Thursday, 6 June 2013

Legal Battles Are Way Too Confusing



Hey all,

This post is a bit off base for me on this blog. I’m going to be talking (sort of) about the price-fixing case over ebooks right now. I just want to be clear that I have no issues with these companies, I rather like and distribute through a number of them. What the case sounds like, though, is a few (business type) people tried to manipulate the market and got caught, and now people are mad. Anyways, carry on reading, I talk about stuff that I know not very much about.

So, if you’re like me, you might occasionally Google terms that might somewhat relate to your profession. It seems that over the past few days, you can’t look up anything that relates to ebooks or digital print without coming across the Apple/Amazon/publishing house price-fixing battle.

[This is how I understand the case from shifting through slightly confusing news reports of the trial]

From what I gather, Apple had been trying to strike deals with publishing houses to set the retail price of the ebooks high. The way that Apple sell their books is that they take 30% of the sale and the publisher gets the rest. Amazon, on the other hand, buys the books wholesale and then sets their own prices. They make a profit off of however much extra they sell the book for. Apple, then, is trying to raise the wholesale price so that if Amazon wishes to make any money, they’ll have to sell higher. Apple can then price match at the higher price and make more money then Amazon (maybe).

[If that made no sense, I do apologize, you can Google the case and see if you can figure it out any better than I can]

Anyways, the tone of the articles have been reading as if this were a direct attack on the consumers—as if people should never have to pay more than X price ($9.99 maybe?) for each copy of an ebook. The general conclusion of the reports is that Apple has been stealing hundreds of millions of dollars over the years from people buying the books. Where really, if people didn’t want to pay 12.99 for a book, they wouldn’t—I don’t think anyone is being abused that badly here. Also, this sounds a lot more like a slap-fight between the distributors and the publishing houses than anything else to me. No one is admitting to anything, but everyone seems to blame everyone else for all the woes of the industry.

I’m not quite sure where I was going with this post. I’ve written and deleted about ten different conclusions—none of which were actually concluding anything. Mostly I wanted to talk about how strange it is that my field appears to be dominated by a massive legal battle that I’m completely unaffected by. My prices aren’t changing; I control what I want, how I want. If I hadn’t Googled any of this, I probably wouldn’t know that it was happening. I guess in the long run, it’s just businesses being businesses—they fight over weird stuff and hog all the attention from the news sources. 

-Trevor

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