Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Aug 2013 15:30 UTC
Apple
Apple Inc deserves a five-year ban from entering anti-competitive e-book distribution contracts and should end its business arrangements with five major publishers with which it conspired to raise e-book prices, federal and state regulators said on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Justice and 33 U.S. states and territories proposed those changes after U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan last month found in a civil antitrust case that Apple played a "central role" in a conspiracy with the publishers to raise e-book prices.

The DoJ also requires that competitors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble be allowed to include links to their own stores in their iOS applications, which Apple had prohibited.

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RE[4]: Everyone is wrong
by atsureki on Sun 4th Aug 2013 12:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Everyone is wrong"
atsureki
Member since:
2006-03-12

Bluff? Because you do not understand what is happening hardly means it is a bluff.


"This article explains why Amazon is NOT putting other online sellers of eBooks out of business."

It did not. It's either a bluff or a blunder, take your pick.

Your original post is about a legal case, and now you are attempting to move the goal posts so that it is an ethical case of right versus wrong.


Fair enough, I'll simply say that I'm more interested in what's wrong than I am in what's illegal. In any case, you've still said nothing about predatory pricing laws that excludes Amazon from culpability there. Maybe you want to actually quote something, because I've already wasted enough time reading whole articles that don't contain the point you say they do.

Currently, the customer is best served by the wholesale model and Amazon negotiating with publishers via the Robinson-Patman rules to lower prices on eBooks which cost far less to produce than what they are charged to the customer. Apple and the agency model were forcing eBooks up to $14.99 and above from the regular $9.99 and below prices via Amazon and other sites.


How long is "currently"?
When do we see the results of this "negotiating"?
How does costing "far less to produce" help other retailers keep up with Amazon's artificially low prices?
Since when is below wholesale "regular"?

That is very good for the consumer. Using the same example of O'Reilly under the Apple agency model deal, Apple would set the price,


Not what the agency model is. Source: your link.

the publishers would have to raise it high enough to cover Apple's 30% off the top charge,


Industry standard book retail margin is 50%. Apple charges less. Source: your link.

Selling the Kindle that they produce at a loss has no direct legal relevance to the concept of dumping with regards to eBook prices that Amazon provides customers. They do not publish the eBooks. They sell them retail after negotiating wholesale pricing with the actual publishers.


They charge less than wholesale. You keep ignoring the single most important part. They charge cost for the hardware, and below cost for the content. Their entire ebook business is a dumping operation.

You keep mentioning that Amazon isn't the publisher, but you've cited nothing that makes that relevant.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_pricing
Do you see anything on that page about having to be the manufacturer? Because I see a lot of retailer examples. Again, maybe quote something.

They can afford to take a loss on the hardware and lower the retail price of the book because they still realize a HUGE profit from the sale of all of their media from hard copy books to games to other digital downloads.

This is not dumping. This is not illegal. As my statement said, if and only if Amazon turns around and grossly raises prices plus if and only if Amazon is deemed a monopoly (the only source for eBooks which is laughable), then and only then could they begin to be investigated for violations of the anti-trust act.


It sounds like you're talking about a standard of evidence. Super. So if you're right, then the law is useless, because by the time that happens, B&N is already long out of business.

It is highly profitable for them to provide eBooks to customers at the $9.99 price point.


False. Source: your link.

Amazon did not use the DoJ. Period. Amazon was never involved with this case. That is simply factual wrong.


Apple says otherwise.

http://paidcontent.org/2012/08/15/apple-bashes-amazon-and-proposed-...

"For example, many expressed concerns about the possibility that the Government has unwittingly placed a thumb on the scales in favor of Amazon, the industry monopolist. Amazon was the driving force behind the Government’s investigation, and it told a story to the Government that has yet to be scrutinized. Amazon talked with the Government repeatedly throughout the investigation, even hosting a two-day meeting at its Seattle headquarters. In all, the Government met with at least fourteen Amazon employees—yet not once under oath. The Government required that Amazon turn over a mere 4,500 documents, a fraction of what was required of others."
-Footnote 6 of the embedded memo.

(See, now, that's how citing is done. My link is relevant, I told you where to look, and I even quoted the part that matters.)

For you to claim that the real price of an eBook is $14.99 to $20.99 versus $9.99 is ludicrous.


