Thursday, April 12, 2012

The DoJ's lawsuit -- it's about time.

On Wednesday, the United States Department of Justice filed a Sherman Anti-trust Act lawsuit against Apple as well as five of the Big Six publishers that colluded -- I'm not going to use the word alleged like the New York Times and CNN used yesterday; we all know the collusion occurred -- to fix prices to a higher rate than Amazon wanted two years ago.

On behalf of ebook readers everywhere, may I just say yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

This is a long time coming. I read the 36-page complaint courtesy the Wall Street Journal Wednesday afternoon, and while it broke down things I've known for two years, it went deeper -- much deeper -- than we, the general public, all believed. The length of time that these publishers spent trying to break Amazon's $9.99 price point -- which, let's face it, is a good price point for digital books that just happen to be newly-released NYT bestsellers -- is just unfathomable. They were obsessed. That's the only word I can come up with here. It was an obsession. Of course they had to raise prices; they were all meeting at high-end Manhattan restaurants discussing this endeavor. It screams of the 1 percent, doesn't it?

Enter Apple. Now, I'm not going to kick dirt on Steve Jobs' grave, God rest his soul. It wasn't just him in this; there are many to blame. All of these wo/men knew what they were doing. It's unconscionable that in this economy that these people willingly gouged their customers, and had planned it for months beforehand. And now, the plan they created, the agency model that Apple and the Big Six imposed upon Amazon and Barnes & Noble, is dying a fast death.

Oh yeah, you didn't hear that? Yep. HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster all settled with the government yesterday. Unlike Apple, Penguin and Macmillian -- remember Macmillan's troublemaking two years ago? -- they're ripping up their agency model contracts and re-negotiating with retailers.

And this is a good thing, folks.

As a reader -- a consumer -- I refuse to pay upwards of $13 and $15 for an ebook. A book that doesn't need to be housed in a brick, mortar and steel warehouse, or take up physical space shouldn't cost the same as a trade paperback. If it's a book I really want, I'll pay up to $10. A savings of $18 (hardcover to ebook) is better for me, the consumer, than a savings of $15 or $13. Since a majority of my reading now is in the digital form, I'm looking to save a few bucks, and what Amazon had done once the Kindle came into being in 2007 -- using the wholesale model for ebooks, much like it and other retailers had with ink and paper books for years -- was perfect. The model wasn't broken. Publishers broke it.

And now the government is fixing it. The government is protecting its people. Businesses aren't people.

This lawsuit is down to three now. I can't wait to see what happens next.