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NOTE: This post has proved so popular we are re-publishing it this week.
THE ANTITRUST CASE
By now, almost everyone has heard of the Antitrust case against Apple for its “agency model” of getting an e-book from the author, to the publisher, to the distributor, and then to you. But what is the case all about?
Fortunately, Greg Sandoval in CNET on July 23, 2012 has given us a very cogent description. He wrote,
“The Justice Department’s complaint says that the publishers and Apple conspired to shift the e-book business model from a wholesale model — which benefited market leader Amazon.com — to a so-called agency model, where prices are established by the publishers. “This change in business model would not have occurred without the conspiracy among the defendants,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating the Sherman Act and asks the court to “prohibit the collusive setting of price tiers that can de facto fix prices” and void Apple’s e-book contracts with publishers that “impedes the e-book retailer’s ability to set “retail prices.”
The Justice Department’s complaint says that the publishers and Apple conspired to shift the e-book business model from a wholesale model — which benefited market leader Amazon.com — to a so-called agency model, where prices are established by the publishers. “This change in business model would not have occurred without the conspiracy among the defendants,” the complaint says.”
The DOJ solicited comments about the suit from the public and posted copies of the more than 800 comments on its Web site.
As Sandoval in his CNET article says:
“Mark Childress author of such books as “A World Made of Fire” and “Crazy in Alabama,” wrote: “I am well aware that Amazon’s share of the ebook business has fallen from 90 percent to 60 percent since the agency pricing model was instituted. In any settlement please remember that healthy competition is crucial to maintaining a broad range of literary and political voices in our country.'”
Sandoval also tells us that,
The government has issued a response to those opposed to the antitrust case. “Critical comments,” the DOJ wrote, “generally were submitted by those who have an interest in seeing consumers pay more for e-books and hobbling retailers that might want to sell e-books at lower prices.”
Can the sale and distribution method set up by J.K. Rowling for the Harry Potter e-books be the third and the better way of getting an e-book to you?
HOW IT WORKS
Let’s say you go to Amazon to purchase the full set of the Harry Potter e-books. From the Amazon site, you are linked directly to the Pottermore. the same is true at the Barnes&Noble THE Barnes & Noble site.
As you are about to go on your journey to the POTTERMORE site, you are told,
“You are on your way to enjoying The Complete Harry Potter eBook Collection (Books 1-7)by purchasing it from the Pottermore Shop, the only place to buy the eBooks of the Harry Potter series.”
You are directed to the Pottermore site.
POTTERMORE MAKES IT CLEAR
The Q&As on the Pottermore site are clearly written, eliminating all the mystery. for instance, you are told,
“eBooks are books that you can read on your computer, eReader, tablet or mobile phone.” Spanish, French, German, and Italian are the current languages, with many more planed.
The answer to the Q. “Can I read e-books on my Device?” you are informed that,
“eBooks purchased from the Pottermore Shop are provided as EPUB files (or EPUB3 for Japanese), and you will require software such as Adobe Digital Editions (which is free) to open them and to transfer them to your supported device or to read them on your computer. If you download directly to your device, such as a tablet, it may already have an app to read eBooks.”
Library Journal stated,
“OverDrive will manage hosting and digital fulfillment for libraries of Harry Potter eBooks and digital audiobooks in English and more than 20 other languages. The seven books in the series will initially be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with more languages to follow. American libraries will have ebook versions of the American English text to lend and U.K. libraries, the British text.”
FROM AUTHOR, to PUBLISHER, to DISTRIBUTOR, to YOU?
As Pottermore shows, there is a third simple, efficient way of getting an e-book to you.
THE FUTURE- AUTHOR to YOU?
While the Pottermore way eliminates the distributor, isn’t the (very near) future way of buying an e-book on the internet going to be directly from the Author to You?