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Forum > Miscellaneous > E-book price-fixing lawsuit ( Moderated by Deepika, EleanorSews, CynthiaSue)

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E-book price-fixing lawsuit
Kindle prices starting to drop
TessKwiltz  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/6/12 12:40 PM

In another thread on e-books, someone mentioned the publishers setting the price. It seems preposterous to price an e-book for more than the price of the hardcopy. Aren't electrons cheaper than trees? In the US price-fixing is illegal, but it is a murky thing to regulate and is often not prosecuted, until someone sues.

Earlier this year the Department of Justice sued Apple and five major publishers. Early this fall, three of the publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster) settled.

"...the three settling publishers must terminate contracts with other retailers (like Amazon and Barnes & Noble) that contain any “restrictions on an e-book retailer’s ability to set the retail price of any e-book”

Until today, I hadn't noticed any downward changes. One Simon & Schuster book I've had in my wishlist actually went up a dollar after the settlement.

I bring this up because today I noticed one of the books in my wishlist, published by Hachette, no longer says "This price was set by the publisher" and has dropped from $9.99 to $7.99. I assume the result of the court settlement.

However, the Simon and Schuster book in my wishlist still says "This price was set by the publisher".

I'm curious to hear whether anyone has noticed price drops from other e-tailers besides Amazon.


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kkkkaty  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/6/12 12:58 PM

I thought the prices of books in the nook format dropped almost right away (about $2 cheaper, I think), but I don't buy them often enough to track the trend closely

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Date: 12/7/12 10:27 AM

Now if the same kind of lawsuit would slap these sewing machine manufacturers.....

just sayin'.....

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Mufffet  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/7/12 10:34 AM

This lawsuit has been going on awhile and the feds have been the moving force. Now the book prices at NOOK and AMAZON are coming down a bit - more to the point - AMAZON's publishers deals will have to soften so that those publishers cannot price fix at AMAZON, and leave NOOK prices higher. That was a real pain and was not B&N's doing. It had been the hope, back in the 90s, that ebooks would be fairly priced and all be epub. The only reason AMAZON has capitulated to the epub and the ability to "check" out books from your library is because that was a major selling point for NOOK. It's all very proprietary and competitive, so please use lots of free Gutenberg books and whatever else you can read free these days.Major publishers want to make ebooks unusable after a period of time, but then they would also like paper books to disintegrate after awhile as well I am sure. Awhile being 6 months.! HAHAHha...if the guy at the top of the MacMillan empire could do it, he would ban you lending ANY book to a friend, and make your dead tree books disintegrate after 6 months. Hopefully this will all never happen.

This article makes interesting reading:

Libraries and eBooks

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Date: 12/7/12 1:46 PM

This may seem like a good decision for consumers but it is a very bad decision for publishing and booksellers other than Amazon.

Amazon has been selling actual physical books at a loss for some time in their effort to attain a virtual monopoly in bookselling. They don't really care about making money selling books. They have probably never been profitable just on their book sales. They are after consumers who will stay on or return to the site and purchase larger margin items.

As they continue to lower prices on physical and e-books they also pressure publishers for more onerous terms--with the threat of not carrying their books at all if publishers don't comply. As they are the biggest single marketplace for books in the US, publishers can't afford to not sell to them.

In the end, the rock bottom prices are not something publishing can sustain unless every book promises tremendous returns. What is published will become narrower and narrower. Publishing itself has already consolidated to the point where there are only 5 major houses left. Smaller publishers who publish niche titles (like, say, sewing books) on very slim margins cannot make it on Amazon's terms. A few have pulled their books from the site, leaving the single largest market for their books untapped. Other booksellers will not be able to compete and will die, leaving Amazon the only player on the field. They will then be able to price things as they please.

Full disclosure--I now work for their main competition but I have been watching the race to the bottom in the industry for the past 30 years. I've also worked for Borders in the past and a number of publishers. Brick and mortar stores simply cannot sell physical books at the same prices as on-line sellers and keep their doors open, the lights on and staff paid. Even now, people "showroom" shop at stores, then order from Amazon or B& or buy the e-book. E-books still have to pay for authors' advances and royalties, marketing, coding and formatting and make a profit for their publishers.

Neither Amazon nor B&N are making their money selling e-readers. They need to sell content. Amazon has shown itself willing to sell at a loss and more than willing to pressure publishers to do the same. They're playing a bigger game and consumers will suffer for it in the end.

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Date: 12/7/12 5:37 PM

Wow, that's very troubling.

I have friends self publishing their own books & doing well. Amazingly.

One gripe, in the 90's librarys got rid of fabulous books that can't be replaced, was shocked they were getting rid of them. Alot of them were "How To" books. Now you can't go to the library & actually learn anything. When asked, a person who worked at the library why getting rid of good books, his reply was, "We've been instructed not to have any books over the 4th grade reading level, that includes adult books." This was in Ohio by the way.
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