×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Judge Thinks Apple Will Lose E-Book Price-Fixing Case

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the who-is-she-to-judge?-oh-right dept.

Businesses 150

Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple could face a difficult time winning its court case against the U.S. Department of Justice over e-book pricing, according to the federal judge overseeing the trial. 'I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books,' U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said during a May 23 pretrial hearing, according to Reuters, 'and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that.' Apple's legal counsel is a bit perturbed over her comments. 'We strongly disagree with the court's preliminary statements about the case today,' Apple lawyer Orin Snyder wrote in a statement also reprinted by Reuters. The Justice Department has asserted that Apple, along with those publishers, conspired to raise retail e-book prices in tandem 'and eliminate price competition, substantially increasing prices paid by consumers.' Apple battles Amazon in the e-book space, with the latter company achieving great success over the past few years by driving down the price of e-books and Kindle e-readers; while Apple co-founder insisted in emails to News Corp executive James Murdoch (son of Rupert Murdoch), that Amazon's pricing was ultimately unsustainable, the online retailer shows no signs of flagging with regard to its publishing-industry clout."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

150 comments

Good (5, Insightful)

Northern Pike (308389) | about a year ago | (#43814983)

E-book pricing is a sham.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#43815095)

Yes, yes it is. When it costs more to buy the ebook than it does to buy a 500 page printed document you know something is fundamentally wrong.

Re:Good (5, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year ago | (#43815241)

Why do you think every publisher ran for the exits and settled with the Feds? This is a slam dunk case, they have the emails, the meeting notes, they know exactly what happened and it was industry collusion and price fixing under the federal laws. Apple was stupid or arrogant to take this to court. I personally hope the government takes them for several billion. I personally probably paid more than $100 extra because of this price fixing and I've wanted this prosecution from the day the price fixing was publicized.

As you said, you know the market is broken when the digital price is higher than the same thing printed on dead tree shipped to your door. I personally believe there should be people in jail for what happened here. This illegal price fixing cost the public Billions.

Rich people don't go to jail, silly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815383)

The enforcers of laws are just as vulnerable to corruption as anyone else. Those who can pay, pay their way right out of taking responsibility for the harm they cause. That is just how humans do things.

Don't forget, the rich and powerful receive such wealth and power as a result of being favored by God. The poor basically deserve their lot, since they are not favored by God. Just as it is ok for man to exploit animal, it is ok for rich to exploit poor (within reason) under God's law.

Re:Good (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43815523)

I personally believe there should be people in jail for what happened here.

I disagree. Jail is expensive and wasteful. It should not be used as a default punishment for non-violent crimes. People should only be incarcerated if they are a physical danger to other people. America already imprisons far more of its population than any other country. We should learn from the rest of the world. Singapore is a good example. If Tim Cook received ten lashes on the bare buttocks with an alcohol soaked raton rod, that would be more than sufficient deterrent, and would be far more cost effective for the taxpayers.

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815721)

If Tim Cook received ten lashes on the bare buttocks with an alcohol soaked raton rod, that would be more than sufficient deterrent, and would be far more cost effective for the taxpayers.

Cost effective? The taxpayers could clean up on pay-per-view!

Re:Good (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815911)

I personally think a more fitting punishment would be to force these thieves to personally give free money to poor people.

Unfortunately, given the constitutional protection against "cruel and unusual punishment," your ten lashes are more likely.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43816355)

This is top level decision makers, not grunts in a warehouse stacking shelves. They are colluding to take money from millions of Americans, abusing their positions. The CEOs should do life, treat each book sold as an individual case and total them up. Stop blaming companies, blame the people that have secret meetings between themselves to illegal fix pricing. Of course, jailing the mega rich for life is a waste of tax payers' money, so death penalty?

Re:Good (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43817023)

You are a fool, with foolish opinions. Corporal Punishment is NEVER the answer to handling an adult. We call that sort of justice cruel and unusual for a reason. What you suggest is blatantly illegal in the United States, and rightly so.

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817247)

You are a fool, with foolish opinions. Corporal Punishment is NEVER the answer to handling an adult. We call that sort of justice cruel and unusual for a reason. What you suggest is blatantly illegal in the United States, and rightly so.

You do realise that execution is a form of corporal punishment, don't you? I'm not sure if water boarding counts, however.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43817321)

We call that sort of justice cruel and unusual for a reason.

A few lashes with a raton cane is painful, but I think most people would consider it less cruel than going to jail for a couple years. Many people in jail have families, which often fall apart once "dad" is gone, resulting in another generation of criminals. People sentenced to longer sentences are more likely to be recidivist than people receiving shorter sentences for similar crimes. Jail is appropriate for physically violent people, but for others it is counter-productive.

If Tim Cook goes to jail, that will cost the taxpayers more than $40k in direct expenses, and cost millions more by removing a smart and capable executive from productive activity. If he gets ten lashes on the buttocks instead, he can be back at work the next day, as long as he has a standing desk [wikipedia.org].

