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


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.

Is the Department of Justice lawsuit fair?

Despite accusations of collusion, Apple continues to assert the opinion that they have done nothing wrong, as do the publishers who have refused to settle. Representatives from these companies have stated that there was no collusion to raise e-book prices or reduce competition within the industry.

Apple’s attorney released a forceful statement claiming their innocence and criticizing the controversial lawsuit:

“Apple has never participated in, encouraged, or sought to benefit from collusion. It has no objection to the Proposed Judgment’s bar on collusion. But the Government proposes to go much further. It seeks to terminate and rewrite Apple’s bargained-for contracts” (

The retail models that are good for publishers are also good for authors (who rely on their support and development), and therefore, obviously good for readers who want access to quality authors’ books.

Who will benefit?

Who will benefit from the DOJ settlement?


The wholesale model of selling e-books, which the DOJ favors, allows Amazon to price e-books as low as they want –which, since they are known for selling e-books at a loss to drive sales of more expensive items (like Kindles) — means that their pricing is beyond competitive. It blows everyone else out of the water. Which is good for consumers in the short run, because they pay less for e-books, but bad in the long run because it eliminates competitive retailers and puts financial strain on publishers.

In the end, it will be us (the readers) who make the choice about who wins this battle. Will you support the publishers who bring you the books you love to read? Or would you prefer to pay less for e-books in a potentially less competitive, less rich reading environment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related Stories:

DOJ Says Apple and Publishers Colluded About E-Book Prices

E-Book Borrowing: Publishers and Libraries Disagree

E-Books or Paper Books: Which Is Best for Kids?


Photo credit: Cristian Eslava


Catherine A.
Past Member 2 years ago

It’s really such nice information to get advantage from.Sociology Ebooks

Jaime Dough
Angelus Silesius5 years ago

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

Connie T.
Past Member 5 years ago

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

Karl Murphy
Karl Murphy5 years ago

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.

Scott haakon
Scott haakon5 years ago

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.

Max A.
Max A.5 years ago

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

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

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

Ida Gian
Ida Gian5 years ago

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

Cat C.
Cat C5 years ago

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.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago