Posted on 2014-Feb-10
eBook prices set by traditional publishers stirred a string of extensive debates how their eBook prices had stayed higher. In the U.S., the case involved Apple, the Justice Department, and several publishers to resolve the price collusion.
While the latest update on the case resulted in the Big 5’s agreement to settle out of court, the remaining defendant is willing to protect its best interest by bidding to oppose the judge’s order of monitorship.
Lowering eBook Prices
Elsewhere in Canada, a similar case recently emerged when the Competition Bureau ordered four publishers to lower the price of eBooks for consumers. The government agency has already signed a deal with four of the country’s largest eBook publishers: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster. The publishers will also delete clauses known as “most-favored-nation” in the agreements. Previously, these clauses have prevented retailers from discounting eBooks against the publishers’ consent.
eBook’s Price Discrepancies in the U.S. and Canada
Canadian readers will significantly benefit from this deal as the recently appointed commissioner of competition pointed out. “This agreement should benefit Canadian consumers by lowering the price of eBooks in Canada,” said John Pecman. Joseph Thornley blogged on his website last year and demonstrated eBook’s price discrepancies in several retailers between the two countries, the U.S. and Canada. He quoted the price table, originally provided by Laura hazard Owen of paidContent, and compared it with the one that shows Canadian prices of the same eBooks published by Penguin and sold on different retailers. The Canadian price tags were somewhat higher in Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, and Google stores even six months after Penguin had settled with the Department of Justice.
Apple’s Complaint vs. Court’s Decision
Back to the current court case in the U.S., Apple filed a new complaint against the court’s order arguing that the antitrust monitor, Michael Bromwich, was harming the company’s business. Apple’s concern was that the court-appointed monitor’s duties were too broad gaining access to interview top executives. In response to Apple’s appeal in the 2nd Circuit, a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer, Finnuala Tessier, told the court that the monitor was essential to make sure that Apple complies with the law after the company was found responsible for conspiring with the big five publishers to raise the eBook prices. According to the lawyer, the monitor is “constrained from investigating instances in which the company may have violated antitrust law and must turn over any such evidence to the court.” Judge Gerard Lynch suggested that the court can clarify what the monitor’s limitations are to ease Apple’s concerns.
More Affordable eBook Reading
eBook pricing of several bestselling titles published by the traditional publishers have long been strategized to demand a higher price tag as opposed to indie eBook prices. Although consumers are familiar with shelling out a premium payment, the price discrepancies between the Kindle stores in neighboring countries are no longer the feasible standard since a government agency has stepped in to resolve the matter. Following suit of the eBook antitrust U.S. court case, the price reduction in Canada can engage more readers in reading eBooks more affordably. Somehow, the eBook antitrust case is not over yet when Apple calls for its right to protect their business.
These are just two examples of how consumers can rest assured that their favorite eBooks’ prices will comply with market mechanism. On the one hand, traditional publishers’ eBook pricing could drop to comply with the law. On the other hand, indie authors’ eBook prices provide many more opportunities for them to take advantage of different price points to appeal to a target audience and continually monetize their creative product based on the promotion that meets the reader’s demands and expectations.
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