As you may know the subject of e-books is a hot topic in library land.
Here’s some background information that you may not know about e-books though; when e-books first became popular, after the original Kindle took off in 2007, the booksellers set the prices of the e-books which is also the way print books have traditionally been sold. And thus initially most new bestsellers were priced at $9.99 by the two largest sellers of e-books Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Then in 2010 when Apple was readying the first iPad to go on sale; Apple suggested to publishers that they could sell their e-books through the Apple (iBooks) Store via an “Agency Model” which lets the publishers set the price of the e-books and does not allow booksellers to discount e-book titles at all and not only did the Big Six publishers agree but the demanded that all e-book sellers comply with the plan and thus took away the option for e-book sellers to discount their e-books.
I know from personal experience that when I bought my first e-book reader in 2009, the price of e-book bestsellers was usually $9.99 and back catalog titles of popular author’s works usually were a bit less than that running in the $5.99-$7.99 range. And after the Agency Model was adapted by the largest publishers in the country new e-books were bumped up in price and now usually cost $12.99 to $14.99. And back catalog titles by established popular authors are usually seen priced at $9.99.
With that in mind, it is not surprising that the Justice Department launched an anti-trust investigation into e-book pricing via the Agency Model and has come to the conclusion that the pricing of e-books via this model; the model that Apple and five of the Big Six Publishers (Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan) have adopted, violates U.S. anti-trust laws. A discussion between the Justice Department, Apple and those five publishing companies is continuing in an attempt to settle the matter before the Justice Department instigates a lawsuit to settle the matter.
Here’s a link to a New York Times article titled Government Pressuring Publishers to Adjust Pricing Policy on E-Books that offers an overview of the situation: