the publishing industry.

For Amazon, the $9.99 price on new and best-selling e-books helped it market the Kindle device — which now sells for $259 — and build market share quickly. But Amazon has effectively lost money on each sale at that price because it buys and resells e-books as it purchases printed books, by paying publishers a wholesale price generally equivalent to half the list price of a print edition. That means that on a $26 hardcover book, Amazon would typically pay the publisher $13, losing just over $3 on a digital edition it sells for $9.99.

Under the agreements with Apple, both the publishers and Apple should make money on each book sale.

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