Although not always a fan of lawsuits pursued on a personal level (I believe that, although necessary in some cases, such lawsuits more often than not ruin lives), I can't help but throw out some kudos to the Department of Justice which recently brought suit against Apple and five major book publishers (including Penguin, Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster) for "collud[ing] to increase the price of ebooks," a move which allegedly "cost consumers 'tens of millions of dollars.'" Apparently, these nogoodniks, including Steve Jobs, "worked together to eliminate competition among stores selling ebooks" by "rais[ing] the price of best-selling titles $2 to $5 each by introducing, at the same time Apple launched its iPad tablet, an “agency” business model in which publishers set retail prices." Apparently, Apple also insisted on "a 'most favoured nation' clause in which publishers agreed not to sell on cheaper terms elsewhere – while giving Apple a 30% commission on every sale – forc[ing] other retailers [including Kindle and Barnes & Noble] to adopt the same terms (see Financial Times story here).
As an American with fiery trust-busting fervor flowing throw my veins, the story rings mightily of injustice. But as one of those customers bilked out of extra cash by such collusion, I hear that ring even more clearly.
See, in the good ol' days, Amazon set the price for its eBooks at $9.99 - a veritable steal of a deal for avid bibliophiles like me. But then the price of eBooks began to increase until the point where, in some cases, it now costs more to buy an electronic copy of a book than the bound volume.
And so I applaud this suit most heartily, particularly as it seems to be bearing fruit (three of the publishers have already settled, putting strong pressure on Apple and the remaining publishers to do the same).
Under the terms of the settlement, it seems that the DOJ (and several states which have also sued Apple and the book publishers) will get their own (monetary) pound of flesh out of the baddies; but the best part is that, as part of the settlement, the DOJ is requiring that the publishers "let retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, set their own prices for ebooks."
Booyah. I can only hope that the days of the $9.99 novel will return ... and I can again enjoy the full might of Kindle's glory on the (comparative) cheap.