What you suggest is blatantly illegal in the United States, and rightly so.

Well, it certainly isn't because of public opposition. When an American citizen was sentenced to caning [wikipedia.org] in Singapore for vandalizing cars, Singapore's ambassador went on TV to defend the sentence, and the response from Americans was overwhelmingly in favor of the sentence. Singapore has a far lower crime rate than America. The caning leaves welts, but does not break the skin. Between lashes, it is dipped in alcohol to both sterilize and soften the cane.

If you had a choice of spending a year in jail, or a few lashes, which would you prefer? Which would stick in your memory better the next time you thought about committing a crime?

Re:Good (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43817419)

It doesnt matter what I or the people who supported Singaporean punishment prefer, as long as the 8th stands, its illegal. You base part of your argument on the economics of putting Tim Cook in jail, which has no place in the discussion of JUSTICE. You lost any moral high ground at this point.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43817567)

It doesnt matter what I or the people who supported Singaporean punishment prefer, as long as the 8th stands, its illegal.

The 8th amendment does not ban corporal punishment. It bans "cruel and unusual" punishment. Caning would not be unusual if it was adopted as a standard sentence, and it should not be considered "cruel" if the canee prefers it over incarceration.

You lost any moral high ground at this point.

Since under current law, DEATH is considered an acceptable and non-cruel sentence, I don't think advocating spanking puts me very low on the moral slope.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about a year ago | (#43815571)

Why do you think every publisher ran for the exits and settled with the Feds? This is a slam dunk case, they have the emails, the meeting notes, they know exactly what happened and it was industry collusion and price fixing under the federal laws

Probably because from Apple's perspective, all Apple did was let the publishers set their own book prices. That's basically what this case is about. On Amazon, Amazon set the book prices, and Apple said to the publishers they could come to the iBooks store and set their own prices, and get out from under Amazon's thumb. That sort of collusion doesn't seem illegal (but IANAL.)

Publishers may have set prices higher than dead tree books, which is a shame, but also totally not illegal itself.

MSRP (3, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43815763)

Probably because from Apple's perspective, all Apple did was let the publishers set their own book prices.

If you go open a physical book and look at the inside cover you will see something like the following: MSRP $19.99
MSRP stands for Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. It is a suggested price. The seller can sell below this. (stores will slap a 30% off sticker on the book) Legally, suggesting a price is different than enforcing a price with a contract. They don't set prices on physical books because there is case law saying that is illegal. Basically this issue has already been through the courts.

Re:MSRP (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43816403)

there is case law saying that is illegal.

There is more than just case law. Price fixing by a manufacturer is specifically prohibited by Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act [wikipedia.org]. Resellers can charge any amount they want, including giving a product away for free (maybe as a promotion) and the manufacturer cannot retaliate in any way.

During the 1990s I worked for a company that sold CDROMs containing free software, and we were occasionally threatened with legal action by authors of these programs, claiming that the software had to be given away free, and charging for it was illegal. We explained to them that they could recommend their program be given away free, but by trying to coerce us into setting the price, even to zero, they were committing a crime.

Re:Good (3, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#43815765)

Probably because from Apple's perspective, all Apple did was let the publishers set their own book prices.

Wrong. Part of the agreement with Apple was that the publishers would also not sell anywhere else for less than they do in Apples market.

Re:Good (1)

mevets (322601) | about a year ago | (#43816589)

Is this any different from a Most Favoured Customer clause? That is a very common instrument in vendor agreements. Is it somehow different in wholesale agreements?

Re:Good (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43816825)

Is this any different from a Most Favoured Customer clause? That is a very common instrument in vendor agreements. Is it somehow different in wholesale agreements?

well no.. but the case is apparently more about how apple worked towards that end and organized the collusion between the publishers to not sell under a price X anywhere.

Re:Good (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817243)

Yes what they did is significantly different from the common 'most favored' clause: The Apple agreement allowed the publisher to set the RETAIL price to $X of which 30% would go to the retailer (apple, amazon etc).Usually the 'most favored clause' will set the buy price for the retailer/distributor, after which time they can sell it at any profit margin they wish.

The Apple/Publisher collusion specifically prevented anyone to undercut the itunes store on ebooks, preventing the retailer from using certain books as loss leaders or similar.

Re:Good (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43816875)

Probably because from Apple's perspective, all Apple did was let the publishers set their own book prices. That's basically what this case is about.

No, continue your reading and research. This is FAR from all the case is about. Apple entered into a collusion with the publishers (who have all ran for the exits) to fix the price of e-books across the entire industry, and to trash the first sale doctrine in the process by forcing every reseller to be the Agent of the publisher. [macstories.net]

There is no way this could have been accomplished previously. Apple did this to raise margins because they wanted and demanded 30% on everything sold thru the iTunes store, but there was not 30% to be had with Amazon working on much slimmer margins. The only way this could be pulled off was for all publishers to simultaneously force all resellers to Agency terms. That required one big (new) reseller with nothing to lose, to agree to it, so that the publishers could preserve the e-book market, and force the smaller resellers to toe the line.

