Tour’s Books Blog

April 16, 2012

The DOJ and ebook Pricing

Filed under: Editorial — toursbooks @ 12:56 pm
Tags: ,

If you’ve been breathing and reading the headlines these past few weeks, you’ll know the DOJ (Department of Justice) has, as threatened, brought an anti-trust suit against a number of publishers and Apple computers for price fixing and collusion on the pricing of ebooks.  No shock.  They had been telegraphing their intentions for some time.  Their main cheering section is composed of Amazon management and Kindle owners.  (By the way, I just got a Kindle and I’ll give you my opinion in another post.)  A number pf publishers named in the suit caved and settled with DOJ, but Apple and several larger publishing houses will go to court.

These pricing agreements that Apple created to keep the cost of ebooks artificially high haven’t hurt the growth of the ebook market – or so it seems, but it has certainly angered customers and frequent readers.  When I can buy yet-to-be-released and hot-off-the-press mass market paperbacks for LESS in print than as ebooks, there’s really something wrong with this picture.  How could a hard copy – that includes free 2 days shipping to arrive at my door on the release date – cost $2.00 LESS than electronic copy that arrives via wi-fi or 3G?  Makes no sense.  Except if you’re a publisher or book seller looking to make a major money grab.

It will be interesting to hear the justification for the price fixing – and no mistake, that’s EXACTLY what it was.  That Apple made 30% off the top is nearly obscene.  How can a small bookseller with high overhead compete against a pure profit ebook seller?  If there is a ‘convenience surcharge’ that ebooks will pay, well, they should know upfront they are funding the annual bonuses for the various businesses for the privilege of reading an often far from perfect ebook.  Road warriors and technophiles won’t care.  Some people will.  I can tell you I look at pricing before deciding between ebook and print no.  In the 10 days I’ve owned the Kindle, I bought 3 ebooks and 18 print books, mostly pre-order.

Keep an eye on this in the news.  It will give users of e-readers a look into the mindset of those who want to use them as cash cows.  I’m sure their justification will be based on “the cost of developing technology” and the costs of keeping the system.  Like printing presses and UPS delivery comes free.  I guess it’s a good thing I won’t get called for THAT jury. 🙂

Read on!


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