Suit blames DRM for lack of ability to enter the market
Independent booksellers The Book House, Posman Books, and Fiction Addiction are suing Amazon and the "Big Six" publishers consisting of Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. The suit accuses the seven companies of monopolizing the e-book market by selling titles encumbered by draconian digital rights management, and says that the companies have a seeming unwillingness to enter into agreements with smaller bookstore chains or groups. The moves have limited consumers' choices, and barred independents from successfully entering the e-book market, the booksellers say.
Macmillan reaches settlement with government
The US Department of Justice has settled with publisher Macmillan in a long-running e-book price-fixing lawsuit, says AllThingsD. "Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions," a DoJ statement reads. "The proposed settlement agreement also will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on Macmillan, including requirements that it provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers and regularly report to the department on any communications it has with other publishers. Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement."
If settlement approved, only Macmillan and Apple left standing
The United States Department of Justice confirmed today that the Penguin group has made a settlement offer in New York District Court to end its ongoing e-book price-fixing antitrust investigation. If accepted by the Department of Justice and the judge, only Apple and Macmillan will remain as defendants in the suit. Under the agreement's terms, Penguin must cease doing business with any e-book seller it is currently doing business with, including Apple. The publisher will also be prohibited from signing new deals with any distributors that limit discounts for a period of two years.
Deal would have Amazon going back to original ebook prices
Regulators with the European Union are prepared to accept a proposal by Apple and four publishers to end an antitrust investigation into ebook pricing, Reuters sources say. Under the terms of the arrangement, Apple and the publishers would let retailers set their own prices and discounts for at least two years. The deal would also suspend "most-favored nation" contracts for at least five years; in this case, for instance, it would block contracts stopping retailers from selling books more cheaply than Apple.
Publishers call federal complaint full of innuendo
Book publishers Penguin and Macmillan are denying accusations of a conspiracy with Apple to fix the price of e-books, saying the claims are based on “little circumstantial evidence.” According to the New York Times, the two companies said that the US government piled “innuendo on top of innuendo” in the federal complaint, with shots also fired at Amazon by saying the government “sides with a monopolist.”
Apple eager to determine case in court
Apple on Wednesday stated that its confronting a Department of Justice lawsuit over e-book pricing was deliberate. Attorney Daniel Floyd told Judge Denise Cote that Apple believed the lawsuit was "not an appropriate case" and wanted to prove itself in court. The company wanted this to be "decided on the merits," Reuters heard while observing Floyd at a hearing.
Apple publicly responds to DOJ lawsuit
Apple after silence through the past two days responded Thursday to the Department of Justice lawsuit over alleged e-book pricing collusion. Spokesman Tom Neumayr flatly rejected the accusations when asked for comment by AllThingsD, recapping the company's objections to the European Union that the iBookstore was beneficial as it was created. The iPad-focused store kept Amazon from having excessive control and improved e-books themselves, Neumayr said, pointing out that the move beyond the Kindle format also upgraded books themselves.
Macmillan CEO insists company innocent
Macmillan CEO John Sargent in an open letter blasted the Department of Justice for its e-book antitrust lawsuit. He insisted that his publishing company had "done no wrong" and that he, alone, had Macmillan switch to an agency model that hiked e-book prices. Revealing more than the DOJ had mentioned itself while confirming rumors, he said talks had broken down after "months" and that the DOJ's terms would allegedly let Amazon go back to the wholesale model and unfairly dominate through artificially low prices.
EU deal may avoid penalty over Apple book pricing
European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in comments Monday said his agency was willing to settle with publishers over an e-book price fixing investigation. He was willing to put an end to possible penalties for Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan if they addressed "all our objections [at the EC]" over the group allegedly raising prices unfairly, Reuters heard. The European regulator was working in tandem with matching US investigators, although he didn't directly confirm leaks of a possible Department of Justice lawsuit.
DOJ warns Apple must change iBookstore rules
The US Department of Justice is readying an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers unless they change their pricing strategy for e-books, leaks revealed Wednesday night. Agency officials reportedly slipped to the Wall Street Journal that both the iPad designer as well as Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster would face legal action for possibly having colluded on e-book pricing. DOJ prosecutors objected to Apple's since confirmed insistence on an agency model, where publishers set the price, as it allegedly kept e-book prices artificially inflated.
Hagens Berman amends Apple suit over collusion
Hagens Berman's class-action over iBookstore prices was expanded on Friday with potentially more serious evidence. New claims from the law firm allege that Hachette Livre (incorrectly described as Hatchett) chairman Arnaud Noury met with an unnamed Amazon executive on December 3, 2009 several weeks before the iPad unveiling to convince him to raise the price of e-books on the Kindle Store. According to the anecdote, Noury had said that a $2 to $3 price hike over the existing $10 would solve not just Hachette's problems but those of its competitors, suggesting that it was aware of and working together on raising prices.
EC worries iBookstore may have made illegal deals
The European Commission detailed plans Tuesday for a formal investigation into major publishers and Apple as to whether their deal might violate EU antitrust law. Officials will determine whether Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan have possibly used Apple to shut out e-book competition from rival stores or publishers. EC staff are worried that the agency model, where the store makes a flat rate and the publishers set the prices, is keeping the price of titles on the iBookstore and elsewhere artificially high.
Hagens Berman sues Apple over iBookstore prices
Seattle-area law firm Hagens Berman on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit accusing Apple of colluding with publishers to fix iBookstore prices. The suit, submitted in a Northern District of California court by representing members Anthony Petru and Marcus Mathis, accuses Apple of making unfair deals with Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster to artificially keep prices high. In adopting the agency pricing model, where the store takes a fixed cut but lets publishers dictate the price, Apple set terms that forced Amazon to abandon the wholesale model for the Kindle and raise its prices.
Area generally unexploited in tablets
Over 100 illustrated books have been added to the iBookstore in tandem with the release of iBooks 1.2, says the New York Times. These are spread across several different genres, including cooking, photography and children's books. Some notable titles include Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, a photo collection by Ansel Adams and the Olivia series of picture books.
New Penguin books come back to Kindle
Amazon and Penguin today put an end to their dispute over pricing for e-books on the Kindle store. Penguin has agreed to resume adding new e-books after it began withholding them on April 1, leaving at least 150 titles without a presence in the online shop. Neither company gave the terms of the deal or said what had triggered the fight.
Amazon cuts physical book prices to hurt Penguin
Amazon today was reported as having dropped the prices on some of Penguin's physical books to force a deal with the publisher for e-books [subscription required]. Coming weeks after Penguin stopped providing Kindle books on April 1st, Amazon has cut the costs of some brand new hardcover books to the same $10 it would normally charge for a digital edition. The price slash would be especially painful for Penguin as it and other publishers hate major discounts on new titles.
Amazon Kindle sees majors follow iBookstore model
Amazon today bowed to pressure ahead of the iPad launch by striking new Kindle book deals with HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Similar to the terms for Macmillan, the change will let both publishers use an agency model that gives them control over prices. Some bestseller e-books will now cost between $13 to $15; others will still cost the usual $10, but others should be priced below Amazon's average.
Apple puts book prices back in line
Apple may have dashed hopes of lower e-book prices after a second discovery of a price update in the pre-release iBookstore. Most of the top titles that had been listed at $10 now cost $13, or in line with the prices briefly glimpsed in Apple promo material. A handful of bestseller books, like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, still sit at the lower price.
Apple gets sixth iPad book deal
Apple today confirmed that it has struck a deal with Perseus Books Group to bring its titles to the iBookstore and the iPad. The move puts the largest collection of independent publishers on the tablet and should make the titles available by the time the iPad ships on April 3rd. Perseus' involvement should provide books from firms like restaurant guide Zagat, Harvard Business School Press and other both fiction and non-fiction publishers.
