The DOJ Just Doesn’t Get the Book Biz

Despite an overwhelming preponderance of comments that were critical of the proposed remedy in the agency model case involving ebook pricing, the Dept. of Justice announced a ruling yesterday that was a huge disappointment to me and many people in the book business. The DOJ rejected the arguments of many, including me, who pointed to Amazon.com as the corporation whose conduct warranted scrutiny, not the defendant publishers. Worse, the DOJ dismissed comments critical of the settlement imposed on three of the Big Six publishers as stemming from fiduciary self-interest. Although people are definitely concerned about their livelihoods, they are also concerned about the future of the business and whether publishers and authors are going to be able to carry on at all. The DOJ claimed it was all about consumers paying less, but I think to only look at price is to miss the larger picture. Unfortunately, I think Shelf Awareness got it right when they headed their coverage, “Justice Dept. to Book Industry, ‘Drop Dead'”.

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