E-book Stories February 26, 2014

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Apple has formally appealed the Department of Justice’s ebooks antitrust case, via the Associated Press. Previously, Apple has only officially complained about the power of the appointed monitor — now they are asking for the entire case to be re-evaluated.

Apple claims it was ignorant of any inter-publisher price fixing and that Apple setup iBooks through legal arrangements without knowledge of any behind-the-scenes collusion.

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E-book Stories March 5, 2013

Apple releases iBooks 3.1 with support for iBookstore in Japan, local content & improvements for reading Asian language books

Update: Apple issued a press release on the matter, below the fold.

Apple released version 3.1 of iBooks today on the App Store and with it comes hundreds of thousands of Japanese books to the iBookstore in Japan. Among the local content on the iBookstore in Japan is light novels and manga, while Apple also noted that it has made “a number of improvements for reading Asian language books.”

AllThingsD reported in January that Apple was in talks with Japanese publishers to work out deals for the iBookstore, which had lacked local Japanese content since it first launched in 2010. Up until now, the store in Japan has consisted of mostly public domain content, but it appears Apple has finally come to an agreement with a many of the large publishers in the country.

What’s New in Version 3.1

The iBookstore in Japan now has hundreds of thousands of books available for purchase, including fiction, manga, light novels and more.  This version of iBooks also includes a number of improvements for reading Asian language books.

iBooks 3.1 is available to download on the App Store now.

E-book Stories October 23, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook is live on stage at the company’s special media event in California, and he just announced a new version of iBooks.

News and features:

  • 400 million iBooks downloads
  • Continuous scrolling
  • Better integrated with iCloud— purchased books show up on shelf
  • Fantastic new ways to share — tap favorite quote and share on Facebook and Twitter
  • Supporting over 40 languages— new Korean, Chinese, Japanese
  • Available today, free download

Education news and iBooks Author:

  • iBooks textbooks reinvent the textbook full screen gorgeous layouts, interactive
  • Textbook available for 80 percent of high school
  • 2,500 US classrooms with iBooks textbooks
  • Publishers can now take own fonts and provide custom look
  • Multitouch widgets
  • 94 percent of fortune 500 is testing or deploying iPad—seeing similar in smaller business

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E-book Stories October 14, 2012

Earlier this week, Amazon began letting customers know if they were eligible for a share of the $69 million state attorney settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon and Schuster. Today, Apple started notifying iBooks customers, who bought an iBook from April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012, of the same payout.

The payout will be dispersed as Kindle/iBooks credit or customers can call a number to request a check for delivery in February.

Notably, if you purchased the Steve Jobs eBook bio from Simon and Schuster on iBooks or Amazon, you should receive this notice.

To be clear, this is separate from the Federal price-fixing case surrounding Apple and some publishers. Barnes and Noble and other eBook distributors are likely doing the same thing. The Amazon version is below:

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E-book Stories September 6, 2012

Federal judge approves settlement with three publishers in Apple/Amazon ebook price fixing case

We noted last month that Apple filed a document with the Southern District of New York attempting to have settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice and three publishers delayed until after the high profile eBook price-fixing case goes to trial in June 2013. The Wall Street Journal reported today that a federal judge approved the settlements, which would allow Amazon and other retailers to return to its previous model and freely set eBook prices. Not surprisingly, Apple is expected to appeal the decision:

In a move that could reshape the publishing industry, a federal judge has approved a settlement with three of the nation’s largest book publishers over alleged collusion in the pricing of e-books… Apple has previously indicated in court papers that it would seek to appeal any decision approving the settlement. As a result, it could take some time before consumers see lower prices on e-books… “It’s devastating to bookstores,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “For two years the settling publishers must allow vendors to discount e-books at any price they want. The court acknowledges that this restores the status quo conditions before 2010, when Amazon was able capture 90% of the e-book market. The Justice Department is reshaping the literary marketplace without submitting a single economic study to the court to justify its actions.”

E-book Stories July 18, 2012

WSJ: Sen. Schumer presses DOJ to drop Apple eBook suit

Sen. Charles Schumer pleaded with the U.S. Justice Department in the Wall Street Journal yesterday to drop its antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers by suggesting it will only lay the foundation for Amazon to reclaim control over the eBook industry.

According to the New York senator’s Op-Ed piece:

Recently the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple and major publishers, alleging that they colluded to raise prices in the digital books market. While the claim sounds plausible on its face, the suit could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published.

The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.

The Justice Department filed suit last spring against Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin Group for allegedly fixing eBook prices, while Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster settled to dodge the legal dispute.

Amazon set its eBook prices at $9.99, but, according to the government (via The Hill), Apple and the publishers supposedly colluded to build a new business model that drove the standard price of eBooks up and placed pricing in the hands of publishers instead of retailers.

Schumer claimed the business model would effectively relinquish the eBook market from Amazon’s dominion. He also mentioned Amazon’s share dropped to 60 percent after the publishers launched the new pricing matrix, while older eBook prices also lowered.

The Justice Department has ignored this overall trend and instead focused on the fact that the prices for some new releases have gone up. This misses the forest for the trees. While consumers may have a short-term interest in today’s new release e-book prices, they have a more pressing long-term interest in the survival of the publishing industry.

Like Apple contended in its legal response, Schumer is concerned the Justice Department’s lawsuit allows “monopolists and hurt innovators,” while having a “deterrent effect not only on publishers but on other industries that are coming up with creative ways to grow and adapt to the Internet.”

He further beseeched the Justice Department to “reassess its prosecution priorities” and assemble inclusive guidelines before filing antitrust suits in the future.

Check out the full memo at The Wall Street Journal

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