And while we like to blame Cook, it was really Jobs who formed this conspiracy.

But the way this lawsuit works the last to agree holds the largest bag. And Apple was too proud to admit its part in this collusion, and as a result they are going to pay up big. Very Big.

Re:Good (0, Troll)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43815589)

technically you are right, but amazon was selling ebooks at a loss. without apple and the feds they had to take the losses for a few years until B&N bit the dust and then jack up their prices.

apple might have broken the law, but they got amazon to actually innovate in the book selling biz

Re:Good (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43815649)

True. It's not as though Amazon have any competition in the e-book business other than B&N. Like, you know, Apple, Kobo, Sony, etc, etc...

For the sarcasm-impaired, I believe Apple and Kobo are now #2 and #3 in e-book sales with B&N trailing behind because they're US-only.

Apple is Evil (1, Offtopic)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43816029)

True. It's not as though Amazon have any competition in the e-book business other than B&N. Like, you know, Apple, Kobo, Sony, etc, etc..

Why are we not talking about being able to buy from multiple sources. Why are we talking about a format tied to a device.

Re:Apple is Evil (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43816117)

Publishers are the ones tying books to devices, with DRM. No-one is forced to put DRM on their Kindle books, it's a publisher's option.

Then, after those publishers have tied readers to their Kindle by putting DRM on their books, they complain that other stores can't compete with Amazon because all the readers have Kindles.

Re:Good (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43816913)

technically you are right, but amazon was selling ebooks at a loss. without apple and the feds they had to take the losses for a few years until B&N bit the dust and then jack up their prices.

apple might have broken the law, but they got amazon to actually innovate in the book selling biz

Amazon wasn't selling e-books at a loss. Yes, they offered some bargains on some books, at some points in time.
But they have stated that they made money on the ebook segment as a whole, and that was NOT by including it in the e-reader segment.

Its is fiction that Amazon sold all ebooks at a loss. A fiction invented by Apple for the most part.

Re:Good (0)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43815983)

I personally probably paid more than $100 extra because of this price fixing ... As you said, you know the market is broken when the digital price is higher than the same thing printed on dead tree shipped to your door.

Of course, you realize that you could have simply bought those dead-tree versions and saved yourself that $100, right?

Re:Good (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43817037)

A dead tree book and an ebook are not equivalent on many levels. Each has unique properties the other does not.

Re:Good (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43817423)

A dead tree book and an ebook are not equivalent on many levels. Each has unique properties the other does not.

Possibly, but they share the most important properties for a book, like the words ... :-) The question is whether the "unique" properties of an e vs paper book are worth the extra $100 the parent mentioned. My guess is, for most (set of) books, probably not.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43816099)

I'm glad to see you were able to arrive at a conclusion without any evidence.

Re:Good (0)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43816223)

You were the one that decided to buy at that price. How is anyone responsible but you? I'll sell you the chair I'm sitting in for $10,000. If you are stupid enough to buy it how is that my fault?

Re:Good (2)

nelk (923574) | about a year ago | (#43817357)

You were the one that decided to buy at that price. How is anyone responsible but you? I'll sell you the chair I'm sitting in for $10,000. If you are stupid enough to buy it how is that my fault?

One person/company offering a product at a given price point, you're okay. Colluding with the rest of the chair industry to ensure that ALL chairs cost $10,000, not so much.

Re:Good (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43815853)

I'm not so sure. I can buy 500 page printed books from the dollar store (total cost to me, $1). A paper book actually costs very little to produce, even when you count in distribution and retail space, the price is pretty minimal. EBooks aren't expensive, but the cost of them isn't 0 either. I would probably say that the fixed costs for both ebooks and paper books is probably about the same, and both are probably under $1.

Re:Good (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43816967)

I would probably say that the fixed costs for both ebooks and paper books is probably about the same, and both are probably under $1.

You are close to being right, except you hand waive away distribution and shipping, and stocking costs of dead tree books, which the publisher does not actually pay for. That component costs way more than electronic distribution.

But there is also fiction in the so called production costs of ebooks vs paper books. Yes they both require editing. But that editing is done exactly once. You don't edit again when an ebook is released.

And building an ebook takes LESS time than setting up a press run, (its literally do-able with off the shelf commercial (and free) software with one mouse click.

Author's royalties are the only real constant between books and ebooks. And the publishers force a lot of costs back onto the authors for printed books.

The rest of the cost comparison is bean counter's Bistro Math designed to come out a certain way before a single number is actually crunched.

Re:Good (3, Interesting)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | about a year ago | (#43816011)

The biggest myth with capitalism is that pricing has ANYTHING to do with costs. It sets a floor under which a company cannot be profitable, but it does nothing to dictate how much things cost above that. Capitalism is about profit. Specifically, maximizing it. Companies and greedy people will set their prices as high as they possibly can in order to maximize profit. Cost has nothing to do with that.

