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How the E-Book Ruling Will Affect the Way We Read

How the E-Book Ruling Will Affect the Way We Read
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A long-running controversy has shaken the book industry, and it could affect the way you buy, access and read the books you love. On Friday, three major book publishers agreed to pay $69 million in a settlement of the highly-publicized lawsuit alleging that five of the “big six” publishers colluded with Apple to fix e-book prices, and possibly changed the future of book publishing forever.

Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster have settled, while Apple, Penguin Group and MacMillan have not.

According to PC World, the lawsuit came “after a two-year antitrust investigation by the DOJ and the Connecticut and Texas attorneys general. The investigation allegedly found that the publishers worked with Apple to set prices for e-books and limit the discounts retailers could give,” essentially “increasing retail e-book prices for all consumers.”

But Apple and the book publishers insist that there was no collusion and that they followed pro-consumer retail models. As a consumer of books, what do you think? Take a look at how the settlement could affect you.

What does the settlement mean for you?

1. It hurts traditional book publishers by taking away their control to price their own books in the marketplace. Take a look at the kind of books these publishers develop, market and sell. If you have ever read and loved one of these books, then the DOJ settlement is one to keep an eye on.

Hachette: “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks; “Now You See Her” by James Patterson

HarperCollins: “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt; “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein

Simon & Schuster: “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory; “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Penguin Group: “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini; “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

Macmillan: “Where We Belong” by Emily Giffin; “Night” by Elie Wiesel

2. It hurts brick-and-mortar bookstores by allowing competitors such as Amazon to price books below cost. Most physical bookstores are unable to give such steep discounts because they have to pay rent and employees. But many consumers are looking for the best bargain and will go for Amazon every time.

3. It hurts our communities by making it more difficult for local shops to sell books. When the only way to buy a book is to order it on the internet, Amazon will have won. Do you really want to live in a world with no bookstores to browse?

4. It hurts authors by allowing their books to be sold at deep discounts and putting financial strain on their publishers. A number of authors, including Richard Russo and Ann Patchett, have spoken out against the DOJ lawsuit and its potentially harmful consequences for the book industry.

5. It hurts each individual reader by reducing the diversity of the reading market. Publishers develop a variety of authors and books to appeal to virtually every taste on the planet. Each publisher that is forced to cut back, or struggles and fails in this tough environment, represents dozens or hundreds of potential books that may never be published.

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Photo credit: Cristian Eslava

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109 comments

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7:15AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

When people buy online, they hurt the businesses in their community. When you don't support the brick and mortar you hurt your neighbors and might be hurting your own businesses, as those neghbors go unemployed and dont spend at your business.Yet again the DOJ demonstrates that it is acting against the interests of people

2:08PM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Feel kinda sorry for kids, tucked up in bed, Mum reading from an electronic device!

9:47AM PST on Jan 31, 2013

I hate that everything is electronic now. I want to get away from my screen after a day of work, not bury it in another screen from a hand held device like a phone, tablet, or kindle. I like holding on to a real book, and reading the letters from a page. Staring at screens all day makes my eyes tired after a while.

2:12PM PST on Jan 30, 2013

This article is way too surface. Books are evolving the fact that there is a dominant form is in a way a very good thing. There is no reason to have three competing transmission sources. Although I myself prefer paper there are many people who can now read books that a publisher would not bother with. Self publishing now has a venue that is cheap to get your book in front of customers.
June T has a point. Small apartments just do not have the space.

11:22AM PST on Dec 19, 2012

I think this post shows a certain lack of understanding of how things work with both the hard copy publishers and the online stores selling eBooks. The publisher sets the prices for eBooks in the online stores. So to imply the online stores are undermining the publishing houses by undercutting their prices is inaccurate. I know this because I am the publishing imprint for my book and I set the price for that book online. The place where the online eBook peddlers do have power is in how they contract to sell the books. Amazon, which sells 1000 eBooks books for every 100 Barnes & Noble Nook does and for every 1 Apple iBook sells, has a pretty standard contract. You can sell the eBook for whatever you want, but if you sell for above $9.99, the ratio of what Amazon takes versus what you take changes radically, going from 70% to the publisher 30% to Amazon to much less in the publisher's favor figures. And, Amazon will only give the 70% commission if the eBook is not on sale anywhere else for less. This in some ways forces publishers to come down on what they might have chosen to sell the eBook for, without that cut off scale of commission, or to charge much much more in order to recoup the 70%. All of which is beside the point. EBooks are not ruining publishing, they are forcing publishing to evolve. They are also making it much simpler for writers to self publish, which is probably causing publishers a bit of grief because they have been bottle necking for some ti

2:41PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

I simply love books. Not just the stories but the old, time withstanding pages. sigh

12:38PM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

what a nice sensation when you smell the pages of a new book!

5:16PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

The poll question was not clear to me. Was it asking if we support the traditional publishers who sell books to book stores, or was it asking if we support the publishers who sell e-books? I am guessing the poll was asking if we support what's currently going on with e-book pricing.

4:56PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

thanks

9:58PM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

(cont)


are marketers who happen to be in business when the epitome of all marketing venues has just got rolling. The internet. Low overhead and ease of use. Crying over what is going to be lost without seeing that an even greater gain is to be had is a sign that YOU won't be benefiting from the unstoppable change that is coming

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