US government sues Apple in eBook price-fixing antitrust suit

Bloomberg is reporting that the United States has filed an antitrust lawsuit in a New York district court against Apple and publishers Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster over alleged eBook price-fixing. The news follows reports from Reuters yesterday that the U.S. Department of Justice was preparing to launch a lawsuit against Apple and five major publishers accused of colluding to fix and increase the price of eBooks.

According to the report, all the parties named in the suit—except Macmillan, Penguin, and Apple— are willing to settle to avoid legal costs. The Department of Justice could announce “unspecified” settlements as early as today.

At the core of the settlement discussions is the agency model introduced with the iPad in 2010. The deal with publishers was described by Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson:

“We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway…. They went to Amazon and said, ‘You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books.’ “

The model allows publishers to set their own prices as long as Apple gets a 30 percent cut and a guarantee that the same content is not offered lower elsewhere, but the Department of Justice is trying to return to Amazon’s wholesale model by giving retailers like Amazon control over pricing. Bloomberg explained: Read more

First-ever Harry Potter eBook series is iPad, Mac-compatible with ePub format, and Kindle-friendly too

J.K. Rowling’s widely popular Harry Potter series is at-last available electronically.

The author’s own online Pottermore Shop displays all seven titles in ePub format, and prices vary between $8 each and $10 each, per copy. Fans can also purchase the entire series for $57.54.

The ePub files are unprotected and compatible with most iOS devices, Android devices, and any other eReader, tablet, or smartphone that accepts ePub format. In addition, the Harry Potter eBooks are available in Amazon Kindle formats. A full list of compatible devices and reading services is also available on the Pottermore Shop website.

Conspicuously, Rowling did not make the eBooks available through Apple’s iBookstore.

Read more

Steve Jobs Bio balloons to 656 pages, publication date gets murky

As noted by SetteB.it, the Steve Jobs bio “Enhanced eBook” is now set by Simon and Shuster at 656 pages. That’s over 200 additional pages more than the previous page count which may have been a very low estimate. Recently, Walter Isaacson said that Jobs’ resignation would be added to the book, but it seems like a stretch that that chapter would add 50% more content.

Also, the publication date has move from November 21st, to “on or around November 21st”, signaling that there may be some movement in the release date.

You can pre-order the book at Amazon or on Apple’s iBookStore where it still is listed at 448 pages.
Read more

Did Apple eject Google Books from the App Store for violating terms?

For reasons yet undefined, Google Books has been removed from the iTunes App Store.  We noticed the App was gone earlier this week but thought it might have been just a blip.  Now it has been awhile.

Google Books was just updated in April with new 3D page turning, landscape mode and search so it is unlikely that Google decided to orphan it.  Google launched its Books initiative in December of this year as a competitor to Amazon and Apple’s eBookstores.

So why is it gone now?  The timing with Apple’s new, controversial Terms of Service would seem like the most obvious explanation.

Was Google in violation of Apple’s new in-app purchase terms of service? Or, is this because Harry Potter is coming out on Google Books?

We’ve reached out to Google and Apple for answers.

Read more