Therefore, the cost of an E-book is whatever they can get you to pay for it. Just like the cost of an paperback book is whatever they can get you to pay for it.

Re:Good (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43816103)

The biggest myth with capitalism is that pricing has ANYTHING to do with costs.

That 'myth' is nothing to do with capitalism, it's basically the labour theory of value, which people were laughing at even when Marx was promoting it in the 19th century. Of course sane companies charge what their customers are willing to pay, in order to maximize profits.

Straw man (4, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43816243)

Capitalism is about profit. Specifically, maximizing it.

That is a nice Straw man you got there. Setting your prices as high as possible is not the same as setting your prices to maximize profit. Lowering prices can lead to more sales resulting in more profit. Free Market Capitalism is about letting supply and demand dictate where the price will be. Apple has attempted to abuse contract law to have the government enforce a price control. Anti Trust laws are about enforcing Free Market Capitalism. They are there prevent control of supply and to prevent price manipulation. What Apple is pushing is Crony Capitalism.

Re:Straw man (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about a year ago | (#43816971)

It is not a straw man, and you basically agree with the parent post. Companies work to maximize profit, which means setting prices as high as possible as long as it doesn't hurt sales too much (maximize sales*price). This can lead to prices especially in the electronic business that has absolutely nothing to do with cost (most electronics are dirt cheap to make), but when what customers find reasonable is set by what the production cost is, the cost will generally have to follow production cost, or at least.. customer perceived production cost, which can be very different.

Re:Straw man (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43817307)

but when what customers find reasonable is set by what the production cost is

I don't agree with the above statement. Most of the time customers have no idea what the production cost is. Customers base their decisions about price based on utility and competition. If they can get the same effect with something cheaper then the price is too high. New patent protected electronics can have a high price because of the artificial scarcity imposed by the patent. Or the price is high because the customer is looking for a status symbol. They are spending money on status not utility.

Re:Straw man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817689)

Customers base their decisions about price based on utility and competition.

That's very black and white thinking, but very much in line with slashdot groupthink. Like, people only buy iPhones as a status symbol... Yeah, right.

If you got your head out of your ass you'd realize that utility and competition are only small parts of a purchase decision. Aesthetics, comfort, feel, ease of use, reliability, compatibility and many factors all play a part as to what price a customer will pay. Some people care about function, some care about form and most want some mixture of both.

If your assertion was correct (which it isn't), there would be only a few models of motorcycle on the road, since there are only a few "utilities" outside of basic transportation that a motorcycle can provide.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817105)

You're forgetting the 100,000 hours of labor it took some poor out of touch executive to figure out what this "newfangled internet thing is" and how to create a company's online store. We have to charge for that somehow!

judge in Apple's pocket? (2)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year ago | (#43814987)

Can't prejudice such as this get Apple's case thrown out?

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815069)

Shush now, we're trying to get excited about Apple being steeped in legal hot water. This comment section is for pillow-talk only.

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (5, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a year ago | (#43815089)

No. The judge was asked to rule on the strength of a case, given current evidence. He did so.

Such rulings often determine things such as will bail be required, or in corporate cases, whether or not preliminary injunctions are appropriate.

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815123)

Can't prejudice such as this get Apple's case thrown out?

Is it prejudice? The judge has said, based on what he's seen, that he think it likely x will show y. That doesn't mean he's concluded that x has shown y, or that y is even true.

What it does show is that the trial hasn't started out well for Apple, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone (other than Apple).

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (4, Funny)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#43815547)

Can't prejudice such as this get Apple's case thrown out?

Prejudice is opinion formed independently and prior to evidence being presented. This is a comment about how things stand based on the evidence that has been presented, which is not, in any way, shape, or form, prejudice. Its just "judice", which, you know, is what judges do.

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (0)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#43816061)

"Can't prejudice such as this get Apple's case thrown out?"

Quite possibly, which leads me to ask a question.

If I wanted to manipulate the market, in terms of Apple stock, how would I best go about doing that to my own profit?

Well, If I am an influential Federal Judge, I can make public statements regarding a lawsuit that appear to weaken Apple and wait for stocks to drop in value and snatch them up, selling them when Apple stocks go back up when everyone realizes that Apple was actually going to benefit greatly by the outcome of that case as a result of my previous statements having legal ramifications directly applicable to the case.

Now, if I was a smart, influential Federal Judge, I leave the buying/selling up to some trusted friend...

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817035)

Um dude.... Apple's stock has been steadily shitting the bed for over a year now. It is still dropping. I highly doubt they need to do that.

Re:judge in Apple's pocket? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43817021)

Can't prejudice such as this get Apple's case thrown out?

Apparently not, much to my dismay.

Judge Koh said that it was clear that Samsung violated Apple Patents with the Samsung tablet, yet that was the ONE device that the biased jury found not to violate ANY patents.