I never gave an example of a "real price", but I did use that term, and what I meant by it was either a publisher-dictated agency price or a profitable retail price. In other words, anything other than Amazon's system of charging below wholesale; anything that is tenable or sustainable for a legitimate retailer, not funneling profits from unrelated businesses, to charge.

That the publishers are being greedy as a general rule is irrelevant to whether Apple or Amazon or both are undermining retail competition.

(I did us both the favor of removing all your ad-hom static. Maybe you can take care of that yourself next time.)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Everyone is wrong
by TM99 on Sun 4th Aug 2013 16:23 in reply to "RE[4]: Everyone is wrong"
TM99 Member since:
2012-08-26

You still continue to be unable to provide any relevant proof that Amazon has or is currently putting other retailers of eBooks out of business. They are not. That is why I called your statement ludicrous.

I really wish you would read that article again on the Agency model more closely, because the questions you are asking of me and the points you are trying to debate with me are indeed covered there.

But I will reiterate if it helps.

No one can answer 'how long' only to acknowledge that under the wholesale model that Amazon follows, consumers pay less for the same eBook. That is good for consumers. Under the agency model and collusion practice that Apple & these publishers attempted to push through, consumers paid higher prices at all sources of purchase including Amazon. That is bad for consumers. If Apple and the other publishers are forced to stop these practices, because we all know Apple will not willingly settle this, then prices will return to their lower position, hopefully, and that is good for consumers.

As an Amazon customer you have already seen the results of the negotiating. This is how it has been done for almost a decade now with them with regards to the wholesale model. The publishers agree to this because while they may bitch that they are losing money, in fact they are not. It is simple math. If I sell volume x at a higher price at one location (iTunes store) but fewer buy because of the higher price, and if I sell volume x at a lower price at another location (Amazon) and more buy because of the lower price, not only does Amazon realize a profitable success but so does the publisher. They want more of the pie. Fair enough. But they allowed Apple to suggest a means to do this which is illegal. That is why they got their hands slapped.

I don't think you understand the wholesale model and what has occurred. Amazon negotiates a wholesale price with the publisher. The publisher can suggest that Amazon charge more for the book, but they can not force Amazon to do so. They are quite free to sell it below MSRP. Companies do this all the time. Have you bought computer parts at NewEgg or Tiger Direct? Did you pay MSRP for that 1TB hard drive on Black Friday? How about a new car deal from the car lot down the street? Are these companies putting other ones out of business? If so, is it done illegally? No, and here is why.

You are mixing concepts and that is why there seems to be a misunderstanding. From your Wiki link:

In economics, "dumping" is a kind of predatory pricing, especially in the context of international trade. It occurs when manufacturers export a product to another country at a price either below the price charged in its home market or below its cost of production.

Amazon does not create the eBooks. Therefore, they can not be 'dumping' them. Read the examples sited. Your other link is to predatory pricing. Some might attempt to argue that Amazon does that but they do not. They are engaged in price competition.

...price competition, which is where a company tries to distinguish its product or service from competing products on the basis of low price.

Amazon distinguishes themselves in their sale of eBooks by negotiating with publishers under the wholesale model so that they can sell eBooks at below MSRP for $9.99 or less. That is not dumping. That is not predatory. They do not have any sort of favored nation status exclusion which is exactly what Apple attempted to do here - Apple gets the better deal (as you quoted) in exchange for exclusivity to having that eBook ONLY at the iTunes store and not on Amazon. Amazon does not do that. They may sell the same eBook for less than Kobo, iTunes, GooglePlay Store, or B&N, but, they do not force or attempt to force publishers from making deals with those other stores. You may not like how they are competing, but the how is not illegal nor is it even unethical. For now, yes, it does provide us, the consumer, with lower prices for a product that already has a very high market up given its actual production costs.

Finally, though, you believe that I am making 'ad-hom static' as you call it but it is not. You are trying to base your argument that Amazon was the instigator of the lawsuit (which is factually wrong!) based on Apple's very, very recent appeals filing with the DoJ.

