Apr 13 2012
A day after the Justice Department filed suit against Apple and five publishers over the agency model for e-books, Apple called the charges of collusion "simply not true."
Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said, "The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry." She said, too, that the company uses something like the agency model in other areas. "Just as we've allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore," she said.
Barnes & Noble's stock took a hit on the news that the Justice Department was filing suit against Apple and five of the six major publishers (three of which have already announced that they will settle rather than face the enormous costs of fighting a case against a government agency) because, as Forrester analyst James McQuivey points out, heavy e-book discounting resulting from the suit will create a huge problem for Barnes & Noble as "Amazon is building a tremendous customer relationship that they can monetize across many categories of goods, not just books. Even if they decide to take a hit on e-books, they can find other places to make up that margin. Barnes & Noble doesn't have that same luxury."
The irony is that, from a strictly financial point of view, publishers are better off selling e-books on a traditional sales basis, even if heavily discounted.
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