She has previously issued a Ban on its importation along with her ill advised pronouncements.

(Don't think Samsung is so dumb they won't bring this up on Appeal).

We did nothing wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815003)

We merely got the main players together to allow them to conspire to fix pricing via our market, thus screwing other outlets like Amazon.

Get over it,
Steve

Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815005)

Are Judges even allowed to make that kind of comments before a judgment is made?

Re:Bias (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#43815349)

The real question is whether the Judge presiding over a trial is allowed to make that kind of comment *before* the trial has started.

Re:Bias (5, Informative)

jsm300 (669719) | about a year ago | (#43815563)

Yes, that is one of the purposes of a pretrial hearing. The judge has to determine whether or not the case should proceed to a trial or be dismissed. In order for there to be a trial, the Judge has to determine if the party bringing the lawsuit (the federal government in this case) has enough evidence to warrant a trial. The Judge also has to make a preliminary judgement about how likely the party bringing the lawsuit will win. This is needed in order to determine whether any preliminary injunctions should be issued prior to the trial (i.e. an injunction that takes place and stays in force until the trial is completed or another hearing reverses the injunction).

And the answer is "Yes" (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#43815665)

The real question is whether the Judge presiding over a trial is allowed to make that kind of comment *before* the trial has started.

And the real answer is "yes". In certain circumstances, they are even required to (e.g., the standard for granting preliminary injunctions, often sought before trial, is explicitly call for a determination of the likelihood of success on the merits.)

Apple conspiracy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815017)

everyone is soooo quick to belive THAT but do they believe the conspiracy to fake the moon landing? Nope.

Or the UFO cover ups in Area 51?

Nope!

Or that the Secreet Service really killed Kenedy on Marilyn Monroe's behest?

Nope!

But something as ridiculous as Apple fixing prices everyone just takes for granted that it's true.

People are stupid.

Re:Apple conspiracy? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#43815521)

Unless I'm mistaken, this charge is about the condition that ebook sellers cannot allow their products to be sold anywhere for less than on ITS.

There's never been any doubt that they did that. The argument is whether or not it constitutes something illegal, and the judge was apparently not convinced by the preliminary arguments.

Re:Apple conspiracy? (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about a year ago | (#43815821)

Amazon has that exact sort of deal if you want to list items with them: The item's price at Amazon must be the lowest. Your price at other places can match it, but not be any lower. (Doesn't make Apple doing it any better or worse, of course. They're both being douchebags.)

You don't know what that means, do you. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43816793)

It means that you can't offer someone else a cheaper price than you offer Amazon, but you are allowed to offer ANY price.

If you offer it to everyone at a 3000% profit margin, then that is the price that Amazon will take.

If you offer it to three publishers at a 120%, 180% and 200% then Amazon will only accept the 120% mark-up.

If you offer it at a loss, Amazon will take that offer.

ummm the judge did not say lose...poor summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815043)

To say that the Government will be able to present direct evidence of liability, is not the same as saying the Government will win. This is today's dumbass Slashdot summary of the day.

All I want to know is (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815057)

Why is it that an ebook costs the same as the cheapest edition out at the time? There is no paper, no printing, no binding, no shipping, no storage, no shelf, an no people to support all of those operations. Yet, for some reason unknown to me, the prices are almost exactly the same as the cheapest edition out.

Re:All I want to know is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815133)

You can thank Steve Jobs.

Re:All I want to know is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815425)

Actually, they are generally dearer than paperbacks now. Unless you're talking about self-published tripe from wannabe authors. The reason is control. You can't sell your ebook despite it being in exactly the same condition as a new copy. Layout is negligible for novels, not so for reference and tech e-books, though.

Priced way too high, considering tax effects (4, Interesting)

coats (1068) | about a year ago | (#43815625)

"Dearer than paperbacks" means they are priced far too high. With a paperback I can donate it to charity when I finish. Valuing it at used-book prices, I still get a 60% tax writeoff. Given a marginal tax rate of 50%, the book then costs me a net 70% of its face value.

I can't donate e-books, so for me to break even the price needs to be no more than 70% of the paperback face value.

Re:Priced way too high, considering tax effects (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43816491)

For some people that will be offset by the fact that ebooks are smaller than paperbacks and can be purchased at 1am on a Sunday. Think gas station prices versus super market prices. Or vending machine prices versus super market prices. There will also always be some books that are cheaper than ebooks. At some point physical book stores need to get rid of books that don't sell. So they slash prices below cost and eat the loss so they can put new product on the shelves. Digital stores never have an inventory problem.

Re:Priced way too high, considering tax effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817591)

At some point physical book stores need to get rid of books that don't sell. So they slash prices below cost and eat the loss so they can put new product on the shelves.

Publishers, not retailers, eat the loss on remainders.

