Senator Charles Schumer (D, New York) has an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal calling upon the Department of Justice to drop its lawsuit against the agency price publishers and Apple. Schumer seems to have bought into the Author’s Guild’s rationale, which he quotes and references, painting Amazon as the evil monopolist and publishers as beleaguered innovators who came up with a way to nobble Amazon’s unfair advantage and are now being punished for it.
The suit, Schumer writes, “could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published.” He seems to feel that if traditional publishers fall, there won’t be any other good ways for people to get published ever again. I tend to disagree with this idea. I feel that killing off traditional publishers would only kill off traditional publishers—it wouldn’t kill publishing, though it might change it in ways we couldn’t begin to predict.
I believe that if there is money in getting manuscripts from authors to readers, someone will figure out a way to make it. If that doesn’t happen, then there must not have been any money in it after all, and we’ve been trying to prop up these old dinosaurs out of some misplaced sense of nostalgia rather than for any really good economic reason.
Of course, given that Senator Schumer’s constituency is the home of those beleaguered traditional publishers, it’s not exactly hard to see why he would take the position he does. I look forward to finding out what effect this all will have…in a year or so when it actually comes to trial.