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08 March 2012

U.S. May Sue Apple, Publishers on e-Book Pricing

Latest on the Justice Department and agency pricing of e-books reminds me of all the times weak debaters (like myself) can get side-tracked off-topic.

For independent booksellers, I recall Confederates who said, "We should have freed the slaves ourselves," so that the discussion would stay on-topic -- state's rights to pass the laws of its people's will, not whether slavery is wrong. We are fighting for publisher's rights to determine the value (including perceived)of its products, not whether price-fixing is wrong. Publishers should have thought about what outcome they wanted to see when they started down the path of e-books, first with amazon.com and then, with Apple. They naively thought, we just want to sell more books. However, they forgot that amazon.com's marketing is like a teenager cutting himself. It's attention-getting, self-destructive, inconsiderate to relatives, fascinating to others and after a while, very addictive. Of course, amazon.com is going to pursue the route of "Membership Has Privileges" with some low-priced items, free freight, lots of cuddly content and alerts, etc. amazon.com is just playing publishers like a violin. It will sit back watching, probably filing Friend of the Court briefs and savoring the potential bloodbath like a war god, envisioning a glorious aftermath in which only amazon.com remains standing. And, it probably doesn't really want to sell all its e-books at $9.99, only those with which to draw people in.  For the non-sellers, the prices would and should be lower and for the very expensive great books which took an author nine years to research and write along with paying for assistance, travel and other out-of-pocket, would-be buyers would probably want to have a hard copy.

IndieCommerce just ends up in the backwash of all of this upheaval, still attempting after five years to figure out what we can offer our customers and survive doing so.

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