Re:All I want to know is (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43815479)

those costs are tiny in the price of an ebook
most of the cost of an ebook are in editing, making the cover art and marketing

EVERY book has to be professionally edited by multiple people. no matter how good or popular the author is. one editor checks for grammer, another for story flow. and there are one or two more kinds of editors but i don't remember the functions. figure $50 an hour or more for each one.

Re:All I want to know is (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43815527)

those costs are tiny in the price of an ebook
most of the cost of an ebook are in editing, making the cover art and marketing

EVERY book has to be professionally edited by multiple people. no matter how good or popular the author is. one editor checks for grammer, another for story flow. and there are one or two more kinds of editors but i don't remember the functions. figure $50 an hour or more for each one.

..are you implying that printing it on paper, putting in boxes, shipping to a bookstore and putting on display and taking back returns has a negative cost?

Re:All I want to know is (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43815567)

no, but you still have the editing costs and Amazon takes 20% or 30% commission for selling the book. along with the whispernet fees for any customers who download over 3g.

the printing/shipping costs were always around 10%. the selling costs are still there with amazon/apple taking the commission instead of B&N

Re:All I want to know is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815757)

no, but you still have the editing costs and Amazon takes 20% or 30% commission for selling the book. along with the whispernet fees for any customers who download over 3g.

the printing/shipping costs were always around 10%. the selling costs are still there with amazon/apple taking the commission instead of B&N

What extra editing is there on an ebook vs a regular book? Does it change that much? I would also assume that Amazon taking the 20% cut for an ebook is very similar to the cut they would take on a regular book as well. The whispernet fees are uniquely Amazon and only for kindle users, so I don't think that should calculate in. So where is the extra costs coming from. As stated earlier its probably what the market will bear. Still the pricing doesn't make sense to me.

Re:All I want to know is (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43815905)

I would also assume that Amazon taking the 20% cut for an ebook is very similar to the cut they would take on a regular book as well.

I believe for hardbacks and trade paperbacks, the retailer typically buys the books at about a 50% discount (which is why book stores can afford to have tables of new best-sellers at 30-40% off the list price). They can also return them if they don't sell, so the publisher has to cover the cost of those books too, and the shipping, and pulping the ones they can't sell.

Mass market paperbacks typically aren't returned, they're just binned and the cover sent back for credit.

The whispernet fees are uniquely Amazon and only for kindle users, so I don't think that should calculate in.

It's also added on top of the e-book price, so has no effect on the publisher's royalties.

Re:All I want to know is (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43815699)

EVERY book has to be professionally edited by multiple people. no matter how good or popular the author is.

Uh, no. You think there's an editor who tells Stephen King to rewrite his story?

And at the other end of the scale, mid-list authors have been complaining that no-one did a story edit on their novel and the copy editors left typos in the back-cover blurb, not just the interior of the book.

In any case, that's work that only has to be done once and can be purchased on the open market for at most a couple of thousand dollars. It's cheap compared to printing 10,000 copies of the book, and once you've produced the edited print version you just reformat it for the e-book.

Re:All I want to know is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815965)

Uh, no. You think there's an editor who tells Stephen King to rewrite his story?

Uh... I would. In a heart beat. For the life of me I can't understand why he's so popular. He has a few really good, well-written stories. The rest of his catalog is a mess... poorly written, rambling tripe. It's like he stopped caring about the quality of his genre somewhere after Dead Zone, and no longer uses three or more syllable words or complex sentences... uh wait a second, come to think of it, he never did. He's writing for the lowest common denominator... those that never made it past third grade reading. Someone should clue him in: quantity is not quality. I'd be happy to do it. "Hey, Steve... write something that in a hundred years we can still legitimately call literature. Please."

Re:All I want to know is (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43816005)

EVERY book has to be professionally edited by multiple people.

Have you seen some of these "professionally edited" ebooks?

That's what beancounters do in every company (3, Insightful)

boorack (1345877) | about a year ago | (#43815151)

In few short years (three, maybe four) they went from being innovative company creating groundbreaking products to being a pain in the ass. Now they represent the worst aspects of corporate America: from tax evasion to legal system abuses to price fixing to screwing up their own customers on every possible occasion. With their innovation pace fading and their products increasingly lagging behind competitors. Maybe it's time to fire their management and hire some less parasitic, more innovative CEO ?

Re:That's what beancounters do in every company (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43815313)

Jon Stewart had a comment along these lines back when the police raided someone's residence over the loose iPhone prototype (or whatever it was):

"What happened? Bill Gates is curing AIDS in Africa, and Steve Jobs is kicking down people's doors in Palo Alto!"

It used to be so simple to keep track of who was the good guys and who was the bad guys...

Re:That's what beancounters do in every company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815519)

...from tax evasion...

Citation please.

Can't take you seriously when your first accusation has no foundation, at all, in fact.

_AVOIDING_ taxes is not the same as evading taxes. If it were then every single American who's ever taken advantage of any tax deduction (which probably counts every American who's filed taxes for more than five years) would be guilty of tax evasion. But they aren't because they are legally reducing their tax burden. Same as Apple (and Google and Facebook and Yahoo and....).

