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Posts tagged agency pricing

Authors lost the book war long before Amazon vs. Hachette
June 19, 2014 | 12:28 pm

publishersI meant to cover this piece from The Weeklings when it popped up on The Passive Voice the other day. To my surprise, it’s reprinted on the normally rabid pro-publisher/anti-Amazon Salon Magazine this morning, so I guess I have no excuse now. In this article, J.E. Fishman traces authorial woes all the way back to the 1930s when Penguin began to flood the market with cheap paperbacks. This kicked off a paperback revolution among US publishers. Through all of this disruption no one asked authors what they thought. When it came to business, authors were...

Hugh Howey outs Hachette for seeking book market price dictatorship
June 16, 2014 | 12:25 pm

I can't do better for my small contribution to the Amazon/Hachette controversy than to link to Hugh Howey's latest nasty surprise for traditional Big Five publishers, "Big Publishing is the Problem," where he reproduces a slide (shared above from his site) from a recent investor briefing that reveals just what Hachette is trying to do. As he says, "Hachette is strong-arming Amazon and harming its authors because they want to dictate price to a retailer, something not done practically anywhere else in the goods market. It’s something US publishers don’t even do to brick and mortar booksellers. It’s just something they...

Apple damages trial delayed to August 25
June 3, 2014 | 8:45 pm

In the wake of Apple’s recent failure to obtain a stay on the damages trial, Andrew Albanese reports at Publishers Weekly, the trial has been postponed again, to August 25. There may not actually be a trial as such after all, however; it’s possible Cote might issue a summary judgment deciding the case without recourse to a jury, or a partial judgment setting a damages floor for the jury to consider. Both parties have asked Judge Cote to consider issuing her ruling before the August 1 deadline for submission of their Joint Pretrial Order, which would discuss what is to...

Department of Justice asks settling publishers, ‘Done any more colluding lately?’
June 3, 2014 | 7:45 pm

The Wall Street Journal reports hearing from “people familiar with the situation” that the first three publishers to settle—Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and News Corp’s own HarperCollins—have received letters of inquiry from the Department of Justice, seeking information about “any recent pricing discussions they may have had with others in the industry.” The rest of the article is basically background reminding folks of the price-fixing lawsuit the publishers settled, and the trouble Amazon is having with Hachette. There’s really not a lot on which to speculate. It does seem clear, though, that given that the publishers are approaching the...

Publishers, Amazon, and competition: Three points of view
June 1, 2014 | 11:00 am

There’s a theme in the triad of Amazon/Hachette articles I found this morning, and the theme is…competition. First of all, here’s a rare op ed in favor of Amazon that originally appeared in CNN’s “Fortune” section. (Though it seems to have vanished from there; the link no longer works and the author reposted it on his own blog.) Len Sherman rebuts an earlier anti-Amazon piece by Adam Lashinsky and argues that Hachette’s background as an illegal colluder suggests it is more interested in keeping prices high, whereas Amazon wants to keep them lower for consumers. ...

Can publishers win if they dare?
May 31, 2014 | 12:29 pm

primematrixDare - dare to believe you can survive You hold the future in your hand Dare - dare to keep all of your dreams alive It's time to take a stand And you can win, if you dare —Stan Bush, “Dare” That seems to be the chorus that publisher advocates are singing these days: as publishers fight against the evil market-devouring Amazon much as the Transformers fought the evil world-devouring Unicron, the publishers...

Publishing consultants want to foster competition among retailers by making consumers miserable
May 29, 2014 | 6:40 pm

I’m not a publishing industry “insider.” I admit that. I know I pontificate from time to time, and have opinions very strongly expressed, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m “just” a consumer and a very interested onlooker who’s been observing the field from the outside for the last ten or fifteen years. From my perspective, it often seems like publishing industry folks don’t seem to know what they’re doing. Nonetheless, you know the old saying about what is done by those who can and those who can’t. I keep telling myself, this is how these...

Konrath vs. Stross on the Amazon/Hachette affair
May 27, 2014 | 4:37 am

So, more people have chimed in on the Amazon/Hachette thing. Most notably, Charlie Stross has blogged about it. Given that he’s published by Orbit, a subsidiary of Hachette, it’s understandable that his point of view is rather similar to Lilith Saintcrow’s: Amazon is a “malignant monopoly” engaging in predatory pricing, bullying Hachette, and so forth. Joe Konrath and pseudonymous guest blogger William Ockham have a different point of view. Konrath posted an essay to his blog in which they demolish Stross’s arguments point by point. Most of it is the same argument/counter-argument we’ve been hearing over and...

Steve Jobs may have escaped criminal charges due to ‘reality distortion field’
May 3, 2014 | 3:50 pm

Why didn’t Apple executives (or, for that matter, the publishers) face criminal charges in the antitrust lawsuit stemming from agency pricing? Until now, the theory I had heard was that it was because none of the actions the publishers or Apple had taken was illegal by itself—there were no examples of bribery, falsifying documents, or any other overtly criminal activity. Everything they did would have been legal if they’d only done it by themselves; the antitrust violation came about because they got together and elected to do it all at once. However, this New York Times article asks the...

Publishers go off deep end, pay consultant to tell them what they want to hear
April 3, 2014 | 1:24 pm

Diogenes-statue-Sinop-enhancedSo, let me get this straight. Frank Luby, a consultant speaking at Digital Book World, says that e-books are more convenient than printed books, and therefore, they should cost more. Is this some kind of a joke? Apparently not; it was posted April 2, and people elsewhere seem to be taking it seriously. This is so wrong I hardly even know where to begin. It’s true that I can see how publishers would want to hear what this guy has to say. Basically, he’s telling them only what they already believe themselves. And it’s a belief they...

Apple anti-trust plaintiffs want summary judgment on damages, trial to stay where it is
March 10, 2014 | 1:04 pm

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly has details on the plaintiffs’ latest filings in the Apple anti-trust case. In brief, the attorneys argue that Judge Cote has enough evidence to decide on Apple’s damages in summary judgment, without needing a trial. It’s already a well-established fact that consumers were harmed; the only question is how much the damages should be, and most experts, including Apple’s own, tend to come pretty close to the same figure on those. They also reject Apple’s request to separate the trials and move them back to their original venues. It’s too late in the game...

Kobo dominance in Canada: good luck or good business?
March 9, 2014 | 2:32 pm

Kobo Dominance in CanadaI've long chalked up Kobo's success in Canada at least partly to good business: they're aces at local content, have a huge presence in Canadian retail thanks to their origins as a subsidiary of our major bookstore chain, Indigo, and recently they were acquired by the deep pockets at Rakuten, a leader in the Asian market. Two recent articles, however, suggest that Kobo's successes to date have been more a result of good timing than anything else. Nate at The Digital Reader wrote a great summary of Kobo's recent wranglings with the Canadian Competition Bureau. A day later, Michael at GoodeReader...