ENTRIES TAGGED "DOJ settlement"

Publishing News: Penguin settles, Macmillan holds its ground

Apple and Macmillan stand alone against the DOJ's ebook lawsuit, PressBooks opens up, and Amazon may be inviting disruption.

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.

And then there were two

In headline news this week, the Penguin Group announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. Jim Milliot reports at Publisher’s Weekly that the “[t]erms are nearly identical to agreements reached with Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins, but according to the government, if the Random House-Penguin merger is approved the newly formed company must abide by the agreement.” Milliot notes that as Random House is not involved in the DOJ lawsuit, it can continue conducting its ebook business under the agency agreement in the meantime.

Laura Hazard Owen reports at PaidContent that “Penguin is discussing a similar settlement with the European Commission and that the DOJ’s case will continue against remaining defendants Apple and Macmillan.

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Publishing News: DOJ settlement, the aftermath

A look at a looming Amazon monopoly and the DOJ settlement effect on ebook pricing. Also, a chat with The Atavist CEO Evan Ratliff.

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.

Digital evolution or government-assisted monopoly?

LA Times writers Dawn C. Chmielewski and Carolyn Kellogg took a look this week at Judge Cotes’ decision to approve the proposed settlement in the ebook price fixing case and the turmoil it’s causing in the publishing industry.

Chmielewski and Kellogg cite a statement by the Author’s Guild “warning that the ruling would turn the clock back to 2010, when Amazon sold 90% of all e-books,” but author and publishing attorney Jonathan Kirsch warned that the decision will have much bigger picture implications:

“By putting the legal approval on this settlement, the district court has pushed us over a certain kind of cliff. In terms of the real-life experiences of publishers, authors and readers, this will represent a fundamental change in how books are published and sold … The court says we recognize that we’re in the birth pangs of a revolution of book selling, but we’re not going to torture the antitrust law into permitting one way of doing business over another way of doing business.”

Literary agent Gary Morris told Chmielewski and Kellogg that Cotes’ decision basically handed Amazon a monopoly and that publishers’ biggest fear is “that by solidifying Amazon’s indispensability as a retailer, they’ll drop wholesale prices to a level that’s unsustainable for the publishing business.” On the other hand, Forrester analyst James McQuivey said for the piece that fighting the digital evolution is folly and that “[t]he companies in a position to focus on digital distribution — which is Amazon and Barnes & Noble — those are the companies positioned to take over.”

In a related piece, LA Times writer Michael Hiltzik dug into the background of the case and the history of Amazon’s position in the ebook market, and laid out how the antitrust suit plays into Amazon’s grand plans to build a monopoly. Hiltzik argues that in pursuing the antitrust suit, “the government walked blithely past the increasing threat of an Amazon monopoly and went after the stakeholders who were trying to keep it from taking root.” And he boils down the overall takeaway from the entire situation:

“[T]he most important concern that should be shared by all participants in the publishing world — readers, publishers, retailers, device manufacturers — is that it’s in no one’s interest to have a single company controlling 90% of the market. No one, that is, except the big player, which is Amazon.”

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