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Wednesday Midday Links: Maya Banks Trailer & Agency Publishers Sued

First up is this trailer of Maya Banks’ Highlander series. Men in Kilts. It’s must watch YouTube. (It is also part of the auction that Maya Banks won in support of our blogger friend, Fatin, when she lost her husband in a senseless shooting. Tessa Dare put it together and it features, amongst other things, Men in Kilts. At least watch the opening sequence, won’t you?

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This seemed inevitable. Apple and five of the big 6: Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Macmillan, and Hachette are being sued.  Random House is the only one that is not and likely because it joined the agency party late, it’s hard to point the collusion finger toward them.  First noticed by Edward Nawotka at Publishing Perspectives and explored more in depth here.  I wrote back in the day

The economic history of a vertical price constraint always leads to higher prices. Even the Supreme Court didn’t rebut that in Leegin, instead it argued that in some cases, freeloading disincentivized quality service to consumers (noting that price isn’t the only thing in measuring whether anticompetitive behavior has a pro consumer result).

In books, however, as opposed to luxury goods or technology, there is no specialized training that a seller needs to sell a particular novel. Further, I don’t think any publisher could show that they engage in any kind of specialized service or training that the Leegin court talked about in overturning the 97 year old decision against RPM.

So, no, I would never be in favor of RPMs because they are decidedly anti competitive, create artificial pricing floors.

When all publishers go to the agency model wherein the publisher sets the price (and they will all move to that model now), and the retailer is not allowed to discount, there will be no trending downward of prices. It’s very possible that if all publishers move to the agency model (unless they can prove that it is, in truth, real agency relationships), I have some doubts whether the big 6 won’t face some action of violation the Sherman Act.

My thoughts are that collusion will be hard to sustain but it may succeed in proving a horizontal cartel by mutuality of action.  However, the Leegin decision did not rule out cases involving retail price maintenance, only made them very hard to prove.  What the big six are doing, however, isn’t exactly Agency pricing because their prices are bound by the rules Apple created.

Mark Coker, the owner of Smashwords, also put out the pricing guidelines, as required by Apple.   Even if you don’t have an iThing or plan to own one, Apple pricing scheme is being adopted by five of the Big 6 and will likely inform the prices at other retailers (this is one thing Amazon is fighting for – the right not to be outpriced by Apple).

Full right to price without Apple restrictions exists for:

  • Books that do not have a print equivalent.
  • Hardcover list prices that exceed $40 in print
  • Mass market or trade paperbacks list prices that exceed $22

For Mass Markets or Trade Paperbacks

  • For any book with a print equivalent list priced at $22 or less, the cap is $9.99
  • This is for the first year only
  • After the first year, price can be anything UNLESS APPLE DEEMS IT UNREALISTIC

For Hardcovers

  • Anything under $22.00 is capped at $9.99
  • $22.01-$24.00, the maximum ebook price is $10.99;
  • $24.01-$25.00 is $11.99;
  • $25.01-$27.50 is $12.99;
  • $27.51-$30.00 is $14.99;
  • $30.01-$35.00 is $16.99;
  • $35.01-$40.00 is $19.99.

It is Apple that has decreed that books fall within certain guidelines and the publishers have followed them.  Thus, it isn’t actually the publishers who are setting the prices independently.  That may actually be the downfall of the publishers but probably not Apple.

I’ve written a few articles about the Agency pricing model:

The Publishing Perspectives piece also notes that the same law firm is looking at launching an ebook royalty class action suit, asserting that ebook royalties aren’t properly accounted for.

*****

Web Browsers for Kindle Web App

Amazon has launched a html5 web app for Kindle.  This is only useable on Chrome, Safari, and iPad.  It is NOT available for iTouch/iPhone users.  It does NOT have any way to organize your books.  It does NOT have any notes or highlighting features.  It DOES have syncing and a nice looking Amazon eBookstore.

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

26 Comments

  1. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 10:24:32

    My thoughts are that collusion will be hard to sustain but it may succeed in proving a horizontal cartel by mutuality of action.

    My thoughts are that I’m going to nod sagely and pretend I know what that means.

    Actually, I’m just going to go watch that freakin’ amazingly awesome trailer for the fourth time. It’s awesome.

    ReplyReply

  2. Suzanne
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 10:36:18

    OMG that trailer is fantastic! I love the mists of time from the humidifier…and the end shot with the giggle is great! Good job!

    ReplyReply

  3. Darlynne
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 10:40:22

    Loved the trailer, understood next to nothing about the lawsuit, except to hope somebody instead of us readers gets spanked hard for a change.

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  4. Lisa J
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 10:54:46

    What Darlynne said.

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  5. Christine Rimmer
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 11:10:53

    Love that trailer! Fabulous. Especially the recovering a-hole and the “mists” of time! And I want me a man in trews! (Trewes? Trues?)

    And Jane, thanks for the breakdown on the apple, etc suit. I saw a crawler on that last night on MSNBC and figured I could come here today and find out what it was about. :)

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  6. Jennifer Murdock
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 11:57:26

    Love the trailer. It is so freaking good.

    I’ll third what Darlynne said.

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  7. Courtney Milan
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 12:17:49

    You can bet your bottom dollar that the question of collusion is going to turn on discovery. If there is any hint of collusion found–any e-mails between the CEOs of the companies, unprecedented levels of phone calls during the time leading up to the announcement–that’s going to look bad. That we don’t have any direct evidence now is hardly indicative.

    The real key to this will be to get one of the CEOs of the companies to break and turn state’s evidence to avoid criminal liability. Because if Apple did so much as wink and nod between the parties to say, yes, yes, we’re all on board, it’s a cartel, and it’s illegal as hell.

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  8. Ridley
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 12:55:10

    Oh please please please, let me, let me, let me, get what I want, this time…

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  9. Joanna K.
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 13:41:27

    Love love love the trailer!! Ingeniously made! Men in TREWS! LOL!!! I didn’t even know they had male dolls with abs…an a 6 pack (8-pack??) at that.

    I can’t wait!

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  10. Christine M.
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 14:02:34

    Can we put WikiLeaks on it? We should have enough proof in a couple of hours’ time. *cheeky*

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  11. DS
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 14:36:20

    I used to be neutral at worst about Apple. I’ve had an iPhone 1st gen and 4th gen and I’m really fond of them. But this recent behavior has made me want to see them razed to the ground and have their site sown with salt. Carthago delenda est. *cough* Excuse me got a little carried away there.

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  12. Liz Talley
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 14:46:12

    Loved the trailer. Recovering A-hole was the best, maybe only trumped by the mists. I saw a lot of familiar props and was a little embarrassed when my son came in and wanted to know why I’m watching videos of naked dolls. LOL.

    ReplyReply

  13. Antonia
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 14:57:24

    lol Barbie nuns

    Great trailer!

    ReplyReply

  14. Linda Hilton
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 15:22:28

    As a newly self-e-pubbed author, I can say I have relatively little sympathy for the publishers who are trying to make a killing off e-books by screwing both readers and authors. The absolute worst would be — and I can easily imagine this happening — that authors’ royalties are held “pending resolution of the lawsuits.” As if authors don’t have enough trouble getting their money as it is.

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  15. Phyl
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 15:47:03

    So, let’s say this class action suit is successful. Does this mean that if I walked on the dark side and purchased a few big 6 books, might I get some sort of settlement? You know, enough for a latte at Starbucks…

    And yes, awesome trailer!

    ReplyReply

  16. Bella Andre
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 15:58:50

    Best trailer ever!!! Omg, I’m still laughing…

    ReplyReply

  17. SAO
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 16:31:28

    Carthage rose again, as a Roman city, because it was a really prime harbor and location on the Med. It is now a really great site, acres of Unesco World heritage, and Tunisia probably needs the tourist dollars.

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  18. Loosheesh
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 16:48:00

    Awesome trailer! – LOVE it =D

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  19. library addict
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 17:16:05

    Liked the trailer. Is it bad that I recognized the bearded doll (action figure?) from her Stud Club trilogy trailer?

    Hope the lawsuit will mean the end of Agency pricing.

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  20. JenM
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 17:49:50

    Keeping my fingers crossed on the lawsuit. Unfortunately, our current Supreme Court’s pro-big business leanings means that if the suit makes it that far, it will likely be settled in the Agency publishers’ and Apple’s favor. It doesn’t really matter anyway because ultimately I think that Agency pricing, will hasten the demise of at least a few of those publishers and they have no one to blame but themselves.

    Would love to watch the trailer, but I’m at work right now so it will have to wait until later.

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  21. DS
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 19:37:10

    Well said. I always had a liking for Carthage and thought Cato the Elder was probably a bit of a bore about it. No doubt the Romans destroyed it just so he would please shut up.

    ReplyReply

  22. KarLynP
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 20:21:54

    Great trailer! I don’t know how much Maya Banks paid in her ‘generous donation’, but she got her moneys worth. Honestly, it is one of the first book trailers that has me tempted to buy and read the book. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    As far as Apple and the collusion story I will need to read more to fully understand that law suit, BUT I don’t need to read more to understand that their dirty deeds = too expensive ebooks. I understand the pressure to keep a company profitable, but they have gone way too far to ensure the digital pricing remains overly inflated.

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  23. Kaetrin
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 20:28:15

    Best book trailer ever! Loved it! :)

    ReplyReply

  24. Mitzi H
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 01:31:20

    Dear me, when I first read the title of this article, I thought Maya Banks was being sued for Tessa’s video promo….Yikes!!!

    Tessa/Maya….congrats on another winner, Love the Video and can’t wait to read this new series (I’ll take kilts or trews or whatever highlander garb you choose)!!!

    And I am thrilled to see someone looking into this price fixing scheme set up by Apple and the other Big Pubs….It’s about time!!!

    ReplyReply

  25. Mitzi H
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 02:23:46

    I found the ‘related’ articles particularly interesting regarding the additional investigation into publishers ‘under reporting ebook sales’ and requesting authors to contact them if they have noticed “inconsistencies in their royalty statements’.

    ReplyReply

  26. Nadia Lee
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:51:27

    Unfortunately, our current Supreme Court’s pro-big business leanings means that if the suit makes it that far, it will likely be settled in the Agency publishers’ and Apple’s favor.

    Maybe, but there are other big companies that do not like agency pricing. So we’ll see how this ends.

    ReplyReply

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