BURRISS: Retailers accused of price fixing

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I’ve often talked about printed books versus e-books, and I still think there is something better about the printed versions.

Sure, I have an e-book reader, but I still prefer turning a real page, rather than pushing a button.

But, I also remember from high school when my favorite English teacher wouldn’t let us read from a paperback version of William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar.”

She said only hardbacks were the real versions.

And I remember thinking, what difference does it matter which version you read?

After all, the words are the same.

So I’ll have to admit, although the words are the same, e-books are taking a larger and larger share of the publishing market.

Now, following a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the future of e-books looks a little shaky.

They certainly aren’t going away, but how we buy the books, and what they cost, could change over the next few years.

It seems the government is charging Apple Inc. and several book publishers with anti-trust violations, claiming the companies were involved in price-fixing. Basically, the suit says prices were being set by publishers, rather than retailers, and that the prices had to be the same across sellers.

In addition, the suit says Apple and the publishers specifically and deliberately set out to destroy Amazon Inc.

As if to add credence to the suit, several publishers this week refused to renew their contracts with Amazon, claiming the service was selling e-books for too little.

Understand here, publishers charge Amazon for the right to publish books, and then Amazon charges consumers whatever it wants.

Somehow, I thought that’s how the marketplace was supposed to work.

Over the years, publishers tried to do whatever they could to slow the growth of e-books, often by the simple expedient of not allowing the creation of electronic editions.

By selling the books so cheaply, Amazon was able to create a market where none previously existed.

And apparently, Apple simply decided Amazon was too successful, no matter how consumers benefited.

Read more from:
Media Matters
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Members Opinions:
April 26, 2012 at 9:29pm
I have a Kindle and have Kindle apps on my phone and computer. I think the main reason for having all of these is convenience. I can have my choice of books to read at any time instead of only. For the Kindle for Android app especially, it takes up no extra physical space, only phone memory. When traveling the Kindle device and the phone app are ideal. When I am at home, however, I want a physical book. I feel like I have accomplished more when I am actually turning pages. Although the electronic version will remember by progress in a book, I miss the feeling of turning down a page to mark my place. Another con is the inability to share a book once I am finished. There is no way to hand someone else a copy of a book that you have enjoyed and let them enjoy it too. One of the reasons that I can carry an MP3 player is that I know that if an when the player breaks I have CDs so that I won’t lose my music. If my e-reader fails, my books are gone. If there was some way that you could pay one price and have both a physical and electronic copy of books, it would be the best of both worlds.
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