But, hey, claiming they're evading taxes sounds better, doesn't it. /eyeroll

Semantics (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43815927)

But, hey, claiming they're evading taxes sounds better, doesn't it. /eyeroll

Maybe in your universe not in mine. In my mind I have more respect for real criminals not massive corporations who can legally buy off the political system, so they can essentially pay no tax...When I work long hours and am heavily taxed and cannot afford an accountant to hide my money in a foreign company...or throw a politician a few Million in return for Billions.

...yeah much better.

Re:That's what beancounters do in every company (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815623)

In few short years (three, maybe four) they went from being innovative company creating groundbreaking products to being a pain in the ass. Now they represent the worst aspects of corporate America: from tax evasion to legal system abuses to price fixing to screwing up their own customers on every possible occasion. With their innovation pace fading and their products increasingly lagging behind competitors. Maybe it's time to fire their management and hire some less parasitic, more innovative CEO ?

Ah, who are you referring to here? I'm sorry I can't quite tell by the tax-dodging, customer-screwing accusations if you're referring to Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, or the other 873 companies who do this.

And unless that innovation you speak of is to not be a greedy fuck, pay an honest share of taxes, charge a fair price to obtain a reasonable profit, all without bowing to the elitist cocksuckers representing the Board demanding millions, nothing will change.

Re:That's what beancounters do in every company (2)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43816129)

Well, it was obvious as shit when they put a supply chain guy in charge. The epitome of bean counter. Financial safe choice, but shows a complete lack of balls. Jobs is to blame.

Finally! (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43815193)

A judge without a pro-Apple bias! It's a miracle. Hey, maybe Samsung should counter-sue for more patent violations with this guy so they might actually get a fair trial for once.

Re: Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815823)

I expect the judges are normally pro US rather than pro Apple. Samsung isn't American, the US Dept of Justice on the other hand is.

No prejudice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815351)

Posters over on Ars, here on Slashdot, and elsewhere have been suggesting that the statement in question demonstrates some sort of "prejudice" on the part of the judge, thereby revealing their ignorance of the legal system. First, this was said at a pretrial hearing and not in (for example) an interview with the media - this statement was intended for the consumption of the parties to the case and not directed to the public. Second, it is routine and proper for judges to make their beliefs known to the parties to litigation - this is so that (1) the judge does not have to issue a written order on every point that comes up during the trial; (2) the parties can use their time and the court's time effectively instead of wasting it on arguments that will be foreclosed by an order yet to be issued; and (3) to dissuade parties from proceeding with claims or defenses that appear weak to the court. Finally, Judge Cote is not prejudging anything - she has seen the parties' arguments and learned at least basic information about which evidence each party possesses and will present at trial.

The Judge is a Woman (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815393)

It's amazing how many people assume that since it's a judge it must be a man. If you read the summery her name is Denise and they say in the summery " Apple's legal counsel is a bit perturbed over her comments"

Depends on the stock price (0)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43815447)

If Apples was at $700 a share, then they win all their cases, but when they lost $300 in value for a share, they are easy pickings to be rejected.

No judge want's to tell the world's highest valued company they are wrong, until they are no longer the highest valued company.

too bad apple already lost the ebook war (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43815463)

amazon has won
ibooks is crap, and that's saying it as an ipad owner
the ibook store is crap as well. pain in the a$$ to use
no web book reader like the kindle
amazon is cheaper and amazon has kindle singles and now you can write your own fan fiction

Re:too bad apple already lost the ebook war (0)

geekmux (1040042) | about a year ago | (#43815731)

amazon has won ibooks is crap, and that's saying it as an ipad owner the ibook store is crap as well. pain in the a$$ to use no web book reader like the kindle amazon is cheaper and amazon has kindle singles and now you can write your own fan fiction

I'll believe the ebook war is finally over when I'm not paying $250 for a college textbook. Until then, save your celebrations, because there are still millions of book buyers out there getting screwed exponentially.

Re:too bad apple already lost the ebook war (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815855)

I once had a college class with an 80 page textbook that cost 200 dollars. Every 5th page or so was a full of blanks lines for a required "journal" entry. Every 20th page was a quiz or test which had to be torn out and handed in. Professor was the books author.

Re:too bad apple already lost the ebook war (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43815979)

The reason that college textbooks are so expensive is because of many reasons.

