10 July 2013

Rotten to the core

Well, it's official -- the judge passed down her ruling today in the DOJ vs Apple/Big Six Publishers on price fixing and breaking the anti-trust laws of this country. While the publishers, one by one, settled out of court, Apple rigidly stood by their stand that it wasn't their fault. The judge said "fththt to that, mate -- you're nicked" and found Apple guilty on all three counts.

Now, I'm of two minds on that because of the ramifications.

First -- I'm a reader and a consumer, and the whole mess (started by Random House) about Amazon's pricing was really an affront to my pocketbook. I understand about wanting to set your own pricing and I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is the Big Six having their temper tantrum because Amazon was giving a deep discount ($9.99 for the ebook, and sometimes lower) while most other places weren't. Apple's Steve Jobs wanted to promote his own iBookstore and colluded with the publishers to give Apple a 30% share of the sales while giving Apple a lower price than any other book store. So RH had its little stand off with Amazon and said, "you can't sell any of our books until you make our ebooks the price we say." It took only a week for Amazon to defer to RH and every other publisher down the line.

That's what I have the problem with. Amazon, like pretty much every other wholesaler and retailer, gets a 50% discount off the Suggested Retail Price. The SRP is determined by the publisher but it doesn't stop anyone from selling it at less. Most bookstores offer anywhere from 25 - 30% off of the SRP to be competitive and bring the business in. That changes nothing in what booksellers pay for the books -- print or ebooks. Means nothing! So this nonsense of smacking Amazon had more to do with Apple wanting to squash a competitor -- no matter how they dress it up for the judge -- and we all know it. If you're not going to get pissy over print copies and what booksellers charge, then it makes no sense to get pissy over ebooks and what booksellers charge. Don't try to tell me any differently. I work as a buyer, I know what the discounts are and who gets them. I know this stuff. So shut it.

So, the ruling against Apple in this matter means that pricing for ebooks will come down again. When, is the question, but it will come down. We may not see the $9.99 for the majors again but I'm willing to lay my prediction that we will on the table and stand by it.

But, speaking as an author -- and an indie author at that -- that could cause a problem for me later on. See, I determine the cost of my books and I think I price them fairly competitively, to be honest. I should start raising the prices on them to about $4.99, but that's an issue I'm looking over and considering. And it's nowhere near the $9.99 butter zone that Amazon chose.

But what concerns me is that if I choose $4.99, who's to say that Amazon can't come behind me and sell it for $2.99? No, I don't think that can really happen, but you never know. It's possible. Do I think it will happen; to be honest, no. I don't. Why? Because I "publish" through Amazon and I don't think they're going to cut their own throat over it. But it is possible. And it could happen. It is a concern.

In the meantime, I still love my iPhone and I will still always want a Mac computer or notepad. Why? Because I still think Apple computers are the top of the line as far as computing goes and I loved my Mac SE when I had it. I just can't afford one right now or I'd have one. But that doesn't mean that I don't think the company waaaaay overstepped on this one. Because I do. They got slapped on the wrist for it and if they're smart, they'll lick their wounds and just let it go. I rather doubt they will, thanks to an appeal process, but they really should just let it go. We'll see.

In the mean time, I'll just keep watching to see what happens.

And write on!

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