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Monday News: Macmillan settles price fixing suit; Eink revenues are up;...

Now Sargent says that he’s come to understand the financial risks of proceeding with the lawsuit outpace the entire equity of the publishing house. What’s a bit ironic is that his statement gives testament to the collusive underpinnings of his actions:

First, the settlement called for a level of e-book discounting we believed would be harmful to the industry. We felt that if only three of the big six publishers were required to discount and we stood firm, those problems might be avoided. But when Random House agreed to be bound by the Penguin settlement, it became clear that all five of the other big six publishers would be allowing the whole agent’s commission to be used as discount, and Macmillan’s stand-alone selling at full agency price would have no impact on the overall marketplace.

In other words, one publisher standing alone can’t make a difference. All the publishers standing firm against discounting could. The terms of the settlement are essentially the same and encompass the State AG suits and the DOJ lawsuits.

The only difference for Macmillan is that there will be no delay in the execution of the settlement terms. Only Apple remains and it makes little sense for Apple to continue. All of the contracts have to be severed and renegotiated. The settling defendants cannot impose the pre existing contract terms on Apple and per the settlement agreements cannot have MFN clauses in their contracts. What would Apple win if they proceeded? At this point, basically a moral victory.

What happens now? This means that discounting for all the publishers can occur without the publishers’ prior consent. In two years, the publishers can seek to renegotiate contracts with agency pricing, but as John Sargent stated the affect on the marketplace if only one publisher insists on Agency is likely to be detrimental to the publisher rather than “improving” the marketplace for print and retail books. I feel like our long national nightmare started in 2010 is finally over.

I really appreciated how this article highlighted the loneliness Shelley Belgard felt as a young adult with hydrocephalus which inhibited some of her independent functioning. But Shelley met Bill, dated him, lived with him, and finally married him. Their problems are pretty much like any other couple’s problems. Bill, for example, was used to living with guys and when he started living with Shelley, it was a big adjustment.

“Getting used to living with Shel was a big trial for me,” says Bill, who is broad-shouldered and friendly, quick to offer a wide grin and a bear hug. His speech is sometimes slowed by a stutter but is almost unfailingly thoughtful and poignant. “That was just me trying to get from one part of my life to another. It was a big transition for me, because I was living with guys. Guys watch sports. Guys watch TV. What guys do is what guys do. They watch TV in their underwear. Now I know to keep my pants on.”

Philip Davidson, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry said “These people are really not all that different than you and me. Their investment in the lives of other people are as significant as yours and mine.”

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. library addict
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 05:06:26

    I have a long list of books, mostly by new to me authors, on my “once no agency pricing” list. Still waiting to see any Penguin books actually qualify for discounts. But I am happy to know agency pricing will soon be gone (at least for a while. I refuse to contemplate it coming back.) It does make me miss Fictionwise all the more. Its demise and a lot of ticked off readers is all agency pricing really accomplished.

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  2. Lisa J
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 05:13:26

    The Macmillan news makes me oh so happy. I have a ton of books I have been waiting to read. Now I hope I can use my bonus dollars at BoB on some of the books.

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  3. Willa
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 07:25:38

    I found the article about Bill & Shelley to be both moving and yet patronising in some of the comments made

    These people are really not all that different than you and me. Their investment in the lives of other people are as significant as yours and mine

    says Bill, who tucks his T-shirts into his jeans and wears a belt beneath his round belly.

    Shelley says, blushing and pushing up her red-framed glasses

    These people?? Comments about his ’round belly’ and his T-shirt and Shelley’s red glasses. I find it hard to believe that comparable comments would be made about anyone with a physical disability.

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  4. Cindy
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 07:44:16

    I have yet to see any of Penguin/Berkley’s titles to be discounted and I am steadfast in my refusal to pay as much as (or more) than print for an e-book. I haven’t tried any Kobo coupons on them yet but the other publishers (I assume) are discounting books themselves.

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  5. carmen webster buxton
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 08:22:05

    I live in the DC area, so I got Bill & Shelley’s story delivered in my copy of the Washington Post. It’s a lovely, heartwarming story, and it speaks well of the changes in our society that their relationship happened. I loved how accepting of the marriage their families came to be, as they realized that for both of them, life together was better than life alone.

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  6. Jane
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 08:36:23

    @Cindy: Penguin’s settlement did not require them to start discounting yet. I would have to go back and check the paperwork but Macmillan’s deal was a little different. Because they settled so late, the DOJ had them agree that the retailers could start discounting today, three days after the judge approved the settlement.

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  7. Mary Beth
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:45:27

    @ Willa – I completely agree with you. I did not care for ‘these people’ either. It sounded very patronizing to me.

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  8. Anne V
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 10:20:45

    There’s no *requirement* that Amazon, B&N, sellers in general discount, is there? I just – I read that Sargent letter on Friday and all I could think was “why should booksellers (or readers) rush back in to discounting for and buying from this publisher?”

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  9. Jane
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 10:27:24

    @Anne V: No, not at all. And frankly, other than Amazon, the discounting seems to have been primarily driven by publishers. For instance, Avon experiments quite a bit with price (as did Macmillan actually). S&S hardly ever discounts and the discounts you see from Amazon are fairly low (for the books we read here at DA).

    The biggest benefit thus far has been the ability to use coupons at sites like Kobo or Sony or Books on Board. Amazon has included Harlequin books and others in the Kindle Gold Box Deals or Daily Deals, but I haven’t seen deep discounting on any of the books like publishers feared would happen. There are still plenty of above $9.99 books as well.

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  10. Anne V
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 10:42:42

    There are an awful lot of authors whose work I really enjoy that are published by Macmillan imprints, but Singer’s attitude doesn’t do anything good for *my* attitude, and it would take some mighty discounting indeed to change the behavior I developed after the onset of agency pricing (ie, stalk the local UBSes for new release titles that I want and put them in the office library when they’re read)

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  11. Ridley
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 11:01:39

    I found the story’s tone more than a little patronizing and this line:

    It was decided that this would be a commitment ceremony, rather than a legal exchange of vows, because Shelley’s health insurance could be jeopardized if she married.

    gave me rage face. Our health care system is broken if shit like this is happening. While everyone’s sighing at the “inspirational” love story, who’s raging against a system that quite literally prevents disabled adults from participating in society as equals?

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  12. Heather Massey
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 11:43:26

    > I feel like our long national nightmare started in 2010 is finally over.

    Thanks for reporting on it so diligently!

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  13. Brian
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 11:49:25

    The biggest benefit thus far has been the ability to use coupons at sites like Kobo or Sony or Books on Board

    @Jane: You still can’t use coupons on former agency titles at either BoB or Kobo, nor can you use or earn reward dollars on them at BoB. BoB has been discounting them 30% off and on, but without codes or reward dollars and I’ve tried getting an answer from them as to why those titles are still different from regular non-agency title with no luck at all.

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  14. cleo
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 14:03:28

    @Brian: At ARe, former agency titles are eligible for their make-10-purchases, get-1-free-book deal. And I am grateful. I “bought” The Chocolate Thief with my most recent free purchase.

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  15. Brian
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 14:16:19

    @cleo: Yes, I know. I think it might have something to do with the fact that ARe doesn’t do any kind of usual discounting at all (just the buy 10 get 1 and the ‘rewards’), but it’s just a guess.

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  16. Brian
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 14:21:27

    Just checked Sony since I have a code for there and former Agency stuff isn’t coupon eligible there either.

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  17. carly m.
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 21:08:57

    fiiiiiinally on Macmillan. Or almost finally as Celeste Bradley (the author I’ve been holding out on since she’s hit or miss for me) isn’t discounted anywhere that I can see.

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