Nobody wants to write them
The market is actually quite small
People have no attachment to the books

If you think college texts are so expensive, go and write your own, and sell it to all the universities. There's not much stopping you from doing this. But writing text books is boring. Nobody does it just for a couple extra bucks because it's fun. And it's definitely not that easy. You also won't get any book signing deals, or have the possibility of your book being made into a movie. Because people have no attachment to the text book, you are pretty much forced to create a second/third/fourth edition of your book, or else after the first year, you will probably only sell 50% of the books you did the first year, and the third will be 50% of the second year, on and on until you are selling very few books. Also, I'm sure that many of the reasons why new editions are published is not only to correct mistakes, but also to appease the professors who use the books in their class. If your book doesn't cover a specific topic that is taught in the class, the professor will either have to have an additional text for that topic, or they will have to buy a different book altogether that does cover all the topics. It's kind of like how MS office 97 was feature complete for most people, and we wonder why they keep on tacking on new features. Because a small percentage of their user base wants a specific feature, so they add it on, even if 95% of people don't use that feature. If you lose 5% of your market to a single feature, and 5% to another feature, add on a few more missed features and you all of a sudden have lost your monopoly status.

Re:too bad apple already lost the ebook war (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817101)

> nobody wants to write them

really?

What about all those tenured academics who want to say "I wrote the book on X"?

There are tons of people writing high-quality math notes and graduate-level textbooks and putting them on the Internet for free, in the hope that you will learn something from them and then cite their textbook in your papers.

Different Article (0)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43815871)

amazon has won

Amazon has done no such think, what is the most sick part of this whole thing is the illusion of sides. I hate what Apple did, Someone needs to go to jail...I would say Steve Jobs if he wasn't dead. And Apple banned from selling products in the US. What should be happening is a serious look at why books should be locked to a device(Any Device). The fact is Amazon is offering best value right now, but the battle should be to preserve some kind of portability.

Remind me why this is illegal? (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43816251)

I fail to see the victim here. Nobody has to buy an e-book. They can try to fix the price they will sell an e-book at all they want. It requires a buyer to agree to that price for a sale to take place.

Re:Remind me why this is illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43816299)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_fixing

Re:Remind me why this is illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43816417)

Colluding together to set a pricing structure so there is no competition is what makes it illegal. There are laws all over the planet to stop this kind of thing, yet these companies decided their lobbying money should be enough to bribe the judicial system to turn a blind-eye.

They all knew this was illegal, and they all settled rather than fight. Had they been innoncent, they'd have fought tooth and nail in court for years. Apple is the facilitator as well as the instigation. They can't hide behind the curtain after setting the stage.

Re:Remind me why this is illegal? (2)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about a year ago | (#43816707)

Easy. Would you like all the cell phone carriers to fix the price (removing competition) for service and phones? How about the big farms with the price of soybeans or corn? How about clothing manufacturers? Car manufacturers? Think of a world with zero competition between companies on price...and you will realize why price fixing is a bad idea.

Can't sustain.. (1)

Falkentyne (760418) | about a year ago | (#43816995)

As a consumer I expect to pay less for digital media as opposed to physical media. I understand the cost of distributing physical media is much higher and involves several more processes in that distribution chain. Pricing should reflect that.

I see pricing digital and physical media close together as an artificial construct put in place to take advantage of new processes that reduce overhead. If you made X% on the physical book previously then yes you should make a similar percentage on the digital book.

I remember when I used to buy books in a store and they weren't $9 - $10 for a paperback. They were maybe $4-$5. I understand that costs have gone up since I was a teenager but a gallon of water doesn't cost $2. It's gone up maybe 15 - 20 cents. A bean burrito costs maybe 20 cents more. If consumed goods have gone up 20% then why has media gone up 200% when it costs even less to distribute them digitally? Bring the cost down and sales will increase.

When allofmp3.com was around I spent quite a bit there as I thought I was getting my money's worth. I refused to pay a couple bucks for one song that I only listen to a couple times. I've since bought some music after that disappeared but surely not as much as I did previously in the same span of time. I don't go out and buy movies on dvd but I will pay for Netflix and have been paying for it for years as I feel it's good price for consuming media. They're making money and the people that made the movie are making money - so why can't the same work for books?

I might not be the norm when it comes to consumers and what they're willing to pay but I assure you there are others like me (cheap bastards). Look at humble bundle and the like where the minimum is $1 but there are plenty who paid more and they sold thousands and thousands of bundles with games you'll probably never play but it was so cheap people ehhh why not it's only a dollar. I think $4- $5 is a good price point for a book and that's what I'm willing to pay. Can we cut out the publisher though? Hard to say - some books wouldn't be as popular as they are now without somebody pushing them in your face and most authors can't do that without a publisher.

Steam and Netflix need to have a baby and it needs to sell books.

I read A LOT of books (2)

ronmon (95471) | about a year ago | (#43817065)

When ebooks first became available I thought that this was a great opportunity to have access to more of them for a cheaper price. After all, the costs of printing and distributing them is reduced to practically zero. Granted, there are still editing and some other minor costs, but very little in the scheme of things. But before I actually purchased an ebook reader I watched the costs of the books for a while. Quickly it became clear that a dead tree version was almost always cheaper than the ebook version and once I had it, nobody could take it away on a whim or technicality. Suffice it to say that I never bought an ebook or a reader, but I still buy, read and enjoy plenty of great books.

Screw you, you greedy bastards.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...