Please read the comments. There are a few intelligent and accurate responses. Just because Apple says so, does not make it so. The Supreme Court has already determined that settlements such as this by the DoJ are allowable and do not violate the due process of the companies involved. They have been found guilty of an illegal act. Due process was served in the trial. Apple is trying to argue that they are immune to such settlements. Forcing them to break an illegal contract is not a violation of due process. Their contracts are based, on court determined guilty illegal practices

Apple wanted to enter the eBook market. They did so illegally and prices across the board on eBooks rose because of their collusion and anti-competitive practices with their chosen publishers. You want to argue that Amazon is bad for the market and for consumers. Yet, Apple is the one who is now proven to have been something truly bad for the market and for consumers. I yet again ask you how do you rationally defend this? Can you deny that they broke the anti-trust laws? Can you deny that eBook prices have risen and remain high(even at Amazon) due to their illegal practices?

Snark all you want. I provided links. I will not hold your hand for you with regards to having a better foundation of economic understanding when reading those links. You may not intend this to be so, but you sound like a 'fan' who is trying to rationalize why Apple is not wrong and Amazon is. I have no great love for the corporation Amazon. Their warehouse anti-labor practices are atrocious and need seriously correcting. However, that is irrelevant to this case and this situation. Amazon is not wrong. The DoJ is not wrong. Apple is wrong.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[6]: Everyone is wrong
by atsureki on Mon 5th Aug 2013 01:45 in reply to "RE[5]: Everyone is wrong"
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/revenues-and-profits-down-at-b...

B&N is suffering. I wonder why. Oh, wait, no I don't.

You keep either misunderstanding or willfully ignoring that Amazon is selling books not merely below MSRP, but below the wholesale price that they, and their competitors, paid. No negotiations were involved. Amazon simply ate the difference. And that is not a model their competitors can follow, because to their competitors, this is an actual business, one that sustains them, not simply a new crown jewel up for sale to the highest bidder.

http://www.macstories.net/stories/understanding-the-agency-model-an... [YOUR LINK]

"As publishers began selling e-books, they retained this wholesale method. So when retailers such as Amazon wanted to sell e-books they established wholesale contracts with the publishers. But Amazon, as part of their move to promote the Kindle device they sold, began to sell new release and best selling e-books at $9.99. This price was below the wholesale price.

"Amazon was relentless in their push for $9.99 prices on virtually all new release and best seller titles. The publishers were still getting the full wholesale price, but customers were getting e-books for less than that price and Amazon was willing to take a loss on them. Amazon made those e-books a loss-leader, meaning that they priced them at below cost-price in order to entice new customers to purchase a Kindle or perhaps even to encourage them to purchase other goods from Amazon."

Emphasis original. You can't miss it.

Amazon's regular price (not sale price; cut it out with the red herrings) was not simply below MSRP (in the article, RRP), it was less than Amazon paid. It was less than wholesale.

Now, if we were talking about physical items here, Amazon's competitors could make up some of their difference by just buying their stock from Amazon. But these are not physical items. Amazon is cultivating a DRM garden. Amazon is creating dependence on their services, to the exclusion of competing services.

And as already established, the Kindle isn't a profit item, either, so obviously that's not the end goal. Neither hardware nor ebooks are selling for profit. Until... I don't know. But I do know why companies usually do this kind of thing. And I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that it's illegal, as it very well should be.

In economics, "dumping" is a kind of predatory pricing, especially in the context of international trade. It occurs when manufacturers export a product to another country at a price either below the price charged in its home market or below its cost of production.


Noted. I had heard dumping and predatory pricing used interchangeably, but if you insist dumping is something more specific, I can go along with that.

They do not have any sort of favored nation status exclusion which is exactly what Apple attempted to do here - Apple gets the better deal (as you quoted) in exchange for exclusivity to having that eBook ONLY at the iTunes store and not on Amazon.


That's not what MFN is. You probably mean to say publishers will refuse to sell the ebook anywhere that won't honor the agency price. Because that would actually be true. And I really hope against hope that we only mean to say things that are true.

You are trying to base your argument that Amazon was the instigator of the lawsuit (which is factually wrong!) based on Apple's very, very recent appeals filing with the DoJ.


(Then rebut it with facts.)

"Amazon talked with the Government repeatedly throughout the investigation, even hosting a two-day meeting at its Seattle headquarters. In all, the Government met with at least fourteen Amazon employees—yet not once under oath."

And everyone agrees this outcome is great for Amazon. Because it allows Amazon to... continue selling books at a negative profit...? Why would they want to do that?

Ooh! Ooh! I know why! Pick me!

Reply Parent Score: 3