It has become clear in the Apple eBook pricing row that the extent of overcharging could be $100 million. A two-year investigation by the suing states found that Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster allegedly conspired with other publishers and Apple to artificially raise prices.
However an article on CNET
quoted various antitrust experts about thoughts on the case. One said
the government “"has a far better case against the publishers than
Apple.” Another believes the case against the publishers is also weak. When Apple began to enter the eBook market, the states say
“publishers and Apple agreed to adopt an agency distribution model as a
mechanism to allow them to fix prices. To enforce their price-fixing
scheme, the publishers and Apple relied on contract terms that forced
all eBook outlets to sell their products at the same price. Because the
publishers agreed to use the same prices, retail price competition was
However there are some elements that are good for both consumers and publishers and this whole thing is not a million miles away from the old NET Book agreement, which ensured a level playing field for both small and large publishers. Amazon should not be allowed to discount books to such a level that neither the publishers or authors can survive.
We await the outcome of all this with interest.