Apple, publishers accused of price-fixing ebooks

Nilay Patel breaks down the Department of Justice's price-fixing case against book publishers and Apple.

It appears that the government has quite a case, as Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins have all quickly settled. Apple and the others appear to be in for the long haul, so we'll see how they respond in the coming weeks.

Much has already been said; especially over whether it's in the public interest for the Apple/publisher deal to get blown up given the presumed potential for Amazon World Domination.

The New York Times' David Streitfield reports that the book world is quaking at the prospect of Amazon being able to set prices.

Traditional publishers seem set up to lose in any case, though, because they have no leverage over the distributors other than to withdraw from their marketplaces. Amazon offered them $10 ebooks. Apple offered them $13/$15 ebooks. But they're both indifferent, and will eventually find a way to leave ebook pricing to optimization by the invisible fist, whose preference for $3 impulse buys, or whatever Amanda Hocking is selling them for, is already reflected in the average price of apps.

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