Amazon, Apple demanding best e-book prices
Amazon has escalated the growing feud between itself and Apple by issuing ultimatums to e-book publishers, inside stories from the industry claimed on Thursday. The online retailer has allegedly been pressing major publishers to sign three-year contracts that not only guarantee Kindle books for the period but would prevent them from offering a better price to Apple or any other e-bookseller. These publishers could use the agency model and set their own prices, the NYT noted, but only if Amazon was given equal or better treatment.
Macmillan DynamicBooks allow for 'live' edits
Macmillan today unveiled a new format for digital textbooks that it hopes will become the mainstream. DynamicBooks aim to give control over a textbook to college and university professors by giving them Wiki-style editing: they can shuffle the order of material as well as edit it themselves. Professors will also have the option of grafting their own course outlines, notes and media to potentially provide entire course details through the single book.
Apple, Google to whittle Amazon market share
The iPad and a more concerted effort from Google will cut the Amazon Kindle's share of the e-book field by two thirds, Credit Suisse analyst Spencer Wang said in a report issued Tuesday. He believes Apple's entry into the field has "stoked fears" about the growth of the Kindle and that this, combined with Google Books, will drop Amazon's e-book sales share from a near-monopoly 90 percent today to just 35 percent within five years.
Amazon fulfills promise after price war
Amazon today confirmed that it has put back Macmillan's titles on both the Kindle store and in its regular store. The move follows after Amazon agreed to raise prices on e-books last weekend as the result of a three-day standoff. Amazon had unsuccessfully tried to withdraw books as a negotiating tactic to keep prices at $10.
Hachette echoes Macmillan in e-book price war
Hachette today followed Macmillan's pricing strategy and said it would raise prices on its e-books. The approach will use the agency model where the publisher, not the retailer, sets the prices. It will notably use the Apple price scheme and ask between $13 and $15 for new and bestselling titles as well as change prices over time, with some older and shorter titles costing as little as $6.
Murdoch says Apple more flexible than Amazon
News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch today openly dismissed Amazon's e-book store in favor of Apple's in his company's fiscal results call on Tuesday. The executive, who also owns publisher HarperCollins, argued that the Kindle store's $10 or less pricing "devalues books" and punishes those selling hard copies. He instead favored Apple's deal with HarperCollins for iBooks and the iPad, which he hinted would allow a "variety of slightly higher prices" that could bend to reflect demands.
Amazon claims Macmillan wants unfair price hike
Amazon in an unusual weekend update revealed that it has accepted Macmillian's pricing terms for e-books on the Kindle store. The online retailer said it would involuntarily agree to Macmillan's price increase requests and accept the publisher's agency model, which will raise the prices of popular titles from Amazon's previously insisted-upon $10 to a typical $13 or $15. Amazon in its defense argued that it was strongarmed by its dependence on publishers and made the unusual claim that Macmillan had a "monopoly" on its own books, letting it dictate the terms of how they're sold.
Macmillan says Amazon wants too much control
Macmillan in a special news update backed many of the rumors behind Amazon's decision to pull its Kindle books on Friday. The publisher's John Sargent says that the price requests are part of a new agency model taking effect in March and that this would require charging between $6 and $15 per book, with Amazon taking a 30 percent cut like other retailers. Amazon's insistence on a maximum $10 price would be acceptable only if there were an " extensive and deep windowing" of the books that would be sold.
Amazon protests demand for Kindle price hike
Amazon has pulled Macmillian's books from the Kindle store in a protest over pricing that could signal a conflict with Apple, a source said late Friday. An insider claims that Macmillan had asked Amazon to raise prices from $10 to $15 and, as a pressure tactic, Amazon is temporarily denying sales. The NYT contact doesn't say how close Amazon and Macmillan are to clearing the impasse and which side has the upper hand.