Apple, E-Books, and the DOJ's Anti-Trust Case

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tim Carmody, senior writer for WIRED, discusses what the antitrust case against Apple and 5 publishers means for the industries and for consumers of e-books--and why Amazon is very happy about this turn of events.

Comments [16]

Elle from Brooklyn

Of course quality will suffer - drastically. I dread it.

Apr. 12 2012 12:36 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

To Miele - chiming in very late, BUT - that is a common misconception. The manufacturing costs are usually a very small percentage of the production cost. The vast majority is usually in the prepress cost - design, copyediting, typesetting, preparing files for distribution. The relative cost to produce an ebook as opposed to a physical book is not that much different, but the public naturally assumes that it should be.

Apr. 12 2012 12:35 PM

Apple®...??? Anti-trust...???


Apr. 12 2012 11:36 AM
Susan from NYC

@ Deborah Exactly. Amazon is a retailer of product, not a publisher. Naturally, that doesn't get discussed. The real point is how lower prices will benefit the public.

What annoys me about these types of segments I hear in the media lately about publishing, is they are often so short and one dimensional. They don't take into account the entire scope of what impact this really means to everyone, including consumers, regarding the quality of content.

I love technology and I understand it's a new world way of doing business these days.. and publishing will adapt. It will be grey and fuzzy for a while.

Apr. 12 2012 11:34 AM
Deborah from Croton-on-Hudson

Wait, wait, wait -- the "innovation" authors are now responsible for is pricing their ebooks? How about content? How about writers working with talented editors to create a compelling, shapely and moving story (aka "content)? The comment "How come ebooks cost so much when there's so little cost?" ignores enormous costs: the time (time is money) of writers writing the books and talented editors editing the books. Brian, thank you for your question regarding whether content with suffer, but the question slid right off the table without even being addressed.

Apr. 12 2012 10:59 AM
Rosanna from Connecticut

WNYC is part of the problem with Amazon gaining a monopoly in the bookselling and publishing business. Any book that is mentioned on WNYC is shown on this website and if you click to link to the book, guess where you end up - yes, Amazon. It is VERY VERY hard for booksellers to make any money and now it is just going to get harder. Folks, we need to wise up and realise that soon enough there won't be any bookstores left - just like the old music stores, bookstores will be a thing of the past to tell our children about. WNYC, do your part and please help YOUR local bookstores in NYC by linking to IndieBound instead of Amazon. All these independent bookstores offer ebooks, shipping, discounts AND knowledgeable staff to help you.

Apr. 12 2012 10:54 AM
Susan from NYC

@ andrewnigrosh Yes, there are authors that will benefit from this new model of publishing "gone viral" However, in general, authors will not be able to make the same kind of living in sales that traditional publishers could offer. The "50 Shades of Grey" author eventually signed with a major publisher. If digital is so great, why did she sign a deal with Random House?

Well known authors will have no problem making this jump to digital. Everyone already knows who they are. Like the music biz, very few will earn a sustainable income from the digital model by doing what they do best, which is writing.

The field will offer more access, but how much of a living will you be able to make from your craft? Authors will have to become their own little industry and pay out of pocket for things like editing, layout, marketing etc..
Which you can find people to do cheaply, but what is valuable about publishers is their skills as knowing their industry, which is to groom, market and sell authors.

Apr. 12 2012 10:50 AM

Why aren't ebooks much cheaper given production costs are minimal?

Apr. 12 2012 10:41 AM
John A.

My local Barnes & Noble just closed. And there is also of course Borders to look at. This seems exactly like the progress with record stores - to back up Susan from nyc.

Apr. 12 2012 10:40 AM
jmurphy from long island

I understand the publishers are also "conspiring" to keep textbooks from becoming e-books because that is a huge source of income. Physical textbooks in the rough hands of high schoolers and grammar schoolers have a short shelf life, and school districts are obliged to replace them every few years. An e-math textbook could last for a decade.

Apr. 12 2012 10:40 AM
Marcos from the Bronx

I know dozens of working multi-published authors.

All of them hate Amazon, and fear It's coming monopoly power.

The most important function of the publishing industry is to support authors.

Anti-trust law needs to prevent monopolies. This suit will lead to a new mega-monopoly.

Apr. 12 2012 10:39 AM
Maria from Brooklyn

This guest sounds like a representative for Apple's side of the argument. The fact that this is a lawsuit against Apple does not preclude future lawsuits against Amazon.

I don't think this will affect authors, only the share of profits that go to distributors and publishers.

Apr. 12 2012 10:36 AM


In a digital world, doesn't this mean more writers will be able to compete in a level playing field? Looks at the "50 Shades of Grey" phenomenon. Wasn't this a case of a self-published writer gone viral?

Apr. 12 2012 10:36 AM
Susan from nyc

I've been in book publishing for 20+ years. I think this ruling will be the beginning of the end for traditional book publishing. Book publishers cannot function on the low margins Amazon wants to sell the ebook at. Bezos has said publicly he wants to take on the big 6 publishers. Amazon is not a publisher, it's a retailer. It's not about making huge profits.. it's about sustaining the industry as to why the publishers went to Apple.

Although books will still be produced.. much like the current music industry, it will become much more fractured. Instead of a vertical market place, the market will become more broad, yet shallow. Authors will have to become more entrepreneurial.

Apr. 12 2012 10:34 AM
Andrew from Manhattan, New York

Doesn't this happen across all digital media? Newspapers, magazines, music, books, etc.?

Frankly, the digital copies of the book are still, with this illegal price-fixing, much more affordable compared to their hard-copy counterparts. Does it matter to other consumers.. or is this just me? I'm still going to buy the e-books because they're usually 20%-50% cheaper than hard-copies.

Apr. 12 2012 10:32 AM

Why does Amazon escape the net? Amazon's e-books often cost almost as much, as much, or sometimes even _more_ than the paper book. For years we heard how e-books would cost much much less — no materials, no distribution costs, etc., etc. — yet these lower prices have never materialized.

Apr. 12 2012 10:27 AM

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